Harry S. Truman Scholarship

Up to 65 Truman Scholarships are awarded each year to college juniors with an outstanding potential for leadership in any sector of government. Each scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate or professional school. 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. Recipients are allowed to defer graduate education for four years. The Truman Foundation’s definition of public service includes work for government agencies, public and private schools, many nonprofit organizations, and more. One scholar is chosen from every state and U.S. territory and approximately 30 are chosen at large.


  • Preliminary: N/A
  • Internal: Nov. 8, 2023
  • External: Early February 2023

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or national. Officially, you must also be in the top quarter of your class, but the Truman Foundation permits and even encourages colleges to make exceptions. Finally, you must have a demonstrated interest in a career in public service.  Public service includes but is not limited to government service.  Many of the fields Bryn Mawr students are most drawn to (for example, education, public health, environmental studies, urban studies, law) would make them eligible for the Truman.

Adviser: Eleanor (Ellie) Stanford, Fellowship Adviser.

Selection criteria: The Truman Foundation has identified four major selection criteria. They are:

  • Extensive record of public and community service
  • Commitment to a career in government or elsewhere in public service
  • Communication skills and a high probability of becoming a “change agent”
  • Strong academic record with likely acceptance by a first-rate graduate school.

Application procedures: Bryn Mawr will select candidates to interview on the basis of the online internal application, due in the Dean's Office by 5:00p.m. on the deadline date. 

On-campus interview: Candidates with promising application will be invited to interview with the Fellowships Committee. Study abroad students will be interviewed by phone. On the basis of the application and interview, 1 to 4 nominees will be selected.

The online external application includes the following:

  • A demanding application form. This asks you for four separate lists of extracurricular activities: college and high school activities, public service and community activities, government activities, and part-time and full-time jobs and non-government internships. It also asks you for one or two parargraph-long answers to several questions: for example, “describe one specific example of your leadership,” “describe a recent particularly satisfying public service activity,” "What do you hope to do and what position do you hope to have upon completing your graduate studies?
  • A 1-page (plus footnotes and references) policy proposal, addressed to the most relevant government leader. This will usually be a refined (and edited — approximately 500 words) version of the policy proposal you submitted in your internal application.
  • Three letters of recommendation, one which speaks to your leadership abilities and potential, one to your public service record, and one to your academic achievements.
  • Official transcript

After the application is considered: On the basis of this application, the Finalists Selection Committee selects finalists to interview. Finalists are announced on the Truman website at the end of February or beginning of March. Being selected as a finalist is a great honor. Finalists are interviewed in mid-March, in their home state or region. Eleanor Stanford (Fellowships Adviser) will arrange for one or more formal mock interviews to help finalists prepare. Winners are announced by March.