Harry S. Truman Scholarship
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is the official federal memorial to the 33rd president of the United States. Dedicated to education and public service, President Truman often spoke about the importance of promoting young leaders, and envisioned a program for students that would encourage educated citizenship and political responsibility. Therefore, after his death in 1972, a bill for this memorial was proposed and President Gerald Ford signed the Act of Congress on January 4, 1975 to authorize the Foundation to “award scholarships to persons who demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service,” and to conduct a nationwide competition to select Truman scholars. The Foundation awarded its first Scholarships in the 1977-78 academic year.
While the details have changed over time, the Scholarship remains proudly bound to the vision of its founding Board of Trustees. Each year hundreds of college juniors compete for roughly 60 awards. The rigorous selection process requires that good candidates have a strong record of public service and submit a policy proposal that addresses a particular issue in society. The Foundation defines public service as employment in government at any level, uniformed services, public-interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or educational organizations, public and private schools, and public service-oriented nonprofit organizations such as those whose primary purposes are to help needy or disadvantaged persons or to protect the environment. The Truman Scholarship is committed to encouraging future “change agents” in America. Many of those chosen as scholars go on to serve in public office as public defenders, leaders of non-profit organizations, and educators
The Truman Scholarship offers financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate or professional school, participate in leadership development activities, and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.
Leadership development activities begin with the Truman Scholars Leadership Week immediately following Scholars’ junior year of college. This event, held at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, introduces new Scholars to the services provided by the Foundation and the many pathways to public service. Scholars participate in seminars and workshops with distinguished Truman alumni and other public service leaders, a policy analysis project, a graduate school and career fair with representatives from the schools and programs most attended by Truman Scholars, and community service events in the Kansas City area. Additional opportunities include a ten-week long Summer Institute in Washington, DC where Scholars participate in internships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, seminars and workshops, meetings with Washington policymakers and Truman alumni, and opportunities for community building among Scholars. Following the Summer Institute, Scholars may elect to stay on in Washington, DC for a full year in the Truman Fellows Program. Scholars are placed in public service jobs – most with the federal government – while participating in a graduate level public policy course, mentoring opportunities, and a community service program.
Applicants must be/have:
- a full-time junior or a senior who will complete her undergraduate degree in three years
- in the upper quarter of her class or have a 3.7 minimum GPA; this may be waived, under certain circumstances, if the student has an extensive record of public service
- pursuing a graduate degree in any discipline (need NOT be politics or history) in the US or abroad
- have an extensive record of public and community service
- have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills
- be committed to a career in public service, broadly defined
- Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a Foundation funded graduate degree program as a condition of receiving funding; scholarship can be deferred up to 4 years
- nominated by her undergraduate institution (MHC may nominate up to 4 students plus 3 transfer students
All applicants must apply through a campus process, facilitated by Fellowships Advisor (FA) Christine Overstreet and Marianne Taylor and be nominated by the College (represented by the Committee on Fellowships, chaired by the Dean of Studies). The College may nominate up to four Truman candidates and an additional three transfer students (including FP’s). The campus process includes attending an information session or meeting with the FA; working with the FA on essay drafts and other application materials; an interview with the campus Committee on Fellowships; and final submission by the FA of the application materials and College nomination letter. Note that deadlines for the campus process are much earlier than the Truman Scholarship application deadline.
The Truman application cannot be accessed by the student until the FA registers her.
A completed online application form where the candidate enters biographical information as well as past work, education, extracurricular activities and awards (some sections request high school as well as college activities); future educational and career plans; and answers short essay questions about leadership and service record as well as policy concerns.
- A Policy Proposal (guidelines and an example are supplied by the Foundation)
- Three recommendations – one specific to public service; one to leadership potential and abilities; and one to intellectual capability and suitability for graduate level work
- Official Transcripts – from all undergraduate study sources; request and have sent directly to FA
- A Nomination Letter (responsibility of FA)
For all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon
|Timeframe||Task(s) to Complete|
|During Spring semester||Attend information session or meet with FA to discuss Truman|
|May/June/July||Discuss interest with faculty and other potential recommenders; secure agreement to write recommendations (but they will not be due until the fall);send names of potential recommenders to FA|
|Research graduate studies programs|
|By July 1||Order transcripts from all undergraduate study; have sent to FA directly|
|August 1||Application opens online; request access from FA and begin entering data|
|During August||may send draft to FA for feedback if desired (not required)|
|By November 1||Submit draft of online application for review by FA; feedback w/in a week|
|By November 13||Submit revised online application; FA sends to committee|
|Recommenders send letters with category indicated to FA (can send via email at this point, but hard copies will need to be submitted later)|
|December 2-6||Interview with campus Committee on Fellowships (20 minutes)|
|By January 27||Submit final revisions in online application; notify FA when finished|
|Recommenders’ hard copies on letterhead due to FA|
|March/April||Finalist interviews conducted in home region|
|April||Winners officially announced|