U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE - CAREERS REPRESENTING AMERICA

About the Foreign Service

Points are not awarded for college language courses. 

If you claim a working knowledge of any language used in Foreign Service work, you may schedule a telephone test with the Foreign Service Institute once you pass the Foreign Service Oral Assessment.

For information to help you assess your own speaking level, visit http://www.govtilr.org and click on "Speaking" under the skill level descriptions for a general description of the expected proficiency. The speaking self-assessment tool, available on the same site, will also help you estimate your language proficiency.

Foreign Service Generalists and Specialist candidates who can document creditable veterans' service by submitting form DD 214 or certification showing an expected honorable discharge date no later than 120 days after the certificate is submitted are eligible to receive additional points on the Hiring Register in their career track or skill group. Candidates whose Oral Assessment is scored on a 7-point scale will receive 0.175 veteran preference points for a five-point standing and 0.35 for a 10-point standing as defined in 5 USC § 2108. Diplomatic Security Specialist candidates whose Oral Assessment is scored on a 100-point scale may receive five or 10 veteran preference points, respectively, based on their eligibility. In all qualifying cases points are awarded only once a candidate has passed the Oral Assessment, received the necessary clearances, and has been placed on the Hiring Register.

Qualifying, active military duty candidates may, upon request to the Registrar, be granted unrestricted additional time on the Register. Candidates need to document their active duty military status. Candidates need to notify the Registrar when they are discharged from the service; their 18-month clock of eligibility on the Hiring Register will begin or resume effective the date of separation.

Furthermore, qualifying, preference-eligible veterans, including Diplomatic Security Special Agents, may be appointed from the rank-ordered Hiring Register at any time before they turn 65. If appointed between the ages of 60 to 65, a qualifying, preference-eligible veteran may serve five years prior to being mandatorily retired.

There is no set educational level or foreign language skill required to join the Foreign Service as an Officer/Generalist. Some Foreign Service Specialist positions do have degree requirements.

Officers: Most Officer candidates possess a Bachelor's degree or certification; some three quarters of recent hires have advanced degrees, ranging from public administration, international relations, history, and law to liberal arts and science fields. Candidates who have passed the oral exam may qualify for bump-up points to improve their position on the register by qualifying with the Foreign Service Institute,which assesses language proficiency (see below). The Foreign Service will train officers in job skills or languages required for assignments.

For more information about Foreign Languages for Officers/Generalists: go to Officer Test Information and Selection Process --> Foreign Languages

Specialists: Foreign language skills are not a prerequisite to employment. The Department of State determines which overseas positions are "language designated" and offers language training to specialists assigned to those positions. Successful candidates who pass the Oral Assessment can raise their ranking on the List of Eligible Hires by demonstrating proficiency in a foreign language used by the Department through an assessment with the Foreign Service Institute.

For more information about Foreign Languages for Specialists: go to Specialist Selection Process --> Foreign Languages

  1. Will the salary matching take into account only "salary" or will it take into account bonuses/commissions as well?

    Only salary is taken into consideration. Any bonus or commission is not factored in.

  2. What pay table is used for matching? What about danger pay if posted to a hardship post?

    The Foreign Service Salary Table - Overseas is used. There is no additional locality pay factored in. To access the FS Pay Table Overseas, please go to http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/pay/. The first thing you see listed in the Base salary table. Skip that. Then scroll down past the listing of locality rates. Then you will find the FS Salary Table Overseas.

    The overseas FS salary table pertains to all overseas posts. However, in dangerous posts, there is a danger pay differential on top of this (percentage). In many hardship posts, there is an additional hardship allowance (amount various on the degree of hardship). In locations where the cost of living is higher than it is in Washington, D.C., a COLA (cost of living allowance) is usually authorized.

    You can also check out the Department of State Allowances website that has information about the hardship, danger, and cost of living allowances for each post. The URL is http://aoprals.state.gov/

  3. If a Foreign Service employee is going overseas, will the employee have to pay all the living expenses? What is covered and what is not?

    As a Foreign Service Officer or Specialist, you are a federal employee, and you will pay applicable US federal and state taxes. The Department will pay to ship your personal belongings and pay for travel for you and authorized family members to post. You will receive government leased housing or a housing allowance if you are at a post with no USG owned or leased housing. Tuition for your children to attend international schools at post (or at boarding school, if appropriate local schools are not available) is covered. All other living expenses are your responsibility.

It takes from a few days to months to complete a suitability determination. The length of time depends on the issues involved in each candidate’s file and the need for the Panel to obtain additional information in order to reach a decision that both conforms to the standards outlined in the Foreign Affairs Manual, and is fair to the candidate.

The Foreign Service is looking for employees who represent the depth and breadth of the United States, and we expect new hires will bring unique skills and life experiences not shared by other candidates. Those who come to the Foreign Service with decades of experience will have opportunities to share that experience, but they should not expect to be treated differently than Entry-Level Officers many years their junior. It can be a challenge, but the mix of new officers can greatly enrich teams at posts, and most of these second- and third-career new hires find the experience richly rewarding.

If a candidate declines two appointment offers, his/her name is removed from the register, even if the 18-month eligibility period has not expired. If a candidate declines an offer, there is no guarantee that his/her name will be reached again and another employment offer made.

Yes. There are some Officers who entered the Foreign Service shortly before turning 60. The Department of State encourages all interested candidates who meet the age qualifications to apply.

The only requirement is that you must have entered an A-100 class before your 60th birthday, as the Foreign Service has mandatory retirement at age 65 and it takes five years of service to qualify for retirement benefits.

Different limitations apply to Preference-Eligible Veterans. To ascertain if you are a Preference-Eligible Veteran, please follow the links on http://www.fedshirevets.gov to the "Veterans' Preference Questionnaire.

There are a good number of Foreign Service Officers and Specialists in the Reserves or National Guard, and military leave is granted so that Reservists and members of the National Guard can fulfill their obligations.  For detailed information on military leave and how it works, please click here and select 3 FAM 3440: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/85088.pdf.

Locked

Hiring under a CR depends on the specific language and appropriations the CR authorizes. Normally, a CR allows spending at about 80% of the previous year's budget and only for continuing activities, not new ones. So hiring is possible but limited. Q: Will there be any leniency for people on the register who get the notice two weeks (or some really short amount of time) before class date start, who simply cannot do such short notice?

There are times when there is short notice. As we do not know what is going to happen, it's hard to say when offers will go out.

There are a couple of things to consider.

  • If you have not yet turned down a first offer, you may be given a second offer. If you turn down the second offer, your candidacy will be terminated.
  • If you have not turned down an offer previously, and you receive too-short notice, you may decline. Your name will then return to the register, and you may (or may not) receive a second offer.
  • If you know for certain that you would not be available to accept an offer, for example, to a January class, you may contact your Registrar and request that your candidacy be put on hold until a specific month. If you do that, you will not be called during the "on-hold" period and will thus not have to turn down an offer. It is important to note that being "on-hold" does not increase your maximum time on the register (18 months). You will need to contact your Registrar to ensure that your candidacy goes live when you are ready.

The Department of State is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation.

Yes. A candidate may qualify for more than one career track and be on more than one hiring register at a time. For example, applicants may qualify for more than one Specialist career track or they may qualify for a Specialist career track(s) as well as a Generalist career track(s).

Generally, the dates on the register are not perfectly contiguous, but overlap by some period of time. However, if a candidate accepts a job offer from the Department in one career track while he or she is on one or more other registers (whether Specialist or Generalist), effective the date that the candidate signs the Letter of Offer, any outstanding offers still active or pending with the Foreign Service will be considered closed.

Limited Non-Career Appointment (LNAs) are not career appointments; applicants may accept these positions without closing other career candidacies.

