Policy Fellowship

Frequently Asked Questions

Josh MakowerStanford Biodesign’s director, Josh Makower, testifying in Washington, DC

Who are the directors of the Policy Fellowship?

The Policy Fellowship is led by program director Kavita Patel, Stanford Biodesign's director Josh Makower, research director  Sandra Waugh Ruggles, and innovation liaison James Wall.

What’s the difference between the new Policy Fellowship and Stanford Biodesign’s Innovation Fellowship?

The Policy Fellowship is a new educational program targeted at future policy leaders interested in the intersection between health policy and health technology innovation. Policy fellows will go on to pursue a wide variety of policy-related careers (see below).

The Innovation Fellowship is Stanford Biodesign’s original educational program for training aspiring innovators in our proven process for needs-driven health technology innovation. Innovation fellows have gone on to use their training to found organizations, drive innovation inside major health technology companies, invent important new technologies, and/or teach others the Biodesign Process.

Learn more in this side-by-side comparison of the two programs.

Can I apply to both fellowship programs at the same time?

We encourage you to apply to the fellowship that is best aligned with your career goals. However, if you believe your background and interests are good fit for both, you may pursue the two programs concurrently. Please be aware that the application requirements and deadlines differ by program and that you may want/need to secure different letters of recommendation.

What career paths will Policy Fellows pursue after the fellowship?

Fellowship alumni will be equipped to pursue a wide variety of careers that include policy-related positions in academia, federal or state legislative or executive branches, government agencies, government affairs departments within a health technology corporation, advocacy organizations, non-profits, or think tanks.

Is the Policy Fellowship targeted at applicants at a particular stage in their career?

We are seeking applicants who are motivated to make an impact in health technology policy, regardless of the stage of your career. We encourage all qualified applicants to apply.

How does this fellowship differ from other health policy programs or internships?

The Policy fellowship is a unique experience that focuses on the intersection of policy and health technology innovation. The two-year program allows fellows to:

  • First, conduct cutting-edge policy research while immersing themselves in the process of health technology innovation
  • Second, participate in the policy-making process and help bridge the divide between health technology innovators and policymakers.

With the first research year located at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and the second internship year spent in Washington, DC or another policy hub, fellows are able to fully experience both worlds of innovation and policy-making.

How many Policy Fellowships are available?

We will select 4 top candidates from the application pool.

When is the application deadline?

Applications for the 2024-26 fellowship are now closed. We will begin recruiting for the 2025-27 fellowship in spring 2024.  Please check back then!

Important: It is your responsibility to ensure that all application materials are received by the deadline, including all three letters of recommendation (see below for more information). Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Who should apply?

We’re looking for applicants with diverse backgrounds from health systems, quality and regulatory environments, health technology start-ups or corporations, and/or government. An advanced degree is required, with 3-5 years of relevant work experience (or post-graduate study) preferred.

We also are seeking candidates with robust academic research experience, although past research does not have to be specific to health policy. Individuals should have exceptional leadership, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and change making skills. Applicants must be authorized to work for any US employer, including the US government, upon hire.

Stanford Biodesign values diversity and considers all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or physical disability. We strongly encourage people of historically underrepresented groups to apply to the Stanford Biodesign Policy Fellowship. Learn more about our commitment to diversity.   

Can I apply if I require visa sponsorship to work in the United States?

Applicants to the Policy Fellowship must be authorized to work for any US employer, including the US government, upon hire. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide visa sponsorship for this particular program.

How many letters of recommendation must I have, when are they due, and what should they cover?

Three letters of recommendation are required. We must have all three letters by the application deadline or your application will not be considered. (Note: you can submit a total of four letters if, for example, you are concerned about recommenders’ letters not arriving by the deadline. However, this is completely optional.)

Ask individuals to write your letters who know you well, whose opinion you trust, and who want to see you succeed. These recommenders must be able to provide specific examples, anecdotes, and evidence of your unique skills and accomplishments.

Your recommenders will be asked to assess your performance on the skills we’re seeking in the fellowship and to provide a reference letter that addresses the following prompts:

  • How do you know and interact with the applicant?
  • Give a specific example of how the applicant has demonstrated exemplary leadership, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and/or change making skills in your interactions together.
  • What is the most important constructive feedback that you have given the applicant? How did the applicant respond?
  • Is there anything else that we should know about the applicant?

Important: The requests for letters are automatically generated and sent by our application system when you enter the contact information for your references. In order to give your references adequate time to respond, do not wait until the last day to enter this information into the application. We also encourage you to proactively confirm with your references that they have received the request from our system.

Once written, your references must submit their recommendations through the online system. We will not accept letters delivered via email or the postal service. It is your responsibility to follow up with those whom you have asked to provide the recommendations and ensure that the letters are received by the application deadline.

Please note: If you applied for the Policy Fellowship in the past and would like to re-use previous letters of recommendation, please contact our Fellowships Coordinator with this request.

Is there an application fee?

No, there is no fee to apply for the Policy Fellowship so that a diversity of candidates, regardless of financial status, can be considered for the program.

When are the interviews?

 Interviews for the 2025-27 fellowship will be held in late September or early October 2024. Please stay tuned for more information.

When will the finalists be notified about their acceptance?

We will notify all finalists of our acceptance decisions before the end of the 2023 calendar year.

When does the fellowship start?

The Policy fellowship will begin on August 1, 2024.

Is the fellowship a full-time commitment?

Yes. The Policy Fellowship is an intense full-time experience. It will not be feasible to maintain another position during the fellowship experience unless on a full sabbatical or leave of absence.

Can I take other Stanford courses while completing the Policy Fellowship during my time at the university?

Fellows are expected to be fully engaged with policy research and other elements of the curriculum during their first year and will not have time to audit other Stanford courses. Exceptions are possible in rare cases where a compelling need exists.

Do the Policy Fellows receive compensation?

Compensation for the 2024-26 Policy Fellowship will be approximately $5,970 per month. This amount is enough to cover basic room and board during the fellowship period.

Do the Policy Fellows receive benefits?

Stanford University health insurance coverage is available for Policy Fellows, spouses, and dependents, if desired. Benefits vary depending on  your appointment category. However, plans include medical, dental, and vision coverage, as well as mental health and maternity/paternity benefits.

Can I choose the area/topic for my policy research during the first year?

Stanford Biodesign maintains a research agenda that is developed in collaboration with a board of policy advisors from across the health technology sector. In the first month of the program, the research director will work with each incoming fellow to align your research projects with your background, research experience, interests, and career goals. While we will try to be accommodating, we cannot guarantee what projects the fellows will work on in advance.

How can I learn more about the Policy Fellowship?

Stanford Biodesign will host two webinars during the recruiting cycle to provide prospective applicants with more information, as well as the opportunity to ask questions. Learn more and register to attend on the Program Details page.

Can I visit Stanford Biodesign to learn more?

To ensure a "level playing field" for all candidates, we are not able to accommodate in-person visits at this time. Instead, we encourage you to participate in one of our webinars to learn more about the program and get your questions answered. Register to attend on the Program Details page.

What other ways are there to get involved with Stanford Biodesign?

The best way to get or stay connected with Stanford Biodesign is to attend our events, where you can engage with our faculty, fellows, alumni, and other members of our growing community. To learn more about the Stanford Biodesign innovation process, check out our textbook and video library.