Directorate Fellows Program (DFP)


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) mission is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The agency’s ~9,000 employees work in all 50 states and U.S. territories in partnership with others to achieve this mission.

The Directorate Fellows Program (DFP) is a Direct Hire Authority Program that includes an 11-week Fellowship project for current students at the rising senior undergraduate or graduate school level.  Upon successful completion of the Fellowship program, along with degree conferral, participants may be directly appointed without competition to full time, permanent positions.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service goal is to promote and maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce that thrives in an environment accessible to all and free of employment discrimination. DFP provides an opportunity for interested students from all diverse backgrounds, including women, minorities, and other underrepresented populations to gain valuable experience leading to a career in conservation.

Program Details

● 11-week paid summer position
● 1-week orientation at the FWS National Conservation Training Center
● Direct Hire Authority eligible after completing program requirements
● Many locations nationally
● Travel funding provided
● Housing may be available
● 100+ fellowship opportunities nationwide


● Current students: Undergraduate rising senior or senior; enrolled or current graduate students with a graduation date later than September 22, 2021 (or after 11 week fellowship).
● GPA: 3.0 or higher
● U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, age 17 or older
● Available for 12 weeks during the summer (1-week orientation plus 11-week fellowship)
● Must be able to pass a criminal background check
● Males born after December 31, 1959, and are at least 18 years of age, must register with the Selective Service System, unless they meet certain exemptions

Application Information

The application deadline is January 15th, 2021!
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and the application period may close before the deadline if a sufficient number of applications are received. Applicants are highly encouraged to apply early to ensure consideration.
● Applicants may apply to as many projects as they are qualified for and interested in. Selected applicants work on a specific project, strategically designed to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s priorities.

Previous DFP projects included: species conservation planning, field surveys and species monitoring, landscape scale conservation partnerships, environmental law and policy, education and outreach, community engagement, digital communications, and many others that support the agency’s mission.

Most projects are a good fit for students with majors in biological sciences and natural resources. There may be a limited number of projects available for students with majors in education/outreach, social sciences/humanities, geographic and information sciences, information technology, law enforcement/criminal justice, and communications/marketing. Competition for these limited non-biological related projects may be high.

DFP was established in 2014 with over 380 participants to date. Among these participants, over 150 Fellows were hired permanently with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

How to Apply

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with 3 partner organizations to administer the Directorate Fellows Program for 2021:

  • American Conservation Experience (ACE)
  • Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF)
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF; for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities; HBCUs; for more information, click here)

Each partner organization is administering a specific number of projects based on geographic location. Applying with multiple partners ensures you will have access to view and apply for all projects of interest to you. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply via multiple partners to view all project opportunities.

There is a 2-step application process:

  1. Apply to qualify for the Program requirements via our partner sites below. At minimum, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA, be a current undergraduate rising senior, senior or a graduate student who will complete your degree requirements after the 11 week fellowship (August or September 22, 2021).
  2. After you’ve qualified for the Program, when specific project descriptions are posted, you will be notified to log back into your application and select the specific project/locations you are interested in applying to.
  • Click Here to apply through American Conservation Experience
  • Click Here to apply through Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Click Here to apply through Thurgood Marshall College Fund (only if you are an HBCU student)

Need Assistance?

Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and/or hiring process should contact the partner or hiring agency directly.

For general questions on the DFP program, contact us at or