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Capital Fellows California Senate Fellows Program

About Capital Fellows California Senate Fellows Program

The Capital Fellows Programs are public policy fellowships in California state government, administered by the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento.

California Senate Fellows

Established in 1973, the California Senate Fellows program has become the principal source of career staff for the state Senate. At all levels of the fellowship process, fellows draft legislation, analyze bills and draft speeches and talking points for senators, all while serving as full-time professional legislative staff. The program welcomes people with diverse life experiences and backgrounds who have a track record of civic engagement and a commitment to serve the state of California.

The California Senate Fellows program is a highly competitive, graduate level, full-time 11-month paid fellowship that introduces individuals to the legislative process by providing research and other professional staff assistance to the Senate. Fellows are placed with top-ranking policy makers, providing firsthand experience in the development and advancement of public policy and legislation. Fellows participate in weekly seminars and earn six units of graduate credit for the academic portion of the program. The experience gained through the Senate Fellows program allows fellows the opportunity to pursue very successful careers in academia, public service and the private sector.

The Nature of Fellowship Work

Senate Fellows are assigned to the offices of a senator or policy committee and work as part of the public policy staff team in the Capitol. Responsibilities for fellows assigned to the offices of senators include helping develop legislative proposals, researching and analyzing bills, responding to constituent inquiries, and writing press releases and speeches among other things. Fellows assigned to policy committees specialize and develop expertise with respect to the subject-matter jurisdiction of the committee. Additional committee staff responsibilities include research assignments and assisting the chairperson with committee-related legislation moving through the Legislature. Many of the California Senate Fellows participants continue their post-fellowship careers as staff to the California Senate.

Senate Fellows often continue working in the public policy arena after completing the program. Many hold senior staff positions with the Legislature, and others hold high-level positions in the executive branch. Some former fellows now serve as elected officials in local government or as members of the Legislature or the United States Congress. Alumni move back and forth between the public and private sectors during the course of their careers and are found in virtually every profession and vocation.

Academic Program

Fellows are registered as Sacramento State graduate students during the Spring semester and earn six units of graduate credit paid for by the program. Fellows attend weekly seminars held at the Capitol and are required to do oral presentations and written assignments. The seminars provide an academic perspective to complement the experience gained through the office placements. Upon successful completion of the fellowship, Senate Fellows receive a Graduate Certificate in Applied Policy and Government.


Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $2698/month; medical, dental and vision benefits; and student loan deferments.


The only prerequisite for the programs is a bachelor’s degree in any major and a demonstrated interest in state government and public service. Applicants must be at least 20 years of age or older by September 1 of the fellowship year and all qualified applicants are welcome to apply. Fellows come from all economic, cultural, career and educational backgrounds, and no previous legislative or political experience is required. Applicants from outside of California are welcome to apply. Fellows are not required to be U.S. citizens, but they must provide proof of appropriate immigration status. The Capital Fellows Programs do not meet the requirements for F-1 or J-1 visas.

Members of the selection committee look for genuine interest in California politics and public policy; effective written and oral communication skills; interpersonal skills and bipartisan collaboration; characteristics for collaborative learning and problem-solving including flexibility, initiative, adaptability and maturity; academic and professional achievement; interest in and knowledge of the California Legislative Branch; and a demonstrated track record of civic engagement.

Capital Fellows California Senate Fellows Program

Center for California Studies, Sacramento State
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6081
Phone: 916-278-6906
Phone 2: 916-651-1701


Number of Interns: 10 to 20
Compensation/Benefits: Academic Credit, Stipend
Duration: 6 to 12 months
Academic Level: Recent College Graduates, Graduate Students, Business School Students, Law School Students


Sacramento, CA