The Truman Scholarship, Only the Best Grad Students

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is a scholarship for graduate students created in 1975 by the United States Congress as a tribute honoring the 33rd president. This award, originally sponsored by Stuart Symington of Missouri, is awarded to between 50 and 75 college juniors each year and provides up to $30,000 for three years of graduate school. Students are nominated by their undergraduate university; these candidates are selected based on grade point averages (GPA), community service, and their commitment to a future career in public service.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation administers the program with a 13-person Board of Trustees. The current board is headed by President Madeleine Albright, former United States Secretary of State, who oversees an endowment of $55 million. Board members are appointed by the U.S. President, with members including U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, a state governor, a city or county executive, three members of the public, and the United States Secretary of Education.

In recent years, as many as 700 students have been nominated by their colleges and universities before the Board of Trustees selects the awardees. In order to find students from a broad base, the Truman Scholarship is annually awarded to one or more students from institutions of higher education that have never received the award before.

As mentioned before, recipients of this scholarship are expected to pursue a career in public service in government, law enforcement, education, public interest, or with a non-governmental organization (NGO); however, no specific requirements as to which type of service must be pursued are defined. The goal of the program is to help find and cultivate the best people to serve as agents of change in advancing the country. Candidates should have superior leadership skills and a demonstrated passion for public works.

In addition to the direct financial benefits that can be divided in any amount over three years of post-bachelor’s work, the recipients become a part of the Truman Scholars Association and participate in a 10-week internship in Washington, D.C., focusing on special training at the Summer Institute. Truman Scholars receive priority at certain programs at major universities.

Former scholars include media personality and lawyer Jeffrey Toobin, American diplomat Susan Rice, ABC Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos, presidential speechwriter Jon Favreau, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. With this unique group talented recipients, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship takes its place among the highest honors among student awards in the United States.

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