Harry S. Truman Scholarship
What is the Truman Scholarship? The Truman Foundation is the nation’s official living memorial to our thirty-third president and The Presidential Memorial to Public Service. Created by Congress in 1975, the Foundation was President Truman’s idea. President Truman did not want a bricks and mortar monument. Instead, he encouraged a living memorial that would give life to the values of service that had animated his career. In that spirit, the Truman Foundation is a place that nurtures and supports future generations who answer the call to public service leadership.
The hallmark of the Foundation’s work is the Truman Scholarship, the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers as public service leaders. Our mission makes us a beacon for public service for young people across the United States. Our vision is of a country that deeply values public servants. In pursuit of this mission and vision, we offer multiple programs for Truman Scholars.
Supporting the Future of Public Service: We identify young people at an important inflection point in their development—when they are college juniors—and recognize and reward their commitments to devote themselves to public service. We take risks by investing in leaders when they are young. Although certainly accomplished, many are still largely untested at that age. Yet when you look at what the now more than 3,000 Truman Scholars have achieved, our risk-taking is paying off. For a small investment – at the right time – the returns are impressive.
Trumans are working in the West Wing, sitting on the US Supreme Court, and serving in federal and state legislatures. They are transforming nonprofits, delivering crucial services and organizing for change in local communities. And Truman Scholars are leaders in academia, research, and health care. They can be found in every branch of the Armed Services. And many make a difference beyond the borders of the United States.
The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 toward graduate studies for students who will pursue a career in public service. Students must be College third-years (juniors or at least two full years before graduation) at the time of selection. Scholars are invited to participate in a number of programs: Truman Scholar Leadership Week, The Summer Institute, The Truman Fellows Program, and the Public Service Law Conference. The Truman Foundation also provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions, and professional development.
- Read about Kristen Busch and Rodrigo Estrada, UChicago's 2020 Truman Scholars.
- Read about Vivek Ramakrishnan, UChicago's 2019 Truman Scholar.
- Read about Soreti Teshome, UChicago's 2017 Truman Scholar.
- Read about Samuel Boland, UChicago's 2015 Truman Scholar.
Watch the 2016 40th Anniversary Truman video to learn more about the program and its scholars!
Campus Application Deadline: Monday, November 9, 2020
National Deadline: Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Truman Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a their graduate degree program as a condition of receiving Truman funds.
Are you a potential Truman Scholar?
If you can put a check beside each of the following statements, you should be a strong candidate for a Truman Scholarship. If more than two do not apply, the Truman Scholarship is probably not right for you.
Legal Requirements (must be met)
- At the time I apply, I will be a full-time student pursuing a bachelor's degree with junior-level academic standing; or, I have senior-level standing in my third year of college enrollment. Note: Students who are already attending graduate school are not eligible for the Truman Scholarship.
- I am a U.S. citizen (or a U.S. national) or I expect to receive my citizenship by the date the Scholarship will be awarded.
Career and Graduate Study Interests
- I hope to be a "change agent," in time, improving the ways that government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or educational institutions serve the public.
- My career will be about more than just myself and I can show that I already have ambition for others.
- There are conditions in our society or the environment which trouble me and things that I want to change.
- I understand systems of power and appreciate that to be a change agent, I will have to confront those systems.
- I want to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector, or the public interest/advocacy sector to improve these conditions.
- I am comfortable committing to work in public service for three of the first seven years after I complete a Foundation-funded graduate degree.
- I would like to get a master's degree, a doctorate, or a professional degree such as a law degree or a Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Social Work, Master of Education, Master of Public Policy, or Master of International Affairs.
Community/Public Service and Academic Record
- I have participated extensively in two or more of the following sets of activities:
- Community or public service-related activities that were not organized by my school or by my fraternity/sorority;
- Government internships, commissions or boards, advocacy or interest groups, nonpartisan political activities, or military/ROTC ;
- Partisan political activities and campaigns.
- Student government*: I have held a substantive role and have used that position to make change on my campus.
- I have been involved with organizations or activities related to my career interests.
- I have demonstrated some of my leadership potential.
- I have sufficiently strong grades and coursework to gain admittance to a first-rate graduate institution.
- I read regularly a good national newspaper and a thoughtful periodical.
- I have had one or more courses relating to my career interests.
- I would like to become associated with Truman Scholar "change agents."
- I am capable of analyzing a public issue in my intended career area and presenting my findings in a one-page memo to a government official who could take action.
- I am willing to prepare an outstanding application and policy proposal under the supervision of my Truman Faculty Representative.
- I believe I could hold my own in a challenging interview conducted by a panel of prominent public servants, educators, and former Truman Scholars.
Students must be nominated by the University of Chicago to apply for this award. The University may nominate up to four students, plus two additional transfer students, for consideration at the national level.
In order to be nominated by the University, students must submit a complete Truman Scholarship Campus Application by 11:59 pm on Monday, November 9. Applications are submitted through the Truman Campus Application Portal. The complete Campus Application includes:
- UChicago Truman Campus Application: submit your application online here.
- Policy proposal, included with your campus application.
- Four (4) Short Essay responses.
- Your academic CV/resume.
- Three letters of recommendation, included with your campus application (one each affirming: (1) Public Service, (2) Leadership, and (3) Academic success).
As you develop your campus application materials, you are strongly encouraged to leverage the Truman Scholarship website: truman.gov. In particular, Advice & Guidance provides indispensable insight into the application process. For a more informal, though no less authoritative, voice please refer to the Truman Scholarship twitter account, @trumanapp -- their #TrumanTips are invaluable.