Become a PMF
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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- I have already completed my advance degree and heard about the PMF Program. Can I still apply?
- Is there a minimum grade point average required to be selected as a Finalist?
- Are only certain advanced degrees considered for the PMF Program (e.g., MPA, MSW)?
- Does the program accept individuals with disabilities?
- I am a non-U.S. citizen who wishes to apply to the PMF Program, but I do not have a Social Security Number to use for the application. How can I apply?
- Should applicants submit a letter of recommendation when applying?
- My advanced degree is from a foreign institution. How do I know if it is accredited?
- How can I check the status of my application when applying to the annual PMF application?
- How do I know if my application is complete?
- Is my school required to nominate me for the PMF Program?
- I realized after I submitted my application there was a mistake. How can I make the correction?
- How many applicants apply each year and out of that number, how many are selected as Finalists?
- How do Finalists learn about possible Federal agency PMF appointment opportunities? Where are the positions located?
- How do Finalists update their on-line resume and/or advanced degree transcript for agency hiring officials to obtain?
- Are applicants who are selected as Finalists guaranteed a Federal job?
- Do Federal agencies reimburse PMFs for their relocation costs upon appointment?
- Do Federal agencies provide Student Loan Repayment or Loan Forgiveness for Fellows?
- Is there an in-person assessment?
- I am a veteran student interested in applying to the PMF Program. How do I claim veterans' preference and provide supporting documentation?
- Does Indian Preference apply in the PMF Program?
- Can I stop in the middle of the on-line assessment, which is timed and un-proctored, and come back to it at a later time?
- How can I find out about the next PMF application cycle?
- When preparing my application, can I get assistance from others, like a career counselor?
- Can an applicant or Finalist request an extension or a deferral?
- As a Finalist, am I eligible to apply for Federal jobs that say they are open to individuals with non-competitive appointment eligibility?
- As a Finalist, am I eligible to apply for Federal jobs that are open to "status candidates" only?
- As a Finalist, am I eligible to apply for Federal jobs on www.USAJOBS.gov?
- How do I withdraw my application or status as a Finalist?
- In regards to eligibility for applying to the PMF Program, I have completed my doctorate degree in medicine but am presently completing a medical residency. Would completing my residency by the August 31st deadline make me eligible to apply?
- I have completed my degree and am presently a Peace Corps volunteer. Can I use my Peace Corps service to apply late or obtain a PMF appointment?
- What resume format should be used? Should it be a “Federal Resume”?
- As a Finalist, can I reapply during the next annual PMF application?
- Are there any additional resources that may help me with the application/assessment process?
- How is my application to the PMF Program evaluated?
- Will any Federal experience or an existing security clearance be taken into consideration?
- Do I need to submit my undergraduate transcript?
- As a Finalist, what does the process look like between submitting an application for an Appointment Opportunity and being selected as a Fellow?
- I am a current Federal employee. How does applying to the PMF Program impact my current position?
- COVID-19: I am a Class of 2020 PMF Finalist. Am I still able to search and apply for PMF positions with agencies? Are agencies still processing applications, scheduling interviews and providing job offers? Will my eligibility be extended in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
1. I have already completed my advance degree and heard about the PMF Program. Can I still apply?
Students who will meet all advanced degree requirements, including the completion or successful defense of any required thesis or dissertation, by August 31st of the following year of the annual application, as well as those who obtained an advanced degree no more than 2 years prior to the opening date of the PMF Program's annual announcement, are eligible to apply in the fall of the current year for the class of the next year. For eligibility criteria, please go to the Become a PMF\Eligibility section for additional information. Advanced Degree is defined as a professional or graduate degree (e.g., master's, Ph.D., J.D.). A J.D. is considered a professional degree when applying to the PMF Program.
2. Is there a minimum grade point average required to be selected as a Finalist?
No. There is no minimum grade point average required to be selected as a Finalist.
