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Truman Scholarships

December 12, 2016 (internal deadline)
Arts and Humanities
Social Science
United States
2 or More Years


Truman Scholarship Honor Institution plaqueColumbia designated "Honor Institution" in 1998. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards merit-based scholarships to college students who plan to pursue careers in government or other areas of public service.  Recognizing excellent scholarship, leadership potential, and public service commitment, Truman Scholarships provide support for graduate or professional school study toward a degree that will prepare a recipient for a public service career.

Each Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 in support for graduate study toward a public service-related degree, participation in leadership development programs, and access to internships arranged by the Foundation.  (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.)

Truman Scholarship candidates must be U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals who are full-time juniors at four-year undergraduate institutions and in the top quarter of their class.  (As of September 2014, residents of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands may apply as juniors or seniors.)  Candidates must also be nominated into the national competition from their undergraduate institution.

In addition to these eligibility criteria, candidates must:

  • have extensive records of public and community service;
  • have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills; and
  • be committed to careers in government or other areas of public service, as defined by the Foundation.

Finalists are selected for interviews based on the extent and quality of their community service and involvement in government-related activities, their records of leadership, their academic records and writing and analytical skills, and the suitability of their plans for further study.  Following interviews, Truman Scholars are selected largely on the basis of their leadership potential and communication skills, their intellectual strengths and analytical abilities, and the likelihood that they will “make a difference” in public service.

University nomination:  Columbia University may nominate a total of four eligible undergraduates for consideration each year.  Students in Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies who will be current juniors at the time of application are eligible.  Students interested in applying for these nominations should use the link below to download Columbia's application instructions and a copy of a sample application—we provide access to the online application portal once the University has selected its nominees. 

Please note:  the internal campus competition places students into consideration for nomination.  Students may not apply directly for these fellowships without first having been nominated.

 To apply: Register your candidacy with Columbia online here, where you will find further instructions for completing your online Truman Scholarship application. Registration of your candidacy and the completed online application should be submitted no later than Monday, December 12, 2016. Additionally, your three letters of recommendation should also be submitted directly to no later than December 12, 2016.

Columbia's most recent Truman Scholar: Bianca Guerrero '17CC (Political Science major);  Harmann Singh ’16CC (Economics-Mathematics Joint Major).