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Presidential Management Fellowship Opportunity at the VA

Have you completed an advanced degree? Are you interested in a career helping veterans?  If your answer to these questions is “yes”, then you should consider applying for the VA’s Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program.

Presidential Management Fellows, an Overview

The PMF is a prestigious leadership development program that spans across the Federal Government and is ideally suited for those holding advanced degrees, and who are at the entry level of their career.

Each year, candidates from a wide variety of academic disciplines compete for these coveted positions. “Candidates have an interest in and a dedication to excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs,” states the landing page for the program. The program offers PMFs unique leadership, training, and development opportunities, with the expectation that they will become future leaders of change at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Presidential Management Fellows program falls under the VA Pathways Program.

PMF Program Eligibility & Qualifications

All candidates undergo a rigorous assessment and selection process that measures writing, interpersonal, analytic, and leadership skills. There are multiple steps in the application process, and applicants are highly encouraged to pay close attention to application deadlines.

In general, candidates must be in the process of completing or have already completed, within the past 2 years, a qualifying advanced degree – master’s, law, or doctoral program. The most up-to-date eligibility requirements can be found on the PMF website.

Qualifications vary by individual PMF positions. Job openings are posted online each spring and are available only to PMF finalists and federal employees.

Training and Development

The VA sponsors programs and training forums for all PMFs, with additional training opportunities provided by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other agencies. The training includes 160 hours of formal interactive training, challenging work assignments, and direct feedback on work performance.

As a Presidential Management Fellow, you will create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for your two-year program, participate in developmental learning opportunities, network with other PMFs, and contribute to the larger mission of the VA, which is to help and care for our nation’s Veterans.

Those who successfully complete the program’s requirements are often eligible for conversion to a full-time position.


Okay, up to this point, you are probably pretty amped about this opportunity! (I know I am!) But you’re probably wondering, “Will I get paid?”

Yes, all PMFs will receive compensation during their time in the program. Finalists are initially appointed as Fellows at the GS-9, GS-11, or GS-12 grade levels. While actual salaries will vary based on geographic locations, the most current information on the Federal pay scale can be found at the OPM Salary Table website.

PMFs are also eligible for promotion while in the program. So you may start out at one pay grade and advance along the scale within that pay grade, or you may even jump from one pay grade (GS-9) to a higher pay grade (GS-11). Promotions for Fellows are determined by the policies and criteria of the employing agency, the VA in this case.


As a Presidential Management Fellow, you will have most of the same benefits available to federal employees. Some of these benefits include:

  • Insurance plans
    • Health
    • Life
    • Dental/Vision
    • Long Term Care
    • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Tax-deferred Thrift Savings Plan
  • Transit Subsidy
  • Paid Holidays
  • Flexible Work Hours
  • Leave/Paid time off
  • Employee Assistance Program

More information for New/Prospective Employees and the Thrift Savings Plan.

Student Loan Repayment

Participating agencies may offer Finalists and Fellows various student loan programs. You should ask the agency about the program they offer.

In general, Federal agencies are authorized to repay student loans under the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. The amount paid by the agency is subject to the following maximum limits:

  1. $10,000 per employee per calendar year
  2. $60,000 in total per employee

Finalists accepting appointments as Fellows are eligible to receive student loan repayment, but again they are agency-specific, and the VA is just one agency participating in the PMF program.

Here’s more information about OPM’s Federal Student Loan Repayment Program.

How to Apply

The PMF application process is refined from year to year, but it is highly structured and very thorough. The PMF website contains details on the current application process.

So, if you hold an advanced degree, or are currently in a graduate program, then now is the time to begin preparing your application to the VA’s Presidential Fellows Program.

Good luck!  Again, pay attention to those application deadlines.

(Image courtesy of D. Shironosov via 123rf)





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