The appointment process to become a Foreign Service Officer requires strong commitment. Occasionally, candidates request deferral of their candidacy. Active or reserve military personnel, U.S. government civilian employees, Peace Corps Volunteers, and candidates on Fulbright grants serving abroad plus spouses of Foreign Service employees currently assigned abroad may request deferrals for the period of their overseas service, up to a maximum of two years.

Requests for deferrals from any other candidates will be considered on a case-by-case basis; however, candidates should be aware that only truly compelling deferral requests can be approved. A deferral does not result in additional time for a name to remain on a hiring register. A deferral merely "stops the clock;" at the end of the deferral period, the candidate's name will be re-added to the register for the period of time remaining from their original candidacy.

There are no precise hiring targets, but with the Department's budget decreasing or at best leveling, hiring in 2014 and 2015 will more likely mirror the attrition hiring patterns of 2013 rather than the robust growth of the Diplomacy 3.0 period in 2009-2011.

The number of candidates invited to the Oral Assessment will be reduced to balance the number of candidates on the Register with the likely number of available positions. As of now, no other changes to the selection process are anticipated.

Hiring rates are always subject to available funding, the Department's hiring needs, and number of vacant positions. The number of vacant positions is driven by funding and attrition. Attrition is driven by promotion rates, resignations, and retirements. That is quite a number of variables, and. we cannot predict when a clearer picture will emerge.

We encourage all candidates interested in the Foreign Service to pursue this career and the attendant steps in the selection process regardless of the uncertain outlook. The best candidates, with the highest scores on the Register, will usually get a job offer even in such uncertain times.

For information about FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test) dates and deadlines, please visit the Officer Selection Process page, and choose Step #3: Take the Foreign Service Officer Test.

For FSOA (Foreign Service Oral Assessment) dates and deadlines, please visit the Officer Selection Process page and choose Step #5: Take the Oral Assessment.

Home Leave is provided to employees by order of Congress to ensure that Foreign Service employees have the opportunity to spend significant periods of time in the United States while pursuing careers overseas. Home leave accrues at the rate of 15 workdays per calendar year while on overseas assignment, and may be used at the end of a two or three-year assignment abroad, or at the midpoint of a three- or four-year tour. In addition to providing paid home leave, the U.S. government will also pay for you and your family to travel to your home leave address in the United States.

The Home Leave days you accrue are federal workdays, so weekends and Federal Holidays do not count against your HL. All HL must be taken in the United States. You cannot use it for vacations in foreign countries. You may be able to take annual leave, instead, for trips outside of the U.S.

You are required to have a home leave address in the United States. It can be anywhere in the U.S.  Many people, who no longer have a personal residence in the U.S., select the address of a family member (for example, someone they would visit while on home  leave.)  While you will receive your salary during home leave, the Department of State does not pay for housing or per diem during home leave.  

Also note that while many of Foreign Service employees accumulate HL days beyond what they are able to use, when you retire or resign you are not compensated in any way for those days.  You do not "cash them out" nor are they added to your time in service.

View the current pay schedule on the main Department of State site.

Civil Service:

GS stands for General Schedule. This is the pay system under which most domestic Federal employees fall. There are also Wage Grade (WG) and Senior Executive Service (SES) pay schedules.

Foreign Service Officers/Generalists:

New FSOs, no matter what their entry grade, are considered to be Entry-Level Officers (known as ELOs), and their first/second assignments will be entry-level positions.

There are three possible Foreign Service Officer entry grades: FP-06, FP-05, and FP-04 — with FP-04 being the highest possible entry grade. Officers bid on positions at their grade. An FP-05 is more senior to an FP-06.

The entry grade is based on educational level and number of years of qualifying work experience. The step offered within the appropriate hiring grade is based on the number of years of qualifying work experience. Higher steps may also be afforded based on one's salary prior to joining the Foreign Service, all the way up to step 14 in the appropriate entry grade. One cannot be offered the next highest entry grade to match salary, however.

For information on entry salaries for FSOs, please visit the Benefits page. In the above "current pay schedule" link, please note that 2013 rates apply in 2014 and the "overseas" pay scale applies to FS Generalists and Specialists.

Foreign Service Specialists:

Foreign Service Specialist career candidates enter the Foreign Service at the appropriate entry grade listed in the specific Specialist Vacancy Announcement. The salary awarded within the grade (step) is determined based on education and work experience. Higher steps may be awarded based on one’s salary prior to joining the Foreign Service, but only for employees coming from other Federal agencies. Again, a candidate may not be offered the next highest entry grade to match salary, however.

Your 3 weeks at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) will likely be followed by 2 weeks of SEO-specific "orientation," followed then by transfer directly into your assigned domestic office. When it comes time you will be notified when your further SEO training will occur.

The initial assignment which is in Washington DC will be 2 years long.

Housing will be provided only for the initial 3-week training at FSI. No housing will be provided for the 2-week SEO specific orientation. Per diem is not provided after the initial 3-week training at FSI. New-hire employees who live within 50 miles of Washington DC are considered local hires, and do not get per diem, travel allowance, or a moving allowance.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State assigns experienced Foreign Service Officers to the position of Diplomat in Residence (DIR) at certain colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The DIR program is central to the effort to recruit for the Foreign Service, Civil Service and Student Programs the best and brightest to represent America's rich diversity to the world. DIRs disseminate information about career opportunities not only at their home universities but throughout the region where they are located.

As a standard practice, we do not provide specific feedback to individuals because many people may go through this process more than once and detailed guidance would constitute unfair advantage. Nonetheless, below you will find generic guidance that you might find useful; please note that these comments are general and some of them may not apply to you.

The Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) review complements the written test by looking at an applicant's total file: the FSOT scores and essay, the work history, the education, and the personal experiences. So beyond relying on the test scores alone, we are searching for those additional job-related qualities that enhance a person’s chance of successfully performing Foreign Service work. This credential and experiential review is similar to what major international corporations do in reviewing job applications for their positions, a so-called “whole candidate” review.

The panels, composed of trained members of the Board of Examiners, evaluate candidates based on how well the candidates' record and personal narratives demonstrate qualities that are predictors of success in the Foreign Service: substantive knowledge, intellectual, interpersonal, leadership, communications, and management skills. There is no pre-set cut-score. Rather, candidates receive a relative ranking compared to other candidates in the same career track. Only the most highly competitive candidates in each career track are invited to the oral assessment. The number of invitations issued reflects, in large part, our anticipated hiring needs, so the number of invitees varies significantly as projected hiring changes.

Tens of thousands take the test annually, but a much smaller number advance to the QEP review, and then only a few hundred are invited to the Oral Assessment. Please note that Foreign Service Officer hiring targets are adjusted regularly. A record number of individuals are applying for a very limited number of Foreign Service Officer positions.

The process is extremely competitive. Many candidates with excellent qualifications who may have received an invitation to the oral assessment at a time of increased new positions will not receive one when the Department’s hiring targets are lower or there is an increase in the number of candidates.

Although the QEP is a total file review, with no one element dominating all the factors considered, the one area that you have the most control over is the Personal Narrative.

  • The Personal Narrative is an important part of your application and is read carefully by the Qualifications Evaluation Panel. Your responses are influential in determining your rank order in your career track. This is the place for you to highlight not just what you have done, but how you have done it and what you have learned.
  • It is a place for you to emphasize how what you have done relates to the precepts and would be useful in the Foreign Service. Candidates are encouraged to draw from all aspects of their life.
  • In your responses to the Personal Narrative questions, remember this is part of a job application. Focus on answering the question.
  • Be your own best advocate, but don't stretch the truth. We do randomly verify information provided and in the case of questionable responses.

