Overview and Eligibility
- What is the Mansfield Fellowship Program?
- How long is the Fellowship and what does it entail?
- What does pre-departure training entail?
- Can my family accompany me to Japan?
- Must I be a federal government employee to apply for the Fellowship?
- Are members of the uniformed services eligible?
- Does my agency have to endorse my participation in the Fellowship Program?
- Can I continue working in my U.S. government agency during the Fellowship?
- If I participate in the Fellowship, will I be separating from Federal service?
- What are detailees and non-detailees?
- If I am a detailee, will my agency have to obligate funds other than my salary and benefits?
- Does the Fellowship Program provide financial allowances of any type?
- Are there any post-Fellowship responsibilities?
- How can I learn more about the Mansfield Fellowship Program?
- I live outside the Washington, D.C., area and cannot attend an in-person information session. Is it possible to arrange a virtual information session?
- Are there any age requirements?
- Is it mandatory to have two consecutive years of federal service employment immediately prior to the application deadline?
- I will not have two consecutive years of federal service employment immediately prior to the fellowship. However, I have more than five years of cumulative federal service. Can I apply?
- I am in the military reserves. Am I eligible to apply?
- I am a contractor with the federal government. Am I eligible to apply?
- I am retired from federal service. Can I apply?
- Is the application deadline flexible?
- What will I be doing in Japan?
- Where will I be placed and who makes the decision?
- Does the Mansfield Foundation provide housing arrangements in Japan?
- My spouse would like to work in Japan. What type of visa does the Mansfield Foundation provide?
- Is there a security clearance requirement to participate in the Fellowship?
Application and Selection
- Who should sign my Agency Authorization Form?
- How does the selection process work?
- What are the selection criteria?
- How many Fellows are selected for each class?
- Is there a typical profile of the successful candidate?
- Is proficiency in the Japanese language a requirement for selection?
- How do I obtain an application?
- Is it possible to apply directly for the Mansfield Fellowship without involving my agency?
- Can you share completed applications from past years?
- Is there a grade-level or GS requirement to apply?
- Can applicants apply as a couple if both partners meet the eligibility requirements?
- My agency or office does not work on Japan-related issues. Should I still apply?
Overview and Eligibility
The Mansfield Fellowship Program – named after Mike Mansfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senator and U.S. Congressman – is a first-of-its-kind program for both the United States and Japan. The Fellowships enable U.S. federal government employees to learn Japanese and to gain a substantial knowledge about the government of Japan by working long-term in placements in Japanese government offices.
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How long is the Fellowship and what does it entail?
The 28th class of Mansfield Fellows will participate in a renewed and strengthened two-year Fellowship Program. The Fellowship involves one year of pre-departure Japanese language training and area studies (either part-time or full-time), and one year living and working in Japan. See more details about pre-departure training here.
Beginning in July after selection, Fellows participate in pre-departure training including weekly Japanese language classes and monthly virtual seminars.
Beginning in July of the year in Japan, Fellows participate in two months of intensive language training and a homestay in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, in order to enhance their language proficiency and confidence in their language skills.
Fellows spend the next ten months in Tokyo, working in parliamentary offices, ministries or other agencies of the Japanese government, or in non-governmental Japanese institutions as appropriate. Fellows work closely with the Mansfield Foundation staff and representatives of the government of Japan to arrange appropriate placements in a Japanese government offices.
Following their return home in late June the following year, Fellows are expected to return to federal service and apply and share the knowledge and expertise they have gained in the program.
Fellows selected for the 28th class will participate in a renewed and strengthened two year Mansfield Fellowship Program, including one year of pre-departure Japanese language training and area studies to prepare them for the year in Japan. Pre-departure training will be either full-time or part-time depending on the Fellow’s needs, availability, and approval from their home agency and the Mansfield Foundation.
Applicants should work with their home agency to secure authorization for either full-time or part-time pre-departure training.
As part of the application, applicants will submit a self-assessment of their language skill level using the Interagency Language Roundtable scale. Applicants will be asked to take a Japanese language assessment as part of the interview process, which will determine the level of pre-departure training required if they are selected as a Fellow.
Language Proficiency Levels and Pre-Departure Training Requirements
- ILR Level 0 at the time of the interview: Full-time pre-departure training, subject to authorization from the Fellow’s home agency
- ILR Level 1 at the time of the interview: Minimum of 10 hours per week
- ILR Level 2 or above at the time of the interview: Minimum of 4 hours per week
In addition to weekly language classes, selected Fellows will participate in a minimum of 1 hour per month of virtual seminars with distinguished members of the U.S.-Japan community on topics relevant to the bilateral relationship, including Japanese politics, history, economy, culture, and more.
Pre-departure training takes place in the Fellow’s hometown and does not require a move to Washington, DC.
