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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.

    Applications for the 2022 cohort are closed. The window for applications for the 2023 cohort will open in March 2023.

    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, fellows may contribute to DEC’s published work, co-author with DEC researchers, join field missions, or directly engage with World Bank clients.

    Capacity building:  Fellows will receive a one-week technical onboarding at the start of the program, including training on reproducible research practices. During the program, fellows will participate in hands-on trainings and seminars by top economist, 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 within DEC. This is an opportunity to showcase their 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 was established in 1982 by a resolution of the Executive Directors to award fellowships to young researchers to study in the fields related to economic development. Funding for the program was initially provided by the Governments of Bangladesh, China, India, Kuwait, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and former Yugoslavia. This year, through a collaboration with the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP), the Government of Japan is supporting a two-year pilot initiative providing financing for fellows from the pool of the recent graduates of the JJ/WBGSP to compete for a fellowship opportunity with RSMFP.


    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 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. Fluent in English;
    3. Graduates of master’s level studies or currently pursuing a PhD in Economics or a related field;
    4. No more than 35 years of age (by June 30 2022);
    5. 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

    • An updated CV
    • A statement of purpose describing their research interests, professional objectives, and discussing their qualifications as development researchers
    • Contact details for a reference who can provide a letter of recommendation (letters will only be requested for shortlisted candidates)
    • A writing sample (optional)
    • A code sample (optional)

    Fellowships will be awarded based on application materials, knowledge of relevant economic methods, and demonstrated skills in required statistical 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 June 30, 1986.
    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 pursue a career in development research, and will use the Fellowship to access new data sources and research opportunities.
    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 June 30th, 2022.
    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 2022 to May 2023. However, the fellowship requires full-time commitment and may not be compatible with intensive job market preparation.
    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, but not yet on the job market.
    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.
    11. Will the 2022 fellowship take place in-person?
      As of now, we expect the 2022 cohort to be based in Washington, D.C. for the duration of the fellowship. However, this may change if the COVID-19 situation worsens. Any changes will be promptly communicated to the Fellows.  
    12. Are fellows required to go back to their country of origin at the end of the Fellowship?
      No, returning to their home country is not a requirement of the fellowship.
  • RSMFP 2022 fellows:

    Hashir-Arif, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Hashir Arif

    Hashir Arif will be hosted by Xavier Giné (Lead Economist) in DECRG’s Finance and Private Sector Development Unit. His research interests lie at the intersection between Economic Development, Poverty Reduction, and Systemic Income Inequality – particularly through the access, adoption, usage, and behavioral aspects of Digital Financial Services. Previously, Hashir has worked for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) researching and providing policy recommendations around innovative financial service delivery, fin-techs, payment systems, and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) to enhance financial inclusion in Pakistan. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration, has studied MS Economics from IBA, Karachi and holds an MPA in Economic Policy Management from Columbia University. Prior to joining RSMFP, he was a scholar of the Joint Japan-World Bank Group Scholarship Program.

    Nour Elashmawy, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Nour Elashmawy

    Nour Elashmawy will be hosted by David McKenzie (Lead Economist) in DECRG’s Finance and Private Sector Development Unit. Her research interests revolve around microeconomics and development, with a particular interest in public economics, labor economics, education, and inequality. Previously, Nour worked on Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and then she joined the Egyptian Competition Authority. Prior to joining RSMFP, she consulted for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO). An Egyptian national, she holds a BSc in Economics from Cairo University and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and an MSc in Applied Development Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

    Kike Yra Fonton, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Kikè Yra Fonton

    Kikè Yra Fonton is a PhD Fellow at UNU-CRIS and a joint PhD student at Ghent University in Belgium and at Université Gaston Berger in Senegal. She will be hosted by Benoit Decerf (Research Economist) and Sandra Rozo (Research Economist) in DECRG’s  Poverty and Inequality unit. Her research aims to deliver improved statistics on Senegalese emigration through a combination of traditional and digital data and to empirically analyze the role of social networks channels through which climate change may affect migration. Mainly focused on research in quantitative economics, her skills combine theoretical notions in economics and statistical data analysis tools for modeling complex economic structures. A Beninese national, Kikè holds a degree in statistical and economic engineering from ENSAE in Senegal.

    Horace Gninafon, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Horace Gninafon

    Horace Gninafon is an Ph.D. candidate in economics at Université Laval. He will be hosted by Oyebola Okunogbe in DECRG’s Human Development unit. His research interests are at the intersection of development economics, education and health economics, policy evaluation, and issues related to the impact of income and natural shocks. In recent years, Horace has worked on several experimental and quasi-experimental studies in developing countries. He worked as a researcher in many organizations, including the Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy, the World Bank Group, the International Organization for Migration, and the Economics for Data-Driven Development. A Beninese national, Horace holds a master’s degree in Mathematics, Economics and Statistics from the African School of Economics.

