Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the application process and the program are below.

Why Should I Be a City Hall Fellow?

Fellowship Requirements

  • What are the requirements to be a City Hall Fellow?

Our program is designed primarily for recent college graduates who have not yet attended graduate school. Applicants need not have earned their bachelor’s degree before applying, but must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution prior to their Fellowship start date.

Applicants from all majors and academic disciplines will be considered and are encouraged to apply. Fellows are expected to possess the following characteristics: (i) academic achievement, (ii) written and oral communication skills, (iii) leadership potential and ability, (iv) dedication to public service; and (v) an entrepreneurial spirit appropriate for participating in our growing program. While there is no GPA cut-off, the Fellowship is highly competitive. Additionally, preference is given to applicants who can demonstrate a strong connection to the city for which they are applying.

  • Do I have to be from a City Hall Fellows partner city?

No. But you will be asked on the application to explain why you have chosen the city you are applying for and to create a policy proposal specific to that city.  Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate a strong connection to and knowledge of the city they apply for.

  • Can I apply to be a Fellow if I already have a graduate degree or am in the middle of a graduate degree program

Yes.  Folks who have earned or are in the process of earning graduate degrees may apply for the Fellowship so long as they earned their bachelor’s degree no earlier than 3 years before their Fellowship start date (i.e., graduating in or after 2012). Applicants who are in the middle of a graduate degree program must be prepared to take a year sabbatical from their graduate studies to participate in City Hall Fellows.  Please note: the compensation package is the same for all Fellows in a city, regardless of whether or not they earned a graduate degree before beginning their Fellowship term.

  • If I live in another country or am not a U.S. Citizen, can I apply to the program?

Yes.  Fellows do not have to be U.S. Citizens.  However, all applicants must be legally authorized to live and work in the United States for the duration of the program to be eligible for the Fellowship. Unfortunately, City Hall Fellows nor the host city are able to sponsor work visas.

  • If I previously applied to be a Fellow, can I re-apply?

Yes. City Hall Fellows welcomes applicants from previous years to re-apply so long as they are still eligible for the program. Please note that all applicants begin each year on equal footing, regardless of prior Fellowship offers, waitlist status, and/or interview invitations from previous years.

Application & Selection Process

  • What is the application process?

City Hall Fellows has a two-stage application process: a written application submitted online followed by in-person finalist interviews. Select applicants are invited to participate in half-day in-person interviews in the city they applied to.  Deadlines and key dates for each application cycle will be posted when that cycle opens.  The deadline to apply to our 11th cohort – which will serve in San Francisco – is Thursday March 12 at 11:59pm PST.

  • I want to prepare.  What does the written application require?

The written application requests: an electronic cover sheet with basic information about you, four short essay questions, a one-page resume, a transcript (unofficial is fine) and one recommendation letter.  All materials (except the recommendation letter) must be submitted together in a single application package online.  Our one-page Application Checklist and Application Handbook provide key details, instructions, and guidelines for submitting a competitive application.

  • How should the recommendation be submitted?

We prefer that the recommendation be uploaded with the rest of your application.  The recommendation need not be confidential.  However, if your recommender prefers to keep the recommendation confidential, they can submit it directly to us via e-mail: rec@cityhallfellows.org.  We do not accept recommendations through the mail.  All recommendations MUST be received by the application deadline, March 12, 2015 at 11:59 PM PST.

If your recommender submits their recommendation directly, please make sure that they: (1) include your name in the subject line, and (2) state your full name and your school in the recommendation to help us match it to your file.

We strongly encourage you to submit the recommendation with the rest of your application.  Well-intentioned as your professors and supervisors may be, they are also incredibly busy.  In the previous application cycles, a significant percentage of recommendations submitted directly by the recommender either never arrived or arrived too late to be considered with the application. While we do not seek to penalize applicants for circumstances beyond their control, it does not change the fact that, if your recommendation does not arrive on time, our application readers will not have access to a key component of your application.  If you ask a recommender to submit a recommendation directly, you should do so understanding that we may not be able to consider the recommendation if it does not arrive before the application deadline.