You may wish to speak to or correspond with a Diplomat in Residence in your area. These Foreign Service Officers are not part of the assessment or selection process, but are trained to be advisors in the application process. Diplomats in Residence are senior Foreign Service officers and are key members of our recruitment team. For a listing of DIRs and contact information, view the DIR map under "Connect."

Please keep in mind that there are only a limited number of Foreign Service Officer positions available. Many candidates with fine skills and backgrounds do not advance to the oral assessment, simply because we are able to interview only a fraction of those applying for positions. Many successful Foreign Service Officers have applied more than once.

Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT)

It pays to guess, eliminate any obvious wrong answers, and get a good night's sleep.

All the sections are timed and you will need to pace yourself.

You may not change your career track once you have submitted an application during the five weeks prior to a specific testing window. However, since the application is only valid for that testing window, if you later realize that information in your application is incorrect or outdated, you may elect to cancel your test appointment and submit a new application during the next five-week registration period. You can change your career track at that time.

Assuming no serious security or medical issues arise, candidates who take the Foreign Service Officer Test can expect that the minimum time from the test date to final clearance will be about eight months, but it can often be months  longer.  Offers to those on the hiring register will depend on budget and hiring authority for the Foreign Service Generalist positions.

FSOT passers are sent an email directing them to log in again to find out the results of the QEP and whether they are invited to the Oral Assessment.  Candidates can expect to be notified that the results are available approximately seven weeks after the Personal Narratives submission due date.

Because so many applicants take the Foreign Service Officer Test more than one time, individual feedback would constitute an unfair advantage and cannot be provided.

As a first step you will need to create an account on the Pearson VUE website www.pearsonvue.com/fsot.  You will then be able to log in to your account and initiate STEP 1:  Apply to become a Foreign Service Officer.

Application submission and seat selection now occur at the same time during the five-week period prior to a specific testing window. You will receive an on-screen confirmation message after you submit completed eligibility verification and application forms, and a second confirmation message after you select a seat on the Pearson VUE website. You will also receive an e-mail from Pearson VUE, which includes details about your testing appointment, ID requirements, and directions to the testing center.

You may not make any changes to an application once it has been submitted. Candidates are encouraged to take the FSOT at the earliest opportunity after application submission for this reason.

If more than three weeks have passed since the close of the testing window and you have not received notification that your results are available, contact Pearson VUE at http://pearsonvue.com/fsot/contact.

You may change contact information online by simply going into your profile to edit the information.

Test administrator Pearson VUE will send you an e-mail advising when and how to access your results no later than three weeks from the close of the testing window.  You will need to use the same personal login ID and password that you used to first apply for the FSOT on the Pearson VUE site.

You may take the FSOT only once during a 12-month period. If you wish to retake the test you will be able to submit new eligibility verification and application forms and select a seat during the five-week registration period prior to a testing window that opens at least 12 months from the date of your last test. For example, if you tested in October the earliest you could retest is in October of the following year.

All candidates who pass the FSOT and submit Personal Narratives, regardless of their score on the FSOT, are considered by the Qualifications Evaluation Panels.  The QEPs look at the "total candidate" to rank order all the candidates in a given career track.  The number of candidates invited to the Oral Assessment depends on our anticipated hiring needs and budget.

Once an application is submitted it cannot be changed for that testing window. You may, however, reschedule your appointment for another date during that same testing window up until the close of the five-week registration period. Once the five-week registration period closes you can only cancel an appointment. If you need to cancel you must do so at least 48 hours (two business days) before your scheduled appointment. The confirmation e-mail you receive from Pearson VUE contains information on how to do so. If you fail to provide this notification, you will be assessed a $72 no-show fee. Since your registration is only valid for that specific testing window, you will need to register again during the five-week period prior to a future testing window if you wish to reschedule at a later time. You may take the FSOT during any of the three annual testing windows, but only once in a 12-month period.

You cannot make a name change online.  Contact Pearson VUE by phone to receive instructions on what documents you would need to provide to substantiate the change/correct the error. You can reach customer service at (866) 389-8339 between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm Central Time, Monday through Friday excluding holidays.

You may take a break, but the timer will continue to run.  Once you start the test there are no scheduled breaks during the approximately 180 minutes of testing time.

You will need a valid, federal or state government-issued photo ID such as a driver's license, passport, or military ID.  No other items will be permitted in the room where the test is delivered so you should limit what you bring to the center.

Your account status will change permitting you to move to the next step in the selection process, and Pearson VUE, the test administrator, will send you a confirmation email. 

You should report to the testing center at least 30 minutes before the time shown on your confirmation email.  If you report to the center more than 15 minutes later than the time stated on your confirmation email, you may not be admitted.

Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), a leader in designing employee selection instruments, prepares the test questions.  The questions are reviewed and approved by Foreign Service Officers.

Yes. Applications are saved on the Pearson VUE website. However, no information can be changed once an application is submitted during the five-week period prior to a specific testing window. Since an application is only valid for that testing window, if you later realize that information in your application is incorrect or outdated, you may elect to cancel your test appointment and submit a new application during the next five-week registration period. You can also change your career track at that time.

Foreign Service Officer Career Tracks

There are many possibilities, depending on the size of a post. If you go to a large post, you might serve as a General Services Officer or a Human Resources Officer. If you go to a small post, you might be in charge of all management issues.

Consular Officers are specifically responsible for protecting and assisting American citizens abroad as well as visa adjudication (both non-immigrant and immigrant visas). Other officers in the post generally do not get involved in those areas except as duty officer, unless emergencies arise or policy issues crop up.

Your positions prior to tenure aren't "unstructured." Positions offered to entry level Officers are designed to give them the necessary career track experience to move them toward tenure.

Political Officers get to know local political leaders, journalists, and labor leaders, as well as national, regional and local government officials. If a Political Officer reads a controversial article in the local press one morning, he might call a local contact, discuss the contact's views on the controversy, and spend the afternoon putting together a report for his boss or Washington.

Check out Diplomats@Work to get a taste of what it's like to be a Foreign Service Officer during a crisis, or during an important state event.

The Foreign Service Officer Corps is made up of five different career tracks. At the beginning of the hiring process, you must choose a track. The tracks are Consular, Economic, Management, Political, and Public Diplomacy: you can get more details about each career track by going to the Officer Career Track page. To assist you with your decision, we developed a questionnaire to help you match your interests to the career track that may be right for you.

We need to know who wants to do what for workforce planning purposes and to look at their background throughout the selection process. We urge people to study carefully at the options before they choose.

Read up on the different Foreign Service Officer career tracks, and take the quiz to help you decide which career track is right for you. The We are Diplomacy video clips also provide insight into the day-to-day work of various career tracks.

Foreign Service Officer Oral Assessment

Yes, it is possible to have more than one active candidacy. However, if a candidate accepts a job offer from the Department in one career track while he or she is on an additional register or registers, effective the date that the candidate signs the Letter of Offer, the written acceptance will close any other candidacies still active or pending with the Foreign Service. Limited Non-Career Appointments however are not considered career positions and accepting an LNA position will not terminate other candidacies.

Candidates cannot use their own writing materials, nor can they take much with them into their assessment exercises.  We will provide the resources you need to take the assessment.  You can take the following items into your assessment elements: medication, lip balm, glasses, breath mints/hard candy, tissue, earplugs.  The Program Assistant may ask to see these items before you take them back with you.  You can keep your passport and wallet on you as well, though we ask that you keep these items on your person, i.e. in a pocket, rather than carry them around with you.  You cannot take purses or bags with you into the assessment exercises; you will be asked to leave them in the closet.

No, we do not provide earplugs, but candidates are free to bring and use their own.

