The Truman Scholarship, a living memorial to the thirty-third U.S. President Harry S. Truman, was established in an Act of Congress in 1975. This scholarship is awarded to students who are interested in and show high potential for a career in public service*. Each year, between 55-65 college juniors across the United States are selected for this award, which covers up to $30,000 towards graduate education** within the US or abroad.
*Public service is defined by the Truman Foundation as employment within the government at any level, uniformed services, public interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or education 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 may be applied towards tuition, fees, books, room and board, and/or other specifically approved expenses. Monies may not duplicate benefits from the educational institution or other foundations, institutions, organizations. Some other scholarships may have conditions on combined use with the Truman Scholarship – please check with them for details. The award is generally deferrable for up to four years, unless special arrangements are made otherwise.
Prospective Truman Scholars are evaluated by five standards:
- Extensive record of campus and community service
- Commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors
- Desire to influence public policies or education programs and a high probability of becoming a “change agent”
- Outstanding leadership potential and communication skills
- Strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice
Preference is given to candidates seeking one or more of the following degrees or their equivalents: MPA/MPP, JD, MEd, MIA, MSW, MPH, and master’s or doctorate degrees in fields in which most graduates go into public service. Priority is not given to candidates seeking MBAs or MDs, unless a strong interest in public policy or public health can be demonstrated.
For a more extensive list to assess potentiality as a Truman Scholar, please visit this link.
Prospective scholars must meet these requirements to apply:
- Have full-time junior-level status at a four-year institution and in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree during the current academic year (“junior” is defined as a student who plans to continue full-time undergraduate study and who expects to receive a baccalaureate degree between December 2021-August 2022, or a student in his/her third year of collegiate study who expects to graduate during the 2020-2021 academic year)
- Maintain a GPA within the top 25% of his/her class (3.25+ GPA)
- Be a US citizen or US national from the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (resident aliens/green card holders are ineligible)
- MUST attend Truman Scholars Leadership Week, an event that introduces new Scholars to the Foundation and public service. This week includes seminars and workshops with alumni and other leaders in public service, a group exercise, a graduate and career fair, and community service events; no exceptions to this requirement
- Be able to fulfill service requirement of working in public service for three of the seven years following the completion of a Foundation-funded graduate degree program and file timely mandatory reports on their current employment activities to the Foundation; failure to fulfill the service requirement will result in mandatory repayment of funds with interest
The application cycle for Truman Scholars who become eligible with junior status (defined as continuing full-time undergraduate study and expecting to receive a baccalaureate degree between December 2021-August 2022, or being in the third year of collegiate study with an expected graduation date during the 2020-2021 academic year) opens in Fall 2020 to ensure that students have sufficient support from the Scholarships & Fellowships Office and adequate time to put together a thorough application.
In Fall, the Scholarship & Fellowships Office opens its internal campus application for the Truman Scholarship and hosts information sessions to share details about the fellowship opportunity.
Prospective applicants should use from early in the fall semester through the beginning of the spring semester to gather and complete their application materials. It is highly recommended that applicants revisit and revise them frequently, ensuring that their final application is a reflection of their best efforts.
After the internal campus deadline has passed, the Scholarship & Fellowships Office forwards completed applications to a faculty selection committee for review and consideration. Select candidates are then invited to an interview with the committee, after which the committee recommends particular students to receive a formal University nomination. Students who are chosen for University endorsement will continue to work with the Scholarship and Fellowships Office to gather and finalize the application materials due for the national deadline.
Endorsed candidates shall remain in communication with the Scholarship & Fellowships Office and provide application status updates. The Scholarships & Fellowships Office is committed to providing assistance and support throughout each student’s fellowship journey.
Click here for a detailed application timeline.
Applications for the Truman Scholarship will require University endorsement. This means that students will not be allowed to submit their application directly to the agency that handles the Truman Scholarship, but rather via the University with a formal nomination on their behalf. It is imperative that candidates work closely with the Fellowship Advisor to ensure that all application deadlines and requirements are met. Contact information may be found here.
For tips on putting together the various components of the application, please visit the Application Resources page.
The internal campus application consists of:
- Campus Application Cover Sheet
- Truman Scholarship Application
- Candidates must inform UHM SFO of their intent to apply so that we may provide students with access to the online application.
- Sections of the application have very specific limitations (eg. word count, number of allotted entries), which are detailed here. Exceeding the permitted number of items/characters will result in point deductions on the application.
- Résumé/CV/List of Activities
List institutions attended, activities, work experience, and awards/recognition. Extracurricular activities should reflect a commitment to serve others, leadership and initiative, and how well-rounded a candidate is overall.