  • Will I have an opportunity to talk to a current Fellow or alum prior to applying?

Current Fellows and alumni participate in a limited amount of recruiting activities, including some local events in each city and webinars.  Those events will be posted on our recruiting calendar as they are scheduled. However, the Fellowship is too demanding to require them to speak one-on-one with applicants.

  • Can I apply to work in a specific city agency?

No. We select Fellows for cities, not for specific city agencies. You may only apply to a city. During the Fellowship Orientation, Fellows will learn about the specific work placements available that year and will be matched to those positions based upon their interest, skills and rapport with the position supervisor. However, there is no guarantee that, even if selected for a Fellowship, you will be matched to your first-choice city agency. Therefore, if you strongly desire to work for a particular city agency, we encourage you to apply directly for a regular position within that agency.

  • If I applied to a prior program, will I need to include all the materials in the application, or can you re-use my application?

Unfortunately, we cannot re-use prior applications.  Repeat applicants must submit a complete new application package to be considered.

  • I’d like to confirm that you received my application.

If you received the confirmation/receipt of payment, then we received your application.  After an initial review, we contact only those candidates whose applications appeared to be incomplete.  If you haven’t been contacted since the initial confirmation, that simply means your application was accepted as complete.

  • I am unable to attend the scheduled interview in San Francisco because of a conflict.  Can I interview at another time or remotely?

The group interview sessions are set and cannot be rescheduled.  At it’s discretion, City Hall Fellows may include an East Coast Interview Session at the end of the process. If you are selected as a Finalist, but are unable to attend any of the interview sessions, you may request alternate arrangements at that time but there is no guarantee that your and the interviewers schedules can be matched previous to the group interviews.

  •  When will I be told if I have been selected to be a Fellow?

City Hall Fellows will notify all finalists of their status within a week after their interviews. Persons invited to be Fellows must commit within 21 days of being notified of their selection or their invitation to be a Fellow may be rescinded. A limited number of finalists will be selected for a waitlist. We will notify waitlisted finalists as soon as we are able to offer a Fellowship or when the Fellowship Class is officially full. In the past, we have offered positions to wait-listed finalists.  Please check out the key dates for our 11th cohort.

  • How many Fellows will be selected during the next application cycle?

Currently, we anticipate our 11th cohort will have up to 15 Fellows.  The number of Fellows in each cohort depends on the partner city’s fiscal capacity and substantive need.  Prior cohorts have ranged in size from 6 to 15 Fellows.

  • Why do you charge an application fee?

City Hall Fellows is a small nonprofit with limited resources.  The $45 application fee simply offsets the significant expense of recruiting and selecting Fellows, provides a small contribution to the operating budget, and represents less than one-tenth of 1% of the Fellows annual salary. If the app fee poses an undue hardship to you please contact us.

  • Do I need a paypal account to pay the application fee?

If you do not have a paypal account, you can pay with a major credit card.  When you reach the end of the application, you will be directed to a screen that will allow you to enter your credit card information or log into an existing paypal account.

The Fellowship Program Year

  • When does the Fellowship year start?

Traditionally, our Fellowship year has started on the first workday of August.  However, start dates may vary by city.  Exact start dates for each cohort will be posted when the application cycle opens.  The 11th cohort will start approximately on the 3rd of August 2015.

  • How long does the Fellowship last?

The Fellowship lasts 50 weeks.  For example, cohorts who start on the first workday in August will end their Fellowship year around July 17th.  Fellows are required to be available for full-time employment in their host city during this entire period.

  • What will I be doing during the Fellowship?

The Fellowship is an intensive, full-time experience. It has three primary components:

Work Placement: Each Fellow will be placed in a single city office working directly for a mid- to senior-level city official during the course of their Fellowship year. Fellows serve as full-time staffers and perform work that is critical to the mission of their host agencies. Fellows will be matched to their work placements during a 3-week Fellowship Orientation and will begin working at their placements promptly after Orientation. Each placement will allow Fellows one afternoon off each week to participate in the Civic Leadership Development Program.  See our Fellows’ bios for a list of placements filled by prior classes.