There is limited refrigerator space available for candidates, so if you plan to bring lunch please try to bring something that does not require refrigeration.  Candidates spend their lunch break outside of the Assessment Center and there are a number of eateries located nearby.  The lunch break is typically 40-45 minutes long.

We can provide a room for you to pump, but please contact reasonableaccommodations@state.gov several days ahead of your assessment so that we are aware of your request.

Yes, you will be asked to put your badge away with the rest of your belongings the day of the test.  We do this to ensure that all candidates are treated equally on the assessment day.  Some outside candidates might see the badge and believe it will provide an advantage.  This policy is in no way meant to ignore your service to the Department.  The assessors will see your service in their review of your file.

Please email reasonableaccommodations@state.gov at least three weeks before your scheduled Oral Assessment.

You may request an extension for taking the Oral Assessment if there is a compelling reason for doing so. Active or reserve military personnel, U.S. government civilian employees, Peace Corps Volunteers, and candidates on Fulbright grants serving abroad plus spouses of Foreign Service employees currently assigned abroad may request deferrals for the period of their overseas service, up to a maximum of two years.

Requests from other candidates will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To request an extension, write to reschedule@state.gov; include the reason for your request. If your request is granted, you will be permitted to reschedule your assessment within the authorized extension period by contacting reschedule@state.gov.

Currently, our policy is to allow candidates to take their medications into the testing area if necessary.  This is not usually the case because candidates have a good amount of waiting time built into their day that should allow them to take care of medical needs during a break rather than during a testing session.  However, if you have notable medical needs to which you will need to attend throughout the testing day, we urge you to inform us of these medical issues before the day of your assessment.  You may need to contact ReasonableAccomodations@state.gov if you believe your medical needs warrant some kind of special accommodation.  The Program Assistants may ask to see any items you take into the testing area.

No. Oral assessments are only conducted in the Continental United States at the locations listed on the Officer Test Information and Selection Process page.

You will not be allowed to use ANY electronics, including cell phones, while in the Assessment Center.  You will be allowed to use electronics when you are outside of the Assessment Center, (ex. when you are on your lunch break).  You will be allowed to take watches into your testing area, but stopwatches are not allowed; the assessors will time you when required.  You can read printed materials while on breaks that you spend in the Assessment Center, so feel free to bring printed books, magazines, notes, etc.

No, but there are a number of eateries nearby that candidates can access during their lunch break.

Candidates who pass the Oral Assessment will be able to meet with a Diplomatic Service representative after their OA to ask questions about the security clearance process and the e-QIP forms in particular.  If you are not able to finish the forms, you will be given a 30 day period in which to do so.  After the 30 day period, if your e-QIP is still incomplete, your security clearance request will be cancelled which will result in termination of your Foreign Service candidacy.  (Please note: You no longer have to bring hard copies of the e-QIP forms to the OA, but Diplomatic Security does ask that you complete and certify the forms before your Oral Assessment).

If you are already at the assessment center, waiting for the assessment to begin, let a Program Assistant know immediately.  Once you begin the first exercise of your assessment, you will not be able to reschedule your assessment.  If you have not arrived at the assessment center yet, please email reschedule@state.gov to let us know what happened.  We want to see you at your best, so we will do our best to accommodate your situation, but a reschedule opportunity is NOT guaranteed.

Signing the NDA means that you are not allowed to discuss the specifics of the examination with others at any point during or after the oral assessment.  For example, if you’ve taken the assessment before, you may want to share your experience with other candidates.  We ask that you refrain from doing so  as the examination material is restricted property of the US government and disclosure within or outside of the Assessment Center is prohibited.

For information about FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test) dates and deadlines, please visit the Officer Selection Process page, and choose Step #3: Take the Foreign Service Officer Test.

For FSOA (Foreign Service Oral Assessment) dates and deadlines, please visit the Officer Selection Process page and choose Step #5: Take the Oral Assessment.

As a standard practice, we do not provide specific feedback to individuals because many people may go through this process more than once and detailed guidance would constitute unfair advantage. Nonetheless, below you will find generic guidance that you might find useful; please note that these comments are general and some of them may not apply to you.

The Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) review complements the written test by looking at an applicant's total file: the FSOT scores and essay, the work history, the education, and the personal experiences. So beyond relying on the test scores alone, we are searching for those additional job-related qualities that enhance a person’s chance of successfully performing Foreign Service work. This credential and experiential review is similar to what major international corporations do in reviewing job applications for their positions, a so-called “whole candidate” review.

The panels, composed of trained members of the Board of Examiners, evaluate candidates based on how well the candidates' record and personal narratives demonstrate qualities that are predictors of success in the Foreign Service: substantive knowledge, intellectual, interpersonal, leadership, communications, and management skills. There is no pre-set cut-score. Rather, candidates receive a relative ranking compared to other candidates in the same career track. Only the most highly competitive candidates in each career track are invited to the oral assessment. The number of invitations issued reflects, in large part, our anticipated hiring needs, so the number of invitees varies significantly as projected hiring changes.

Tens of thousands take the test annually, but a much smaller number advance to the QEP review, and then only a few hundred are invited to the Oral Assessment. Please note that Foreign Service Officer hiring targets are adjusted regularly. A record number of individuals are applying for a very limited number of Foreign Service Officer positions.

The process is extremely competitive. Many candidates with excellent qualifications who may have received an invitation to the oral assessment at a time of increased new positions will not receive one when the Department’s hiring targets are lower or there is an increase in the number of candidates.

Although the QEP is a total file review, with no one element dominating all the factors considered, the one area that you have the most control over is the Personal Narrative.

  • The Personal Narrative is an important part of your application and is read carefully by the Qualifications Evaluation Panel. Your responses are influential in determining your rank order in your career track. This is the place for you to highlight not just what you have done, but how you have done it and what you have learned.
  • It is a place for you to emphasize how what you have done relates to the precepts and would be useful in the Foreign Service. Candidates are encouraged to draw from all aspects of their life.
  • In your responses to the Personal Narrative questions, remember this is part of a job application. Focus on answering the question.
  • Be your own best advocate, but don't stretch the truth. We do randomly verify information provided and in the case of questionable responses.

You may wish to speak to or correspond with a Diplomat in Residence in your area. These Foreign Service Officers are not part of the assessment or selection process, but are trained to be advisors in the application process. Diplomats in Residence are senior Foreign Service officers and are key members of our recruitment team. For a listing of DIRs and contact information, view the DIR map under "Connect."

Please keep in mind that there are only a limited number of Foreign Service Officer positions available. Many candidates with fine skills and backgrounds do not advance to the oral assessment, simply because we are able to interview only a fraction of those applying for positions. Many successful Foreign Service Officers have applied more than once.

We do not provide snacks or coffee for candidates; we will provide water and access to a water fountain throughout the day.  If you feel that you will need coffee, please purchase it before the 7am assessment start time.  Candidates are not allowed to have snacks or water in the room while they are doing their Case Management (Written) Exercise because of the computers.  You are free to bring refreshments and eat them in the Assessment waiting area.  Candidates are expected to clean up after themselves.

Yes, we have a closet in which candidates can put their belongings and hang up coats.

Foreign Service Officer Selection Process Results

Locked

If an applicant is active duty military and is progressing successfully through the selection process, there are two places where the candidate may request additional time to complete the process.

  1. First, in scheduling the Oral Assessment, active duty military abroad may request up to an additional 12 months beyond the regular 12 months to schedule the Oral Assessment.
  2. The second instance is if the applicant is on the Hiring Register and is still active duty. The applicant may request the Registrar “'stop your clock”'. This means that whatever time the applicant has remaining of his/her 18- month eligibility on the Hiring Register will be suspended for up to 24 months. This does not give the applicant more than the 18 months, but it keeps his/her 18 month window from expiring while he/she is serving in the military.

