The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Watson Fellowship Internal Application Instructions

For the Watson program you identify a project for which you would travel outside the U.S. (and any other country where you previously have lived for more than four weeks) for twelve consecutive months in pursuit of the project goals. On the Watson website, have a look at the "our fellows" tab and scroll to the bottom of that page. There you will find in-depth descriptions of different Watson projects which can be particularly helpful when visualizing the kinds of things that people do on a day-to-day basis. This is a way to contextualize your planning as you start to flesh out a program idea.

You will use the online Watson application for your internal application, except that where the online application requires personal and project statements to be 1500 words maximum each, for the internal round of the application, they should only be 500 words maximum each. Your personal statement should serve as your self-introduction to the review committee—outlining your path through life so far, what makes you tick, and why you are interested in the Watson program. The project proposal should outline your basic plan, including the countries you would want to go to and what you would do in each one—why that particular country over another—and how you would engage with the people there.

Keep in mind as you plan that the Watson foundation does not allow Fellows to travel to any area with a State Department Travel Warning rating of 3 or 4, a country on US Treasury Sanction, or that's been designated CDC Level 3, so it's worth cross-checking any countries you are thinking of against their advisory list.

As you think about your project you can find some useful links on the Resources for Students section of the Fellowships webpage.

Internal Application Deadline

September 23rd, 2020 at 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Application Steps

Online Application

You will fill out the online Watson application as part of the internal application process. Request access to the application by emailing

Fill out all sections of the Watson application by the internal deadline, with these exceptions:

  • Please do not register your recommenders in the system until after you have been nominated by the committee.
  • Please note that you need to limit your personal statement and project proposal to 500 words maximum each for the internal deadline.
  • The headshot photo is not necessary for the internal application.
  • You will not be able to "Submit" your application in the Watson online portal for the internal deadline. The "Submit" button will only become available if you are nominated by Reed for the national competition.
  • You will need to stop work on your application once the internal application deadline has passed.

You can obtain your Reed transcript for free via the instructions on our fellowships resources page. You'll need to convert the file to a .jpg to be able to upload it to the application.

Contacts in Proposed Countries

In addition to filling out the online application, please also email a listing of people or organizations with whom you have made contact in your proposed countries to assist in the planning of your project.

Internal Letters of Recommendation

Find two recommenders, at least one of whom is from Reed (typically a faculty member), and have them send informal email letters of support/recommendation to by the internal application deadline.

The Watson program looks for responses to specific questions in their recommendation process. Please refer your recommenders to Watson specific recommendation guidance after they have agreed to write in support of your application. Please do not register your recommenders in the system until after you have been endorsed by the committee.


You will need to complete this online waiver form as the final step in submitting your internal application.

Waiver Form

Next Steps

Your application materials will be downloaded from the Watson application portal immediately after the internal deadline for review by the Reed faculty fellowship and awards committee. The committee will make an initial selection of applicants who will be invited for on-campus interviews on October 3rd or 4th. The interviews are generally 20-30 minutes long, and the panel will consist of the six faculty members of the committee, and one or two staff members from CLBR who assist the committee. These interviews will be conducted over Zoom for fall 2020. The committee will then nominate up to four applicants to continue to the national competition.

If nominated, you'll need to register your recommenders in the Watson application and continue to work on your application for submission by the national deadline in November. We strongly encourage that nominees work together on your applications; it is possible that all nominees could be awarded. All nominated candidates will receive an interview with a representative from the Watson Foundation. These typically occur in-person at Reed in December. Final announcements are typically made in March.

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