This article relies excessively on references to primary sources. Please improve this article by adding secondary or tertiary sources. Find sources: "Harry S. Truman Scholarship" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (September 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Awarded forGraduate study in the United States for public service leadership
Sponsored byHarry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is a graduate fellowship in the United States for public service leadership.[1] It is a federally funded scholarship granted to U.S. undergraduate students for demonstrated leadership potential, academic excellence, and a commitment to public service.[2] It is administered by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, an independent federal agency based in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Congress created the scholarship in 1975 as a memorial to the 33rd president of the United States. The Truman Scholarship is the official federal memorial to its namesake president. According to The Washington Post, the Truman Scholarship's "sole aim is to pick out people with potential to become leaders—then provide support to help them realize their aspirations."[3] The scholarship supports public service oriented graduate study in the amount of $30,000.[citation needed]

Each year, between 50 and 60 university nominated candidates in their junior year are named Truman Scholars following a rigorous application process involving essays, recommendations, and an interview.[4] Scholarships have historically been awarded to one individual from each U.S. state.[5] Each university in the United States may nominate, annually, only four regularly-enrolled candidates, and up to three transfer students, who represent the most accomplished nominees from that university.[5]


On May 30, 1974, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri sponsored S.3548,[6] formally titled "A bill to establish the Harry S. Truman Memorial Scholarships." Symington held the same Class 1 Senate seat that Truman had held from 1935–1945 before becoming Vice President. The Senate passed the bill on August 2, and the House followed suit on December 17. Two similar House bills, H.R.15138[7] sponsored by William J. Randall of Missouri and H.R.17481[8] sponsored by James G. O'Hara of Michigan, were set aside in favor of Symington's bill.

The bill was signed by President Gerald Ford and enacted as Public Law 93-642 on January 4, 1975 and entered the United States Statutes at Large as 88 Stat. 2276–2280, and the United States Code as 20 U.S.C. 2001–2013.[9] It now operates as Program 85.001, governed by 45 CFR 1801[10] as published in the Code of Federal Regulations in the Federal Register.


The Truman Scholarship is administered by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, an independent federal executive branch agency. It is governed by a 13-member Board of Trustees previously headed by President Madeleine Albright, who said that the foundation "serves as a gateway for America's public service leaders" and "does a remarkable job of identifying future change agents."[11] The Foundation's operations are overseen by full-time Executive Secretary Terry Babcock-Lumish. Its endowment, which takes the form of a federal trust fund held in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is $55 million. Current Board members include Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Brian Schatz, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Congresswoman Kay Granger, and Congressman Ted Deutch.[12]


The scholarship is awarded to between 50 and 60 U.S. college juniors each year on the basis of four criteria:[13] service on campus and in the community, commitment to a career in public service (government, uniformed services, research, education, or public interest/advocacy organizations), communication ability and aptitude to be a "change agent," and academic talent that would assure acceptance to a first-rate graduate school. More broadly, Truman Scholars possess intellect, leadership skills, and passion that would make them a likely force for the public good in any field.[14]

Application process

In order to apply for the scholarship, students must first be nominated by their undergraduate university. Each undergraduate institution in the United States is allowed to nominate up to four students who have attended since freshman year. The foundation receives 900 applications annually, of which between 50 and 60 will be selected.[4] Each application is examined by a regional review panel, which selects finalists to interview. The interviews are conducted by panels of former Truman scholars, trustees of the board, and notable national public servants. The panelists make final selections of scholarship winners, attempting to choose one from each of the 50 states and American territories. No particular career, service interest, or policy field is preferred during the process. Each year, the Truman Scholarship is awarded to one or two students from institutions that have never had a Truman Scholar.[15]


Scholars currently receive an award of $30,000 going toward up to three years of graduate education leading to a career in the public service.[16] Winners also benefit from a network of other scholars through the Truman Scholars Association and lasting friendship, which is encouraged by the Truman Scholars Leadership Week at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, during which new scholars collaborate on policy projects.[citation needed]

Notable Truman Scholars

Main article: List of Truman Scholars

See also


  1. ^ "Staff". The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
  2. ^ "The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation". The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
  3. ^ Asthana, Anushka (August 28, 2006). "Present Scholars, Future Leaders". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ a b "FAQ – Candidates". Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
  5. ^ a b "How to Become a Truman Scholar". Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
  6. ^ "S.3548 - 93rd Congress (1973-1974): An Act to establish the Harry S Truman Memorial Scholarships, and for other purposes". Library of Congress.
  7. ^ "H.R.15138 - 93rd Congress (1973-1974): Harry S. Truman Memorial Scholarship Act". Library of Congress.
  8. ^ "H.R.17481 - 93rd Congress (1973-1974): Harry S. Truman Memorial Scholarship Act". Library of Congress.
  9. ^ "20 U.S. Code Chapter 42 – HARRY S TRUMAN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIPS". Cornell Law School Directory.
  10. ^ "Public Welfare". Archived from the original on September 28, 2006. Retrieved July 19, 2006.
  11. ^ "Truman Scholarship Foundation members". Archived from the original on July 10, 2006.
  12. ^ "Officers & Board of Trustees". Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
  13. ^ "Primary selection criteria for scholarship". Archived from the original on September 24, 2006.
  14. ^ "Who are Truman Scholars?". Archived from the original on September 24, 2006.
  15. ^ "There has never been a Truman Scholar from my school. Do I have a chance?". Archived from the original on September 24, 2006.
  16. ^ "What benefits do Truman Scholars receive?". Archived from the original on September 24, 2006.