skip navigation links
USGS - science for a changing world

Human Capital Services and Support

We Are USGS!

Department of the Interior (DOI) - U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pathways Recent Graduates Program

DOI - USGS Pathways Recent Graduates Program
effective 7/10/12

The Recent Graduates Program affords developmental Federal experiences intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs. The program typically lasts for 1 year (may be up to 2 years if the training requirements of the position warrant a longer and more structured training program). A Participant Agreement is established between the Recent Graduate and USGS which sets the requirements and expectations of the program. Click here for a copy of the Participant Agreement for Recent Graduates Program.

Program Features:

The Recent Graduates Program is for individuals who have completed a qualifying associateís, bachelorís, masterís, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate educational program within the preceding 2 years (with exceptions for certain veterans.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibles for the Recent Graduate Program must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have obtained, within the previous two years, a qualifying associateís, bachelorís, masterís, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate from a qualifying educational institution.

    Certain veterans are provided an eligibility extension due to military service obligations. Veterans with preference, who enter active military duty after completion of their educational requirements, have a 2-year period of eligibility upon discharge from active duty, and which may not exceed beyond six years after degree/certificate completion, in order to apply for Recent Graduate opportunities.

  • Must meet qualification requirements for the position and submit all required documentation as specified in the vacancy announcement.

Training and Development

The following developmental activities and training opportunities are requirements of the program:

  • Orientation program for Recent Graduates hired for the program.
  • Mentorship throughout the program.
  • Individual Development Plan to create and track Recent Graduates' career planning, professional development, and training activities.
  • At least 40 hours of formal, interactive training each year of the program.
  • Positions that provide for career advancement.

After Program Completion

Recent Graduates may be converted to a permanent position (or, in some limited circumstances a term appointment lasting more than 1 year but not exceeding a total of 4 years).

To be eligible for conversion, Recent Graduates must have:

  • Successfully completed at least 1-year of continuous service (up to a maximum of 2-years for positions with unique training requirements) in addition successful completion to all requirements of the Program.
  • Demonstrated successful job performance.
  • Meet the qualification requirements for the position to which the Recent Graduate will be converted.

Summary of Benefits

As an employee of the USGS, your compensation is more than a paycheck. You receive a competitive benefits package designed to meet the needs of today's diverse workforce as described below.

  • Salary Tables (
  • USGS Offices and Locations
SALARY INCREASES Ė Federal employees may receive a pay increase each year, effective in January. Congress and the President set the amount of this increase. Locality pay also provides higher salaries for employees who work in higher salary areas. See U. S. Office of Personnel Management Information on Federal Pay for further information.
GS SALARY (STEP) INCREASES - In addition, employees, whose performance is satisfactory, are eligible for periodic pay increases called "within-grades". Each grade range of the General Schedule pay scale is divided into ten steps and employees' salaries progress up the steps based on their length of service.
WG SALARY (STEP) INCREASES Ė Employees in wage graded positions whose performance is satisfactory are eligible for periodic increases. Each grade range of the pay scale is divided into five steps and employees' salaries progress up the steps based on their length of service.
GENEROUS RETIREMENT BENEFITS Ė Employees new to the Federal Government are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) including Social Security. These two programs provide a basic level of retirement or disability income, as well as survivor benefits for the spouse and children of a deceased employee.
THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN - FERS employees may contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment program similar to a 401(k) plan. Contributions are matched up to 4% with an automatic government contribution of 1%. More information about TSP is available from the Thrift Savings Plan Website.
HEALTH INSURANCE - The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program is considered by many health care experts as one of the best in the nation. The government pays an average 70 percent of premiums and accepts pre-existing medical conditions. Employees may choose fee-for-service plans, health maintenance organizations (HMO's) Consumer-Driven High Deductible plans depending on location. Employees may also choose to cover eligible family members. Employees who are enrolled in the FEHB for at least the last five years before they retire may continue their enrollment throughout their retirement. The Government continues to pay the same share of the premiums as for active employees.
DENTAL AND VISION INSURANCE - The Federal Employee Dental and Vision Benefits provide supplemental dental and vision benefits on a pre-taxed basis. Employees may enroll for Self only, Self plus one, or Self and family coverage.
FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS (FSA) - Employees may pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care and/or dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
LIFE INSURANCE - Full-time and part-time employees are enrolled in the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program. They are automatically covered (no physical required) by the basic insurance amount, unless they choose to waive coverage. The basic insurance amount is the employee's annual salary rate rounded up to the nearest thousand, plus $2000. The Government pays one third of the premium for the basic insurance. New employees may choose to also enroll in various coverage options, up to 5 times their annual salary. New employees may also enroll for a family option.
LONG TERM CARE - Employees eligible for the health insurance may also apply for Long Term Care Insurance. Eligible family members may also apply. One does not need to be enrolled in the FEHB.
FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS is available in most cases - Most full-time USGS employees can take advantage of flexible hours to avoid peak traffic periods or to meet their personal needs. Arrival times can vary between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., and a midday flexible time band from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. allows for an extended lunch break; the standard lunch break is a half-hour. Some offices allow compressed work schedules, such as nine-hour days with a three-day weekend in alternating weeks.
HOLIDAYS - Full-time employees have ten paid holidays a year, including New Year's Day, Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Part-time employees will also be paid for the number of hours they are scheduled to work on these ten holidays.
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM -Employees and their family members are eligible for confidential counseling by professional counselors who can help you deal with personal problems.
MEDICARE - Employees contribute 1.45% of salary to Medicare and may be eligible for hospital insurance benefits through the Medicare program at age 65.
LEAVE - The two primary kinds of leave are annual (vacation time) and sick leave. Employees earn annual leave at rates depending on their length of service. For their first three years of full-time employment, you earn 104 hours of vacation a year. From 3 to 15 years of full-time service you earn 156 hours a year. Employees with more than 15 years of full-time service earn 208 hours a year. You are also allowed to accrue leave and carry 240 hours of leave into the next year. All full-time employees accrue sick leave at the rate of 4 hours per 2-week pay period. Leave accrual for part-time employees is prorated based on the number of hours they are scheduled to work, e.g. half-time employees earn leave at half the rate of full-time employees. Additionally, USGS has a Leave Share Program that allows employees to donate their vacation time to other employees who have a medical emergency. USGS follows the Family Medical Leave Act, authorizes leave without pay, Military Leave, Court Leave, and other Excused Absences.
CREDIT FOR MILITARY SERVICE - Employees who have served on active duty with the United States military services can receive credit for their military time toward leave accrual and retirement. (A deposit may be necessary to cover retirement contributions not made during this time.)
CREDIT UNION - Employees and their family members are eligible to join the Federal Credit Union at various locations throughout the country. The credit union provides savings, checking, loans, and other financial services to members.
WORKERS COMPENSATION - Employees who are injured on the job may receive benefits through the provisions of the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). FECA provides medical benefits, compensation for loss of earning capacity, and death benefits for the family of an employee who dies from employment-related injury or disease.
ELECTRONIC DEPOSIT - Employees' pay is deposited directly into their accounts at their chosen financial institutions on each scheduled payday. You can also elect to have automatic withdrawals to pay for loans or allotments of your choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a qualifying educational institution for the Recent Graduates Program?

