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Asia Foundation Development Fellows Program Information

UPDATE - 2016 Asia Foundation Development Fellows program: Applications will be accepted for the 2016 fellowship year starting this fall. Please check back soon for further updates.

The Asia Foundation Development Fellows program is designed to be a multifaceted experience, enhancing leadership skills, Asian development knowledge, professional networks, and international exposure for Asian professionals. The program also provides the flexibility for Fellows to custom-tailor their own professional development component and to stay in their current occupations while participating in the program's rigorous modules.

Fellows are highly talented individuals, under age 40, who have demonstrated outstanding commitment, integrity, and leadership potential within their professional fields and within their larger community.

Fellows must also display a track record of experience and accomplishment related to The Asia Foundation's fields of expertise – governance and law, economic development, women's empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.


The 2016 program will be conducted in South Korea, Mongolia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. with a flexible small grant award of US $5,000 provided.

(exact dates to be announced)

October/November 2015

Application deadline for the 2016 Fellowship year

January 2016

Selection finalized

April 2016

South Korea - Leadership Training Program
Mongolia - Workshop on Asian Development

September 2016

USA - Leadership Dialogue and Exchange

The Asia Foundation Development Fellows program is comprised of the following five components:

Leadership Training Program [South Korea] – The Leadership Training Program features an intensive one-week course at the Korea Development Institute (KDI) School of Public Policy and Management in South Korea. With the larger objective of enhancing leadership skills and potential, the training focuses on strategic thinking and decision-making, working with participants on developing critical perspectives, solving complicated problems, managing change, and introducing innovative approaches in leadership and management.

Workshop on Asian Development [location varies] – Immediately following the Leadership Training component is a one-week study tour program involving leading development practitioners and thinkers, recognized policy leaders, and academics who will help Fellows explore various approaches that deliver positive impact and advance development knowledge. The workshop is held each year in a different Asian nation, where development challenges and innovations will serve as a contextual backdrop for applying theories and concepts in international development. Previous workshops have taken place in the Philippines and Nepal.

Leadership Dialogue and Exchange [USA] – Asia Foundation Development Fellows will take part in a leadership dialogue and exchange program in the United States, providing important opportunities to extend personal bonds with their cohort, as well as building international perspectives and networks of support and inspiration. Over a two-week period, the Fellows will take part in a comprehensive series of programs, policy discussions, and leadership development opportunities organized in and around Washington, DC and San Francisco.

Professional Development Award – An award of up to US$5,000 will be made available to each of the selected Asia Foundation Development Fellows. This cash award will allow each Fellow the opportunity to design individualized plans to further their leadership skills and relevant professional experience in areas of particular importance to their career growth. Each Fellow will be asked to develop a personalized, year-long work plan that can involve such areas as enrollment in specialized training programs or short courses, language study, travel to attend key regional forums or workshops, or engagement in a series of other enrichment activities.

Mentoring – Building on the regional network and local capacity of The Asia Foundation, the Development Fellows program offers a mentoring component that is tailored around the background and professional interests of the Fellows. The Foundation has valuable perspectives to lend to the field of leadership development, with a proven program history and record of commitment throughout Asia. Fellows will also become part of an active and engaged alumni network.


Asia Foundation Development Fellows must:

  • Have a demonstrable record of high achievement, and must show evidence of outstanding potential for professional advancement, and significant impact in their chosen field;
  • Have a demonstrable record of experience and accomplishment related to The Asia Foundation's fields of expertise – governance and law, economic development, women's empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation;
  • Have outstanding personal character and integrity;
  • Be thoughtful, committed, respected and inspirational leaders within their professional fields and within their larger community;
  • Be under 40 years of age by January 1 of the fellowship year (year following application deadline);
  • Be conversant in English (TOEFL exam results are not required);
  • Be available and able to participate in all program components on the program dates specified; and
  • Be resident nationals or citizens of the following countries where The Asia Foundation has programs: Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Laos; Malaysia; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Philippines; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Timor-Leste; and, Vietnam.

For further information on eligibility, be sure to read our Frequently Asked Questions. You may also direct your inquiries to the Asia Foundation Development Fellows staff at


The selection for the Asia Foundation Development Fellows program is highly competitive. Initial screening and evaluation will be handled by staff at The Asia Foundation who will review each application thoroughly and narrow down applicants to a pool of finalists. Later, final selections will be conducted by a committee of distinguished experts who bring high levels of familiarity and expertise with Asia's needs and development conditions to their determinations, and will be tasked with carefully weighing issues including equity, opportunity, community and professional, and leadership potential in their deliberations. Fellows will be chosen without regard to sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic background, marital status, or financial need. The identities of nominees will remain confidential throughout the final selection process.


All program expenses are covered, including costs for coursework and programming, airfares and local transportation, lodging and meals, visa fees, and health and accident insurance. Fellows are also provided a per diem during program activities. Providing proof of financial means is not necessary.


Fellows will leave the program poised for greater career success having gained:

  • leadership skills in developing critical perspectives, problem solving, managing change, and best practices;
  • better grounding in development theory, methodology, and strategy, in addition to greater contextual understanding of Asia's critical development issues;
  • broader personal and professional networks;
  • enhanced communication skills in English; and
  • international and intercultural exposure. 

Fellows will also become part of an active and engaged alumni network that will encourage ongoing collaboration and the sharing of ideas, resources, and support throughout their professional careers.


Application for the 2015 fellowship year is closed. Please check back later for further updates.

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