The Harry S. Truman Scholarship

UCI (Pre-Application) Deadline: October 30, 2018 at NOON

Pre-Application Link:

A $30,000 scholarship for graduate study in public service fields. The Truman 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.” Established by Congress, the Harry S. Truman Foundation’s grants are for students who intend careers in government or public service and includes a service requirement. Additionally, the Foundation provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions, and professional development.

Who is Eligible
You must be a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis; have a B average and be in the upper fourth of your class; be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national; have selected a major that will permit admission to a graduate program leading to a career in government or public service at the federal, state, or municipal level; and have demonstrated an interest in such a career.

Please note that external scholarship agencies will consider all of your credit-bearing coursework from any college or institution as part of the review process (including CSU, community colleges, private colleges or other UC campuses/Extension programs, and including units earned while in high school). Grades from other colleges will be included in calculation of your overall GPA for eligibility purposes. UCI can nominate 3 additional transfer students, defined as those who spent the first 2 years at a community or junior college. Transfer students with extensive public service or governmental participation are encouraged to apply.

Selection Procedure
To begin an application, please email the SOP Office. By the campus deadline, submit applications electronically and bring the following items to the SOP office: unofficial transcript for UCI, official transcripts for other colleges attended, and a list of three recommendation letter writers, identifying who will write for each letter category (Leadership Abilities and Potential, Commitment to a Career in Public Service, Intellect and Prospects for Continuing Academic Success).

Your faculty can submit their recommendations by email, campus mail (Zot code 5695), or drop them off in person at our office (193 Science Library, in the Writing Center). Please remind them to include their signatures on their letters. Your application materials do not have to be submitted as hard copies, electronic copies will be sufficient.

SOP will convene a faculty screening panel to nominate up to four candidates. Semifinalists are selected nationally from university nominations, and are interviewed by Regional Review Panels composed of scholars and public officials. Each Panel recommends two people per state, plus up to six candidates for Scholars-at-Large.

In 2018, the Foundation selected 194 Truman Scholars from among 756 applications forwarded by over 313 colleges and universities. Winners were chosen by 16 selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and the likelihood of “making a difference.” Each panel typically included a university president, a federal judge, a distinguished public servant, and a past Truman Scholarship winner.

Who Wins
According to the Executive Director of the Truman Foundation, applicants selected for interview “show a long history of involvement in what the program seeks to reward (public service and government activities), have exerted leadership, have fine academic achievements, reveal some unique and interesting (preferably memorable) aspects about themselves and their experiences, provide a graduate school proposal that makes sense, prepare a carefully thought out and well-researched public policy analysis,” write well, and have strong letters of reference. The Director’s detailed description of the qualities that distinguish successful applications and interviews are available in the SOP office.

Many winners major in economics, political science, or history. However, students in a wide range of majors may be strong candidates because a wide variety of disciplines prepare students for careers in public service. Students majoring in such fields as chemistry, engineering, environmental studies, foreign languages, mathematics, and computer sciences (among others) are encouraged to apply.

UCI student Daniela Estrada received a Truman Scholarship, and Julian Bugarin was declared a finalist, in 2015. Sanaa Khan was declared a finalist in 2014. Felipe Hernandez received a Truman Scholarship in 2012. Mukul Kumar received a Truman Scholarship in 2006. In 2005, Vanessa Zuabi was declared a finalist. In 2004, Jacqueline Chattopadhyay received a Truman Scholarship. You may view previous UCI Truman Scholar applications by appointment in the SOP office.

Up to $30,000 for graduate study relating to public service.

An outstanding and highly prestigious scholarship for students who intend a career in public service. As a condition of funding, Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a Foundation-funded graduate degree program.

The application includes an analysis of a public policy issue or problem in the form of a memo to the officeholder you feel could do the most to resolve the issue. It also includes a statement of interest in a career in government or public service that shows how your educational plans will prepare you for that career, and three letters of recommendation.

World Wide Web
Further information are available at the Truman website.

For applications and more information, contact the Scholarship Opportunities Program at (949) 824-0189 or email We are located within the Center for Excellence in Writing & Communication, on the first floor of Science Library (Building 520).

SOP is able to advise competitive undergraduate candidates at UC Irvine only.