Host FAQ

Why host a scholar?

Scholars are more than students or interns. They are recent graduates with masters, doctoral, J.D. degrees, or other professional degrees that focus on critical issues related to food, economy, environment, community, and health. Scholars are selected to participate in the program based on a combination of academic record, statement of career goals, recommendations and endorsements, and relevant experience. They are capable of working alongside state and federal partners, and are excited to learn about the process of public management and policy-making.

Host offices receive significant support from the University of Illinois including matched funding towards direct appointment costs, recruitment of highly qualified and motivated graduates, connection with the statewide Extension network, and business administration of the appointment.

The ISP program serves to increase the capacity of public management agencies and office holders in Illinois and facilitate the training and development of the next generation of public service leaders.

Who can host a scholar?

The Illini Science Policy Program is open for participation by municipal, state and federal agencies and legislative offices located in Illinois with mandates in research, policy or management relating to University of Illinois Extension’s five critical issue areas: food, economy, environment, community, and health.

How does a host apply to the program? 

All interested offices are required to complete and submit a host application by February 15, 2022. Host offices that are interested in hosting multiple scholars must submit an application for each position available in the host office. 

View the 2023 Call for Host Applications.

Do all hosts that apply get a scholar?

Unfortunately, hosts are not guaranteed to have a scholar. We do our best to recruit and match qualified applicants with an interest in the host’s chosen project.

When does the program begin?

The program year begins June 1. Start and end dates are flexible to accommodate scholars and host schedules, but projects should begin no later than August 31.

What kinds of projects are appropriate for scholars? 

Successful host applications will identify clear goals and objectives for a scholar to contribute to substantive 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. For example, project activities might include:

  • Contributing research and data analysis to management plans and assessment
  • Assisting coordination between stakeholders groups
  • Assisting host communications and public outreach
  • Contributing research and coordination to policy development and implementation
  • Assessing host data requirements and information gaps

Read about the 2020 participants project experiences.

Where can I view examples of past host applications?

You can view the project descriptions from previous host applications here

How are hosts and finalists matched, and what is the host’s role in this process?

Hosts will submit position descriptions with their applications, which will be used for marketing and recruitment of appointment applicants. Hosts will be invited to screen program applicants who have indicated interest in their projects, working with Extension personnel to select finalists for interviews. Hosts arrange interviews with their finalists and rank candidates. Extension will identify final matches and announce the matches. Extension personnel will coordinate scheduling and documentation throughout the matching process.


  • February 1: Final day to submit host applications.
  • February 6: Scholar applications open. (Rolling submissions)
  • March 24: Final day for potential scholars to submit applications.
  • Feb 6 to March 27: Applications reviewed for eligibility.
  • March 27 to April 13: Hosts review applications and interview candidates
  • April 17: Final day for hosts to send priority list of matches to Extension.
  • April 18 to April 20: Matching process happens. 
  • End April / early May: Host and scholar matches announced.
  • June 1: Scholars may begin term with host office.
  • Summer: Orientation
  • August 31: Final day for scholars to begin term with host office.

What are COVID-19 safety policies for the ISP Program?

Extension and hosts will work together to ensure scholars follow and are aware of university guidelines and safety protocols for COVID-19 as they evolve for the 2023-24 appointment year. 

Who provides office space and equipment for the ISP Scholar?

Hosts are expected to provide office space and the project equipment required for in-person work. If remote work is necessary due to COVID-19, Extension may be able to provide standard computing equipment and software to Scholars, if hosts are unable.

Where will ISP Scholars be located?

Hosts will determine whether a scholar will need to relocate for their appointment. Hosts should make sure in the application and during the placement interview that the scholar is aware of the potential relocation or if remote work is acceptable. A maximum of $1500 is allowed for travel from the program but host agencies can offer more.

What happens if a Scholar gets sick or requests time off?

Academic Hourlies do not get vacation and sick leave. Because of this, their appointment is based on a 49-week calendar year. This allows for personal leave of up to 15 days. Leave days that align with state or university holidays will be approved by Extension, up to the 15 day limit. View university holidays here and state holidays here.