3. Are only certain advanced degrees considered for the PMF Program (e.g., MPA, MSW)?
No. Graduate students from all academic disciplines from accredited academic institutions who meet eligibility requirements may apply to the PMF Program. Although we are seeing an increasing interest from agencies for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. Advanced Degree is defined as a professional or graduate degree (e.g., master's, Ph.D., J.D.). A J.D. is considered a professional degree when applying to the PMF Program.
4. Does the program accept individuals with disabilities?
Yes. The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor. Applicants with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation for completing the on-line assessment during the annual PMF application. NOTE: The PMF Program falls under the Pathways Programs Schedule D Hiring Authority. Applicants having a Schedule A letter (which refers to the hiring authority used by Federal agencies to hire individuals with disabilities) would use that hiring authority to apply to Federal positions outside of the PMF Program.
5. I am a non-U.S. citizen who wishes to apply to the PMF Program, but I do not have a Social Security Number to use for the application. How can I apply?
You must be eligible for legal employment in the United States. Please refer to the Become a PMF\Eligibility\Citizenship section for additional details for non-U.S. citizens. Appointment opportunities for non-U.S. citizens are extremely rare.
6. Should applicants submit a letter of recommendation when applying?
No. Do not submit any letters of recommendation. The PMF Program does not consider letters of recommendation or endorsements in any part of the program.
7. My advanced degree is from a foreign institution. How do I know if it is accredited?
Most foreign education is not accredited by an accrediting body that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Those applicants who apply based on a recent or current advanced degree from a foreign academic institution (outside of the United States) and are selected as Finalists will be required to utilize a credential evaluation service to determine if their degree and foreign institution are equivalent to U.S. standards. Go to the Education Completed Outside of the United States to learn more.
8. How can I check the status of my application when applying to the annual PMF application?
You may log into your applicant user account on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS at https://apply.pmf.gov and follow the instructions on the User Dashboard.
9. How do I know if my application is complete?
The application has several required steps all applicants must follow. The system will show a green checkmark when the required elements for that step have been responded to by the applicant. Applicants should make sure all steps have been completed. Applicants will be informed of their status under the "PMF Application Status" section of their applicant user account on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS once the application announcement closes, up to the selection of Finalists.
10. Is my school required to nominate me for the PMF Program?
No. Under current PMF Program regulations, school nomination is not required.
11. I realized after I submitted my application there was a mistake. How can I make the correction?
Before the application period closes and before submitting your final application, you may make some changes to your application. You may not make changes to the on-line assessment responses once you complete each part.
You may only submit one application prior to the announcement closing. Once you certify and submit your application, your are unable to submit any additional documents.
Once the application period closes, you will not be able to make changes to your application. However, you can make changes to your personal profile (e.g. phone number, email address, mailing address, etc.) by logging into your account and editing your contact information.
Those applicants selected as Finalists are able to upload an updated resume and/or advanced degree transcript to their account.
12. How many applicants apply each year and out of that number, how many are selected as Finalists?
During the 2017 application, over 6,300 applicants applied and 417 Finalists were selected. During the 2018 application, over 6,000 applicants applied and 425 Finalists were selected. During the 2019 application, over 4,000 applicants applied and 351 Finalists were selected. And during the 2020 application, over 4,900 applicants applied and 402 Finalists were selected.
Over the past ten years, on average, 50-60% of Finalists obtain appointments as Fellows. Please note this is a highly competitive program and Finalists are not guaranteed a PMF appointment.
13. How do Finalists learn about possible Federal agency PMF appointment opportunities? Where are the positions located?
Participating Federal agencies post PMF appointment opportunities via the PMF TMS (Talent Management System) throughout the year. Finalists may search for appointment opportunities via their applicant user account on the Apply Site of the PMF TMS. Positions are contingent on agency needs.
Finalists should contact the Agency PMF Coordinator for the agency they are interested in for potential appointment opportunities.
Most PMF appointments are located in the Washington, DC metro area. Finalists are able to search for appointment opportunities by Agency/Sub-Agency, Virtual/Telework Option, Location, Job Series, Date Posted, and Keywords that may appear in the announcement.
