The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Watson Fellowship Internal Application Instructions

Update June 17th, 2024: The internal application has changed slightly for 2024 and updated instructions will be posted here soon.

This fellowship requires applicants to be nominated by Reed College. Complete the internal application in order to compete for a nomination from the college. Nomination decisions will be made by the Reed faculty Fellowships & Awards Committee.

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 750 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.

Choosing Your Travel Countries

Your country list is not fixed, and there is no minimum or maximum number. Your countries list may evolve between the time of the application, the Watson interview, and during the Watson Year. Keep in mind as you plan that the Watson foundation requires you to remain outside countries that are US State Department Level 3 or 4 (or areas within countries listed as "Do Not Travel" and "Reconsider Travel") for reasons other than Covid-19, on US Treasury Sanction, or designated CDC Level 3.

Internal Application Deadline

September 20th, 2023 at 12:00 PM noon, Pacific Time

Application Steps

Your internal application consists of the online application (including items linked in the Supplemental Materials section), transcript, internal letters of recommendation, and a waiver form. See the sections below for important details.

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:

  • Do not register your recommenders in the application system for the internal deadline.
  • Please note that you need to limit your personal statement and project proposal to 750 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 all parts of your application once the internal application deadline has passed. This includes your contacts list and budget.


Upload a copy of your Reed transcript in the application. You can obtain your Reed transcript for free via the instructions on our fellowships resources page. 

Supplemental Materials: Contacts List and Budgets

Include a contacts list and budget via non-private urls in the "Supplemental Material" section of the online application. We recommend using a google sheet with the sharing options set so that anyone with the link can view.

The contacts list is a listing of people or organizations with whom you have made contact in your proposed countries to assist in the planning of your project. This list should include the name of contact, country, organization, and nature/status of connection (e.g. contacted, waiting to hear back). Include contacts to whom you haven't yet reached out as well, if you still plan to reach out to them.

Your budget should include estimates of your flights, visas, accommodations, and living expenses (clothes, food, health, communications, etc.) in your project countries. You don't need a high level of detail in your budget, but your budget should demonstrate that your project would be feasible with the awarded funds.

Internal Letters of Recommendation

Find two recommenders, at least one of whom is from Reed (typically a faculty member), and have them send internal letters of support/recommendation to by the internal application deadline. Review our guidance for students on requesting letters of recommendation and give your recommenders at least three weeks notice.

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. Do not register your recommenders in the application for the internal deadline.


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 (likely on or near Saturday, September 30th, 2023). 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 in person and on-campus. 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 or January. Final announcements are typically made in March.

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