Civic Leadership Development Program: City Hall Fellows’ proprietary Civic Leadership Development Program teaches Fellows how cities, local governments and metropolitan regions function, why they function as they do, and how citizens can change them for the better — all in ways that are relevant to Fellows’ own on-the-job experiences. The Program is divided into four phases: Orientation, Structure of Local Government (rules, money, outsiders & insiders), Functions of Local Government (a policy-based exploration driven largely by the Fellows) and Creating Public Policy (hands-on practice, driven by the Fellows). As part of this Program, Fellows visit their state capital and may also convene in Washington, D.C. with other City Hall Fellows from around the country.  The Civic Leadership Development Program spans the entire Fellowship year, and typically occurs in weekly half-day sessions.

Service Projects: During the year, Fellows take on one to two consulting assignments (or service projects) on top of their daily jobs.  These projects are designed to directly engage Fellows in their topics of interest, tie together the applied skills, theory and local knowledge that they acquire during the year, and provide them with work product that will be useful in applying for post-Fellowship academic and professional opportunities.  As importantly, these projects provide city agencies with pro bono analysis, data, and viewpoints they may not be able to generate internally and/or comprehensive proposals to a problem or challenge that the community wishes to have solved.

  • Can I have other employment during the Fellowship?

No.  The City Hall Fellows experience is extremely intensive. Fellows will not have time for outside employment during their Fellowship.  Fellows for whom this restriction poses a severe financial hardship may seek a waiver.

  • Can I attend school during the Fellowship?

No.  The City Hall Fellows experience is extremely intensive. Fellows will not have time to attend school during their Fellowship.

  • Can I apply to graduate or law school during the Fellowship?

Yes. But you may not matriculate into a graduate degree program until after your Fellowship ends.

  • Will any Fellowship or job-related travel be required of me?

As part of the Civic Leadership Development Program, Fellows travel to their state capit0l and may travel to Washington, D.C.  The dates of the trips are determined during the Fellowship year, in consultation with the Fellows. While most work placements are not expected to require substantial travel, Fellows will be expected to undertake travel appropriate to their jobs when and if requested by their work supervisors.

  • How much are Fellows paid?

Fellows receive a stipend commensurate to the cost of living in their host city plus health care. The compensation package is the same for all Fellows, regardless of their academic degrees, prior experience or city work placement.  The compensation package for the 11th cohort, in San Francisco, consists of a “living wage” in the upper $40,000 plus employer-sponsored health insurance and other benefits.

  • What benefits are Fellows provided?

Fellows will have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, education, and other benefits. The exact compensation package may vary by locale.

  • Can I take time-off during the Fellowship?

Yes.  Fellows get a reasonable number of personal days similar to the number of days given to regular new employees of their city (in addition to the 13 regular holidays). However, Fellows are expected to attend all Civic Leadership Development Program sessions and to plan their time-off accordingly. Fellows may not take time-off during any part of Orientation or during CLDP trips to the state capitol and Washington, DC.

  • Does City Hall Fellows provide housing?

No. Fellows are expected to secure their own accommodations.


How We Choose City Partners

  • What cities do you place Fellows in?

So far we have placed cohorts of Fellows in the cities of Houston, TXBaton Rouge, LA; and San Francisco, CA.  Our 11th cohort will serve in San Francisco.  We will announce what city or cities will be hosting Fellows in future cycles when we open applications for those cycles.

  • How do you select what cities to work with?

We partner with forward-thinking communities whose leaders are eager to find new ways to engage young talent in solving local’ challenges and are serious about mentoring, empowering and investing in that talent.  We collaborate closely with our city partners to identify meaningful, high-impact work for Fellows as well as on our curriculum.  All of our partner cities invest significant money and time in our program and in our Fellows. So far we have worked with the cities of Houston, TXBaton Rouge, LA; and San Francisco, CA.



  • Whom do I contact if I have any questions not answered in this FAQ?

Please send an email to apply@cityhallfellows.org. Our staff will endeavor to respond to you within 3 business days.