    Maria Del Mar Gomez, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    María Del Mar Gómez

    María Del Mar Gómez will be hosted by the Trade and International Integration Unit in the World Bank's Development Research Group. Her research interests include growth,  segregation, and inequality reduction in developing countries. She also has an interest in education issues. In her master's thesis, she analyzed the effects of natural disasters on cognitive skills development. Before joining the World Bank, she worked as a research assistant on projects related to segregation in education. María Del Mar has a great passion for mathematics; she has also worked as a teaching assistant for Econometrics and Real Analysis courses. A Colombian national, she holds a BA in Economics from Universidad de Los Andes, and is expected to conclude her MSc in Economics from the same university in August 2022.

    Shaan Muberra Khan, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Shaan Muberra Khan

    Shaan Muberra Khan will be hosted by Sveta Milusheva (Economist) in DIME’s Infrastructure and Climate Change unit. Her research interests lie in digital health initiatives, sexual and reproductive health, health systems and governance. Her competencies include project management, research design and dissemination, public health intervention implementation in community and monitoring field works. Shaan holds a BSc in Food & Nutrition from College of Home Economics, an MPH from BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health, Bangladesh and an MS in Global Health Policy and Management from Brandeis University.

    Debasmita Padhi, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Debasmita Padhi

    Debasmita Padhi will be hosted by Daniel Chen (Senior Economist) in DIME’s Governance and Institutions Building unit. Her research interests lie at the intersection of economics and education, with a particular interest in designing effective policies to address real-world challenges. She has worked extensively on field experiments to evaluate the impact of early childhood education programs in collaboration with cognitive scientists, economists, and policy researchers. Prior to joining the RSMFP, Debasmita was working with Government and NGO partners to scale-up evidence based programs at J-PAL South Asia. An Indian national, she holds a BA (Honours) in Economics from Delhi University and received the Arthur Lewis award during her MSc in Economics for Development at the University of Oxford.

    David Barrios, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    David C. Quiroz Barrios

    David C. Quiroz Barrios will be hosted by Sveta Milusheva (Economist) and Guadalupe Bedoya (Senior Economist) in DIME’s Infrastructure and Climate Change unit. His research interests and previous experiences gravitate around development economics, cultural economics, and industrial organization. Before joining RSMFP, he worked as a Research Assistant in the Human Development unit in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, focusing on understanding the unintended effects of public infrastructure construction on development outcomes, and how criminal activity affects labor markets. A Colombian national, he holds a MA in Economics from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Chile, and a BA in economics from Universidad del Norte in Colombia.

    Mohammad Anisur Rahman, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Mohammad Anisur Rahman

    Mohammad Anisur Rahman Bali will be hosted by Daniel Rogger (Senior Economist) in DIME’s Governance and Institution Building. His research interests focus on civil service reform, public financial management (tax and public procurement), justice, and decentralization. He has experience of working in the civil service of Bangladesh as an administrator and Executive Magistrate. He holds an MA in Policy Economics from Center for Development Economics, Williams College, and an MBA majoring in finance from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Prior to joining RSMFP, he was a scholar of the Joint Japan-World Bank Group Scholarship Program.

    Muhsine Senart, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Muhsine Senart

    Muhsine Senart will be hosted by Iva Trako (Economist) in DIME’s Gender, Economic Opportunity, and Fragility unit. Her research interests lie in education, gender, early-childhood development, and behavioral economics. She is passionate about social change. She has previous experience researching the impact of Covid-19 on poverty and anti-poverty policies. Prior to joining RSMFP, she has worked with the Prime Minister’s office in France on anti-poverty policy in France. A French national, she holds a BA in social science from Sciences Po Lyon and a MSc in Economics from the School of Research at Sciences Po Paris.

    Bhavya Srivastava, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Bhavya Srivastava

    Bhavya Srivastava is a PhD Candidate in Economics at Georgetown University. She will be hosted by Patrick Behrer (Research Economist) and Kibrom Tarefe (Economist) in DECRG’s Sustainability and Infrastructure unit. At the intersection of development economics, labor, and environment, her current research exploits labor policy shocks to study agricultural mechanization in India. Her other interests include political economy, wherein she co-authored a paper exploiting exogenous leader deaths to investigate government expropriation. Previously, Bhavya worked at J-PAL studying the energy-water nexus in India. She has a BA in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College, India, and an MA in Economics from Boston University.

    Nicholus Zaw, 2022 Robert S. McNamara Program Fellow

    Nicholus Zaw

    Nicholus Zaw will be hosted by Dahyeon Jeong (Economist) in DIME’s Agriculture and Economic Transformation unit. Nicholus has worked in public health, nutrition, and social protection for over 10 years. He is interested evaluating the impact of social programs with a particular focus on measuring health outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of program delivery. He has extensive fieldwork experience implementing experiment studies with Innovations for Poverty Action and International Growth Center. Nicholus holds a B.Sc (Nursing) from the University of Nursing (Yangon), an Executive Master in Development Policies and Practices from the Graduate Institute of Geneva, and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 


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Arianna Legovini, Head of DIME, inviting young professionals to the McNamara Fellowships Program.

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