The Watson Fellowship is an opportunity to travel the world pursuing a longstanding, deeply rooted interest. It seeks students with “unusual promise.”

Who is eligible?  Graduating seniors. All majors. US and International students. No GPA minimum.

Campus Contact: Hilary Gaudet, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biochemistry Program Co-coordinator, Mars Center for Science and Technology 3134, [email protected]


September 1st – The first draft of your personal statement (1500 words), your project proposal (1500 words), and resume are due. Use this google form to upload your application.

Week of September 12th – Committee will interview 8-12 semifinalists.

September 23rd – Four finalist will be chosen and nominated for the national competition.

November 2nd – Final project and proposal, faculty recommendations, transcripts (Wheaton and other institutions you have attended while at Wheaton), photo, and demographic information must be uploaded to the Watson Foundation portal.

March 15, 2023 – The Watson Foundation will announce the winners of the fellowship.

Watson Fellowships are awarded to people, not projects. The personal markers they look for are:
  • Leadership: Think of it through this question: what have you done, created organized that wouldn’t have happened without you?
  • Responsibility. How have you shown ownership in your work or community?
  • Integrity. How have you exhibited honest and principled behavior?
  • Emotional maturity. When faced with a difficult personal challenge how do you respond?
  • Imagination. How do you think beyond the boundaries you are given?
  • Independence. When have you carved a personal path to a meaningful end?
  • Resourcefulness. How do you deal effectively with problems when resources are scarce?
  • Courage. How do you persevere under moral, emotional, and physical challenges?
Project Markers:
  • Organic. The project should grow from your background, interests and activities.
  • Inspiring. The project’s deeply meaningful to your life and will provide the energy to sustain and propel through the ups and downs of the year.
  • Open. The Watson is wide. The project should take advantage of the fellowship’s unique latitude, its flexibility and permission to stay curious, even fail. The project should reject linear achievement and professional advancement as its central aim.
  • Bold. Provided that the project’s realistic, you are encouraged to push the envelope and to stretch.  A bold idea will take you into territory that is new for you. It can extend and build upon experiences that you have already had, but it is not a retracing or revisiting. What intrigues you? Where is it being studied, performed, made, etc.? Where’s the stretch?
  • Realistic. Without institutional affiliations, Watson fellows don’t have formal support in the field. So given this independence, the project must balance boldness with pragmatism. What’s achievable, given the subject matter, your preparation, your contacts, your funding, and your skills?
  • Connected. While the Watson year is independent, the project is intended to be experienced widely with others and to form community. As part of the application process, you are strongly advised to contact inspiring institutions and thought leaders as well as communities and individuals in country to build connections.
Questions to Consider as You Draft Your Project Proposal and Personal Statement
  • What do you specifically want to discover by traveling and immersing yourself in your chosen countries?
  • What is the central or core question that you want to try to answer as you explore your topic during your year abroad?
  • What methods are you going to utilize to carry out your project?
  • What will a typical day look like for you? How do you think it would be different in your ninth month as a Watson Fellow versus in the first month?
  • What background research have you done to help lay the foundation for a successful project?
  • Have you done similar types of fieldwork in the past? Have you had previous academic or personal exposure to the topic that you propose?
  • How has your background helped to prepare you and make you especially well equipped to carry out your proposed project?