- Narrative Responses
Provide example of leadership, a recent particularly satisfying public service activity, problems/needs of society that candidates want to address during their career in public service, significant courses candidates have taken in preparation for their career, graduate program they intend to pursue, immediate and long-term career plans upon completing graduate studies, and additional information candidates would like to share with the Foundation
- Policy Proposal
500 words to cover a problem statement (related to the narrative response on problems/needs of society to address), proposed solution, and major obstacles/implementation challenges; no word count for references/footnotes/exhibits (do not submit photos/tables/graphics)
- 3 Letters of Recommendation
Letters should be addressed to the Truman Scholarship Selection Committee, signed on letterhead, and represent a range of academic and professional references.
- One letter must focus on the candidate’s leadership abilities and potential, confirming the leadership experience described in the student’s application
- One letter must focus on student’s commitment to a career in public service
- One letter must focus on candidate’s intellect and prospects for continuing academic success
- Find sample request forms for the letters of recommendation here.
Students may submit a STAR report for all coursework taken within the UH system; official transcripts must be submitted for outside institutions.
- Campus Interview
Select candidates will be invited for an interview with the faculty review committee; candidates will be informed if advancing to the interview stage via email.
The UH Mānoa campus deadline to apply is 4:00pm HST on November 27, 2020.
If selected for University endorsement, the following will need to be submitted:
- Revised Truman Scholarship Application
- Revised Résumé/CV/List of Activities
- Revised Narrative Responses
- Revised Policy Proposal
- 3 Letters of Recommendation (same as the ones already submitted)
- Official Transcripts
An official transcript must be submitted for all UH coursework.
- University Endorsement
Nominated candidates must submit their final application to the UH Mānoa Scholarships & Fellowships Office by 4:00pm HST on January 25, 2021. Endorsed applications must be received by the Harry S. Truman Foundation by February 2, 2020.
Scholarship Awards and Programming
(Copied from the fellowship’s website)
The Foundation provides:
- Up to $30,000 toward a public service-related graduate degree. The Foundation has supported Truman Scholars in many fields of study, from agriculture, biology, engineering, technology, medicine, and environmental management, to fields such as economics, education, government, history, international relations, law, political science, public administration, nonprofit management, public health, and public policy.
- Truman Scholars Leadership Week. This event 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 group exercise about policy implementation, a graduate school and career fair with representatives from the schools and programs most attended by Truman Scholars, and community service events in the nearby area; this event is required of all Scholars.
- Summer Institute. Immediately after college graduation, Scholars have the opportunity to participate in an eight-week Summer Institute in Washington, DC. The Foundation helps to arrange internships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, seminars and workshops, meetings with Washington policymakers and Truman alumni, and opportunities for community building among Scholars.
- Truman-Albright and Other Fellows Program. After Summer Institute, Scholars may elect to stay in Washington, DC, for a full year in the Truman-Albright Fellows Program; Truman-Albright Fellows are placed in public service jobs while participating in workshops, seminars, and mentoring opportunities. Additional fellowship opportunities, outlined on the Truman website, are available for Scholars as they move through the early stages of their careers in public service.
The Truman Scholarship website contains many useful resources that will help in the preparation of the fellowship application. Visit these landing pages to gain more insight into this fellowship opportunity:
- Advice and Guidance: tips on the personal statement, advice from past participants, guidance on the policy proposal, frequent reasons for not advancing in the Truman competition, candidate self-check list, samples of effective and ineffective application responses.
- From the Foundation: characteristics of successful Truman applicants, characteristics of successful Truman Scholars, sample Truman Scholarship interview questions
The Application Resources page houses general application documents applicable to all fellowships as well as the following supplemental materials for this specific fellowship:
|Fall 2020||Campus Announcement for Open Applications|
|Oct 5, 2020||Info Session, 2:30-3:30pm via Zoom|
|Oct 6, 2020||Info Session, 3:00-4:00pm via Zoom|
|Nov 27, 2020||Deadline for Internal Campus Application, 4:00pm|
|Nov 30-Dec 9, 2020||Campus Interview for Select Candidates|
|Dec 11, 2020||All Applicants Notified of Status|
|Jan 25, 2021||Deadline for Final Application for Endorsed Candidates|
|Feb 2, 2021||Deadline to Submit Applications to Truman Foundation|
|Feb 19, 2021||Finalist Posting|
|Mar 2021||Mock Interview for Finalists|
|Mar/Apr 2021||Truman Finalist Interviews|
|Apr 14, 2021||Truman Scholars Selection and Posting|
|May 18-23, 2021||Truman Scholars Leadership Week|