Recent Graduates who have completed within the previous two years (with exceptions for certain veterans and individuals graduating after December 27, 2010 to July 10,2012) from a qualifying educational institutions/programs that include any accredited technical or vocational school, 2- or 4-year college or university, a graduate or professional school, or a post-secondary certificate program institution equivalent to at least 1 academic year of full-time study that is part of an accredited college-level, technical, trade, vocational, or business school curriculum.

Applicants may refer to the U.S. Department of Educationís Institutional Accreditation System to determine whether their school/program is accredited.

Education completed outside of the United States must be deemed equivalent to that gained in conventional/accredited U.S. education programs to be acceptable for Federal employment. If you received a degree abroad, contact the agency to which you are applying for guidance regarding having your degree reviewed by a U.S. based credential evaluation service.

Does Veteran's Preference apply in the selection process for students?

Yes. Please see Veterans Preference for further information.

Can Recent Graduate employees receive pay increases?

Yes. If Federal employees receive any annual pay increase, effective in January, all recent graduate employees would receive this increase. Recent Graduates are also eligible for what is referred to as within grade increases.

Can Recent Graduate employees be promoted?

Yes. A General Schedule (GS: white collar occupations) employee is entitled to an increase in pay of at least two steps (about 6 percent) upon placement in a higher graded position without a break in service. A Wage Grade (WG: blue collar occupations) employee is entitled to an increase in pay of at least one step (about 4 percent). Please see the U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Information on Federal Pay for further information.

Are Recent Graduate employees eligible for annual and sick leave?

Appointees earn annual and sick leave.

Are Recent Graduate employees eligible for health and life insurance benefits?

Yes. Newly employed Recent Graduates are eligible for health, dental, vision and life insurance coverage. Please see the Benefits section for further information.

Where can I find out about Recent Graduates positions?

Visit USAJOBS to view available Recent Graduate opportunities with USGS and other agencies.

Why is it so great to work for USGS?

From the peaks of the highest mountains to the depths of the deepest seas, the U.S. Geological Survey has career opportunities that make a difference in both the lives of others and in the environment. The USGS has more than 10,000 scientists, technicians, and support staff of the USGS who are working in more than 400 locations throughout the United States. As the Nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The diversity of our scientific expertise enables us to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations and provide impartial, timely, and relevant scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers related to: the health of our ecosystems and environment; natural hazards that threaten us; natural resources we rely on, and; the impact of climate and land-use changes. For more information about the USGS please visit

Conflict Management | Employee & Career Development | Human Resources |
Organization Development | Pay & Benefits | Performance & Conduct | Staffing & Workforce

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 24-Mar-2015 11:51:34 EDT