William D. Clarke, Sr. Diplomatic Security Fellowship
Embark on a Career Path to Become a Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent in the U.S. Foreign Service
Through the William D. Clarke, Sr. Diplomatic Security (Clarke DS) Fellowship, you will embark on a career path that will take you around the world, providing protection to U.S. personnel, facilities, and information, while supporting diplomacy.
Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Clarke DS Fellowship is a two-year graduate fellowship program designed for individuals who want to pursue a master’s degree and a career as a Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Special Agent in the Foreign Service. DSS Special Agents are sworn federal law enforcement officers.
A high-profile State Department diversity recruitment program, the Clarke DS Fellowship aims to attract qualified candidates to the Diplomatic Security Service who represent ethnic, racial, gender, social, and geographic diversity. Women, members of minority groups underrepresented in the Foreign Service, and those with financial need, are encouraged to apply.
To be eligible to apply for the 2023 cohort, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be at least 19 years old and no older than 33 years old (except for preference-eligible veterans).
- Be seeking admission to a two-year full-time master’s degree program at a U.S.-based accredited institution.
- Be on a timeline to graduate with master’s degree in spring 2025 while enrolled full-time for fall and spring semesters (starting fall 2023).
- Hold a minimum 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale at the time of application and maintain this GPA throughout the program.
- Be fit for physical exertion and able to pass the Physical Readiness Test (PRT) if selected as a finalist for the fellowship.
- Have a valid driver’s license if selected as a finalist for the fellowship.
In addition, as a selected fellow, you will need to:
- Obtain and maintain a medical clearance specific to DSS Special Agents, a Top Secret security clearance, and meet suitability requirements.
- Maintain physical fitness standards to ensure you can pass the final PRT prior to onboarding as a DSS Special Agent.
- Agree to a five-year commitment with the Foreign Service as a DSS Special Agent upon successful completion of the program and the State Department’s requirements.
- Fulfill the two summer practicum obligations (the first one in the summer after selection, the second one in the summer after your first year of graduate school).
- Maintain your status as a full-time student (fall and spring semesters) in your approved degree program.
- Maintain a minimum 3.2 GPA and stay on the two-year timeline to graduate with your degree.
- Be prepared to enter the Foreign Service as a DSS Special Agent immediately after successful completion of the fellowship program and Foreign Service entry requirements.
Once appointed, DSS Special Agents:
- Are required to successfully pass a rigorous training program, including firearms training.
- Are required to carry a firearm and use it if necessary.
- Are required to take and pass specialized driving training.
As a Clarke DS Fellow, you will receive:
- Up to $24,000 annually for tuition for a two-year, full-time master’s degree program.
- Up to $18,000 annually during the two years of graduate study for room and board, books/laboratory fees, and other academic expenses, and travel between your residence and graduate school.
- Two summer practicums (with stipends, housing, and travel allowances): one at a U.S. Department of State office in Washington, D.C., and one overseas at a U. S. embassy or consulate.
- Personalized mentoring and professional development opportunities throughout the program.
- An appointment as a Foreign Service DSS Special Agent upon successful completion of the fellowship program and Foreign Service entry requirements.
Dates and Deadlines
Applications for the 2023 cohort are being accepted October 3 – November 30, 2022.
This is a general timeline for the Clarke DS Fellowship program:
- October 3 – November 30, 2022 (11:59 pm ET): Applications accepted
- January 2023: Notifications of finalist selections are sent via email
- January 2023: Finalists complete Physical Readiness Test (PRT) and participate remotely in the interview and selection process
- June 2023: In-person Orientation for the Clarke DS Fellowship Program
- June-August 2023: Domestic Practicum (10 weeks) and Professional Development Series
- September 2023: First year of your graduate program begins
- June-August 2024: Overseas Practicum (10 weeks)
- September 2024: Second year of your graduate program begins
- Spring 2025: Re-take the Physical Readiness Test (PRT)
- May 2025: Graduate with your master’s degree
- After graduation: Enter the Foreign Service as a Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent in the first available Foreign Service Orientation class
How to Apply
Please visit the Clarke DS Fellowship website to access the application portal. On the website, you will also find more information about the fellowship program, required application documents, the Department of State's clearance processes, the Physical Readiness Test, and more.
View an on-demand webinar to find out more about this new fellowship program:
Applying for the Clarke DS Fellowship: Benefits, Eligibility, Selection Process and Career
This webinar provides an overview of the eligibility requirements, benefits, selection process and timeline, and what Foreign Service DSS Special Agents Do. Plus, we walk you through the application.
Clarke DS Fellowship: Path to a Career as a Foreign Service DSS Special Agent
This webinar is designed for faculty and staff at colleges and universities who want to help their students learn about this opportunity.
About Foreign Service Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents
As a Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), you are a sworn federal law enforcement officer and specially trained Foreign Service security professional. This career is about more than providing protection — it is also a way to contribute to changing the world.
While serving overseas as a Regional Security Officer, a Special Agent advises the U.S. Ambassador on all security matters and manages a complex range of security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information. DSS Special Agents protect the U.S. Secretary of State and visiting foreign dignitaries, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations.