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Watson - Application Procedures 2016-17

There are several stages in the application process:

(1)  Preliminary Application Draft - Recommended but Optional

(2)  Formal Campus Application

(3)  Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Application


(1)  Preliminary Application Draft - Optional

Bryn Mawr College rising seniors interested in applying for a Watson are STRONGLY encouraged to email a preliminary application draft to Bryn Mawr's Watson Liaison, Assistant Dean Michelle Mancini who will provide feedback before the start of the semester.

Online Preliminary Application Form (Deadline: AUGUST 1)

This preliminary application should include:

• A comprehensive resumé listing extracurricular activities, paid and unpaid internships and employment, languages spoken (with degrees of proficiency), and previous significant travel.

• A five-page essay describing who you are, what you’re proposing to do, and how your proposed project has personal significance.

For more guidance on this, see the prompts below. While you need not go into great detail at this point, the prompts below will give you an idea of what information the Watson application requires.

• A list of any questions you have about the fellowship or the application process.

This draft application will not be evaluated as a part of the formal competition. Instead, it is intended to get you thinking, researching, and writing early in the summer. It will also help the Watson Liaison give you specific feedback.

(2)  Campus Application

In accordance with Watson Fellowship policies, all applicants for the Watson Fellowship must complete the official Watson  online application by the internal deadline of September 18.  (Note that the on-line application is quite lengthy and uses a unique application platform, so nominees will want to budget a good amount of time to complete. In addition to the items discussed below, some other materials are required, including a .jpg passport photo not exceeding 150 KB and 600 pixels wide. The photo must abide by U.S. passport guidelines.)

Please request access to official online application by filling out the application request form.  You may request this application at any time; it does not commit you to applying! 

The application consists of the following:

Personal Statement:

Use this statement to introduce yourself and provide a backdrop for the entire application. (It should also introduce the project topic, but save most details for your Project Proposal.)

This statement should highlight your special gifts and potential, what the Watson refers to as "unusual promise." This promise can be evident in many dimensions--service, leadership, resourcefulness, creativity, vision, independence, integrity, responsibility, emotional maturity, and courage (to name a few). Each applicant will display one or more of such qualities in their own unique ways. Use the personal statement to tell us about your unusual promise.

The statement should also explain the personal significance, and provide the personal context, for the proposed project. You should discuss why you chose this topic, how it developed out of previous interests and/or experiences, and how it represents new challenges that will enable you to grow personally. It should be clear from this statement why, of all topics you could have chosen, you chose this one.

1500 word limit

Project Proposal:

Describe your plan for the 12-month Fellowship year, including a description of your project and an outline for carrying it out. It should also include a clear explanation for why you have selected certain countries/cultures and your strategies for engaging with people "on the ground." The proposal should detail the challenges you expect to face and the preparation/strategies you have to confront these.

The proposal should also indicate efforts you have taken thus far to secure contacts on the ground in the proposed countries (note that contacts need not be finalized at the time of the Internal Application, but you should provide evidence of excellent leads in at least 1-2 proposed countries).

If any of the countries you have selected is on any of the following lists:  State Department Warning, Treasury Embargo or designated CDC Level 3, you will need to provide a plan B should that country remain off limits during your Watson year.

1500 word limit

Additional Information:

The on-line application will prompt you to include the following:

  • A resume.
  • A list of all countries traveled to, with approximate dates. Please note whether travel was with family, with friends, or solo. (Note that you are permitted to return to a country if you have spent no more than 4-6 weeks there.)
  • Languages spoken and level of proficiency (elementary, intermediate, or advanced.)
  • a 100-word bio description of yourself
  •   2 Letters of Recommendation

Arrange for recommendations from 2 people.   You will enter their information in the online system, and they will receive emailed invitations and submit within the online system. 

Two recommendations may include either 1) two from within Bryn Mawr/Haverford (BiCo), or 2) one from within the BiCo and one from someone external to the BiCo.

We highly recommend that you have at least one recommendation from someone who knows you outside the academic context.

Be sure to provide your recommenders with your project proposal and personal statement so they can be as specific as possible in their letters of support.

On the basis of written applications received, the Bryn Mawr Watson Selection Committee will select approximately 8-10 candidates for a 30-minute interview. Four nominees will be chosen as soon as possible after the interviews and will have between 2-3 weeks to complete revisions for their application.

During this time, nominees are invited to work with the Watson Campus Liaison to revise and refine their application materials.


(3) Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Application

A. Online National Application:

** Deadline:  November 8th**

Nominees will be given access to the online system when they learn that they have been selected in order to make revisions.

B. Interview:

Each nominee will have an in-person, 1-hour with a member of the national Watson Selection Committee on campus sometime between November and February.

The interviewer may request that nominees upload additional information (such as additional contact information) onto the online application platform.

The Bryn Mawr College Watson Liaison will meet with nominees prior to the national interview and will set up mock interviews in preparation.

Watson Fellowships are announced March 15 of each year. Fellowship awardees will receive an email from the national Watson Foundation. Their projects will be posted on the national Watson Foundation website.


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