14. How do Finalists update their on-line resume and/or advanced degree transcript for agency hiring officials to obtain?
Once the application period closes, applicants will not be able to make changes to their resume. Since the original resume and application documents are used to determine eligibility until selection of Finalists, these remain with the Finalists' record within the PMF TMS (Talent Management System). However, Finalists are able to update their on-line resume and advanced degree transcript. Additional information about resumes and transcripts can be found under the Become a PMF\Find a Job section.
15. Are applicants who are selected as Finalists guaranteed a Federal job?
No. If you are selected as a Finalist, you may be eligible for a PMF appointment by a participating Federal agency; however, Finalists are not guaranteed an opportunity. Finalists have 12 months after the announcement of Finalists to obtain a fellowship appointment (otherwise known as the appointment eligibility period); which is defined as accepting and starting an appointment by the 12 month deadline. Appointing agencies are responsible to ensure Finalists meet qualifications, advanced degree requirements, and school accreditation.
16. Do Federal agencies reimburse PMFs for their relocation costs upon appointment?
Each Federal agency determines whether it will pay relocation costs or offer recruitment incentives. Finalists should inquire with participating Federal agencies before accepting an appointment offer.
17. Do Federal agencies provide Student Loan Repayment or Loan Forgiveness for Fellows?
Federal agencies are authorized to repay student loans under the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program and some Federal employees are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Finalists should ask the hiring agency if it participates when interviewing for appointments and accepting tentative PMF appointment offers. Additional information about these programs can be found under the Student Loans section.
18. Is there an in-person assessment?
There is no in-person assessment. During the annual PMF application process, applicants will complete an on-line assessment.
19. I am a veteran student interested in applying to the PMF Program. How do I claim veterans' preference and provide supporting documentation?
During the application process, applicants are asked if they are claiming veterans' preference. For applicants who claim veterans' preference, follow the instructions during the application. The most common document is the veteran's DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
A blank version of the SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veterans Preference, can be found under the Become a PMF\Resources section.
Additional information on claiming veterans' preference and how such is applied during the application process can be found under the Become a PMF\Eligibility\Veterans' Preference section.
20. Does Indian Preference apply in the PMF Program?
Indian Preference is only applicable for the U.S. Department of the Interior's Indian Affairs (including the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Indian Health Service (IHS). If either of these Federal agencies have PMF appointment opportunities and require Indian Preference, they will post such opportunities with additional instructions.
Applicants who can claim Native American (Indian) Preference should submit the BIA Form 4432 by following the steps outlined on the Indian Preference webpage (see below).
For additional information on Indian Preference, please go to the Become a PMF\Eligibility\Indian Preference section.
21. Can I stop in the middle of the on-line assessment, which is timed and un-proctored, and come back to it at a later time?
We recommend applicants complete each part of the on-line assessment in one sitting. Each part is timed. Once an applicant starts a part, he/she must complete it.
All parts of the on-line assessment must be completed before the closing of the announcement. Applicants will be prompted to certify that they completed each part of the on-line assessment independently and without help of others.
Additional information about the on-line assessment (including instructions, sample questions, and reasonable accommodations) are described in the Assessment Preparation Guide.
22. How can I find out about the next PMF application cycle?
Under the Become a PMF section are class year specific application webpages. The PMF application is conducted annually in the Fall. Please check the "Become a PMF" section frequently for updates.
In addition, you may subscribe to the general PMF listserv from our homepage. Once dates are announced for the next application cycle we will post to the PMF website and send an email to all listserv subscribers.
23. When preparing my application, can I get assistance from others, like a career counselor?
Each applicant is expected to complete the on-line assessment independently without help of others. Before submitting an application, applicants will be prompted to certify their responses. Applicants can obtain assistance in preparing their resume and/or advanced degree transcript (and/or alternative) documents.
