Truman Scholarship

Is it for you?

The Truman Scholarship recognizes exceptional readiness for a career in government or public service. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate studies, participate in leadership development programs, and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government. There’s also a significant cohort experience for Truman Scholars.

What are the key dates?

The application cycle for 2023-24 is closed. Please check back for updates in fall 2024. 

Information sessions: TBD for 2024 (normally early November)

Pre-application deadline: TBD for 2024 (normally mid-November)

By this date, prospective applicants should be enrolled on our Canvas course for Truman applicants and submit via Canvas a completed pre-app form with unofficial transcript(s) included (more details on Canvas). For access to the Canvas course, please email us at [email protected] in fall 2024.

JHU campus deadline: TBD for 2024 (normally mid-December)

By this date, applicants who have been working with the NFP will submit a complete set of Truman application materials (more details on Canvas) to be considered for nomination.

Official deadline: TBD for 2025 (normally early February – for nominees only)

Are you eligible?

Candidates for the Truman Scholarship must be:

  • US Citizens, US National residents of American Samoa, or expecting their citizenship by the date of the award;
  • In their penultimate year of school (for candidates graduating in four years or more) or in their final year of school (for candidates graduating in three years or fewer);
  • Nominated by either their current institution of study or their former institution of study for transfer or community college applicants (schools are limited to four nominees plus three additional transfer nominations);
  • Planning to attend graduate school in pursuit of a career in public service. The Foundation encourages time between undergraduate and graduate school, so candidates need not commit to going immediately.

How do you work with the NFP?

JHU nomination is required through a campus selection process (JHU may nominate up to four candidates, plus three additional transfer nominees if applicable). Truman applicants work closely with us, following the steps below, for the duration of the application process.

The timeline gives an overview of the application process and when to reach out to us. In preparation, see “have a closer look” below for more resources about the Truman.

late October/mid-November
Join applicants’ Canvas course & attend an info session
Submit a pre-application by deadline above; have individual advising meeting with NFP
Work on application materials; upload complete drafts to Canvas for feedback
late December
Meet JHU campus deadline; JHU may nominate up to 4 candidates
January – early February
Revise applications (for nominees)
early February
Meet official Truman deadline

Are you competitive?

About 60-65 Truman Scholarships are awarded each year. Selection decisions (both on-campus and at the national level) are based on the following criteria:

  • Strong academic record, writing and analytical skills.
  • Extent and quality of community service and government involvement: Students are asked to list community service and government involvement for both high school and college. This list should show sustained commitment to serving others and a progression of leadership and initiative.
  • Evidence of leadership: Leadership can be shown through classwork, participation in student or community organizations, and through work experience. The Truman looks for “agents of change.” Activities and letters of recommendation should both provide evidence of your leadership potential.
  • Commitment to a career in government or public service: Applicants should express a clear commitment to a career in public service and should be able to show how that commitment has developed over time through volunteer and work experiences. Students should be able to state what sort of position they hope to have upon completion of their graduate studies, and five to seven years later.
  • Suitability of proposed program of study to a career in public service: Applicants must know which graduate degree they plan to pursue and which school they prefer. The application asks for some detail on this point; students should be able to describe specific courses, faculty, and facilities at the schools they wish to attend, and be able to explain how the particular degree they have chosen will further them in their chosen career path as a public servant.
  • Public Policy Proposal: This essay should analyze a significant public policy issue or problem in your intended area of public service in the form of a memo to the government official with the most direct authority to resolve the issue. It should define the issue, set forth a proposed solution, identify major obstacles to the implementation of that solution, and recommend a specific course of action. It should use statistical data to put the issue in context and to support the recommendation. Major sources should be cited. Any references, footnotes, and exhibits must be presented in the space available, but do not count against the 500-word limit.

Three letters of recommendation: One should speak to your commitment to a career in public service; one should address your leadership abilities and potential; one should focus on your intellect and prospects for continuing academic success. Recommenders are asked to discuss the student’s values, interests, goals, and ambitions, and to offer specific examples as evidence of the candidate’s asserted qualities.

Have a closer look:

Visit the Official Website

Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

The Truman Scholarship Foundation has produced several videos about the award, including an introductory video about the Scholarship. There are also six short videos featuring past Truman Scholars and their paths in public service, and a video celebrating the foundation’s 40th anniversary.

Explore JHU and NFP Resources

All interested applicants are enrolled in JHU’s Truman Canvas site, which contains a variety of resources providing in-depth advice for completing the application and a snapshot of the entire process. Contact NFP to be added to this site.

Hear from JHU Recipients

HUB article about Jackson Morris, 2024 Truman Scholar

HUB article about Anthony Boutros, 2019 Truman Scholar

HUB article about Justin Falcone, 2014 Truman Scholar

Peer Testimonial from Anthony Boutros

Peer Testimonial from Justin Falcone