In both cases, if the applicant completes his/her active duty service before the end of the 24 months, his/her clock starts again. The obligation is on the applicant to notify the scheduler or the Registrar of his/her status and to make the formal arrangements.

An active duty candidate can freeze all his/her candidacies, but must work with the individual Registrars. Vet's points can be added to the Register only when the appropriate supporting documentation has been submitted, i.e., after the discharge, but the clock will not restart until after the discharge.

Yes. You may make a request by contacting Pearson VUE within the United States at 866-389-8339 or from overseas at 952-905-4793 between the hours of 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. Central Time Monday to Friday excluding holidays. Requests for rescoring must be made by phone. The answer documents for all three multiple-choice sections will be re-scored by hand for a fee of $30. The fee to re-evaluate the written essay section of the FSOT is $30. Copies of the written essay or multiple choice answer sheets will not be released or provided to examinees. The results of re-scoring will be reported to you in writing two to three weeks after the request is received.

You must make the requests for re-scoring within forty five days after the test results are released.

There are no precise hiring targets, but with the Department's budget decreasing or at best leveling, hiring in 2014 and 2015 will more likely mirror the attrition hiring patterns of 2013 rather than the robust growth of the Diplomacy 3.0 period in 2009-2011.

The number of candidates invited to the Oral Assessment will be reduced to balance the number of candidates on the Register with the likely number of available positions. As of now, no other changes to the selection process are anticipated.

Hiring rates are always subject to available funding, the Department's hiring needs, and number of vacant positions. The number of vacant positions is driven by funding and attrition. Attrition is driven by promotion rates, resignations, and retirements. That is quite a number of variables, and. we cannot predict when a clearer picture will emerge.

We encourage all candidates interested in the Foreign Service to pursue this career and the attendant steps in the selection process regardless of the uncertain outlook. The best candidates, with the highest scores on the Register, will usually get a job offer even in such uncertain times.

About Foreign Service Specialists

No. The hiring process is different for Foreign Service Specialists. For more information visit the Specialist Selection Process page.

Yes, in fact, the Management Officers do oversee many of the Specialists. Office Management Specialists are the exception, as they report directly to the officers for whom they work.

Foreign Service Medical Clearance

The State Department does not pay for travel to obtain follow up for any medical condition. You may be able to combine some of your medical travel with government paid leave such as Rest-and-Recuperation (R&R) R and R or Home Leave; however these trips would not be frequent enough to cover the frequency of travel that you require.

We would carefully evaluate the type and frequency of monitoring you require before making a clearance decision.. There are numerous Department of State posts where there are no cardiologists, indeed no physicians at all. Medical Clearances will review your history based on current information from your physician regarding the stability of your condition, medications and frequency of follow up before making a final determination.

There may be adequate health services, including a laboratory, locally where you could obtain the necessary care. Depending on the frequency of the follow up you require, you may also wish to consult your personal health care provider in the U.S. while on leave, or at a reputable medical facility outside of the U.S..

For any child who has special education needs, the Individual Education Program must be forwarded to Medical Clearances for further evaluation through MED's Employee Consultation Services.  Because of the special education needs, your child is likely not worldwide available and would have the limited, Class 2, medical clearance. This means that approval of an overseas post from Medical Clearances will be necessary prior to your child's inclusion on your travel orders.

Locked

Q: Can you still obtain the necessary Class 1/WW Available clearance if you are pregnant? 

A: Your pregnancy would have no impact on the selection process. It would not, in and of itself, have an impact on your medical clearance except for the fact that you would not be medically cleared to depart for post if you were 28 weeks (or more) along in your pregnancy at the time you were due to depart for your first overseas assignment.  You would then need to remain stateside until 4-6 weeks following delivery, assuming that you would be medically cleared at that time.

If you were hired, and completed orientation and training (which can take several months), you would be able to depart for post as long as you were less than 28 weeks along in your pregnancy.  Our Medical Services Division recommends that women return to the US for childbirth at least six weeks prior to giving birth.

Q: What would happen if someone were medically cleared and placed on the register when they were less than 28 weeks pregnant?

A: The medical clearance does not get revoked. The 28 weeks benchmark matters only for someone who would have to travel via airplane after 28 weeks, since that is normally when you would be authorized medical evacuation and fly to where you wish to deliver, usually the U.S. After delivery you would need to have your medical clearance (and the baby's) updated.

If you are in the States and on the Register, you need not do anything at 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you do wish to be put on the do not call list until after the baby is born, you may do so at any point. The clock will keep running.

The requirement for pre-employment in the Foreign Service is that the applicant must be medically cleared for "worldwide assignment." Family members, however, must be medically cleared before traveling overseas to accompany an employee on assignment at U.S. Government expense. These medical standards are more rigorous than those of most other professions, as some overseas posts may be remote, unhealthy, or have limited medical support.

Foreign Service Security Clearance

Locked

Security clearances and final suitability are adjudicated by looking at the candidate's entire profile (including court records). There are no automatic disqualifiers from the process. If you are interested in joining the Civil or Foreign Service, you should at least take the first step by registering to take the Foreign Service Officer Test, applying for a Foreign Service Specialist vacancy, or submitting your application for a Civil Service position on USAJobs.

Students tentatively selected for the internship program must undergo a background investigation and receive either a Secret or Top Secret security clearance (pdf, 47kb). The clearance process takes approximately 60-120 days to complete from the time the forms are received by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). Investigations may take substantially longer than 120 days if you have had extensive travel, education, residence and/or employment overseas; or if you have dual citizenship, foreign contacts, immediate family or relatives who are not citizens of the United States and/or a foreign born spouse, or if there is a security, suitability, or medical issue to resolve. These issues could include a current or past history of drugs or alcohol abuse, as well as a recent history of financial/credit problems.

Click here for more information regarding issues of dual citizenship and foreign influence (pdf, 53kb). Although these problems will not necessarily preclude you from receiving a security clearance, they will lengthen the time required to complete the clearance process. Information about the clearance process is included with your preliminary notification of acceptance. You should complete the process by the date indicated in the letter. This is important! DS may be unable to complete your security clearance if you fail to meet that deadline.

Note: A recent Federal law requires denial of passports to any spouse certified by the Department of Health and Human Services as being more than $5,000 in arrears on child support.

If your Top Secret clearance was granted by the Department of State, then you won't need a new one. However, if it was issued by another agency, we'll need to verify the duration and level of clearance to determine if we need to update the background investigation and issue our own clearance.

In either case, your entire file will be reviewed to determine your suitability for appointment to the Foreign Service before you are offered a job. Even if your current Top Secret security clearance is still valid, you will need to submit an SF-86 form for the purpose of providing current data for the Suitability Review Panel’s suitability review.

Upon completion of the background investigation, a Suitability Review Panel will examine your completed file (except medical records) to determine your suitability for employment with the Foreign Service.   This process is one of the most thorough aspects of the application process.  Most pass the process; some do not.

The attainment of U.S. foreign policy objectives depends substantially on the confidence of the public (both American and foreign) in the individuals selected to serve in the Foreign Service. The Department of State, therefore, requires the highest standards of conduct by employees of the Foreign Service, including an especially high degree of integrity, reliability, and prudence. Given the representational nature of employment in the Service, employees must observe proper standards at all times. The purpose of the suitability review is to determine, from the candidate's total record, whether the candidate is indeed suitable to represent the United States. The Suitability Review Panel has the authority to terminate a candidacy.

