Truman Scholarships

Truman Scholarship

To apply, or for more information contact Dr. Jason Marsh. Co-Director of External Fellowships and Scholarships.


As the living memorial to our thirty-third President, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation supports the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership. If you are interested in applying, it is strongly recommended that you view the following resources:

Truman FAQ’s

Truman Past Recipient’s Biographies


The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award offered to U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals from Pacific Islands who want to go to graduate school in preparation for a career in public service. The scholarship offers:

  • Recognition of outstanding potential as a leader in public service;
  • Affirmation of values and ideals;
  • Enhanced access to highly competitive graduate institutions;
  • Access to Scholar programs such as Truman Scholars Leadership Week, the Summer Institute and various Truman Fellows Programs;
  • Membership in a community of persons devoted to helping others and to improving the world; and
  • Up to $30,000 to apply toward graduate study in the U.S. or abroad in a wide variety of fields


Applicants should:

  • Complete St. Olaf initial application at the end of their sophomore year by the Initial St. Olaf Campus Deadline
  • Be a United States Citizen
  • Be in the Upper quarter of the class

Criteria for Selection:

  • Extensive record of campus and community service;
  • Commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors;
  • Communication skills and a high probability of becoming a “change agent”; and
  • Strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice.

Truman Deadlines:

February 6 – Deadline for Foundation receipt of nominations
February 22 – Deadline for Foundation receipt of Finalist Interview Confirmation
February 23 – Posting of Finalists on the Foundation’s website
April 18 – Truman Scholars announced on the Foundation’s website

Common Characteristics of Successful Truman Applicants:

  • Accomplished, proven, and effective leaders
  • Interest in policy or solutions at a systemic level
  • Interest in politics or political means to an end
  • Intelligent, articulate, and well-versed in a variety of topics.

St. Olaf’s Campus Selection Process Timeline:

1. Early May: Initial St. Olaf Campus Deadline

After the applicant submits their initial application, it will be reviewed by St. Olaf’s Truman Campus Committee. The candidates may then receive an invitation to interview. If the candidate receives an invitation to interview, he/she is encouraged to sign up for a mock interview with the fellowships advisor.

Interviews with St. Olaf’s Truman Campus Committee will occur in May or June. If the candidate is abroad or off-campus, interviews will be conducted over Skype.

2. October – December:  Participate in “Truman Prep Sessions”

Truman Prep Sessions will occur weekly. Applicants who are selected to represent St. Olaf as Truman applicants must commit to 7 to 8 weekly, one-hour sessions between October and December. The Truman Prep Sessions will offer applicants time and space to:

  • Identify their values, interests, skills and abilities
  • Collaborate and receive feedback from the faculty advisor, Fellowships Co-Director Dr. Jason Marsh, and other Truman applicants on their Truman application
  • Develop connections with professionals in their field of interest
  • Develop and pursue a sustainable plan for life after college, including research on graduate schools
  • Research and define the problem or needs of society you want to address when you enter public service

3. End of January: Final St. Olaf Application Due

Applicants should submit their final application. See the list below for a list of required materials.

4. After Applicant Final Submission: Fellowships Advisor Action Steps

  1. Upload your 3 letters of recommendation and transcript to the online application to the Truman Foundation for receipt by February 3
  2. Attach the letter of endorsement and nomination to your online application
  3. Officially submit your application online to the Truman Foundation

Note: The Truman Foundation will send you an email confirming each piece of the application (one for all three letters of recommendation and the transcript) once it has been received.

Materials Due By Initial Campus Deadline

The following items will be due by the initial campus deadline:

  • “Initial Application,” comprised of the following items:
    • A 500 word essay answering the following question for: Why are you interested in the Truman Scholarship and how will it prepare you for your future goals? It is recommended that you research the St. Olaf fellowships webpage and the Truman Foundation’s webpage, as well as past recipient’s biographies (if available on the website), before responding to this question.
    • The name of your academic advisor
    • The names and email addresses of three people (at least 1 of whom is faculty) who can provide insights into your qualifications for this award
  • Unofficial transcript from SIS (directions to download your unofficial transcript are here)
  • Current resume
  • Signed “Permission Form & Waiver“
  • Commitment to attend 8 fall Truman Prep sessions (applies only to students who are on campus during fall term)

Due by Final Campus Deadline

  • A completed application form and policy proposal
  • 3 letters of recommendation sent to Fellowships Co-Director Dr. Jason Marsh ( Applicants should request that their recommendation writers fill out, scan and upload a cover letter with their letter of recommendation. Sample cover letters for leadership, academic
  • An updated official transcript from SIS. The fellowships advisor will upload this on the applicant’s behalf.