Beinecke Scholarship

History | Description | Eligibility | How to | Application | Checklist

History and Purpose

Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke were born in New York City in 1886, 1887, and 1888. They were linked from their earliest years by a deep affection, shared interests, and complementary talents and personalities. Together they assumed the leadership of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company in the 1920's, and by 1970 built it from a small enterprise to one with revenues exceeding $350 million. In 1963 the brothers and their families gave The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to Yale University.

William Sperry Beinecke, the eldest son of Frederick, served the company until 1980. An ardent advocate for business support of charitable and educational institutions, he guided the creation of the foundation that is now The Sperry Fund. In 1971, at his request, the Sperry and Hutchinson board established the Beinecke Scholarship Program in memory of Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke.

Description of the Beinecke Scholarship

Since 1975, The Beinecke Scholarship Program has provided substantial scholarships for the graduate education of young men and women of exceptional promise. The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Selection is made from among 125 schools invited to nominate one student each for this prestigious award; 20 scholarships are awarded annually. Each Scholar receives a total of $34,000.00 in support of her graduate education. The initial payment is awarded directly to the student prior to entering graduate school, and is intended to offset the costs associated with the graduate application process and travel related to the start of graduate school. While in graduate school, scholars receive an additional $30,000.00 in support. These funds supplement support provided by the graduate school, and may be spread out over up to five years or be received at a maximum of $15,000.00 for two years. Scholars may defer the award for one year, but are normally expected to enter graduate school and begin receipt of the Beinecke funding in the following year. See the Scholarship Conditions on the Beinecke website for more details.

Eligibility Requirements and Rules for Nomination

Applicants must have/be:

  • a US citizen or US national from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • have demonstrated superior standards of intellectual ability, scholastic achievement, and personal promise during her undergraduate career (recommended GPA is 3.7 or higher)
  • be a college junior at the time of application
  • planning to enter a rigorous master’s or doctoral program in the arts, humanities, or social sciences (excluding neuroscience; law, medicine, and other professional programs that are not favored by Beinecke)
  • have a documented history of receiving need-based financial aid or proof that such aid would be awarded if merit aid were not given during undergraduate years. Evidence of meeting this criterion is based on a report from the institution’s financial aid officer
  • Mount Holyoke College may nominate one junior per year for consideration as a Beinecke Scholar

How to Apply

Before pursuing the application, interested students should make sure they are receiving need-based financial aid or would receive it if not receiving a merit award, by contacting one of the Student Financial Services Specialists at Mount Holyoke.  Students should also make an appointment with Christine Overstreet during the fall semester of  junior year (or sooner) to discuss their candidacy and receive guidance on preparing the application for submission to the Committee on Fellowships. The Committee, made up of four faculty members and chaired by the Dean of Studies, reviews applications, interviews each candidate, and decides which candidate to nominate. The Mount Holyoke College nominee will then revise her materials as recommended, and submit them to Christine by the due date below. The Fellowships Senior Administrative Assistant, Marianne Taylor assists in all aspects of the application process and will mail the nominee’s materials to the Beinecke office by the deadline.

Application Components

  • Completed application form (listing five choices of graduate programs; family and mailing information) Forms are available at on the Beinecke website and must be downloaded and saved in order to fill out the form fields.
  • Financial Aid Data Sheet (must be completed by the Student Financial Services Specialist).
  • Current Resume (may be two pages and should be graduate study-oriented rather than job-oriented)
  • A Personal Statement of 1,000 words or less from the nominee describing her background, interests, plans for graduate study and career aspirations. The statement should include a discussion of some experiences and ideas that have shaped those interests, plans and aspirations. See Personal Statement brainstorming guide.
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members that assess the nominee’s intellectual curiosity, character, and potential for advanced graduate study
  • An official copy of the nominee’s transcripts from all undergraduate study (students should wait until fall grades are in to order the MHC transcript; abroad transcripts should be ordered immediately upon issue)
  • Supplementary materials if field of graduate study is in the creative or performing arts
  • A Certificate of Eligibility (completed by Christine if candidate is nominated)
  • An endorsement letter (supplied by Christine)

Recommendation Letters

The Beinecke Scholarship seeks candidates with superior intellectual ability, scholastic achievement, and personal promise. Letters providing ample evidence that a candidate has the capacity to excel in her desired graduate program will be most useful. Some suggestions of how to provide such evidence are here.  Also helpful are your thoughts on candidate's suitability for the master's or PhD program she has chosen (why it is ideal given her particular interests or future goals). Finally, comments about the candidate's maturity and character are welcome. The candidate's financial need will be covered by her Financial Aid Form in the application packet, but if you have knowledge that the awarding of the scholarship would significantly increase the likelihood of her being able to attend graduate school, please discuss that as well.

Campus Process and Checklist

For all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Early fall
  • contact Student Financial Services to determine financial eligibility
  • meet with Christine to discuss candidacy
  • research potential graduate programs; discuss choices with faculty in field
  • request Student Financial Services Specialist to complete Beinecke Financial Aid form
  • send Personal Statement draft to Christine for feedback; also consult faculty in field for feedback
  • request recommendation letters from three faculty members
  • continue Personal Statement revising process; revise resume as needed
  • order any study aborad or summer undergraduate study transcripts to be sent directly to Christine
December download, complete, and print application form from Beinecke website
Jan 30th
  • MHC and other transcripts to Christine (order MHC transcript after fall grades are in)
  • Candidates send application materials to Christine (may be via email attachment)
  • Recommenders send letters to Christine (signed, on letterhead, printed, preferred)
Feb 6 - 10 Committee on Fellowships interviews candidates; single nominee selected; Christine notifies
Feb 13th nominee submits all revised materials to Christine; recommenders send printed, signed letters on letterhead to Christine
By Feb 17th Christine mails nomination letter, Certificate of Eligibility, application, recommendations, and supplementary materials to Beinecke
By May 1st Awards are announced; Beinecke sends letters to candidate