Your browser does not support JavaScript

Included below are policies and guidelines for students and alumni applying for Harvard Organization-Based (Org-based) Fellowships through the Public Service Venture Fund.


For Org-based Fellowships, the Selection Committee invites any 3L to apply for a fellowship at an existing nonprofit or government agency. Judicial Law Clerks, provided that they have not worked at another organization prior to clerking, are also eligible. Additionally, up to four spots are open to LL.M. and S.J.D. students. LL.M. and S.J.D applicants are encouraged to review the LL.M. Applicant Page in detail prior to beginning their applications.

Eligible sponsoring organizations for this fellowship are limited to nonprofits and government agencies that do not otherwise have entry-level positions. An employer may not serve as a sponsoring organization if that employer has turned down the HLS applicant for an entry-level position for which he or she was eligible, or for sponsorship for an external third-party fellowship such as Skadden or Equal Justice Works. For more specific policies on sponsorship, please read the HLS Fellowship Sponsorship Guidelines prior to committing to an organization.

Students can apply to be staff attorneys at their host organization or can propose a specialized project.

It is important to note that those eligible for both the Organization-Based Fellowships and the Seed Grants may apply for both, submitting a separate application for each fellowship.

Selection Criteria and Timeline

The selection process will begin with an online application, followed by interviews for those selected as finalists. We highly recommend that you discuss your proposed placement/project with a member of the OPIA staff before applying. While it is highly advised to meet with a member of the OPIA staff for interviewing practice and feedback prior to one’s PSVF interview, preparedness for the interview is the responsibility of the applicant. Fellowship recipients will then be selected based on the following selection criteria:

  • Potential for an outstanding career in public service
  • The extent to which prior experiences have prepared the applicant for the proposed placement
  • Appropriateness of the position as a career launcher (i.e. whether or not the proposed position would likely lead to more permanent employment, either with the host organization or through networking done with the help of the host organization)
  • The extent of prior efforts to secure funding or other postgraduate jobs (documented in the Prior Efforts section of the Organization-Based Fellowship Application): It is important to keep in mind that the PSVF Organization-Based Fellowship is designed to help students with a commitment to public interest work secure opportunities that would not otherwise be available to them. In accordance with this design, there is an expectation that applicants will have considered their options and been actively job searching prior to applying for PSVF.

There is no preference for work on a particular issue. Among competing applicants, the Public Service Venture Fund prioritizes projects that address the greatest need and/or possess the greatest potential for impact. In previous years, between 15 and 20 of these fellowships were awarded per application cycle.

Below is a timeline for the 2017-18 Organization-Based Fellowship application cycle:

  • Online Application: March 1, 2017
  • Interviews: April 2017
  • Announcement of Recipients: mid-May 2017

Potential applicants seeking positions in underserved jurisdictions, whose final bar deadlines fall before the mid-May 2017 announcement of recipients, may apply for the Early Decision Fellowship for Underserved Jurisdictions. The timeline of this fellowship is dependent on the bar deadline, with applications due at least one month prior to the late filing deadline. Applicants should alert Alexa Shabecoff of their intent to apply as soon as they decide to apply, so that the selection committee meeting can be scheduled.


Organization-Based Fellowships provide $45,000 in salary support for one year’s work at a nonprofit organization or government agency. Health care and other benefits must either be provided by the sponsoring organization or covered by the individual. Health care coverage is required during the fellowship year.

Applicants are highly encouraged to apply to all funding sources available to them. If a candidate receives another fellowship for an amount less than what PSVF would provide, and is also a successful PSVF candidate, PSVF may provide partial funding to make up for that discrepancy.

Additional Information for LL.M. Applicants

LL.M. Applicant Page

Questions about the PSVF should be directed to Alexa Shabecoff, Chair of the Venture Fund and OPIA Director. For advice about the application process, contact Judy Murciano, OPIA’s Associate Director and Director of Fellowships.