This approved senior service college fellowship provides advanced training for officers and officials with the tools to make the transition from operational to strategic expertise. Fellows study public management and security matters and learn to appreciate and evaluate diverse perspectives on a range of issues. They belong to a fellowship community that brings other practitioners such as politicians, journalists, diplomats and educators to Harvard. After they leave Cambridge, Fellows continue to take part in a variety of events that are organized regularly for alumni of Harvard Kennedy School.

Selection for this program is handled internally by the respective military services and federal government agencies.

The Fellowship is structured to help Fellows

  • Build a network of colleagues in varied disciplines in and out of government
  • Connect with world-class faculty, a resource Fellows can reach back to as they take on new challenges in their post-war-college careers
  • Prepare for executive-level service in security and intelligence organizations of the U.S Government
  • Foster communication between senior members of DoD and the students and faculty of Harvard Kennedy School to facilitate understanding and engagement
  • Develop enhanced leadership and communication competencies

During their year at Harvard, National Security Fellows

  • Enroll in classes at Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Harvard College,  MIT, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
  • Participate in 1-week National Security Fellows orientation 
  • Lead the For the Common Defense seminar series to provide the HKS community with foundational knowledge about national security and defense topics
  • Support the fellowship's "Defense, Emerging Technology, and Strategy Program" programming and publications
  • Attend guest speaker seminars hosted by the Defense, Emerging Technology, and Strategy Program and other projects across the Belfer Center, HKS, Harvard, MIT and Tufts. 
  • Participate in working groups associated with the Belfer Center for for Science and International Affairs including but not limited to:
    • Applied History Project
    • Arctic Initiative
    • Defense, Emerging Technology, and Strategy Program
    • Environment and Natural Resources Program
    • Geopolitics of Energy Project
    • Intelligence Project
    • Future of Diplomacy Project 
    • Korea Project
    • Managing the Atom
    • Middle East Initiative 
    • Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program

Unique Advantages

As a National Security Fellow, you will have access to top scholars and practitioners, including senior visitors to the Belfer Center’s Defense, Emerging Technology, and Strategy Program. You’ll attend classes with graduate students from the U.S and the international community, many of whom will become leaders in their own arenas. Since 1970, Harvard Kennedy School has graduated 17 heads of state. You will become part of a distinguished network of 800 National Security Fellows alumni who have participated in the fellowship since its inception in 1984.


For questions about the National Security Fellows program, please contact Olivia Leiwant at oleiwant@hks.harvard.edu.