Skip to Main Navigation
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 2021 fellows:

    Abhishek Anand, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Abhishek Anand

    Abhishek Anand will be hosted by the Infrastructure & Climate Change unit of the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation department. His research interest lies at the intersection of macroeconomics and economic development, particularly in understanding the effect of labour regulations and tariff barriers on low-skill manufacturing; the impact of banning sex-selective abortion on gender inequality in India; and  in estimating all-cause excess mortality in India since the outbreak of COVID-19. Previously, Abhishek worked in the office of the Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India. He holds a BA and an MA in Economics from Delhi University and an MA in Public Administration in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to joining RSMFP, he was a Joint Japan-World Bank Group fellow.

    Barthelemy Bikoi, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Barthelemy Bikoi

    Barthelemy Bikoi will be hosted by the Rural Development program in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation department. His research interests revolve around growth and development. A Cameroonian national, he enjoys playing recreational chess and conversing with people from different cultures. Barthelemy holds a BA in Finance from the University of Buea, an MSc in Leadership and Administration at Boston College, and an MSc in Economics from Baylor University where he was awarded the Economics Excellence Fund in 2021.

    Yetmwork Habte, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Yetmwork Habte

    Yetmwork Habte will be hosted by the Poverty and Inequality unit in the World Bank’s Development Research Group. Her current research focus includes poverty, social protection, agricultural value chain, and gender and decision making. She has extensive field work experience from Ethiopia where she has been involved in implementing several household surveys. Before joining RSMFP, Yetmwork worked as a Research Officer at International Food Policy Research Institution in Addis Ababa. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Gondar, Ethiopia, a MSc in Economics Policy Analysis from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, and an Advanced MA in International and Development Economics from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

    Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Niyati Malhotra

    Niyati Malhotra will be hosted by the Gender program in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation department. Her research interests include the design and delivery of early childhood development interventions, particularly when combined with other anti-poverty measures. Niyati has worked on field experiments in the education, social protection, and public health sectors in South Asia and East Africa. Prior to joining RSMFP, she provided research support to the Brookings Institution on scaling strategies for education programs in developing countries. Niyati holds a BA in Economics and International Development from McGill University and an MA in Public Administration from Columbia University.

    Isambert Leunga Noukwe, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Isambert Leunga Noukwe

    Isambert Leunga Noukwe is a PhD candidate and Lecturer in Economics at the University of Quebec in Montreal. He will be hosted by Trade and International Integration unit in the World Bank’s Development Research Group. Before starting his PhD, he worked as an executive at the Ministry of Economy of Cameroon and as a data manager assistant at Sub Program of Poverty alleviation-2.  His research interests include macroeconomics, international trade, structural change, economic development, innovation, and technological change. He holds a BA in Mathematics from College of Yaoundé, an MSc in Mathematics from the University of Yaoundé, and an MSc in Economics and Statistics from ISSEA in Cameroon.

    Monica Mogollon Plazas, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Monica Mogollon Plazas

    Monica Mogollon Plazas is a PhD Candidate in Economics at Rutgers University. She will be hosted by the Governance and Institution Building program in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation Department. Her research centers on education economics and public economics, focusing on the long-term effects of public higher education in developing countries. She has also studied the individual responses after large-scale social interventions such as tax compliance campaigns and food delivered at home. She has previously worked as a research assistant at the Interamerican Development Bank and consultant in Econometria Consultores in Bogota, Colombia. She holds an MA in Economics and a BA in Economics from Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

    Juan Carlos Salinas, Joint Japan-World Bank Group Alumni

    Juan Carlos Salinas

    Juan Carlos Salinas will be hosted by the Economic Transformation & Growth unit in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation department. He has worked for the Financial Stability Authority of Peru (SBS) as a Research Analyst for more than four years. In SBS, he was leading the calibration of the new bank provisions rates based on expected losses in order to strengthen the solvency of financial institutions. He was also in charge of the macro stress testing model. He holds a BA in Economics from the Universidad del Pacífico in Peru and an MPA in Economic Policy Management from Columbia University. Prior to joining RSMFP, he was a Joint Japan-World Bank Group fellow.

