Frequently Asked Questions


  1. General
  2. Eligibility
  3. Applications
  4. Recommendations
  5. Selection
  6. Participation
  7. Contacts


When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for the 2024-2025 program is November 16, 2023, at 8:00pm Eastern Time. The application period typically opens in mid-August, with applications due in mid-November.

AEF Office Hours: For information about the AEF program and how to apply to the program, please Email for information and zoom links.  During these workshops you can get help with your application, ask program managers about the program, and get advice from AEF Alumni.


I’m currently in my fifth year of teaching high school, am I eligible to apply?

No, you must have completed five years of full-time teaching at the time of applying (by November 16, 2023). Note: student teaching experience while obtaining your teaching license does not count toward the five-year requirement.

I’m currently a Permanent Resident Alien teaching physics at a private high school, but I expect to obtain my U.S. citizenship before the beginning of the Fellowship year. Am I eligible to apply?

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen at the time of applying. If you do not have U.S. citizenship status by the application deadline, then you are not be eligible to apply.

I’ve only been teaching in a science or math area for the past four years, am I eligible to apply

No, to be eligible you must have been teaching at least five of the last seven years in a STEM discipline at a public or private elementary or secondary school.

I have only taught in the United States for three years, but I taught for an additional two years out of the country, all five years teaching STEM.   Am I eligible to apply?

If you have taught full-time for at least five of the last seven years in a STEM discipline, you met that eligibility requirement. To apply, you must meet all of eligibility requirements, including being currently employed full-time in a public or private elementary or secondary school or school district in the U.S.

I have been teaching STEM at the high school level for over 10 years but this year I am teaching out of the country to gain international experience. Am I eligible to apply?

No, eligibility requires being currently employed full-time in a public or private elementary or secondary school or school district in the U.S.

I have been teaching STEM for over four years, currently in my fifth year, but have a year of student teaching combined with assistant teaching. Am I eligible to apply?

Not until you have completed a minimum of five years full-time classroom teaching prior to completing the application. Student teaching or assistant teaching does not qualify towards the required five years of full-time classroom teaching experience.

I am currently employed full-time at a public high school as a certified academic coach. Am I eligible to apply?

As a full-time academic coach at a high school you meet the eligibility requirement that applicants be currently employed full-time in a public or private elementary or secondary school or school district. However, you must also meet all other eligibility requirements noted here to be eligible to apply:


Served as an AEF Program Fellow in a federal agency 10 years ago, can I apply for a Fellowship in a congressional office?

Current and former AEF Program Fellows are not eligible to apply again.

For the letters of recommendation, what qualifies a person as a district official?

One of your three letters of recommendation must be from a district official. A school district official may be, for example, a school principal, district superintendent, deputy or assistant superintendent, or district board of education member, or the equivalent as the titles of these officials may vary from one district to another. School district officials do NOT include department chairs, assistant principals, associate principals, or vice-principals.


I am having trouble logging into the application system. What do I do?

If you are a new applicant, you must first create a new User ID and Password. Click ‘Create New Account’ to begin. If you have already created an account, make sure that you are entering the User ID and Password exactly as when you created them, including upper and lower case. If your account is locked, send an email to

What do I do if the program asks me to log in again?

For security reasons, the website has a time-out feature. After 60 minutes, if you have not completed and saved a page, the system will require you to log in again. We recommend that you complete your essays offline and copy and paste into the application.

What do I do if I can't remember my username or password?

Click ‘Forgot Username’ or ‘Reset Password’ on the application login page and the application system will e-mail your login information to the address you listed in your profile when you began the application process.

Is it possible for me to send in an application now and remain on file for consideration next year?

No, your application will only be kept on record for the current year. You must reapply to be considered for next year. You are eligible to apply up to 3 times within a 6-year period.

Will you let me know if you are missing parts of my application?

It is your responsibility to check your “Check Your Status” page of your application account to ensure that your application is complete.

May I change recommenders once I have selected them?

The online application requires three letters of recommendation. You must request recommendations from three individuals. You may change a recommender before the application deadline if that recommender has not yet submitted a recommendation on your behalf. Once a letter of recommendation is received by the application system, that letter will be included as part of your application and cannot be removed.

Do I have to complete the essays online?

Yes. You must provide your essay responses in the online application system. We recommend that you work on your draft essay offline through a word processing software (e.g. MS Word or WordPerfect). After you save and spell-check the text, copy and paste the text into the appropriate areas of the online application.


