Online Programs

American University Consistently Tops the List of Presidential Management Fellowship Finalists: Here’s Why

If you aspire to be selected to participate in a Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), American University’s School of Public Affairs is the place to go to earn your Master of Public Administration and Policy. This year, for the second year in a row, American University has produced more PMF finalists than any other university in the country and has a 98 percent success rate of finalists becoming fellows.

The Presidential Management Fellowship: An Elite Leadership Training Program

The Presidential Management Fellows Program was established in 1977 through an Executive Order from President Jimmy Carter. Fellows receive two-year appointments to full-time positions with federal government agencies. Starting salaries range from $53,435 to $92,145, depending on the position.1,2

The program is organized for Fellows who wish to eventually become government leaders; those who successfully complete the program are able to convert their two-year agency appointment into a permanent or term position with the government. For Fellows who decide not to pursue this route after completing the program, having this highly respected fellowship on your résumé “carries prestige anywhere you go,” PMF organizers note.

American University Has Produced More Finalists Than Any Other University for Two Years Running

In 2016, American University had 42 finalists and 59 semi-finalists. In 2015, 43 students were named finalists—and of those, 13 were enrolled in the School of Public Affairs. These numbers make American University the top-ranked university in the nation in terms of the numbers of PMF finalists and semi-finalists it produces.

How American University Prepares Students for the PMF Application Process

After applying, candidates must take an online test and submit a résumé and transcript. Top-performing first-round candidates are named finalists, who are eligible for an appointment as a Fellow with a participating federal agency.

While it’s a challenging process, American University prepares its candidates for each stage. Here’s how:

  1. First step: The online test
    The number of American University PMF candidates who passed the online exam in 2015 was nearly triple the national average: 28 percent versus 10 percent. One secret to the school’s success: American University has a Blackboard site set up with study guides and offers prep workshops for students who plan to take the three-hour psychological test.
  2. For finalists: Connections and networking
    If selected, finalists have one year to apply for positions available only to Fellows. Last year, there were 550 finalists. American University connects its finalists with alumni through networking sessions in which finalists receive tips on applying for these positions. This dramatically improves their chances of success. Because of the school’s efforts and support, 98 percent of American University’s finalists become Fellows.


1GS-9, GS-13 Payscale. Salary Table 2016-DCB


If you are interested in learning more about public administration and policy careers and the opportunities afforded to students enrolled in American University’s online Master of Public Administration and Policy program, please request more information.