Truman Scholarship

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers as public service leaders. Established as a living memorial to President Truman, the Truman Foundation nurtures and supports future generations who answer the call to public service leadership. Students apply in their third undergraduate year and should have an outstanding record of public service activities and leadership.  The Foundation is bipartisan and defines public service broadly as working for the common good.  Students in a wide variety of academic fields are encouraged to apply.

This award requires university endorsement through a competitive campus process. In order to apply, you must contact NCA by the Intent to Apply Deadline.

Having trouble writing an essay on your leadership skills?

Prestigious scholarships often ask for a leadership essay, but what does such an essay entail? NCA has recorded a webinar full of tips to help you craft a compelling leadership narrative for your application. Please watch our 30-minute Leadership Essay Webinar (be sure to view as a Slide Show for audio narration). Closed captions are available.


Application Opens: Late August
Campus Deadline: November 8, 2023
National Deadline: February 6, 2024

The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 for the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership. Scholars may pursue any field of study as long as it leads to a career in public service (common options are a master's degree, doctorate, or 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).

Eligibility Criteria

  • 3rd year students (could be junior or senior level standing)
  • U.S. Citizens or will become citizen by time scholarship is awarded
  • Commitment to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector, or public interest and advocacy for at least three of the first seven years after completing the Foundation-funded graduate degree.

Please refer to the Truman website for a detailed list of potential Truman Scholar criteria.

Selection Criteria

  • Student hopes to be a "change agent," in time, improving the ways that government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or educational institutions serve the public.
  • Student wants to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector, or the public interest/advocacy sector to improve these conditions.
  • Their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.
  • Student has participated extensively in two or more of the following sets of activities:
    • Student government and/or campus-based extracurricular activities;
    • Community 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

Please refer to the Truman website for a detailed list of qualities of a potential Truman Scholar.

  • Background information
  • Transcripts
  • 9 short answer essays
  • Policy proposal
  • 3 letters of recommendation (1 academic, 1 leadership, 1 public service)
  • In the fall, attend an NCA Learning Series session on the Truman Scholarship.
  • Schedule an advising appointment with Dr. Jenny Hyest through My Bearcat Network. In advance of that appointment, please:
  • Confirm your intent to apply with NCA. Earlier is better because NCA must open an application for you.
  • Submit your application by the Campus Deadline: November 8, 2023.
  • Those selected for campus interviews will meet with the committee in late November / early December.
  • Endorsed candidates submit revised application by National Deadline: February 6, 2024.
  • If you wish to familiarize yourself with the application before it opens, you can review the application here.
  • Spend time on the Truman website. Review bios of past awardees. Take advantage of the resources they provide, like Personal Statement Tips and Samples of Effective and Ineffective Essays.
  • Information on this page is intended to supplement, not supplant, your own careful review of the official Truman website. If you find any discrepancy between the two, the Truman website takes precedence.
  • UC’s Student Code of Conduct applies to this application process.
  • Adam Elzarka - Truman Scholarship Recipient, 2022.
  • Camryn Morrow - Truman Scholarship Finalist, 2021.
  • Chinmay Bakshi - Truman Scholarship Finalist, 2020.
  • Anna Layman - Truman Scholarship Finalist, 2018.
  • Mary Siskaninetz - Truman Scholarship Finalist, 2018.
  • Mohamed Elzarka - Truman Scholarship Recipient, 2017.