In evaluating suitability, the Suitability Review Panel takes into consideration the following factors:

  • Misconduct in prior employment, including marginal performance or inability to interact effectively with others
  • Criminal, dishonest, or disgraceful conduct
  • Misrepresentation, including deception or fraud, in the application process
  • Repeated or habitual use to excess of intoxicating beverages affecting the ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the employee's position
  • Trafficking in or abuse of narcotics or controlled substances
  • Reasonable doubt as to loyalty to the U.S. Government
  • Conduct which clearly shows poor judgment and or lack of discretion which may reasonably affect an individual or the agency's ability to carry out its responsibilities or mission
  • Financial irresponsibility, including a history of not meeting financial obligations or an inability to satisfy debts

Regarding notification: some applicants may receive an email.  However, all applicants will receive a formal notification via regular mail.

The Department of State is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation.

Candidates who do not receive security clearances are ineligible for appointment. Potential candidates who have any serious issues which could prevent them from receiving a clearance should give some thought to the likelihood of their being found ineligible before starting this process. These investigations are conducted by the Department of State in cooperation with other federal, state, and local agencies.

If you are a male born after December 31, 1959, and are at least 18 years of age, Civil Service employment law (5 U.S.C. 3328) requires that you must be registered with the Selective Service System, unless you meet certain exemptions under Selective Service law. If you are required to register but knowingly and willfully fail to do so, you are ineligible for appointment by executive agencies of the Federal Government. If you are unsure of your registration status, or if want further details on exemptions to the registration requirement, you can check the Selective Service System website at: http://www.sss.gov.

If you are under age 26 and have not registered as required, you should register promptly. You may do so online at http://www.sss.gov or at a United States Post Office. Until you register with the Selective Service, or the Selective Service confirms you are exempt, you are ineligible for appointment by executive agencies of the Federal Government.

If you were born in 1960 or later, are 26 years of age or older, and were required to register but did not do so, you can no longer register under Selective Service law. Accordingly, you are not eligible for appointment to an executive agency unless you can prove to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that your failure to register was neither knowing nor willful.

If your employing agency has informed you that you cannot be appointed to a position in an executive agency because of your failure to register, and you wish to establish that your non-compliance with the law was neither knowing nor willful, you may write to:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
NACI Center
IOD-SAB
Boyers, PA 16018

Officers: Applicants who are successful in the Oral Assessment will be asked to submit forms for the Top Secret security clearance required for appointment to the Foreign Service. The clearance process investigates the candidate's background and, prior to issuing a security clearance, considers such factors as: registration for the Selective Service; failure to repay a U.S. Government-guaranteed student loan; past problems with credit or bankruptcy; failure to meet tax obligations; unsatisfactory employment records; violations of the law; misrepresentation in the Registration Process; drug or alcohol abuse; a criminal record; extensive travel; education; residence and/or employment overseas; dual citizenship; foreign contacts; immediate family or relatives who are not citizens of the United States and/or a foreign born spouse; and/ or a less- than-honorable discharge from the armed forces.

Clearances from other agencies may be recognized by the Department of State, but some may need to be up-dated. Investigations include interviews with current and previous contacts, neighbors, supervisors, and coworkers.

Specialists: Like the process for Officers, the clearance process for Specialists considers such factors as registration for the Selective Service, failure to repay U.S. Government-guaranteed student loan, credit history, violations of the law, drug or alcohol abuse, or a less-than-honorable discharge from the armed forces.

Background investigations may take several months (longer if a candidate has moved frequently or lived overseas for extended periods of time), and may include interviews of supervisors and coworkers. These investigations are conducted by the Department of State in cooperation with other federal, state, and local agencies.

Applicants who are successful in the Oral Assessment will be asked to submit forms for a security clearance required for appointment to the Foreign Service.

The clearance process considers such factors as: registration for the Selective Service; failure to repay a U.S. Government-guaranteed student loan; past problems with credit or bankruptcy; failure to meet tax obligations; unsatisfactory employment records; violations of the law; drug or alcohol abuse; a criminal record; extensive travel; education; residence and/or employment overseas; dual citizenship; foreign contacts; immediate family or relatives who are not citizens of the United States and/or a foreign born spouse or a less- than-honorable discharge from the armed forces.

The Department of State conducts background investigations on each candidate to determine eligibility for security clearance. Investigations include interviews with current and previous contacts, supervisors, and coworkers.

About the Civil Service

There may be opportunities available for Civil Service employees overseas. These positions are usually filled by career Foreign Service employees, but when appropriate bidders are not identified they may be deemed “Hard to Fill” and opened to Civil Service bidders on excursion tours. At that time, the vacancies filled through a competitive process.

There is an extensive list of benefits available for Civil Service employees, including child care, health and life insurance and a matched retirement plan. View the complete list of Civil Service benefits.

There are 55 Bureaus and Offices that make up the domestic organizational components of the Department of State. For a complete list, view our Bureaus list, or go to the main Department of State website http://www.state.gov/.

Temporary and term appointments are used to fill positions when a continuing need for the job to be filled (e.g., special projects). Neither type of appointment is permanent, so they do not give the employee civil service status.

An employee on a temporary appointment may earn leave, but is generally not eligible for other benefits. Term employees are eligible to earn leave and generally have the same benefits as permanent employees including health and life insurance, within-grade increases, retirement and Thrift Savings Plan coverage.

The President's recent Executive Order rescinded and revoked the Federal Career Intern Program (at the Department of State, we called it the Career Entry Program, aka CEP). It was superseded by the Pathways program. Go to the Pathways Program section under INTERN.

View the current pay schedule on the main Department of State site.

Civil Service:

GS stands for General Schedule. This is the pay system under which most domestic Federal employees fall. There are also Wage Grade (WG) and Senior Executive Service (SES) pay schedules.

Foreign Service Officers/Generalists:

New FSOs, no matter what their entry grade, are considered to be Entry-Level Officers (known as ELOs), and their first/second assignments will be entry-level positions.

There are three possible Foreign Service Officer entry grades: FP-06, FP-05, and FP-04 — with FP-04 being the highest possible entry grade. Officers bid on positions at their grade. An FP-05 is more senior to an FP-06.

The entry grade is based on educational level and number of years of qualifying work experience. The step offered within the appropriate hiring grade is based on the number of years of qualifying work experience. Higher steps may also be afforded based on one's salary prior to joining the Foreign Service, all the way up to step 14 in the appropriate entry grade. One cannot be offered the next highest entry grade to match salary, however.

For information on entry salaries for FSOs, please visit the Benefits page. In the above "current pay schedule" link, please note that 2013 rates apply in 2014 and the "overseas" pay scale applies to FS Generalists and Specialists.

Foreign Service Specialists:

Foreign Service Specialist career candidates enter the Foreign Service at the appropriate entry grade listed in the specific Specialist Vacancy Announcement. The salary awarded within the grade (step) is determined based on education and work experience. Higher steps may be awarded based on one’s salary prior to joining the Foreign Service, but only for employees coming from other Federal agencies. Again, a candidate may not be offered the next highest entry grade to match salary, however.

Locked

For all open Civil Service positions, please visit the Available Jobs page, and expand the Civil Service section. To apply for any civil service position, please click on the vacancy announcement of your choice to go to USAJobs and start the Gateway to State online application process.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State assigns experienced Foreign Service Officers to the position of Diplomat in Residence (DIR) at certain colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The DIR program is central to the effort to recruit for the Foreign Service, Civil Service and Student Programs the best and brightest to represent America's rich diversity to the world. DIRs disseminate information about career opportunities not only at their home universities but throughout the region where they are located.

No. A written test is not required for Civil Service employment with the Department of State. 

To apply, simply read the vacancy announcement linked on our site, and start the Gateway to State online application process on USAJobs.  You can also view the steps to the Civil Service Selection process here.

