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Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship
Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship

This article will enlighten you following the criteria for applying the Truman Scholarship.

The Truman Scholarship is a much sought-after national prize. For the 55 to 65 Scholarships we offer each year, the Foundation evaluates over 800 applications. Students who compete on their campus for one of a school’s four nominations are not included in these applications.

Despite the fact that the award is competitive, we think that the application process can still be worthwhile regardless of the result. Examining and adjusting your prior experiences and future objectives is a part of the application process. You will be encouraged to have ambition and asked to think about different service options. You can anticipate improving your writing, your connections with mentors, and your understanding of your chosen profession along the road. These abilities remain once your Truman adventure is over. You may prepare more competitive graduate school applications and become more at ease in nerve-wracking interview situations by applying for a competitive grant like the Truman Scholarship or many others. Along the road, you might also run across friends, mentors, and potential colleagues.

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship


Candidates must be:

  • US Citizens, US National residents of American Samoa, or expecting their citizenship by the date of the award;
  • Currently enrolled at a US-based accredited institution;
  • In their penultimate year of school (for candidates graduating in four years or more) or in their final year of school (for candidates graduating in three years or fewer);
  • Nominated by either their current institution of study or their former institution of study for transfer or community college applicants. Schools are limited to four nominees plus three additional transfer nominations; and,
  • Planning to attend graduate school in pursuit of a career in public service. The Foundation encourages time between undergraduate and graduate school, so candidates need not commit to going immediately.

Candidates can be:

  • pursuing any major likely to lead to a public service career;
  • any age;
  • interested in any graduate degree other than the MBA; and,
  • considering either domestic or international programs for their graduate education. Find your Advisor

Campus Selection

Every campus has a different selection procedure. Some organizations choose prospective Truman nominees quite early on in the selection process. Others call for extensive applications. We advise getting in touch with your school advisor as soon as you can to learn more about the procedure there.

If there isn’t an advisor in your school, getting a head start will also give you time to find the best individual to help you with your application.

Submitting the Application

While some universities use their forms, some use our application as part of the campus process. However, your Advisor must eventually provide you access to our online system.

Additional information about the application itself can be found in the Advice and Guidance section. In general, we advise spending days, if not weeks, working on the application. Strong applications demand in-depth investigation and revision. The majority of qualified candidates mention writing and revising numerous drafts.

Either use the online system to work on your application, or use another tool and copy your responses into our form. Anytime you want, you can ask your advisor to look over your application. It does not affect your ability to view and modify your application if you share access with them. Talk to them about the best time for you to get input. Your Advisor will provide us access to your materials once the application is prepared for the Foundation’s assessment. Once more, you will have time to examine and revise your submissions before the due date. You must also secure three letters of recommendation and a transcript from any institution you attended. These items should be given to your Advisor; they have instructions for how to upload them into the system.

We must receive all materials by 11:59 p.m. in your time zone on the evening of the deadline. The deadline is the first Tuesday in February.

Finalist Selection Committee

The Foundation will assemble our Finalist Selection Committee (FSC) about ten days after the deadline to assess applications and choose Finalists for each region.

FSC readers include prominent Truman Scholars, representatives of other highly competitive scholarship programs, graduate school admissions experts from Truman Scholar-preferred programs, and at least one Truman Advisor. The reading committee is also comprised of the executive secretary and deputy executive secretary.

Before the meeting, FSC readers must read and grade several sample applications. Afterward, during our reader training and calibration exercise on the first day, these results are tabulated and discussed. The purpose of this meeting is for the Foundation to check if the readers are adhering to its rules. We also use the sample applications as a way to guide discussion on selection criteria as well as other items such as conscious and unconscious bias.

The readers broke off into groups of three or four right after this meeting. One to three regions are given to each group for them to read during the weekend. The readers start with another calibration exercise in which everyone in the class reads and grades the same batch of applications. After that, they compare their results to make sure that they can follow the Foundation’s instructions. The remaining files in the area are divided by the readers following calibration. At least two group members read each file; occasionally, all members of the group read it. The group meets to choose the best files from each region as Finalists after reading every file in that region. These candidates are chosen based on their track records of service and leadership, as well as their chances of succeeding in graduate school.

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship


Finalists will be informed of their status by email and a physical letter sent to the application’s permanent address. Prior to the public publication in mid-April, every effort is taken to notify.


