Watson Fellowship


All graduating seniors at 40 participating institutions (including Carleton) are eligible for nomination by their institutions.


  • 5:30 p.m. on May 8, 2018:  Information meeting in Leighton 236
  • 12 noon on Friday, September 21, 2018:  On-campus deadline
  • 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6, 2018:  Final application deadline for nominees


The Watson Fellowship Program seeks to give 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.


The Fellowship provides $30,000 to each recipient (more if traveling with spouse or dependents).

Selection Criteria: The Foundation seeks to identify individuals who demonstrate integrity, strong ethical character, intelligence, the capacity for vision and leadership, and potential for humane and effective participation in the world community. Feasibility of the project and language ability are also taken into account.

Application Process

At Carleton, the Watson application process occurs in several stages:

Stage 1

Email Marynel Ryan Van Zee (mryanvanzee@carleton.edu) and let her know you would like to be invited to access the Watson Portal, through which you will complete the application components.  Marynel will request preliminary information about your Watson proposal ideas, countries you hope to visit, etc., and will offer initial guidance.  She is willing to read drafts and provide feedback throughout the summer and anytime before the draft deadline of September 7 (see below).

Stage 2

Once you access the Watson Portal, you will be able to prepare your Personal Statement and Project Statement, upload a photo, and complete other required information.   Do not request letters of recommendation until and unless you are selected as a Carleton nominee.

Stage 3 

By Friday, September 21, at 12 Noon, ensure that all components of your application other than the recommendation requests are complete and hit 'SAVE' so that we may view your materials.   

    NOTE: Your materials should be as polished as possible; along with any interview, they will form the basis of our evaluation of your candidacy. 

    Marynel is willing to read full drafts of your statements if she receives them by September, 7, 2018, 9:00 a.m. (email as Microsoft Word/compatible attachments to  fellowships@carleton.edu); she will provide feedback to you by September 14, 2018.

      Stage 4

      Reading of proposals by Carleton committee, selection of four nominees

      • A faculty committee will read all completed application folders, interview some of the candidates, and make up to four nominations.  Interviews will take place as soon as possible after the September 21 deadline.  We expect to choose the Carleton nominees by October 12, at which point we will ask them to request recommendations and begin entering their information in the Watson on-line portal.

      Stage 5

      Revision of proposals, submission to Watson Foundation

      • The nominees will polish their applications and further prepare for the Watson Foundation interviews. Nominees submit their finalized materials via the Watson Foundation website portal no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 6, 2018, so that the Office of Student Fellowships can complete the nomination process by the Watson Foundation deadline.

      Stage 6

      Interviews of nominees by Watson Foundation representatives

      • Each of the nominees will be interviewed at Carleton by representative(s) of the Watson Foundation at the end of Fall Term or beginning of Winter Term.

      Example Applications

      Click here to review the applications of past Watson recipients!

      Official Website

      Watson website
      ** Each applicant should thoroughly read the materials on the Foundation's website!

      On-campus Adviser

      Marynel Ryan Van Zee, Director of Student Fellowships, Laird 131, x4300.

      Recent Carleton Recipients

      2017: Emily Ross '17

      2014: Halah Mohammed '14

      2013: Charlie Bentley '13, and Robin Wonsley '13

      2012: Niki Tomita '12, and Gracie Ogilby '12

      2011: Kai Knutson '11; Matthew Fink '11; Adam Karas '11

      2010: Andrew Terwilliger '10.  Check out Andrew's blog.