Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Award

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

History and Purpose

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was established in 2000 through the will of prominent businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist Jack Kent Cooke.  A self-made billionaire, Mr. Cooke described himself as “an indomitable optimist” who always had a will to succeed.  In his own life, Mr. Cooke overcame financial obstacles to achieve tremendous success. The Foundation aims to help exceptionally promising students reach their full potential through education, focusing in particular on students with financial need. The Foundation's scholarship and direct service programs support the education of approximately 650 remarkable students each year, while their grant-making allows thousands more to engage in challenging educational experiences.

Description of the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Award

The JKC Graduate Arts Award selects annually 15 students or recent alumnae (from among about 200 applicants) with exceptional artistic or creative promise and financial need to pursue up to three years of graduate study in performing arts, visual arts, or creative writing at an accredited institution in the US or abroad.  Awards can amount to as much as $50,000 per year, and may cover tuition, room and board, required fees, and books. Scholarship amounts vary based on several factors, including costs at the institution each recipient attends and other grants and scholarships the student receives. A review panel of distinguished artists, arts faculty, and university administrators select Scholars using criteria including artistic or creative merit, academic achievement, financial need, desire to engage in and contribute to the world, self-confidence and resilience.  Applicants must be planning to pursue a career as a practicing artist to be eligible for this award. 

Eligibility Requirements and Rules for Nomination


Applicants for the JKC Graduate Arts Award must have/be:

  • seniors who will graduate by time of scholarship starting date or alumnae fromwithin the past five years; any citizenship if nominated by US college
  • a 3.2 or higher GPA
  • demonstrated unmet financial need:
  • Education costs that are appreciably greater than the total amount of other grants or scholarships the applicant receives
  • Insufficient student and family income to meet educational costs
  • plans to begin their first graduate degree program in the performing arts, visual arts, or creative writing at an accredited college or university in the fall of 2014; eligible fields include: fine arts, performance or studio art, music (vocal, instrumental, composition, conducting), dance, drama & theatre arts, creative writing, television and film); candidates apply to graduate school programs separately from JKC application
  • nominated by Mount Holyoke College (Mount Holyoke may nominate up to two candidates per year) – note that candidates who have been previously nominated may not be nominated a second time

How to apply

Applications are available online in early October but students should contact Christine Overstreet, MHC Fellowships Advisor to learn about the award, prepare to apply to graduate programs, and begin to prepare fellowship application materials, in the early fall. The application is in two phases. In the first, the student submits a portfolio, a short application, and financial information directly to JKC, and one recommender must upload a letter on her behalf.  The student need not be nominated by Mount Holyoke at this point. If selected as a semi-finalist (by JKC in January), she then completes Phase II of the application and the whole application is reviewed by the MHC Committee on Fellowships, made up of four faculty members and chaired by the Dean of Studies.  The Committee interviews each candidate and decides which two candidates to nominate. Nominees will then revise their materials as recommended and the FA will submit them, along with the nomination, in the online system.  Fellowships Senior Administrative Assistant, Marianne Taylor, assists with the entire process.

Application components

Phase I materials

  • portfolio with descriptions and summary uploaded into application (see JKC guidelines for fields)
  • online application including academic, demographic, and other required information; cumulative GPA from all institutions attended as an undergraduate; choices of three graduate schools, degree sought, and reasons for these choices; honors or awards; self-assessment & conduct questions; and consent to terms and conditions
  • official transcripts from all undergraduate institutions (uploaded into application)
  • one recommendation from an MHC professor/instructor/advisor who knows your work and character well (online submission)
  • financial information consisting of the last three years' AGI (adjusted gross income) from US Federal Tax Return or explanation of income (if did not file tax returns)

Phase II materials (if a semi-finalist)

  • continuation of application
  • an essay (details will appear on JKC website in mid-to-late November)
  • Student Financial Form, including a copy of 2012 Federal Tax Return
  • Parent Financial Form, including a copy of 2012 Federal Tax Return (required for applicants under 30 years of age)
  • second recommendation from an arts or academic professional at your current institutions (entered online)

Campus Process and Checklist

For all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Late summer/early fall make appointment to discuss application with Fellowships Advisor
  solicit faculty advisor in your field for portfolio advising
  begin Phase I application early October; gather financial materials
By November 26th submit Phase One to JKC (NOON CST)
Early January JKC notifies of status – semi-finalists continue to Phase II
By Monday, January 27th complete Phase II of application in online system (all docs uploaded)
  2nd recommendation letter uploaded to JKC system
February 3-7 interviews with Committee on Fellowships; MHC nominees revise
By Tuesday, February 18th MHC nominees complete revisions to online application
By February 25th  FA will submit nominations and application in system
April Nominees receive email instructions about uploading graduate school acceptance and award letters
Late May candidates notified of award status
Early August Foundation Scholars’ weekend