The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School

Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship (ELI)

As part of a series on fellowships available to HKS-ers we’ve compiled all of the information for the Emirates Fellowship at HKS into one convenient place (just for you!).

(Note: We are not affiliated with Harvard in any way, and make sure to double check any of the information posted here. Sometimes things change, don’t make use your only source!)

At a time when the world is more connected than ever and engagement is increasingly crucial, the Emirates Leadership Initiative (ELI) Graduate Fellowship provides the critical framework for preparing our next generation of leaders. The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship not only allows Harvard to bring some of the most talented and ambitious future leaders from the Middle East to the U.S. to study, but it also enables students from the U.S. and other parts of the world to deepen their own understanding of the region and to learn from some of its leaders first-hand.

The Fellowship is a program of the Emirates Leadership Initiative, a research and curricular collaboration between the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) and the Middle East Initiative (MEI) at HKS, and the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

How to Apply

Step 1: Apply to Harvard Kennedy School: Application deadline is December 1, 2015.

Step 2: Apply for the Fellowship: Application deadline for the Emirates Fellowship is February 25, 2016.

To apply for the ELI Fellowship please visit the Student Financial Services web site.

The application for the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship will be made available by the Harvard Kennedy School financial aid office during the month of December. Prospective students who have applied to the Harvard Kennedy School will receive an email about how to apply for financial aid and can then locate the fellowship application. Students will not have heard back about their HKS Admissions decision before the February deadline to apply for the Fellowship.

You must submit below:

  1. Resume or Curriculum Vitae, not to exceed 2 pages in length.
  2. A document containing written responses to the following two prompts:
    1. Please discuss a topic you are passionate about and its personal significance (1,000 words or less).
    2. Please discuss your interest in the Emirates Leadership Initiative fellowship and how your commitment to public service and leadership in the Middle East has motivated you to apply (1000 words or less).
  3. Two letters of recommendation specifically supporting your candidacy for the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship. The letters must be in PDF form, signed by the referrer and on letterhead indicating the referrer’s institution/organization. Recommendation letters must be received by the deadline date for the application to be considered.


Finalists for the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship will be asked to come to Harvard Kennedy School (if in the US) or call in for a phone interview with members of Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship Selection Committee.

Program Information

Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellows are awarded a full tuition scholarship and health fees for up to two years, depending on the length of their graduate degree program.

Fellows are eligible for a generous stipend for up to two years depending on their graduate degree program and on the Harvard Kennedy School’s international student budget.

Applicants will be considered based on their excellent academic credentials and demonstrated work experience and interest in public service and leadership in the Arab world.

Fellows will be required to participate in a robust co-curricular program offered by the Center for Public Leadership.

This fellowship is open to applicants entering their first year of study in any of the Harvard Kennedy School’s masters’ degree programs.

Each year there will be a cohort of Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellows – half from the United Arab Emirates and half from other countries in the Arab world.

The fellowship will be open to all admitted master’s degree program students who are citizens of Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


The Emirates Leadership Initiative (ELI) Fellowship is open to all admitted degree program students at Harvard Kennedy School hailing from the United Arab Emirates and Arab countries. Applicants will be considered based on their demonstrated interest in developing their leadership and public management skills in the United Arab Emirates and Arab Countries. Successful candidates demonstrate excellent academic credentials, a deep commitment to public service, and strong leadership potential in the Middle East.Additionally, the Middle East Research Fellowship Program, part of the Emirates Leadership Initiative, offers one year pre- and post-doctoral fellowships for research related to Middle Eastern governance and public policy. For more information on Research Fellowship opportunities, click here.

The Fellowship Experience

The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellows are a part of the Center for Public Leadership’s community of graduate fellows and will be required to participate in an enriching co-curricular experience designed to enhance their skills and engage their development as emerging leaders of the Arab world. The co-curricular program typically includes a welcome retreat, a weekly series of speakers, workshops and seminars, a field experience (an annual trip to the UAE, focused on a different theme every year), and opportunities to connect with other Center for Public Leadership fellows and alumni.

Why the UAE?

Recognized as a leader at the cutting-edge of some of the world’s most pressing sustainability concerns and as a gateway for business in the Middle East, the UAE is helping to set the standard for new developments in the areas of energy, infrastructure development, and education.


Can I still apply if I hold dual citizenship (for example, Canadian and Lebanese citizenship)?

Yes. As long as the applicant has citizenship in an Arab country, he or she may apply.

Does the fellowships selection committee have access to my Harvard Kennedy School admissions materials?

The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship Selection Committee does not see the personal statements, transcripts, or letters of recommendation submitted to the HKS admissions committee, only the documents submitted on this form.

May I apply to more than one fellowship?

Students may apply for multiple fellowships at CPL, but we encourage applicants to think about which fellowship aligns with his/her experience and goals.

Where do I send my fellowship application materials? Where do I send my fellowship recommendations if sent separately by the referrers?

All students’ application materials go to the Financial Aid office; any questions regarding the Financial Aid site or general application should be directed to Student Financial Services. CPL may only accept those letters sent separately by recommenders.

Please Note: the fellowship/scholarship review process requires that we be able to electronically compile your submitted materials into a single document. It is imperative, therefore, that none of the documents you submit be protected by passwords or any other means. For example, documents submitted as PDFs should be configured to permit edits, changes and copying. If the fellowship/scholarship for which you are applying requires you to submit a letter from a recommender, please remind your recommender not to protect these documents. If you do submit protected documents you risk not being considered for the fellowship/scholarship for which you have applied.

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