Truman Scholarship

This scholarship provides up to $30,000 toward tuition, fees, books, room and board, and other approved expenses for graduate school or professional school in preparation for a career in public service. “Public service” here is quite broadly defined, and includes such diverse fields as biology, economics, and public health. See the website for more details. ( An award is deferrable for up to four years. This scholarship is restricted to US citizens.

All recipients are required to work in public service for at least three of the seven years following completion of a Foundation-funded graduate degree. If a grantee fails to do this they would be obligated to repay any funds received (with interest). But here again “public” is broadly construed, and includes government at any level, public interest organizations, NGOs, public and private schools, and many other organizations.

In addition to the funds for graduate school, scholars also attend the Truman Scholars Leadership Week, where they meet and work with distinguished Truman alumni and others. Furthermore, they may attend the eight-week Summer Institute in Washington DC, which includes seminars, workshops, and meetings with policy makers. The Foundation will also arrange internships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Candidates should have an extensive record of public and community service, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, and be committed to a career in public service. The application should trace a path that is authentic, and indicates passion for and depth of understanding of public service.

The process

Juniors who wish to apply for a Truman Scholarship should email an Intent to Apply Form to Michael Flynn ( by December 1, 2014. (Electronic submissions are welcome.) When Professor Flynn receives your form, he will register you at the Truman website. You will then get an email message with login credentials. Once you get into the site, you can access the application.

You can fill out the application on-line and submit it to Professor Flynn. He can respond to what you have written, and send it back to you for revision if need be. There is no danger of you accidentally submitting a final version to the Truman Foundation, because only Professor Flynn can do that.

Three hard copies of the completed application are due to Karen Moldenhauer at the Dean of the College Office, Laird 131, no later than 5:00 pm on Thursday, January 8, 2015. Applicants should request the Registrar to send an electronic copy of their transcript to Professor Flynn before this date. Letters of recommendation are also due to Professor Flynn on this date. (Electronic submissions are welcome.) There should be three letters of recommendation, each addressing a slightly different aspect of the applicant’s profile: Leadership Potential and Abilities, Commitment to a Career in Public Service, Intellect and Prospects for Continuing Academic Success. Referees do not need to be professors, but if you chose someone outside of academia it is recommended that you so inform Professor Flynn. (He’ll contact the referee with some advice about such letters.)

On Friday, January 9th, Karen will distribute the applications to the local Truman interviewing committee. Professor Flynn will distribute electronic copies of the recommendation letters and the transcript. Everyone who has submitted a complete application will be interviewed. These will take place sometime during the week of January 12th. This process will result in the nomination of no more than four applicants to the Truman Foundation, which will be announced no later than three days after the last interview. Members of the committee will then work with the nominees to revise applications.

Nominees must complete their applications on-line no later than January 29th. Professor Flynn will write a letter of nomination. When all is ready, Professor Flynn will officially submit the application, which will include the nomination letter, recommendation letters and the transcript. This must be done no later than 5:00 pm central time on February 4, 2015.

Shortly thereafter, the Truman Finalist Selection Committee reviews all submitted applications and selects from those approximately 200 finalists. Regional Review Panels then interview each finalist and select the Truman Scholars. In most years, there will be one Truman Scholar from every state in the Union, plus a few additional “at large” selections.

Probably the most challenging part of the application is the Policy Proposal. Here’s what the website says about that:

  • Prepare a convincing Policy Proposal. You will have limited space to examine a significant policy issue or problem that is in your intended area of public service as described in Item 9. Present your proposal in the form of a memo to the government official who you feel has the most direct authority to resolve the issue (e.g., President, Cabinet Officer, Governor, Chair of a Legislative Committee). Use no more than 500 words.
  • Your memo needs to define the problem, lay out your proposed solution, and identify major obstacles to the implementation of your solution. Provide statistical data to put the issue in context and to support your recommendations. Cite major sources. The proposal must be confined to the space provided. Any references or footnotes must be presented in the space available, but do not count against the 500 word limit.

The application will also ask you to briefly respond to some questions that together comprise your “personal statement”. These include the following:

  • Describe one specific example of your leadership.
  • Describe a recent particularly satisfying public service activity.
  • Describe the problem or needs of society you want to address when you enter public service.

The Truman website has a great deal of useful information and advice. Potential applicants are urged to read it carefully.

Important Dates for the Truman Scholarship:

  • December 1: Intent to Apply form due to Professor Flynn.
  • January 8: three hard copies of the application to Karen Moldenhauer at the Dean of the College Office.
         letters of recommendations to Professor Flynn
         transcript sent to Professor Flynn
  • Week of January 12: on campus interviews with all applicants
  • Before January 20: nominees announced.
  • January 28: final submission of application to the Truman website by applicants
          (Professor Flynn will “officially” submit the application.)
  • February 3: all supporting documents uploaded by Professor Flynn
  • February 28: finalists announced by Truman Foundation
  • March 5 – April 11: interviews by Regional Review Panels
  • April 16: scholars announced
  • May 20 – 25: Truman Scholars Leadership Week (required of all scholars)

Carleton's Internal Deadline:  January 8, 2015

Official Deadline: February 3, 2015

Faculty Adviser: Mike Flynn, Interim Director of External Fellowships 507-222-4020, Goodsell Observatory 101C

For more information, visit the official Truman website