Yes. Fellows may bring members of their immediate families with them to Japan. Family members do not accompany Fellows during the Ishikawa homestay portion of the Fellowship.
Family members intending to accompany the Fellow in Japan must be indicated on the Fellow’s application for the program. The program does not provide Japanese language training for family members.
In Tokyo, the Mansfield Foundation will supplement the general program allowance with a dependent adjustment and an educational allowance for school-aged children (K-12). Family members must live with the Fellow for 6 months or more to be eligible to receive the dependent and educational allowances.
Yes. The Mansfield Fellowships are awarded only to United States citizens who are employees of the U.S. federal government, whose positions are classified according to the federal civil service pay schedules. There is no classification requirement within the U.S. civil service. However, Fellows must have completed at least two consecutive years of service immediately preceding the commencement of the Fellowship. It is expected that Fellows will return to service in the U.S. government for at least two years after completing the Fellowship program.
Yes. Members of the uniformed services must meet the same program requirements as civilian employees of the federal government. They also are expected to return to military service for at least two years after the Fellowship.
Applicants from the U.S. Air Force should work with Mona Dee Taylor, Dean of Academics and Outreach for Air Force Fellows, (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) to coordinate agency authorization before applying. Applicants from the U.S. Air Force do not need to upload an agency authorization form in their application; the Air Force Fellows office will submit all U.S. Air Force applicants’ authorization forms directly to the Mansfield Foundation at one time.
Applicants from the U.S. Navy should get approval from their detailer to apply for the program. Navy applicants are recommended to contact their detailer 4-5 months in advance of the application deadline to discuss the program and career progression.
Yes. Applicants must receive written authorization from their agencies in order to participate in the program. The Agency Authorization Form will be available for download through the program’s online application portal.
No. Both the Fellows and their U.S. agencies agree that the Fellow will not perform routine tasks for the agency while participating in the Fellowship program. The Fellowship program is rigorous and intensive, requiring the Fellows to devote themselves full-time to language study and placements. By agreeing to temporarily discontinue work at their U.S. agencies, the Fellows also avoid any possible conflicts of interest when they work in Japanese government offices.
Fellows from executive branch agencies are not required to separate from service while they are in the program. Fellows who do not separate from federal service may have their time in the Fellowship program counted toward retirement in federal service. Fellows who do not separate from federal service participate as “detailees.”
Fellows from legislative and judicial branch agencies separate from federal service while they are in the program. Fellows who separate from federal service participate as “non-detailees.”
Fellows from the executive branch participate in the program on a detail assignment from their home agency and are known as detailees. These Fellows do not separate from federal service and receive their salary and benefits from their home agency. Detailees receive allowances through the Mansfield Foundation.
Uniformed members of the military participate in the Fellowship as detailees and receive salary, benefits, and allowances through their home agency.
Fellows from the legislative and judicial branches participate as non-detailees. These Fellows separate from federal service and receive their salary, benefits, and allowances from the Mansfield Foundation.
Yes. In accordance with the legislation creating the program, Fellows receive allowances to partially offset the higher cost of living in Japan.
It is expected that Fellows will return to service in the U.S. government for at least two years after completing the Fellowship program. Once they return to the United States, it is expected that the Fellows will apply their skills, knowledge and expertise in their professional work in agencies of the U.S. government. Alumni Fellows have been promoted or assigned to positions that allow them to continue to work on Japan issues and cooperative programs and provide advice to their agencies on Japanese decision-making systems and processes. In addition, the Fellows participate in outreach activities to inform a broad audience, including congressional staff, government officials, think tank representatives and business leaders, about the Fellowship program and what they have learned. They are invited to the Mansfield Foundation’s Fellowship alumni events and other programs, and they assist the Foundation in evaluating the program.
Prospective applicants and agency representatives are invited to attend the Mansfield Foundation’s virtual information sessions about the Fellowship program. For more information, please contact MFPinfo@mansfieldfdn.org.
Yes. The Mansfield Foundation holds information sessions both in-person and virtually.
No. However, it is mandatory for the Fellows to return to federal service for at least two years upon completion of the program.
No. The two consecutive years immediately preceding the fellowship are mandatory.
No. In order to apply, you must be a full-time federal government employee.
Federal government contractors are only eligible to apply if their time as a contractor is counted toward federal service retirement and they are classified according to the federal civil service pay schedule. This applies to all contractors, including laboratory personnel. Eligible applicants must also secure their home agency’s authorization as a detailee for the full length of the Fellowship, so if a contract or appointment ends before or during the Fellowship period, that applicant would be ineligible.
During their year in Japan, the Fellows work full-time in placements in Japanese government offices, ministries and agencies. In some placements, Fellows have worked alongside their Japanese counterparts and have had actual project assignments while in others, the Fellows have observed a broad range of activities at the agency. Fellows may be asked to accompany their Japanese colleagues on business trips or to make presentations and reports. Fellows should expect all work to be conducted in Japanese. In addition to working in their placements, Fellows attend additional language training sessions provided by the government of Japan, and participate in tours and field trips as well as in a program of continuing education sponsored by the Mansfield Foundation.