I am a STEM teacher at an independent school where the school administration governs the school management, and it does not operate within the local school district management structure. How do I satisfy the letter of recommendation from a school or district official requirement?

A recommendation from a school headmaster/headmistress or other school senior executive who is equivalent to a school principal would satisfy this application requirement. In the Request Recommendations section the online application system, under “Type” drop-down menu select Other and enter the position title of the recommender in the Other District Official text box that appears.

On the Request Recommendation page, what Type option should I select for seeking a recommendation from a parent of a student or other personal contact?

In the on-line application, the Request Recommendations page lists six options in the Type drop-down, which provide the categories of recommenders. For personal references such as parent of a student, you should select Non-District Non-School Official.

Do I have to click on the final Submit button to complete my portion of the online application before asking my recommenders to submit their recommendations online?

No. Recommendations may be submitted at any time after you have started your online application and before the application deadline. The recommenders are sent a unique URL that will link their completed recommendation to your application and your “Check Your Status” page will show that the recommendation has been submitted.

Do my recommendation letters need to reach you by the deadline?

Yes, all parts of your online application, including all three letters of recommendation, need to be completed before the deadline. All letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application according to the instructions provided to recommenders. Please view the "Check Your Status" page of your application account periodically before the deadline to see whether your references have been submitted. Your recommenders may need a reminder, which you can send using the "Resend Email" button on the "Recommendations" tab of the online system.

Can recommendations be sent by mail or email?

No. You must use the online process. Under the “Request Recommendations” tab in the online application, you are asked to provide the names and email addresses of those individuals that you are requesting submit a recommendation on your behalf. Once their names are submitted they will receive an email with the instructions on how to fill out and submit the online recommendation.

As an applicant will I be able to view the letters of recommendation attached to my application?

No. The recommendation form is not visible to the applicant, but is attached to the application once submitted. Recommenders can be assured that their reference is submitted in confidence.



How many Fellowships are awarded each year?

The number of Fellowships awarded each year varies. The number of Fellowship positions is contingent upon available opportunities within participating agencies and availability of funds. In recent years the program has awarded between ten and twenty Fellowships a year.

Is the Fellowship for a single year?

Yes, the Einstein Fellowship is for eleven months, from mid-August with the initial program Orientation and continues for an eleven month period.

How are Fellows selected?

Applications are first subject to an eligibility and compliance review to verify applicant eligibility and ensure all the required application materials have been provided. Applications are then subject to a merit review by individuals who are independent of the applicants, the sponsoring  agencies, and the partnering organizations. Applications are evaluated based upon the applicant’s teaching experience, professional accomplishments, demonstrated leadership qualities, and interests as they relate to participating in the AEF Fellowship program.  From the most highly reviewed applications, sponsoring federal agencies then review and select the Semi-Finalists. The Semi-Finalists are invited to Washington, D.C. for in-person interviews and information sessions. Following the interviews Federal agencies select Finalists for a fellowship offer.  Finalists selected for a Congressional Office placement will return in the June-July timeframe to interview with interested Congressional offices.

For complete information on the application selection process, read the “Application Review and Selection Process” page.

When and how will I find out if I've been selected?

If you have been selected as a Semi-finalist, you will be invited to Washington, DC in late February/early March for in-person interviews with the participating host federal agencies. Fellowship offers will start to be made in March. You will receive an email and a phone call from ORISE if a Federal agency has selected you for a fellowship offer. Candidates selected for an offer will have a limited time to make the decision to accept an offer. Please keep your contact information in your online application updated to ensure that you can be reached.

If I don't get selected this time, will my application be reviewed again next year automatically or do I have to reapply?

You must reapply, and continue to meet the  eligibility requirements. Keep in mind you may only apply up to three times within a six year period.


What if I can only participate for a portion of the appointment period due to other commitments?

You must be able to participate in the program in Washington, D.C. for the entire eleven month period. A limited number of personal and professional travel days are allowed, but the dates and length of absence from the fellow's host office is subject to the AEF Program guidelines and approval by the sponsoring agency and/or host office.

Is relocation to Washington a program requirement?

Yes. If selected, your fellowship appointment will include a placement in a Federal agency in the Washington, DC area. You will need to relocate to the Washington, DC area if you do not currently reside there in order to fulfill the requirements of your eleven month appointment in your host office as well as attend the professional development sessions provided throughout the year.

My school does not have a leave of absence policy in place requiring them to hold my teaching position until I return; would I be able to participate?

