Truman Scholarships

Background:  The United States Congress established the Harry S. Truman Scholarship competition in 1975 to honor the nation’s 33rd president. The scholarship provides $3,000 for the senior year and $27,000 for students preparing for careers in government or public service.

The Scholarships:  About 70 scholarships are awarded annually to college juniors; the competition is based on state of home residence, and at least one scholarship is awarded to each state and to the American territories. A few at-large scholarships are awarded. Although the scholarship is primarily for graduate studies leading to a career in public service (interpreted broadly), $3,000 is provided for the senior year in college.

Application:  The application consists of a transcript (students must be in the upper quarter of their college classes, but a 3.6 or above GPA is expected), information about activities, a series of paragraph-long responses about leadership experiences and career goals, an essay on an issue of public policy, and three letters of recommendation, plus the university’s letter of endorsement. A good application generally takes 20 to 40 hours to prepare and review.

Who Should Apply:  Students (U.S. citizens) with excellent grades, documented leadership, public service activities (especially working on campaigns or for someone in politics), and a record of community service who wish to earn a degree that will lead to a career in the public or private nonprofit sector should consider applying for a Truman Scholarship. The foundation is looking for “change agents.”

References:  Three letters of recommendation, plus a university endorsement, written by the Truman Faculty Representative, are required. One letter must discuss the candidate’s potential for graduate study; one, potential for public service; one must address the leadership experience the candidate has described. The university’s letter of endorsement is formed in part by the on-campus interview with the Truman Selection Committee, in part by discussion with the candidate.

For More Information: Visit the Truman Scholarships website.

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