Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows

2021-2022 Call for Application

    Release Date: September 8, 2020 | Application Deadline: Mon, 9 Nov 2020

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is working with others to help build a Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. In moving toward this goal, we must acknowledge that many people in this country do not have the same opportunities as others, and work to remove barriers to good health—such as poverty, discrimination, and powerlessness. The nonpartisan RWJF Health Policy Fellows program strives to build and maintain strong and diverse leadership and a workforce skilled in health policy.

Initiated in 1973, the RWJF Health Policy Fellows program seeks outstanding midcareer health professionals, behavioral/social scientists, and others who have a record of exceptional professional accomplishment and are recognized experts within their profession, community, institution, or organization. While many applicants come from traditional health and health care backgrounds, ideal candidates having diverse and unique perspectives are strongly encouraged to apply.

Fellows actively participate in the formulation of national health policies in congressional or executive branch offices and accelerate their careers as leaders in health policy. The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) conducts and administers the fellowship, with funding support from RWJF. While the NAM assists fellows in scheduling interviews for placements, final placements are determined solely by the fellows and the offices to which they apply.


Fellows will attain and use leadership experience to improve health, health care, health policy, and health equity. The fellowship requires a full-time commitment with a minimum 12-month residence in Washington, D.C., which prepares individuals to influence the future of health and health care in the nation.

The fellowship begins with an intensive three-and-a-half-month orientation in September arranged by the NAM, during which time the fellows meet with national leaders well versed in health and health care policy; think tanks and interest groups; key executive branch officials; and members of Congress and their staffs. Fellows also participate in seminars on health economics; the congressional budget process; current priority issues in federal health policy; and the process for federal decision-making. The concentrated orientation is designed to prepare the fellows for immediate success in federal legislative and executive branch positions.

Fellowship placements generally begin no later than January 31. After the Washington residential experience, fellows become part of a nationwide alumni network and typically return to Washington each year to attend the program’s annual meeting, and to be briefed on issues and trends in health and health care policy. The resulting skilled leadership formed during the Health Policy Fellows program is critical in helping to further RWJF’s policy agenda to promote health, well-being, and equity in America.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  • Exceptional midcareer professionals from academic faculties; government (including military; U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs; U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; and state offices who are not considered government officials under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code); and nonprofit organizations, who are interested in experiencing the health policy process at the federal level, are encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants must have earned an advanced degree in one of the following disciplines: medicine; nursing; public health; allied health professions; biomedical sciences; dentistry; economics or other social sciences; health services organization and administration; social and behavioral health; or health law.
  • Applicants whose official job description or responsibilities are primarily government relations or advocacy are not eligible to apply.
  • Individual candidates for receipt of award funds must be U.S. citizens, or permanent residents at the time of application. Because the RWJF Health Policy Fellows are placed in assignments in the federal government, changes in federal policy or law may necessitate that RWJF consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms, as well as placements in the program.
  • Additionally, individual candidates for receipt of award funds cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.


Key Dates

September 23, 2020 (11 a.m. ET) and October 27, 2020 (2 p.m. ET)
Optional applicant web conference calls. Registration is required. Please visit the program’s website for complete details and to register.

November 6, 2020 (3 p.m. ET)
Deadline for receipt of three reference letters.

November 9, 2020 (3 p.m. ET)
Deadline for receipt of preliminary applications.

January 12, 2021
Selection of finalists.

February 8, 2021 (3 p.m. ET)
Deadline for receipt of full applications.

February 23, 2021
Advisory board interviews of finalists.

February 24, 2021
Selection and notification.

September 1, 2021
Start of grants.

Total Awards

  • Up to six awards of up to $165,000 each will be made in 2021.
  • During the first 12 months of the fellowship, a stipend of up to $104,000 (not to exceed the fellow’s salary prior to entering the program) in fellowship funds may be requested.
  • For more details, refer to “Use of Foundation Funds” on page 6.
  • Fellows will be directly reimbursed for relocation expenses through separate funds within limits specified by the NAM.

Application is Now Closed

Application closed as of:
November 09, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET