The Basic Rules Are Simple:

Graduating seniors or super-seniors can apply for the fellowship.  You have to be done with your degree(s) before the June of your departure.

Applications are due thee September before your  graduation.  If you are walking in June, but aren't actually graduating until the next December or January (because of student teaching obligations, or because you are finishing up a requirement or two), then you submit your materials in September before your actual graduation, not the September before you walked in the ceremony. 

International students can apply, and so can students who will be off-campus in the fall.

The applicant must spend a year outside his country pursuing his project.

The applicant cannot return home any time during that year, and can’t spend time in countries where he had previous spent a significant amount of time (around 6 weeks).

The applicant cannot go to countries for which there are travel warnings or to countries under U.S. Treasury Department embargo.  To see which countries are on those lists, go to:

Who Should Apply?

Explorers, adventurers, and independent, self-motivated scholars who are passionate to follow their dream and excited by the prospect of traveling the world to follow that dream.  A successful Watson is also organized, focused, and driven. They love engaging with the world and all the people in it. A successful candidate also needs to be prepared to overcome adversity.  In a year of independent travels, there will be things that go wrong. A Watson needs to successfully overcome these challenges.  Finally, an applicant needs to be open to change.  Over 90% of Watson Fellows report that the Watson changed their life.  If you fit this description, what are you waiting for, an invitation*?

*Watson Fellows don’t wait for invitations!

Check out all the details here:

The Watson is a magical fellowship that allows the recipients to spend one year abroad pursuing their passions after they graduate.  It was set up to honor the founder of IBM, Thomas J. Watson, who was passionate about exploration and non-traditional methods of learning.   Only 40 select small liberal arts schools across the country are chosen to participate in the Watson program.  Lawrence has been a Watson school for over four decades and we are proud of our long history with the Watson Foundation.

Unlike most other fellowships, the Watson is not primarily academic.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship offers college graduates of “unusual promise” a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel — in international settings new to them — to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.

In short the Watson Foundation is investing primarily in the person instead of their project proposal. Because of this, the proposals often seem odd or quirky compared to most academic fellowship or grant proposals.  It is important to know that successful Watson projects are not quirky because the Watson only funds “odd” proposals; they are quirky because the Watson looks to fund applicants whose proposals reflect deep personal passions, which often times are a fall outside the traditional world of scholarly proposals. 

The current funding is $30,000 for an individual, or $40,000 for a married couple.