Beyond this, there are no minimal educational requirements, nor special career or professional categories. There are no restrictions on age, race, sex, creed or national origin, nor any physical requirements. Fellows may not retain an official state or local office while participating in the White House Fellows program. Participants are expected to take a year-long, unpaid leave of absence from their current pursuit or occupation. Additionally, all applicants who become national finalists must pass comprehensive background investigations that are required for holding the security clearance necessary for their Fellowship work assignments.
The broad scope of the White House Fellowship program is what distinguishes it from virtually all other fellowships. While comparable programs tend to focus on people within a specific field or a single area of interest, the White House Fellowship seeks qualified candidates from occupations ranging from medicine to the ministry, and from U.S. citizens working and studying in all parts of the world.
The President's Commission on White House Fellowships oversees the program and advises the President on his appointment of Fellows. Commission Members come from all areas of the country and, like the Fellows themselves, represent distinguished career achievement, community service, and all political viewpoints.
The Commission seeks candidates who demonstrate accomplishment early in their careers--and who display potential for continued high levels of professional achievement and public service.
For over 30 years, the Fellowship has maintained a strictly bipartisan tradition. Democrats have served as Fellows during Republican administrations, and vice versa.
"The selection process introduces you to talented people from all walks of life from across the nation. In the space of several days during regional and finalist interviews, I learned more about myself and the world than I had in years as a physician."
-- Jeff Kang, 1994-95
"The application and selection process combines the rigors of a triathalon, a political campaign, and a jury trial."
-- David Iglesias, 1994-95