Almost all Civil Service positions in the U.S. Department of State require at least a Secret security clearance, and many require Top Secret clearance. The clearance process considers such factors as registration for the Selective Service; failure to repay a U.S. government-guaranteed student loan; past problems with credit or bankruptcy; failure to meet tax obligations; unsatisfactory employment records; violations of the law, drug or alcohol abuse; or less-than-honorable discharge from the armed forces.

Investigations, which usually take two to four months, include current and previous neighbors, supervisors and coworkers. Depending on the nature of the job, you may begin work on a provisional basis, pending completion of the clearance process.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a program for the repayment of student loans. By law, the maximum any federal agency can award is $10,000 a year, or $60,000 over a lifetime. In each of the first three years of our program, the Department approved payments of $4,700. In return, an employee must agree to remain with the paying agency for at least three years.

Articles in The Washington Post and Government Executive have reported on Federal agencies' use of incentives to repay student loans. The U.S. Department of State, with 407 employees receiving up to $4,700 each for a total of $2 million in FY-02 funds, was the number one agency in both reports. The FY-03 incentive amount is also $4,700.

About Student Programs

The U.S. Department of State Internship Program (unpaid), for students with a minimum of 60 credit hours or greater, provides the opportunity to work in U.S. Embassies throughout the world, as well as in various bureaus located in Washington, D.C. and at Department offices spread around the United States.

This unpaid program is designed to provide substantive experiences in a Foreign Affairs environment.

Download and view the Student Internship Brochure.

We have developed a resource to help you match your interests and goals to the ideal programs, internships, or fellowships for you.

The President's recent Executive Order rescinded and revoked the Federal Career Intern Program (at the Department of State, we called it the Career Entry Program, aka CEP). It was superseded by the Pathways program. Go to the Pathways Program section under INTERN.

Pathways Program: includes three paid Civil Service internship programs located in Washington, D.C.

Specific positions will be posted on the Student Programs Page when the application window opens.

Please register under Keep Me Informed to receive automatic notifications about these opportunities.

  • Internship Program: The Internship Program replaces the existing Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). It is targeted toward students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate school and professional school levels. It provides students with opportunities to explore Federal careers while being paid for the work performed.


  • Recent Graduates Program: This new program targets recent graduates of trade and vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and other qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion. Veterans who, due to military service, were unable to apply for positions, will have up to two years from their release or discharge from active duty, not to exceed six years after degree and/or certificate completion. Successful applicants will be placed in a one-year career development program.


  • Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF): For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The Program focuses on developing a cadre of potential government leaders. Under the regulations proposed by OPM, the eligibility window for applicants is expanded, making the program more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars.

For specific inquiries on the Pathways Program, please contact PathwaysPrograms@state.gov.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State assigns experienced Foreign Service Officers to the position of Diplomat in Residence (DIR) at certain colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The DIR program is central to the effort to recruit for the Foreign Service, Civil Service and Student Programs the best and brightest to represent America's rich diversity to the world. DIRs disseminate information about career opportunities not only at their home universities but throughout the region where they are located.

About Student Internships

The U.S. Department of State Internship Program (unpaid), for students with a minimum of 60 credit hours or greater, provides the opportunity to work in U.S. Embassies throughout the world, as well as in various bureaus located in Washington, D.C. and at Department offices spread around the United States.

This unpaid program is designed to provide substantive experiences in a Foreign Affairs environment.

Download and view the Student Internship Brochure.

Unofficial transcripts are accepted during the application process. However, if you are selected for an internship, you will be required to provide an official transcript prior to beginning your internship.

No, not all posts are able to participate in the program, and participation may vary year to year. Because it is difficult to anticipate the needs of our embassies and consulates, you should apply to those posts that are of interest to you. Posts that are deemed dangerous (designated for danger pay) do not host interns.

Students tentatively selected for the internship program must undergo a background investigation and receive either a Secret or Top Secret security clearance (pdf, 47kb). The clearance process takes approximately 60-120 days to complete from the time the forms are received by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). Investigations may take substantially longer than 120 days if you have had extensive travel, education, residence and/or employment overseas; or if you have dual citizenship, foreign contacts, immediate family or relatives who are not citizens of the United States and/or a foreign born spouse, or if there is a security, suitability, or medical issue to resolve. These issues could include a current or past history of drugs or alcohol abuse, as well as a recent history of financial/credit problems.

Click here for more information regarding issues of dual citizenship and foreign influence (pdf, 53kb). Although these problems will not necessarily preclude you from receiving a security clearance, they will lengthen the time required to complete the clearance process. Information about the clearance process is included with your preliminary notification of acceptance. You should complete the process by the date indicated in the letter. This is important! DS may be unable to complete your security clearance if you fail to meet that deadline.

Note: A recent Federal law requires denial of passports to any spouse certified by the Department of Health and Human Services as being more than $5,000 in arrears on child support.

The Department is looking for students with a broad range of majors, including Business or Public Administration, Social Work, Economics, Information Management, Journalism, and the Biological and Physical Sciences, as well as those majors more traditionally identified with international affairs.

It is important to remember that no specific degrees are required for Foreign Service positions, and skills and experience in a wide variety of academic areas can prepare students for international careers.

Yes. Interns selected for internships abroad must provide proof of medical insurance coverage, to include medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, to the Student Programs Office or bureau coordinator prior to departure.

Abroad, every effort is made to provide housing at no cost to interns, but circumstances may vary from post to post, so this cannot be guaranteed. Housing is not provided in the Washington, D.C., area. Arrangements and associated costs are the responsibility of the interns. A listing of housing alternatives in Washington, D.C. is mailed with the selection package.

Interns may be assigned to do research on political, economic, environmental or other issues. They may write reports and correspondence; assist with citizens' services or visa work; or use their expertise in information systems, procurement, or budget and fiscal operations. Some may help to organize a conference or a visit of high-level officials. Some interns write news stories, work on web pages, or help produce electronic journals. Others may be involved in educational and cultural exchange activities. Interns also help in the recruiting of U.S. speakers and specialists for overseas programs.

Effective July 10, 2012, the U.S. Department of State launched the implementation of the new Pathways Internship Program, a paid internship program designed to replace the former Summer Clerical, Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

Pathways Program: includes three paid Civil Service internship programs located in Washington, D.C.

Please subscribe to receive email updates regarding any new Pathways Program vacancies.

  • Internship Program: The Internship Program replaces the existing Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). It is targeted toward students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate school and professional school levels. It provides students with opportunities to explore Federal careers while being paid for the work performed.
  • Recent Graduates Program: This new program targets recent graduates of trade and vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and other qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion. Veterans who, due to military service, were unable to apply for positions, will have up to two years from their release or discharge from active duty, not to exceed six years after degree and/or certificate completion. Successful applicants will be placed in a one-year career development program.
  • Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF): For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The Program focuses on developing a cadre of potential government leaders. Under the regulations proposed by OPM, the eligibility window for applicants is expanded, making the program more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars.

For specific inquiries on the Pathways Program, please contact PathwaysPrograms@state.gov.

Effective July 10, 2012, the U.S. Department of State launched the implementation of the new Pathways Internship Program, a paid internship program designed to replace the former Summer Clerical, Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

Pathways Program: includes three paid Civil Service internship programs located in Washington, D.C.

Please subscribe to receive email updates regarding any new Pathways Program vacancies.

  • Internship Program: The Internship Program replaces the existing Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). It is targeted toward students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate school and professional school levels. It provides students with opportunities to explore Federal careers while being paid for the work performed.
  • Recent Graduates Program: This new program targets recent graduates of trade and vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and other qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion. Veterans who, due to military service, were unable to apply for positions, will have up to two years from their release or discharge from active duty, not to exceed six years after degree and/or certificate completion. Successful applicants will be placed in a one-year career development program.
  • Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF): For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The Program focuses on developing a cadre of potential government leaders. Under the regulations proposed by OPM, the eligibility window for applicants is expanded, making the program more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars.