24. Can an applicant or Finalist request an extension or deferral?
The PMF Program regulations do not allow for extensions or deferrals. An "appointment eligibility extension" exists for participating Federal agencies to formally request an extension to a Finalists' appointment eligibility when (1) an appointment offer has been made and accepted by the Finalist prior to the appointment eligibility deadline and the agency needs additional time to bring the Finalist onboard as a Fellow, or (2) when a Finalist has applied for an advertised PMF appointment opportunity and the agency has not conducted interviews or made tentative job offers prior to the appointment eligibility period deadline.
Such request must be submitted from the Agency PMF Coordinator of the appointing agency in the PMF TMS (Talent Management System). If approved, the PMF TMS will record the approval as part of the Finalist’s records and send an automated email to the Finalist and to the requesting Coordinator. Finalists can have more than one approved extension; however, as soon as the Finalist is recorded as being appointed in the PMF TMS, the system will instantly void any other approved requests and notify all parties. Additional information can be found on the Become a PMF\Find a Job webpage.
As a result of the automated process, the previous OPM Form 1305, PMF Appointment Eligibility Extension Request Form, has been discontinued.
25. As a Finalist, am I eligible to apply for Federal jobs that say they are open to individuals with non-competitive appointment eligibility?
No. As a Finalist in the PMF Program, you do not have non-competitive appointment eligibility in this regard. Non-competitive appointment eligibility is based on statute or Executive order and specifically identifies the circumstances under which the non-competitive appointment eligibility is granted (e.g., persons with certain types of disabilities, certain military spouses, veterans of the armed forces). The Executive order authorizing the PMF Program did not confer such a non-competitive eligibility; instead, it provides a time-limited fellowship in the excepted service that could lead to a permanent position.
Federal job opportunities posted on www.USAJOBS.gov sometimes show "non-competitive appointment eligibility" under the "Who May Apply" section. This "non-competitive appointment eligibility" does not apply to Finalists in the PMF Program. However, if you are eligible for "non-competitive appointment eligibility," by a means other than the PMF Program, you may apply and accept such a position. If you do this, you are not hired under the PMF appointment authority and, as such, would not be in the PMF Program.
As a Finalist, you should monitor the PMF TMS for PMF appointment opportunities.
26. As a Finalist, am I eligible to apply for Federal jobs that are open to "status candidates" only?
No. As a Finalist in the PMF Program, you are not considered a "status candidate." The term "status" is reserved for individuals holding permanent positions (or who held a permanent position) in the competitive service. PMF positions are in the excepted service.
27. As a Finalist, am I eligible to apply for Federal jobs on www.USAJOBS.gov?
Current Finalists seeking a PMF appointment must use the PMF TMS to find appointment opportunities. Though participating agencies may advertise a PMF appointment opportunity on USAJOBS, it is highly unlikely. If they do, they must also advertise a PMF appointment opportunity and may embed the link to USAJOBS for applying. Participating Federal agencies must advertise their PMF appointment opportunities on the PMF TMS. If a Finalist finds a non-PMF Federal job and accepts, he/she will not be recorded as a PMF.
28. How do I withdraw my application or status as a Finalist?
Both Applicants and Finalists can withdraw from further consideration by logging into their applicant user account on the Apply Site and go to "Manage Settings" and follow the instructions.
Some Finalists withdraw for a variety of reasons, such as: (1) will not complete their qualifying advanced degree by the deadline, (2) wish to pursue higher education, (3) obtained employment elsewhere, or (4) for personal reasons.
If a Finalist withdraws and continues to remain eligible, he/she may reapply to the next annual PMF application.
29. In regards to eligibility for applying to the PMF Program, I have completed my doctorate degree in medicine but am presently completing a medical residency. Would completing my residency by the August 31st deadline make me eligible to apply?
No. A medical residency is a requirement for licensure to practice medicine, not a requirement to complete the advanced degree. A residency is typically completed after graduation from medical school and the person doing a residency is no longer enrolled in a degree program. In such cases the date you completed the doctorate degree will be used to determine eligibility.
