World Bank’s Robert S. McNamara Fellowship

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robert s mcnamara fellowship

Robert S McNamara Fellowships are awarded to students of development economics who are either pursuing a master’s in economics or a PhD in development economics. This fellowship is a part of the World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowship Programme (RSMFP), which was initiated in 1982. RSMFP was established by a resolution of the World Bank’s Executive directors. This programme was introduced to increase the participation of budding development economists in policy-making at the global level. The selected fellows are trained under illustrious minds of the world for a period of 8 months in Washington, DC. 

About Robert S McNamara Fellowship

The World Bank introduced the Robert S McNamara Fellowships Programme in 1982 to grant fellowships to aspiring economists from developing countries. This fellowship is awarded to budding development economics researchers from developing nations which are members of the World Bank Group (WBG). The programme matches researchers from developing countries with economic researchers from the World bank to generate exclusive opportunities for the fellows to enable them to participate in the research-enabled policy-making process in the Development Economics Vice-Presidency (DEC) of the World Bank.

Fellows from developing countries are invited to the World Bank in Washington for 8 months. They are hosted from September to May of each year. The fellows conduct their research under the expert supervision of researchers in the Development Research Group and Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) department of the World Bank. The fellows and economic researchers are engaged in superior-quality policy-related research. Fellows get to acquire novel econometric skills, learn about the latest research standards and create a network with some of the world’s top development economics researchers. 

Fellows use their learnings to work toward resolving the challenges of a developing nation. They return back to their native nation or university after completing their fellowship. They use their newly acquired skills to improve the economic condition of their country or continue with their studies at their universities. 

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Latest Development

The World Bank restructured the Robert S McNamara Fellowships Programme in November 2020 to provide fellowships to a larger number of young researchers from developing countries. As per the new structure, the fellows will be connected to World Bank data resources, research data, and technical assistance and expertise, in addition to the supervision of some of the leading economists of the world

Financing and Governance

The Robert S McNamara Fellowship is funded by the federal governments of different countries and it is governed by several committees. 

Financing/Funding of the Robert s McNamara Fellowship

The fellowship was initially financed by the governments of the following nations:

  • Kuwait
  • India
  • China
  • Bangladesh
  • Peru
  • Pakistan
  • Former Yugoslavia
  • Nigeria

In 2023, the Government of Japan collaborated with the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Programme (JJ/WBGSP) to support fellowships of graduates of the JJ/WBGSP to start a fellowship programme in competition with the RSMFP. 


The RSMFP is governed by a Selection Committee, a Steering Committee, and a Secretariat. The compositions of these committees are mentioned in the table below:

Steering CommitteeSelection CommitteeSecretariat 
Representatives of Executive Director offices of donor nations. World Bank DEC directors from Impact Evaluation and Research Departments Programme Manager; Co-Programme Manager; Programme Analyst

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Key Features

Keyprogramme features of the Robert S McNamara Fellowships are as follows:

  • Professional Experience
  • Research Dissemination
  • Capacity Building

Benefits of the Robert S McNamara Fellowship

A selected candidate gets the following advantages:

  • Competitive compensation of $44,888, which is provided in monthly instalments
  • Assistance from the HR Operations of the World Bank in G4 visa applications.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for the Robert S McNamara Fellowships:

  • The applicant must be a national of a developing country which is a WBG member
  • The candidate must be fluent in English
  • The applicant must be enrolled in a master’s level economics course or pursuing a PhD in development economics or a relevant domain
  • The candidate must not have exceeded 35 years of age. The applicant must be of this age by June 30 of the academic year in which he/they/she is applying.
  • The applicant must be willing to relocate to the headquarters of the World Bank, i.e; Washington DC for 8 months.

Application Process

To apply for the Robert S McNamara Fellowship, interested candidates must follow these instructions:

  • Visit the official website (
  • Select research programmes offered by the Impact Evaluation and Development Research departments. You can select several programmes in both departments.
  • Answer the questions related to development economics in the application. Answer MCQs about your technical skills. The MCQ section is time-bound.
  • Upload your Resume and Statement of Purpose in PDF format.
  • You may also share a writing sample in PDF format and a zip file of your code samples.
  • Produce a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 2 LOR. The selectors will contact the references after you clear the first round of the selection process. 

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Q1. What are the benefits of World Bank Robert S McNamara Fellowships?

Ans. Fellows get a competitive compensation of $44,888 and assistance in G4 visa applications.

Q2. What is the eligibility for RSMFP?

Ans. To attain this fellowship, the applicant must be enrolled in a master’s level or PhD-level economics programme. She/they/he must belong to a developing country and is willing to relocate to Washington DC during the fellowship tenure. 

Q3. Who funds RSMFP?

Ans. This programme is financed by the federal governments of India, China, Bangladesh, Peru, Kuwait, former Yugoslavia, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

This was all about the Robert S. McNamara Fellowship programme. Learn about different types of global fellowships and scholarships with Leverage Edu. Explore other study-abroad opportunities with a 30-minute free counselling session at 1800 572 000.

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