Host application deadline January 15, 2021.

 Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Early application is encouraged.

To apply, send completed application materials to the Extension & Public Engagement Connection Center at

Program Description

The Illini Science Policy (ISP) Program is a unique opportunity for government offices that work in University of Illinois Extension’s critical issue areas – food, economy, environment, community, and health – and the policy decisions affecting those resources. The program will match highly motivated and qualified University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduates with advanced degrees with Illinois public agencies or legislative offices for a 12-month, full-time paid appointment. Hosts provide an educational opportunity to Illini Science Policy Scholars (Scholars) who will, in turn, provide substantial professional contributions to the office, drawing from the latest scientific and disciplinary advances at U of I’s flagship campus.

Hosts are expected to provide supervision, mentorship and opportunities for their Scholar to be involved in critical issues that support their professional and educational goals while meeting the agency’s needs. Scholars are recent graduates with Masters, Doctoral, or J.D. degrees who work with the host office full-time and on site, working with other staff and/or leadership as appropriate. As part of their experience, Scholars will choose Extension project/s that align with their host projects to contribute to, anticipated to involve no more than two months spread out over the year, connecting host offices to Extension’s network of nearly 700 staff across all 102 Illinois counties.

In 2021, University of Illinois Extension plans to select up to 10 finalists who will be awarded appointments, depending on the size of the applicant pool and number of host offerings. The length of the assignment is 12 months, non-renewable, with a required start date between June 1 and August 31, 2021.


The ISP Program is open for participation by local, state and federal public agencies and legislative offices in Illinois with mandates in research, policy, or management issues relating to University of Illinois Extension’s five critical issue areas: food, economy, environment, community, and/or health. Legislative hosts must have a current Certificate of Good Standing with the State of Illinois.

Stipends and Expenses

Through support from the U of I Office of the Provost Investment for Growth program, the University of Illinois provides $23,000 towards each Scholar’s appointment and travel reimbursement – 50 percent of the appointment costs – matched by the host office. Program overhead expenses are provided by the University of Illinois Extension and the Office of the Provost, including coordination, events, marketing and business services.

Host offices may provide the $23,000 match through either internal or external sources. Once hosts are confirmed, they will work with Extension to create an interagency agreement prior to the start of the appointment in summer 2021. Scholars are not allowed to begin work until the funding agreement is completed.

University match is available for one scholar per host agency. Hosts may apply for additional scholars and will receive full support services, but must provide 100% of the direct costs.

The $46,000 for direct costs are disbursed as $44,500 annual take-home pay and $1,500 for travel reimbursement.


A host application will include the following: 

  • Host location and contact information.
  • Names of appointment supervisor(s). 
  • Point(s) of contact for Extension, prospective scholars, and finalists.
  • Position description, not to exceed two pages, single-spaced. If selected as a participating host, these descriptions will be made available as submitted to prospective ISP Scholar applicants.​
  • Amount of proposed financial contribution.

Download an application template.


Successful host applications will identify clear goals and objectives for a Scholar to contribute to research, policy, or management issues in Illinois relating to food, economy, environment, community, and health. Projects should also provide educational benefit and professional growth and exposure for the Scholar. Acceptance of a host application will be based on the following criteria:

  • The perceived quality of the project opportunity.
  • The level of educational benefit for the Scholar.
  • The host office’s previous experience working with interns, students or other mentoring/educational programs.
  • The level of financial commitment. Hosts are required to provide at least 50% of the cost of the first 12-month appointment (including appointment and travel costs). Hosts must pay 100% of the costs for any additional appointment(s).

Matching process

Host matching

Hosts will submit position descriptions prior to January 15, which will be posted as 2-page statements on the Extension website and used by EPECC to recruit graduating students. Hosts will be invited to screen applicants with Extension personnel in late February and identify top candidates for interview. Hosts and students will schedule interviews in March, with hosts submitting rankings March 26. Host-Scholar matches are announced in early April, and appointments begin June-Aug.

Extension matching

EPECC personnel will identify Extension Mentors working on issues aligned with the host office and Scholar interests. Scholars will receive additional guidance from their Extension mentor and contribute an Extension project for a total of 2 months FTE over the course of the 12-month appointment, distributed as makes sense for the project.

Important host application dates

November          1              ISP Host applications open, accepted on a rolling basis

December           1             ISP Scholar applications open, accepted on a rolling basis

January                15          Host application deadline

February              12          Scholar application deadline

February              15-26     Extension and hosts screen Scholar applicants

March                   1-26       Hosts interview, rank finalists

April                       5           Host + Scholar matches announced

June                      1           Scholars may begin term with host office

August                  31          Deadline to begin term with host office

Download an application template.