The AEF Program requires your participation full time during the eleven month period of fellowship. It is not possible to maintain a teaching position while also serving as a Fellow. If selected, applicants to the fellowship program must either be able to secure a leave of absence or, if that isn’t possible, make a decision terminate their employment with their current school in order to accept the fellowship position. The AEF Program will provide supporting information to your school/district on your behalf, if requested. This is a decision that only the individual can make for themselves.

Is there any flexibility in start and end dates of the Fellowship?

No. The fellowship begins on the third Monday in August with the initial program Orientation and continues for an eleven month period.

How often do I receive a stipend payment and where does it come from?

Fellows will receive a stipend check according to a pre-arranged schedule of the sponsoring agency. Fellows are given a pay schedule at the beginning of the fellowship. Typically stipends are paid semi-monthly and arrangements are made to have the stipend directly deposited into a bank account that the Fellow has specified. Fellows may also elect to have their stipends be paid directly to their school district and remain on the the districts payroll throughout their fellowship term.

What is my tax liability for the stipend I am paid as a Fellow?

The Federal agencies and ORISE cannot give participants tax advice. In general, all stipends paid to you are reportable to the Internal Revenue Service. The AEF Program does do not withhold taxes from these payments. Fellows will need to consider whether filing Form 1040-ES on a quarterly basis and paying estimated income taxes is necessary in order to avoid late payment penalties. Fellows should consult a tax expert with their questions as every Fellow’s situation is different.

Does the program provide housing?

The AEF Program does not arrange housing for Fellows. Resources are provided to incoming Fellows on finding housing and relocating to the Washington, D.C. area. New Fellows are also connected with outgoing Fellows to help identify available housing.

What kind of move/relocation reimbursement will I receive?

Fellows will be reimbursed for up to $3,500 for relocation inbound and outbound between their home and Washington, DC if the distance is more than 50 miles one way. Fellows will be given guidance regarding allowable relocation expenses.

Can I relocate my family to Washington, DC, for the duration of the Fellowship?

Yes, Fellows may and often do relocate their families for the year. This is really an individual decision. Fellows should discuss relocation plans with ORISE well in advance, including the allowable relocations costs that may be reimbursed with fellowship relocation allowance.

Do I have to attend all the official professional development sessions?

It is expected that you will participate in the official twice monthly professional development opportunities during your Fellowship unless special circumstances or commitments to your host office prevent you from doing so. These are generally considered a very enriching part of the Fellowship experience and often provide the opportunity for you to meet with organizations, associations, and experts who focus on STEM education issues who are located in the Washington Metropolitan area. Guidance on other professional development activities pursued by the Fellows are provided during the August program orientation.

As a Fellow, will there be guidance provided on how to establish a Professional Development Plan?

Yes. Fellows will be introduced to the requirements and the guidance for their Professional Development Plans (PDPs) during the August Orientation. Fellows establish a set of goals and objectives for the year, including actions they plan to take to meet those goals and objectives. Mentoring and guidance is provided by the AEF Program staff as fellows develop their individual PDPs, which must be completed by early October.

What can I use the travel allowance for?

The AEF Program travel allowance for Fellows of up to $5,000 is primarily to support any travel that a Fellow’s host office may require as part of the Fellow’s duties and responsibilities in the office. Fellows may also use part of the travel allowance for travel related to activities that support objectives and activities in their individual Professional Development Plans. All travel request must be pre-approved by the AEF Program prior to making any travel arrangements.

What can I use the education allowance for?

The education allowance of up to $1,000 is to support Fellows’ planned activities aligned with their professional development goals as established in their Professional Development Plan. This includes expenses for activities like participation in local or online courses, presentation supplies, books, and journal subscriptions. Guidance on the use of the allowance, including the process for pre-approval, is provided during the August orientation.

As a Fellow, will I be allowed vacation time or sick leave?

Fellows participating in the AEF Program are expected to observe the holidays recognized by the hosting site staff. For Federal facilities, these include: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

AEF Fellows receive a monthly stipend and are not considered employees of the hosting office to which they are assigned. Since the Fellows are not employees, they do not “earn” sick or annual leave. However, recognizing that “breaks” are desirable and routinely observed by the academic, federal, and private sectors, Fellows are allowed up to ten personal days off per year and up to ten sick days off without reduction in the Fellow’s stipend.


Whom should I contact if I have problems or questions that I have been unable to resolve through the on-line resources?
You can send your questions to DOE here.