For specific inquiries on the Pathways Program, please contact PathwaysPrograms@state.gov.

Pathways Program: includes three paid Civil Service internship programs located in Washington, D.C.

Specific positions will be posted on the Student Programs Page when the application window opens.

Please register under Keep Me Informed to receive automatic notifications about these opportunities.

  • Internship Program: The Internship Program replaces the existing Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). It is targeted toward students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate school and professional school levels. It provides students with opportunities to explore Federal careers while being paid for the work performed.


  • Recent Graduates Program: This new program targets recent graduates of trade and vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and other qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion. Veterans who, due to military service, were unable to apply for positions, will have up to two years from their release or discharge from active duty, not to exceed six years after degree and/or certificate completion. Successful applicants will be placed in a one-year career development program.


  • Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF): For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The Program focuses on developing a cadre of potential government leaders. Under the regulations proposed by OPM, the eligibility window for applicants is expanded, making the program more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars.

For specific inquiries on the Pathways Program, please contact PathwaysPrograms@state.gov.

About Consular Adjudicators (CA LNA)

Locked

Candidates may choose either traditional or simplified Chinese characters for the reading portion of the assessment. There is no use of pinyin in the test.

The Department of State will place competitively qualified U.S. citizens into Foreign Service Limited Non-Career Appointments (LNA) in country-specific posts with high workloads. These employees will be fully professional members of consulate and embassy teams. Limited appointments, however, cannot serve as special access or alternate entry to the career Foreign Service or the Department of State, i.e., they do not lead automatically to onward employment at the Department of State or with the U.S. government. LNAs are welcome to apply to become Foreign Service Specialists or Generalists or Civil Service employees, but they must meet the applicable qualifications and complete the standard application and assessment processes. Service time and benefits earned as a Consular Adjudicator can be credited in any subsequent federal employment.

Locked

The oral assessment for Consular Fellows consists of three parts: a writing exercise; an interview; and an on-line test.

Locked

Basic duties may include the following: Consular Fellows work side by side with officers. They may conduct visa interviews, for both Immigrant and Non-Immigrant visas; assist in providing passport and other services to American citizens residing in the consular district; and other duties as assigned by the Section manager.

Locked

Language tests will be given as part of the assessment process. There will first be a phone test, which will be required of anyone being considered for an invitation to take the oral assessment. Those who pass the oral assessment will be given a second, more extensive, language test in person.

Locked

Consular Fellows are afforded salary matching within the appropriate hiring grade, up to step 14.

Locked
  1. Writing Exercise

    Dimensions scored in this exercise: Planning and Organization, Working with Others, Judgment, Information Integration and Analysis, Resourcefulness, and Written Communication.

    In the first part of the Oral Assessment, the Writing Exercise, you will be presented with scenarios describing problems you may encounter while serving as a Consular Fellow at an Embassy or Consulate. You will have 45 minutes to read about the problems, analyze them, and write a 1-2 page memo to your supervisor summarizing the situation and providing recommendations on how to resolve them. You do not need to know about U.S. Government or State Department rules and regulations; you should rely on your own knowledge, experience, and common sense. The timing of this exercise is deliberately tight as it measures, among other things, how well you write under time pressure. You will complete the exercise on a computer using Microsoft Word.

  2. Online Test: This is a 75-minute timed test with multiple-choice questions. There are four sections, and each one relates to the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the Consular Fellow function successfully.
    • Job Knowledge: This is a broad general knowledge test. Please refer to the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) (http://careers.state.gov/fsopracticetest) for examples of the type of questions you might see on this test.
    • English Expression: This section tests your grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and language usage skills; it is also similar to the English Expression section of the FSOT.
    • Situational Judgment: This section tests your ability to make sound decisions and to take actions that demonstrate good judgment.
    • Understanding Regulations: This section tests your ability to comprehend complex regulations and to apply them to make informed decisions.
  3. The Structured Interview

    After the online test, you will participate in a Structured Interview, consisting of three parts, conducted by two assessors, one of whom is a Subject Matter Expert in the consular field. Before the interview, the assessors will have reviewed portions of your application for employment and will be familiar with your work history and the information you provided in the biographical section of the application. You should respond to questions based on your background and personal and professional experiences. You may find the interview more formal and structured than other interviews you have experienced. Assessors remain neutral throughout the interview and do not provide any feedback–either verbal or non-verbal–to your responses. Assessors may interrupt you to ask clarifying questions, or to cut short answers in the interest of time, but you should not assume that this signals anything either positive or negative.

    1. Experience and Motivation

      In this portion of the Structured Interview, you should highlight your understanding of the Foreign Service, your motivation to apply for this position, your education and work experience, and your cross-cultural skills. Remember you need to do more than list your experiences; you need to explain what you learned from them and why they are predictive of success as a Consular Fellow.

    2. Hypothetical Scenarios

      Dimensions scored in this exercise: Planning and Organization, Working with Others, Judgment, Cultural Adaptability, Initiative and Leadership, Objectivity and Integrity, Information Integration and Analysis and Resourcefulness.

      The second part of the Structured Interview consists of a series of hypothetical scenarios which are designed to test your situational judgment. Although the problems presented in this exercise are hypothetical, they are closely related to real-life situations you may encounter while serving as a Consular Fellow. While the problems occur in a Foreign Service setting, you are not expected to know how an Embassy operates or to be familiar with U.S. government rules and regulations. Rather, you should provide practical solutions based on good judgment.

    3. Past Behavior Questions

      Dimensions scored in this exercise: Planning and Organization, Working with Others, Cultural Adaptability, Initiative and Leadership, Objectivity and Integrity, Oral Communication and Composure.

      In the final segment of the Structured Interview dealing with Past Behavior, you will have the opportunity to talk about past work, school, or other experiences that have required you to demonstrate job skills needed by Consular Adjudicators. You will be given a question sheet listing the different dimensions being assessed, with two questions listed under each dimension. You will get five minutes to select five questions (one question for each dimension) and to prepare five responses. You should draw from your personal and professional experience to answer these questions, and the responses should relate directly to the dimensions being evaluated. Remember to emphasize what actions you individually took in each situation, even if you were working in a group.

    Evaluating the Three Exercises

    The assessors will read/listen to your answers carefully and enter their scores individually into a master score sheet for the Writing Exercise and the Structured Interview. The score for the Online Test is automatically computed once you complete the test and is also entered into the master score sheet. The average of the three exercises determines your overall score, with each exercise representing one-third of the total score. Scoring is on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 representing poor performance and 7 representing outstanding performance. The Oral Assessment cut-off score to continue a candidacy is 5.25.

    Exit Interview

    After the assessors complete the score sheet, they will meet with you and give you a letter that provides your overall score for the assessment and indicates whether it reached the cut-off score of 5.25 required to continue your candidacy. The letter also indicates whether your score reached 5.25 on the three major components of the assessment.

    If your score meets or exceeds the composite score of 5.25, you will be asked to return in the afternoon to take a two-hour telephone language test to evaluate your speaking and reading levels (this step will be skipped if you have a current, valid Foreign Service Institute language score). Shortly after the language test ends, the assessors will meet with you again to provide you with the results of the language test. If your language score reaches the required level, you will then meet with a Diplomatic Security representative to begin the security clearance process. Keep in mind that you may have to stay at the assessment center until 5:00 p.m. (or occasionally even later), so please plan your travel accordingly

    NOTE: All test materials are covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which applicants sign as they check in for the oral assessment. Violation of the NDA will result in the termination of your candidacy.

Read more at: careers.state.gov