    Regina Séri, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Regina Séri

    Regina Séri is a third-year Ph.D. student at CERDI/University of Clermont in Clermont-Ferrand in France. She will be hosted by Trade and International Integration unit in the World Bank’s Development Research Group. Her research focuses on the impacts of natural resources discoveries in developing countries. Her other research interests include access to international markets, and intergenerational mobility in education and occupation. An Ivorian national, Regina holds a BA in Economics and Management and an MA in Development Economics from the University Clermont Auvergne in France.

    Bahawal Shahryar, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Bahawal Shahrya

    Bahawal Shahryar will be hosted by the Macroeconomics and Growth unit of the Development Research Group. He is keen to pursue research in the area of public finance and focused on studying the impact of tax policy decisions on the growth of developing economies. Bahawal has worked for over seven years as a civil servant with Pakistan’s premier tax agency, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). He holds a BA in Accounting and Finance from the Forman Christian College University and an MA in Public Finance from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo. Prior to joining RSMFP, he was a Joint Japan-World Bank Group fellow.

    Berenger Djoumessi Tiague, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Berenger Djoumessi Tiague

    Berenger Djoumessi Tiague is a fourth-year PhD student in Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota (Twin-Cities). He will be hosted by the Sustainability and Infrastructure unit in the World Bank’s Development Research Group. His research interests are at the intersection of development economics, agricultural and environmental economics, particularly in how income and natural shocks affect farmers’ outcomes and how they adapt pre or post shock. A Cameroonian national, Berenger holds a BA from University of Dschang and an MSc in International and Development Economics from University of San Francisco.

    Mariajose Silva-Vargas, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Mariajose Silva Vargas

    Mariajose Silva Vargas is a PhD fellow at Maastricht University & UNU-Merit. She will be hosted by the Infrastructure and Climate Change unit in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation department. Her work uses field experiments to answer to socio-economic questions in countries of the Global South. Currently, she runs projects in Uganda to study land markets and the socio-economic integration of refugees. During her doctoral studies, she has visited the Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) at Stockholm University and the Global Poverty Research Lab at Northwestern University. Previously, Mariajose spent 3 years in Uganda, Tanzania and the Ivory Coast working for the World Bank, Innovations for Poverty Action and UN-IFAD. She holds a BA in Political Science from Roma Tre University and an MSc in Agricultural Economics and Rural Development from Ghent University and Humboldt University of Berlin.

    Paula Castillo Veram, Robert S. McNamara Fellow

    Paula Castillo Vera

    Paula Castillo Vera will be hosted by the Finance and Private Sector Development Team of the World Bank’s Development Research Group. Previously, Paula worked for the Peruvian Institute of Economics (IPE acronym in Spanish). Working at IPE, she focused on researching and designing recommendations for social policies, mainly for the health and social protection sectors. Also, she supervised the team that elaborated the Macroeconomic Monthly Report. The report included analysis for the real sector, inflation, fiscal and monetary policy, balance of payments, and the international sector. She holds a BA in Economics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and an MA in Public Administration from Columbia University. Prior to joining RSMFP, she was a Joint Japan-World Bank Group fellow.


    Why and What to Randomize Part II

    Berk Özler | May 19, 2022

    Watch Recording | Presentation

    What Constrains Smallholder Farmers’ Sustainable Adoption of Irrigation? 

    Florence Kondylis | May 12, 2022

    Watch Recording | Presentation

    Combining new and traditional data sources

    Sveta Milusheva | May 5, 2022

    Watch Recording | Presentation

    Why and What to Randomize

    Berk Özler | April 25, 2022

    Watch Recording | Presentation

    Progress on Difference-in-Differences Models with Differential Timing 

    Scott Cunningham | March 23, 2022

    Watch Recording

    Multiple testing, pre-analysis plans, and registered reports

    David McKenzie | February 24, 2022

    Watch Recording | Presentation



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

Remarks from Arianna Legovini, Director of DIME, on the 2021 launch of the restructured fellowship program

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