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BRIEF February 3, 2021

Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program

A group of diverse young professionals

  • The World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program (RSMFP) matches aspiring development economics researchers from developing countries with World Bank research economists creating unique opportunities for the fellows to participate in rigorous policy-relevant research in the World Bank’s Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC). Fellows will be hosted at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. for 8 months (September to May each year) and work under the supervision of researchers in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) and Development Research Group departments, engaging in high-quality and policy-relevant research projects.

    By working with World Bank DEC researchers and their external academic collaborators from top universities, fellows will learn current research standards, acquire new econometric skills, and network with leading researchers in their field. They will have a unique opportunity to participate in rigorous policy-relevant research and widen their perspective on potential development questions, and how their research can address challenges in the developing world.

    The window for applications for the 2021 cohort of the Fellowship has closed. Results will be announced by June 17th. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted from now on.

    Key Program Features

    Professional experience: Fellows will work on World Bank projects under the direct supervision of World Bank DEC researchers and will be offered training on cutting-edge research practices and technologies and engage with the World Bank operations. Depending on the nature of projects, they will have the opportunity to contribute to DEC’s published work and potentially co-author with DEC researchers, join field missions, and directly engage with our clients.

    Capacity building:  Fellows will receive a one-week technical onboarding at the start of the program, including training on reproducible research practices. Throughout the program, fellows will participate in periodic continuing education trainings and events, to further build skills. Through their work with DEC economists, fellows will enhance their ability to identify, study, and write about important development policy questions.

    Research dissemination: Fellows will be invited to write a blog based on their fellowship research with the DEC researchers. This is an opportunity to showcase research and contribution to development policy discussions. Each year, the top 4 blogs will be published on DEC’s Let's Talk Development blog.

    Compensation & Benefits

    The RSMFP offers a competitive compensation, totaling $42,750 net of income taxes per fellow for an 8-month fellowship (paid in monthly installments). Since the fellows will be hosted at the World Bank in Washington D.C., the World Bank’s HR Operations unit will assist the selected candidates with their ap­plication for G4 visa.

    Note: The fellowship does not cover travel expenses.


    The RSMFP governance includes a Steering Committee, Selection Committee and a Secretariat. The Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from the World Bank Executive Director offices of the donor countries, meets annually to review progress. The Selection Committee, comprised of World Bank DEC directors from the research and impact evaluation departments, makes selection decisions based on the selection criteria and fellowships development objectives. The Secretariat supports the Selection Committee in all of its work and manages day-to-day operations, prepares policies and procedures, oversees onboarding, and manages development partner relations.

    RSMFP Secretariat

    For general inquiries, contact us at

  • To be considered for the RSMFP, applicants must be:

    1. Nationals of World Bank WBG member countries, with preference to nationals of developing countries;
    2. Graduates of MA level studies or currently pursuing a PhD in Economics or a related field;
    3. No more than 35 years of age (by June 30th of the year the fellowship starts);
    4. Available to relocate to Washington, D.C. for the duration of the fellowship.

    Research programs

    Applicants will have the option to select in the application whether they would like to be hosted by the Development research department or the Impact evaluation department in the World Bank’s Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC).

    Selection process

    Applications for the fellowship are open annually between March and April for cohorts starting in September of the same year. Applicants must submit a resume, a statement of research interests, contact details for a letter of recommendation, a writing sample (optional), and a code sample (optional). The statement of research interests should describe research interests and indicate the research programs of interest within DEC. Fellowships will be awarded based on application materials and demonstrated skills in required software. Cohort formation will seek to achieve geographical and gender representation.

    1. Am I within the required age range to be eligible for the fellowship?
      Eligible candidates must have been born after July 1st, 1985.
    2. Does the Fellowship align with my interests?
      This fellowship has two types of candidates in mind: (i) pre-doctoral fellows have completed a Master’s level degree and are looking to gain research experience while preparing to apply for a PhD. (ii) Doctoral fellows are enrolled in a PhD program, have completed their coursework and are looking to expand their research network by collaborating with World Bank researchers. Ideal doctoral candidates would like to keep pursuing a career in development research, and will use the Fellowship an opportunity to access new data sources and experience a rich research environment.
    3. I will finish my master’s program this year. Am I eligible for the fellowship?
      Eligible pre-doc candidates must complete their Master’s level studies by July 1st, 2021.
    4. I will finish my PhD program this year. Am I eligible for the fellowship?
      Eligible doctoral students must be enrolled in a PhD program for the duration of the Fellowship, from September 2021 to April 2022.
    5. What is the time commitment expected of a fellow?
      Fellows are expected to work full-time on the research project they are matched to for the 8 months of the Fellowship. Although this is not a requirement for eligibility, the ideal timing for doctoral students to apply is after they have completed their coursework and are at research only stage.
    6. Are fellows expected to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements?
      Yes, fellows are responsible for all travel and accommodation arrangements, including their costs.
    7. I am already in the United States with a non-resident student Visa. Am I eligible for the fellowship?
      The World Bank will sponsor Visas for fellows that allow them to work full-time. If you already have a Visa and do not want to change it, you will only be eligible if your current Visa allows you to work full-time outside your sponsoring institution.
    8. Is my field of study eligible for the fellowship?
      Fellows must have a degree in a development economics related field. This includes, but is not limited to economics, public policy, political science, data science, statistics, international development, sociology, mathematics. Although having completed coursework in quantitative methods such as statistics and econometrics is not strictly required for eligibility, it is strongly preferred by most partnering projects.
    9. I am currently a consultant with the World Bank. Am I eligible for the Fellowship?
      Although applicants who have previously worked at the World Bank Group are eligible, candidates who have not held an STC or Staff contract with the World Bank in the past are strongly preferred. This preference does not affect candidates who have only held STT/intern positions with the World Bank Group in the past.
    10. I am not a national of a developing country. Am I eligible for the fellowship?
      Yes. Candidates from developing countries will be prioritized, but nationals from all World Bank member countries are eligible.


Arianna Legovini, Head of DIME, inviting young professionals to the McNamara Fellowships Program.
VIDEO Mar 01, 2021

Remarks and Invitation to Apply from Arianna Legovini, Head of DIME

Arianna Legovini, Head of DIME, inviting young researchers to the Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program.