Watson Fellowship

Website: https://watson.foundation/fellowships/tj

Campus Contact: Kari Kalve

Recognizing the interests and contributions of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., who was the founder of International Business Machines Corp. (widely known as IBM), the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship emphasizes education and world affairs. This one-year grant affords college graduates a year of truly independent study and travel outside the United States. The program aims to “enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.” Since 1968 more than 2,300 awards have been granted.

Earlham is one of around 45 participating colleges that may nominate recipients. The Watson Fellowship provides a grant of $40,000 to each recipient, who must remain abroad for the year of the grant.

Applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds and academic disciplines are welcome. Watson Fellows are selected from among the approximately 195 candidates nominated by the participating institutions each year.

Who May Apply

Graduating seniors may apply for the fellowship (including December grads.). It is open to both US citizens and international students.

Application Pool Description

Applicants come from a variety of academic disciplines and personal interests.

Award Description and Duration

The award amount for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is $40,000 for one year of independent travel. The travel year begins between June and August following graduation. The foundation also pays any student loans due during the fellowship period.

Application Requirements and Deadline

Application materials are due in mid-September. They include a 1500-word project proposal and 1500-word personal statement, unofficial transcripts, a preliminary budget, a list of project contacts, and a resumé including cell phone number.

Selected applicants are interviewed and up to four applicants are put forward for nomination for the fellowship. Final application materials are due to the Thomas J. Watson Foundation the first week in November.


Winners are announced in mid-March.


  • 2022 Salma Khalaf  ’21 (December), International Relations
  • 2021 Esther Mano ’21, African and African American Studies; Human Development and Social Relations
  • 2021 Sam Pigott ’21, Biology
  • 2020 Megan Bennett ’20, English
  • 2020 Katie Jacobs ’20, Biochemistry
  • 2019 Arish Rakshasa ’19, Neuroscience; Biochemistry
  • 2017 Imani Lewis-Norelle ’17, Peace and Global Studies
  • 2016 Mishel Mussali ’15, Sociology/Anthropology
  • 2015 Olga Galperin ’15, Music; Psychology
  • 2014 Basil Farraj ’14, Peace & Global Studies
  • 2014 Maggie Jesme ’14, Peace & Global Studies
  • 2014 Cheyenne Stewart ’14, Biology
  • 2013 Wilmer Chavarria ’13, Cinematographic Arts
  • 2013 Lilly Cutler ’13, Politics
  • 2010 Jonathan Jenner ’10, Economics; Peace & Global Studies
  • 2010 Eva Jimenez ’09, Latin American Studies
  • 2008 Juan Navarrete ’08, Art; Interdepartmental — Peace & Global Studies/Philosophy
  • 2006 Laura Sweitzer ’06, Spanish & Hispanic Studies; Economics
  • 2005 Sandra Hartmannsgruber ’05, Art; German
  • 2004 Megan Kennedy ’04, Economics; Peace and Global Studies
  • 2003 Matthew Christensen Schreiber ’03, Philosophy and Wilderness
  • 2001 Sara Elizabeth Thorp ’01, Sociology/Anthropology
  • 1999 Sky Rogers ’99, Latin American Studies
  • 1998 David Seymour ’99, Spanish; Latin American Studies
  • 1997 Andrew Overbeck ’97, Politics
  • 1996 Scott Buquor ’96, Sociology/Anthropology
  • 1995 Sonat Hart ’95, English
  • 1995 Catherine Stratton Treadway ’95
  • 1994 Tiffany Harris ’94, History
  • 1993 Mathew Johnson ’93, African and African American Studies
  • 1992 Jesse Kahn ’92, Art
  • 1992 Nathan Treadway ’92, Computer Science; Math
  • 1991 Lisa Porter ’91, Management; Theater Arts
  • 1990 Pacey Foster ’90, Peace and Global Studies
  • 1989 Linda Hutchins-Knowles ’89, Philosophy; Spanish