30. I have completed my degree and am presently a Peace Corps volunteer. Can I use my Peace Corps service to apply late or obtain a PMF appointment?
If you are presently a Peace Corps volunteer or recently completed your service, you must still meet the eligibility requirements for applying to the PMF Program. If you are not eligible or you are a recent Peace Corps volunteer, you may have noncompetitive eligibility for a Federal position in the competitive service. However, such eligibility is based under a different hiring authority outside of the PMF Program; this also applies to Finalists in the PMF Program who may be recent Peace Corps volunteers. Please review the Peace Corps' webpage regarding noncompetitive eligibility here: https://www.peacecorps.gov/returned-volunteers/careers/noncompetitive-eligibility/.
This applies to other similar programs that offer noncompetitive eligibility.
31. What resume format should be used? Should it be a “Federal Resume”?
During the annual PMF application, applicants are required to submit a resume. The resume can be in any format. A resume must contain the following at a minimum: applicant name, contact information, college/university name, and qualifying degree program. Additional instructions can be found under the Application Tips section.
Often we are asked about a “Federal Resume”, which is a specific resume format that many Federal agencies utilize when hiring talent. A resume in the format of a Federal Resume is not required in order to apply to the PMF Program. Additional information about Federal Resumes can be found on USAJOBS.
Applicants can only submit one resume with their application. Those applicants selected as Finalists will have the ability to upload an updated resume, which will be accessible by registered agency users of the PMF TMS (Talent Management System). The original resume submitted as part of the application will remain on file for recordkeeping purposes.
32. As a Finalist, can I reapply during the next annual PMF application?
If a current Finalist meets the eligibility requirements, he/she may reapply. However, upon initiating an application and initiating the on-line assessment, he/she will forfeit their status as a current Finalist.
33. Are there any additional resources that may help me with the application/assessment process?
The PMF Program Office has a number of resources that include the following:
- PMF Applicant Handbook: Details the annual application process, explains eligibility requirements, required documentation, and provides an overview of the assessment process.
- Assessment Preparation Guide: Details the assessment process, explaining each section of the assessment, sample questions, and provides instructions for requesting reasonable accommodation. Available only before and during the annual PMF application and on-line assessment process.
- Participant Timeline…from Start to Finish: Illustrates the typical timeline a participant would follow in navigating through the PMF Program.
- PMF Application Timeline: Illustrates the timeline and steps from applying to the PMF Program, to selection of Finalists, and to finding a PMF appointment.
- PMF Fellowship Timeline: Illustrates the timeline and steps Fellows follow from onboarding to their PMF position, and leading to graduation.
The above resources can be found under the Become a PMF\Resources section of this website.
34. How is my application to the PMF Program evaluated?
From the applicant pool, selection of Finalists will be based on completed applications, eligibility, adjudication of veterans' preference, scores of the on-line assessment, hiring agency workforce planning estimates, and occupational needs within the Federal Government. Only Finalists are eligible for PMF appointment opportunities. PMF appointments are full-time, paid positions (e.g., salary and benefits) over a two-year fellowship. Those applicants ultimately selected as Finalists should review the Become a PMF\Find a Job section on the PMF website.
Please see the “Assessment Preparation Guide” under the Become a PMF\Assessment Process to best prepare for the assessment and other available resources posted under the Become a PMF\Resources section.
35. Will any Federal experience or an existing security clearance be taken into consideration?
Applicants with previous Federal experience and/or active security clearances may apply if they meet our eligibility requirements. No advantage is given to applicants with previous Federal experience and/or security clearances during the application process.
If selected as a Finalist, these experiences may make a Finalist a strong candidate for appointment opportunities, but that is at the discretion of the hiring agency.
36. Do I need to submit my undergraduate transcript?
Submitting an undergraduate transcript is optional and will have no impact on your application or on-line assessment. You may submit your undergraduate transcript as an "Other" document when submitting your application documents. You will also be asked to identify your undergraduate degree’s discipline and the issuing academic institution. If selected as a Finalist, registered agency users will be able to search by all degrees and view all application documents. Finalists are only able to upload an updated advanced degree transcript and/or resume.
