The Harry S. Truman Scholarship

UCI (Big 7 Pre-Application) Mandatory Advising Deadline:

October 29, 2019 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time for Fall 2020 funding

Access the Truman Pre-Application between September and October annually to begin the mandatory advising process.


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.


You must be a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis and intending to graduate between December and August of next academic year; perform academically 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.

The scholarship does not stipulate a minimum GPA. However, to be competitive, SOP advisors recommend that applicants achieve at least a 3.7 GPA and demonstrate a strong record of noteworthy accomplishment, professional competence, and dedication to ambitious career goals in public service and governance, nonprofit leadership, or education. Relevant qualifications may include 1 or more years of leadership or founding roles in extracurricular or service organizations; publications or performances; and/or significant work experience/internships relevant to the stated career goals.

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.

SOP Advising Process

To begin the SOP advising process, in late October, juniors pursuing a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis will complete a Truman Scholarship Pre-Application, due October 29 at noon.

In early November, SOP staff review Pre-Applications, determine whether you are eligible for the scholarship(s) you have chosen, and meet with potential applicants to discuss their candidacy and subsequent steps. Eligible candidates will receive an invitation to join our Big 7 Canvas Course, where you will find prompts, deadlines, and detailed instructions for how to prepare the following application first-draft materials:

  1. An online application form (a sample of which can be found here);
  2. A 500-word policy proposal to address a significant issue or problem in your intended area of public service;
  3. Transcripts for all coursework for which you have received college credit;
  4. Three (3) letters of recommendation: You will select one recommender to write about each of the following scholarship selection criteria:
    • Leadership Abilities & Potential;
    • Commitment to a Career in Public Service;
    • Intellect and Prospects for Continuing Academic Success (composed by a faculty member).

When choosing recommenders, be ready to inform them of the category for which they will write (Leadership Abilities and Potential, Commitment to a Career in Public Service, or  Intellect and Prospects for Continuing Academic Success).

Recommenders should provide signed letters on letterhead directly to SOP by email at, 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. Letters will be due on November 26, 2019 for consideration in the campus endorsement (nomination) process.

In early January, SOP will convene a faculty screening panel to nominate up to four (4) candidates and, additionally, up to three (3) junior transfer candidates. Nominees will receive detailed feedback for revision of their materials in January and work closely with staff advisors to prepare a final revision for submission to Truman.

Selection Procedures

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.

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 2019, the Foundation selected 62 Truman Scholars from among 840 applications forwarded by over 346 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.

Many winners major in economics, political science, or history, and law or public policy are common fields of intended graduate study. 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.

Recent Recipients & Honorable Mentions

  • In 2015, Daniela Estrada (Political Science) received the scholarship, and Julian Bugarin (Political Science and History) was declared a finalist.
  • In 2014, Sanaa Khan (International Studies) was declared a finalist.
  • In 2012, Felipe Hernandez (Music Performance and Political Science) received a Truman Scholarship.
  • In 2006, Mukul Kumar (History) received a Truman Scholarship.
  • In 2005, Vanessa Zuabi (Political Science and International Studies) was declared a finalist.
  • In 2004, Jacqueline Chattopadhyay (Economics and Political Science) received a Truman Scholarship.


Up to $30,000 for the senior year and graduate educational expenses, in furtherance of a career goal in 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.

For More Information

Further information is available at the Truman website. You must submit your Pre-Application to the Scholarship Opportunities Program to request a login for the Truman application.

Questions about the campus advising and endorsement (nomination) process may be directed to the Scholarship Opportunities Program at (949) 824-0189 or 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.

Related Posts

Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

UCI (Big 7 Pre-Application) Mandatory Advising Deadline: November 14, 2019 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time for Fall 2020...

Schwarzman Scholars

Schwarzman Scholars

UCI (Big 10 Pre-Application) Optional Advising Deadline: March 9, 2020 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time (China, Taiwan, Hong...