Only online submissions will be accepted. The Foundation will not accept printed materials.  Applicants should:

  • Respond precisely to the application questions. Confine responses to the spaces provided.
  • Briefly explain any activities, courses, or honors that readers are not likely to understand.
  • In Items 2 and 3, list your activities in descending order of significance or importance (e.g., start with the one that you believe has been your most substantial contribution).
  • Use Items 7-10 and 14 to reveal your values, interests, and motivation for a career in public service. The Foundation will protect sensitive information. See the website for examples of exemplary responses.
  • Propose a detailed plan for study in Item 11. Name the graduate institutions of greatest interest that are likely to accept you. (Scholars may change their study plans as long as the new plans are consistent with preparation for a career in public service.)
  • Prepare a convincing Policy Proposal. You will have limited space to examine a significant policy issue or problem that is in your intended area of public service as described in Item 9. Present your proposal in the form of a memo to the government official who you feel has the most direct authority to resolve the issue (e.g., the President, Cabinet Officer, Governor, or Chair of a Legislative Committee). Use no more than 500 words.
  • Your memo needs to define the problem, lay out your proposed solution, and identify major obstacles to the implementation of your solution. Provide statistical data to put the issue in context and support your recommendations. Cite major sources. The proposal must be confined to the space provided. Any references or footnotes must be presented in the space available, but do not count against the 500-word limit.
  • Alert the Foundation to any unusual circumstances that have limited your activities or affected your grades. Note such restrictions in Item 14 or ask your Faculty Representative to cover them in the Nomination Letter.
  • Make the application and policy proposal neat and easy to read. They should be impeccable in terms of appearance.
  • Work closely with your Truman Faculty Representative. You should gain valuable skills for putting together outstanding applications and for presenting yourself well in interviews. The Faculty Representative can help you develop plans for further study.

The Foundation must receive this application before February 7, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. in your time zone.  The deadline for submitting information to your faculty representative may be sooner at your institution. To guarantee that the Foundation receives your materials by the deadline, you must work with your faculty representative.

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship

Information for Finalists

For a 9:00 am reception with the Panelists and the other Finalists, you should arrive at your interview location promptly (often at 8:30 am). After the event is over, you will be given the time for your interview. In case the Panel decides to contact you for a second interview, you should prepare to stay until 5:30 p.m. Check Regional Review Panels for scheduled timings as various panels have different arrival and departure schedules.

The listing of Finalists shows their e-mail addresses. You might want to contact other Finalists being interviewed with you. Many of you probably have similar values and concerns. For most of you, the Truman Scholars Association will sponsor a dinner the night before to allow you to get to know your fellow Finalists. Panelists do not attend.

For In-Person Interviews:

You don’t have to bring anything with you to the interview. Before the interview, you will be required to submit a current photo and biography. A headshot with a minimum dimension of 2″ x 2″ and a maximum dimension of 3″ x 5″ and a resolution of about 75 dpi should be included. Upload only a photo of yourself.  Uploading outdated or inappropriate images is not permitted.  Four or five phrases should make up your brief biography.  In the event, that if that you are chosen as a Truman Scholar, the Foundation will publish this photograph and biography on its website. Remember to bring a photo ID with you to the interviews. Many of the panels are held in federal buildings and you will need an ID to enter and go through security.

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship

Before your interview, you will receive an email with this information as well as further instructions. Review these emails carefully and get in touch with your adviser if you have any questions.

Important Dates

  • Prior to applying, please review these dates. These dates are set in stone, and the Foundation will not agree to requests to modify them. Truman Application Deadline: February 7, 2023
  • Submit materials by 11:59 pm, your time zone
  • Foundation Confirms Receipt of Materials by February 10, 2023
  • Finalists Notified: February 18, 2023
  • Finalist Confirmation Due: February 23, 2023
  • Must be received by 9:00 am ET
  • Finalist Posting: February 24, 2023
  • Regional Review Panels: March 2023 through early April 2023
  • Scholar Posting: April 19, 2023
  • Truman Scholars Leadership Week: May 23-28, 2023

Please consult Regional Review Panels for a more detailed listing of our interview dates and locations. Candidates must attend the interview date that corresponds to the home address provided in their application.

Criteria for Applying the Truman Scholarship


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