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Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

2015-16 Applicant Information

The internal deadline is 11:59pm on September 25 (see "Application Process" below).


The Watson Fellowship Program each year gives approximately 50 exceptional college graduates the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad in order to thoroughly explore a particular interest, test aspirations and abilities, view their lives and American society in greater perspective, and develop a more informed sense of international concern.

Programs Funded

The Fellowship provides $28,000 to each recipient (more if traveling with spouse or dependents), plus twelve months' payment for outstanding federally guaranteed student loans. Proposed projects should reflect a genuine interest in, and long-standing commitment to, a specific concern. The project need not be related to academic experience or plans. Formal study or affiliation with an organization is not permitted. Watson Fellows may not return to the U.S. at any time during their travel year.  Violating this rule incurs a severe penalty to the individual:  the award is cancelled and funds must be returned.  The home institution may be removed from the eligibility list.


All graduating seniors at approximately 50 participating colleges are eligible for nomination by their institutions.

Selection Criteria

The Foundation seeks individuals who are able to carry out a year-long independent study project without the infrastructure and support found in study abroad programs.  Applicants should demonstrate integrity, strong ethical character, intelligence, the capacity for vision and leadership, and potential for effective participation in the world community. Feasibility of the project and language ability are important.

Application/Nomination Process

Interested seniors need to contact Jennifer Locke to obtain access to the Sakai Watson site, then download the application form [docx] and follow the instructions to apply. The internal deadline is September 25, 2015. Semi-finalists will be interviewed in mid-October. In November the Pomona selection committee recommends four nominees to the Foundation, who must then complete the official Watson online application. A representative of the Foundation visits each campus during the winter to interview nominees. Awards are announced in mid-March. 

Advisors for 2015-16


Official Fellowship Website

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Form for Recommenders [docx]

Career Development Office

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