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Illini Science Policy Program

Are you interested in a career in public service?

The Illini Science Policy Program is a unique post-graduate opportunity for students graduating from University of Illinois between May 2023 and August 2024 and who are interested in University of Illinois Extension’s critical issue areas – food, economy, environment, community, and health – and the policy decisions affecting those resources.

Registration for ISPP Scholar Cohort 5 will open Monday, February 5, 2024 through the Illinois Job Board. The position will be listed as: Visiting Extension Outreach Associate, Illini Science Policy Scholar

How it works: This program matches highly motivated and qualified graduate students completing their degree from UIUC, UIS or UIC with hosts in public agencies or the Illinois legislature for a 12-month paid appointment. Illini Science Policy Scholars explore public service careers at a high level, receiving support through mentoring, training, and networking events and establishing professional connections across multiple agencies and stakeholders. The Illini Science Policy Program began in 2020.

  • Scholar assignments are identified by host offices, which may include local, state and federal agencies and legislative offices in Illinois.
  • Hosts provide an educational opportunity to the scholars who will, in turn, provide substantial professional contributions to the office, drawing from the latest advances at University of Illinois’ flagship campus. 
  • Scholars must be recent graduates with masters, doctoral, J.D. or professional degrees who work with the host office full-time, on site, and with other project partners as appropriate. As part of their experience, scholars will contribute to Extension initiatives that align with their assignments.
  • Program Guide frames the ISPP program. Take a look at the 2023-24 program guide to get a sense of the ISPP program. This program guide will be updated for the 2024-25 Cohort. This program guide is to be used as an example: 2023-24 Program Guide
Learn more about past ISPP Scholars:
  • ISPP Scholar May Showcase overview 2021-2022
  • ISPP Scholar May Showcase overview 2022-2023


  • February 5: Scholar applications open. (Rolling submissions)
  • March 4: Final day for early applications from potential scholars.
    • positions will remain open until filled
  • Deadline extended to March 24, 2024
  • March 6 to April 12: Application review
    • Review for eligibility
    • Interviews by university and host agencies
  • April 15-18: Matching process
  • End April / Early May: Host / Scholar matches announced
  • July 16, 2024: ISPP Scholar placement begin
  • July 15, 2025: latest ISPP Scholar placement can ends 

Check out Illinois Extension’s complete offerings