As part of the application process, Fellows submit a proposal for the year in Japan, including placement preferences. Prior to the start of the Fellowship, the Mansfield Foundation works closely with each Fellow and with the government of Japan to arrange an appropriate placement that is consistent with the Fellow’s project plan. The Government of Japan makes the final decision and the Mansfield Foundation cannot guarantee a particular placement; however, the Fellows in previous groups have been successful in their assigned placements. Some Fellows work in multiple government offices during the year in Japan. In order for the Fellows to have the opportunity to gain substantive exposure to the Japanese government work place, one of the placements is recommended to be a minimum of three months in duration.
Yes, the Mansfield Foundation assists Fellows in the process of making housing arrangements in Japan and provides each Fellow (excluding uniformed members of the military) with a housing allowance.
The Government of Japan provides official visas for Fellows and members of their immediate family. The official visa does not serve as a work authorization for spouses. Fellows’ spouses must ask their employers to sponsor their work visas.
Security clearance is not required to participate in the Mansfield Fellowship.
Application and Selection
The agency authorizing official will differ depending on each agency’s internal policies. In general, it should be someone with the authority to approve employees’ detail-assignments, make high-level decisions on salary and personnel coverage, and commit the agency to the Fellowship program.
Applicants from the U.S. Air Force should work with Mona Dee Taylor, Dean of Academics and Outreach for Air Force Fellows, (email@example.com) to coordinate agency authorization before applying. Applicants from the U.S. Air Force do not need to upload an agency authorization form in their application; the Air Force Fellows office will submit all U.S. Air Force applicants’ authorization forms directly to the Mansfield Foundation at one time.
Applicants from the U.S. Navy should get approval from their detailer to apply for the program. Navy applicants are recommended to contact their detailer 4-5 months in advance of the application deadline to discuss the program and their career progression.
The Mansfield Foundation and a bi-national selection committee review individual applications and conduct personal interviews. Please see the application and selection page for more information.
The Mike Mansfield Fellowships are competitive and are awarded on merit with selection based on each candidate’s qualifications relative to the entire pool of applicants. Successful candidates for the Fellowship program will be United States citizens and federal government employees who demonstrate the following:
- a strong career interest in areas of importance to the U.S.-Japan relationship
- the ability to articulate in a project plan clear goals and objectives and placement preferences for the year in Japan
- their agencies’ interest in U.S.-Japan issues and how participation in the Fellowships will contribute to their agencies’ missions
- service in U.S. agencies with jurisdiction over issues of importance to U.S.-Japan relations
- two consecutive years of service in the U.S. government and a commitment to continuing service in the federal government for a minimum of two years after the Fellowships
- a broad range of knowledge about the United States’ interests in Japan and an interest in expanding that knowledge
- evidence of the following personal qualities: self-discipline; a willingness to work long hours under stress where Japanese is the only language used and to take initiative; the capacity to deal with ambiguity; the ability to work successfully as a member of a team; a willingness to meet new people and build professional relationships; moral integrity; and sociability, curiosity, tact, adaptability, flexibility, resourcefulness, independence, and self-reliance.
Up to ten
No. Fellows represent a variety of U.S. government agencies and have a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, both policy-making and technical.
No. Although some Fellows have had knowledge of the Japanese language prior to applying for the program, it is not necessary for an applicant to be proficient in Japanese and no specific preference is given to applicants with prior language training. However, the Mansfield Foundation may require novice Japanese language speakers to commit to one year of full-time pre-departure Japanese language training prior to beginning placements in Japan.
Please refer to the application and selection page.
No. Applications received without signed agency authorization are considered incomplete and are disqualified.
The Mansfield Foundation does not distribute completed applications from previous years.
Is there a grade-level or GS requirement to apply?
There is no GS- or grade-level requirement. Applicants must be classified according to the federal civil service pay schedule. All applicants must meet the other eligibility requirements, including two years of full-time federal service immediately preceding the start of their Fellowship.
Can applicants apply as a couple if both partners meet the eligibility requirements?
Both eligible applicants can apply for the Fellowship, and they will be evaluated and selected or rejected on an individual basis.
Applicants are not required to work for a Japan-focused home agency, and many successful Fellowship alumni have come from domestic-focused agencies. While securing agency authorization may be more challenging at domestic-focused agencies, all Fellows experience one-of-a-kind professional development and growth opportunities through the Fellowship that benefit the U.S. government as a whole.
Pet expenses in Japan are high, particularly for pet fees in leased homes, so it is recommended that Fellows do not bring pets unless they are prepared to incur significant expenses.
No. We do not have a similar program for China or Korea.