Please see additional information under the Become a PMF\Application Process\Application Tips webpage.
37. As a Finalist, what does the process look like between submitting an application for an Appointment Opportunity and being selected as a Fellow?
Each Agency has specific requirements outlined in their appointment opportunities on how to apply to the position. Agencies may have unique processes for vetting applications from Finalists, as appointment opportunities generally receive several applications. Practices that may vary widely among Agencies include the following: confirming receipt of an application, reviewing applications for meeting qualifications, verifying school accreditation, ensuring Finalists are eligible, the timeframe for scheduling interviews, the Hiring Official making a selection, making tentative appointment offers, and notification to those Finalists who were not selected.
If your application is accepted and found qualified, you will be referred to the Hiring Official for consideration. It is then up to the Hiring Official to schedule interviews and check references. Interviews may be conducted in-person and/or remotely. Once interviews are completed, the Hiring Official will make their selection and inform the agency’s HR (Human Resources) Specialist. Either the HR Specialist or the Agency PMF Coordinator will then contact you to make a tentative PMF appointment offer. Once a Finalist accepts the tentative offer, the agency will initiate the process for a background investigation and/or security clearance. If the position requires a Public Trust (which is a basic background investigation), the process is relatively short. If the position requires a security clearance, the process can be quite lengthy and take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Once the background investigation/security clearance is favorably adjudicated, the agency will contact the Finalist to make a final PMF appointment offer. If the Finalist accepts, then a start date is negotiated between the Finalist and the agency. Finalists should then complete and submit the OPM Form 1306, PMF Appointment Intake Form (found under the Become a PMF\Resources webpage).
Finalists can contact the Agency Contact identified in the announcement or the Agency PMF Coordinator to receive updates on any part of this process. Coordinators may refer Finalists to the Hiring Official or other HR Specialists who may be more familiar with the status of the recruitment process for a specific appointment opportunity.
Once a Finalist accepts a tentative PMF appointment offer and is recorded as being appointed in the PMF TMS, their status changes to "Fellow (Appointed)", but is not considered a Fellow until onboarding (starting their PMF appointment).
38. I am a current Federal employee. How does applying to the PMF Program impact my current position?
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may apply to the PMF Program during its annual application process in the fall. Only those applicants selected as Finalists are eligible for a PMF appointment. Finalists who are also current Federal employees should identify such in their resume and be prepared to send the appointing agency a copy of their current SF 50, Personnel Action.
Finalists selected as Fellows are appointed to 2-year fellowships in the excepted service, under the Pathways Programs Schedule D Hiring Authority. If the Finalist is a current Federal employee and accepts a PMF appointment offer, the employee would resign from their current Federal position. It is up to the appointing agency to determine the pay grade level (or equivalent) for the PMF position. Finalists can only be initially appointed at the GS-9, 11, or 12 (or equivalent).
If a Fellow successfully completes their fellowship, the Federal agency may noncompetitively convert into a term or permanent position. The fellowship time would count towards career status and fulfills any competitive service probationary period. If the Fellow does not successfully complete their fellowship, then the Fellow may be subject to termination.
39. COVID-19: I am a Class of 2020 PMF Finalist. Am I still able to search and apply for PMF positions with agencies? Are agencies still processing applications, scheduling interviews and providing job offers? Will my eligibility be extended in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The PMF Talent Management System has been operational at all times and several agencies continue to post and accept applications for PMF positions, conduct interviews, and provide job offers. As of April 30, 2020, over 400 PMF job opportunity announcements have been posted that cover over 700 potential positions. PMF Class of 2020 Finalists have until November 26th, 2020, to apply for a PMF position, accept a job offer, or start a PMF appointment. If a 2020 Finalist has applied to a position that is still in process on November 26th, the agency can formally request an appointment eligibility extension for Finalists that they are still working with on the selection and hiring process. For additional information about extensions, see Question #24 above.