Harry S. Truman Scholarship

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for public service leadership.[1] A federally funded scholarship granted to U.S. undergraduate students for demonstrated leadership potential, academic excellence, and a commitment to public service, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship is the most highly competitive American fellowship to support graduate education and leadership development.[2] It is administered by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, an independent federal agency based in Washington, D.C.

Congress created the scholarship in 1975 as a living memorial to the 33rd president of the United States. Instead of a statue, the Truman Scholarship is the official federal memorial to its namesake president. According to the Washington Post, the Truman Scholarship's "sole aim is to pick out people with potential to become leaders—then provide support to help them realize their aspirations."[3] The scholarship supports public service oriented graduate study in the amount of $30,000.

Each year, between 50 and 60 university nominated candidates in their junior year are named Truman Scholars following a rigorous application process involving essays, recommendations, and an interview.[4] Scholarships have historically been awarded to one individual from each U.S. state.[5] Each university in the United States may only nominate four candidates annually, who represent the most accomplished nominees from that university.[6]

Today, Truman Scholars are represented at the highest levels of U.S. public service.


On May 30, 1974, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri sponsored S.3548,[7] formally titled "A bill to establish the Harry S Truman Memorial Scholarships." Symington held the same Class 1 Senate seat that Truman had held from 1935–1945 before becoming Vice President. The Senate passed the bill on August 2, and the House followed suit on December 17. Two similar House bills, H.R.15138[8] sponsored by William J. Randall of Missouri and H.R.17481[9] sponsored by James G. O'Hara of Michigan, were set aside in favor of Symington's bill.

The bill was signed by President Gerald Ford and enacted as Public Law 93-642 on January 4, 1975 and entered the United States Statutes at Large as 88 Stat. 2276–2280, and the United States Code as 20 U.S.C. 2001–2013.[10] It now operates as Program 85.001, governed by 45 CFR 1801[11] as published in the Code of Federal Regulations in the Federal Register.


The Truman Scholarship is administered by the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation, an independent federal executive branch agency. It is governed by a 13-member Board of Trustees headed by President Madeleine Albright, who says the foundation "serves as a gateway for America's public service leaders" and "does a remarkable job of identifying future change agents." [12] The Foundation's operations are overseen by full-time Executive Secretary Dr. Andrew Rich. Its endowment, which takes the form of a federal trust fund held in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is $55 million. Current Board members include Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Claire McCaskill, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Congressman Charlie Dent, and Congressman Ted Deutch.


The scholarship is awarded to between 50 and 60 U.S. college juniors each year on the basis of four criteria:[13] service on campus and in the community, commitment to a career in public service (government, uniformed services, research, education, or public interest/advocacy organizations), communication ability and aptitude to be a "change agent," and academic talent that would assure acceptance to a first-rate graduate school. More broadly, Truman Scholars possess intellect, leadership skills, and passion that would make them a likely force for the public good in any field.[14]

Application process

In order to apply for the scholarship, students must first win the nomination of their undergraduate university. Each undergraduate institution in the United States is allowed to nominate up to four students who have attended since freshman year. After nomination, annually the Foundation receives 900 applications, of whom between 50 and 60 will be selected each year.[4] Each nominated application is then examined by a regional review panel, which selects finalists to interview. The interviews are conducted by panels of former Truman scholars, trustees of the board, and notable national public servants. These panelists then make final selections of scholarship winners, generally attempting to choose one from each of the 50 states and American territories. No particular career, service interest, or policy field is preferred during the process. Each year, the Truman Scholarship is awarded to one or two students from institutions that have never had a Truman Scholar.[15]


Scholars currently receive an award of $30,000 going toward up to three years of graduate education leading to a career in the public service.[16] Winners also benefit from a network of other scholars through the Truman Scholars Association and lasting friendship, which is encouraged by the Truman Scholars Leadership Week at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, during which new scholars collaborate on policy projects. Scholars accept a 10-week Summer Institute internship in Washington, D.C., which features additional professional development training. Of this group, a small number continue federal agency jobs for a full year as part of the Truman Albright Fellows program.

Certain graduate and professional schools, including the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, give some degree of priority and funding to applicants who are Truman Scholars. Truman Scholars are exempt from taking the written section of the U.S. Foreign Service Exam. Scholars also automatically become part of the Truman Scholars Association, independent non-profit that works to foster additional opportunities and networking for Scholars.

Notable Truman Scholars






See also


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  2. https://www.truman.gov/
  3. Asthana, Anushka (28 August 2006). "Present Scholars, Future Leaders" via washingtonpost.com.
  4. "FAQ – Candidates – The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation".
  5. https://www.truman.gov/candidates/how-become-truman-scholar
  6. https://www.truman.gov/candidates/how-become-truman-scholar
  7. S.3548
  8. H.R.15138
  9. H.R.17481
  11. "Public Welfare".
  12. Truman Scholarship Foundation members Archived 2006-07-10 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Primary selection criteria for scholarship Archived 2006-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Who are Truman Scholars? Archived 2006-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
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  29. "The Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania – Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy".
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  36. "Anjan Mukherjee". The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  37. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-10-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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