Truman Scholarship

Please consult the program website to confirm details, including applicable deadlines.

Visit Program Website Here

Program Purpose: 

Funded in honor of the 33rd President, the Truman Scholarship awards merit scholarships to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in public service. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Truman is a very competitive national scholarship. Each year, the Foundation reviews over 600 applications for our 55 to 65 Scholarships awarded annually. These 600 applications do not include the students who compete on their own campus for one of a school's (up to) four nominations.

Program Description and Benefits: 

The Truman Foundation provides:

Up to $30,000 toward a public service-related graduate degree.

Truman Scholars Leadership Week. This event, held at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, introduces new Scholars to the services provided by the Foundation and the many pathways to public service. Scholars participate in seminars and workshops with distinguished Truman alumni and other public service leaders, a group exercise about policy implementation, a graduate school and career fair with representatives from the schools and programs most attended by Truman Scholars, and community service events in the Kansas City area; this event is required of all Scholars.

Summer Institute. Immediately after college graduation, Scholars have the opportunity to participate in an eight-week Summer Institute in Washington, DC. The Foundation helps to arrange internships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, seminars and workshops, meetings with Washington policymakers and Truman alumni, and opportunities for community building among Scholars.

Truman-Albright Fellows Program. After the Summer Institute, Scholars may elect to stay in Washington, DC, for a full year in the Truman-Albright Fellows Program; Truman-Albright Fellows are placed in public service jobs while participating in workshops, seminars, and mentoring opportunities.

Other Fellows Program: Additional fellowship opportunities, outlined on the Truman website, are available for Scholars as they move through the early stages of their careers in public service.

This is a highly competitive program with only about .09% of students nominated by their institutions selected as Truman Scholars.

Supported Fields: 

The "public service-related degrees" supported by the Foundation encompass many fields of study, including agriculture, biology, economics, education, engineering, environmental management, government, history, international relations, law, medicine, nonprofit management, physical and social sciences, political science, public administration, public health, public policy, and technology policy,

Application Process: 

Applications for the Truman involve several short essays, as well as a public policy proposal.

Finalists participate in a rigorous national Truman Selection Committee interview..

Truman applicants are required to provide three letters of recommendation in addition to the Institutional Nomination Letter.

The University may nominate up to 4 students who matriculated at San Francisco State as freshmen, and 3 students who have transferred from community college. Please note that nomination is not guaranteed. Serious applicants should be ready to commit many hours to researching and crafting the essays, revision, and -- for those selected as finalists, practice interviews.

Applicant Profile: 

Competitive applicants will be outstanding leaders with (A) extensive records of public and community service; (B) outstanding leadership potential and communication skills; and (C) committed to a career in government or elsewhere in public service, as defined by the Foundation, and to becoming a "change agent" in their chosen field.

Truman Scholars are excellent writers and researchers, with the ability to develop a balanced policy proposal and address in great detail in a series of essays a realistic plan for the development of their long term academic and career plans.

Strong communication skills include the ability to "hold one's own" in a challenging group interview with public service leaders should one be selected for a finalist interview.


At the time of application, junior-level academic standing; or senior-level standing in the third year of college enrollment -- and in the top quarter of their class.


Recipients of the Truman Scholarship must attend the Truman Scholarship Week.

Scholars may defer enrollment in a graduate program for up to 4 years.

As a condition of receiving Truman funds, Scholars are required to work in public service for 3 of the 7 years that follow completion of a funded graduate program.

The Foundation defines public service as employment in government at any level, uniformed services, public-interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or educational organizations, public and private schools, and public service-oriented nonprofit organizations.

Selection Criteria: 


Career and Graduate Study Interests: (A) I hope to be a "change agent," in time, improving the ways that government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or educational institutions serve the public; (B) There are conditions in our society or the environment which trouble me; (C)I want to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector, or the public interest/advocacy sector to improve these conditions; (D) I am comfortable committing to work in public service for three of the first seven years after I complete a Foundation-funded graduate degree; E) I would like to get a master's degree, a doctorate, or a professional degree such as a law degree or a Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Social Work, Master of Education, Master of Public Policy, or Master of International Affairs.

Community Service and Academic Record: I have participated extensively in two or more of the following sets of activities: (A) Student government and/or campus-based extracurricular activities; (B) Community service-related activities that were not organized by my school or by my fraternity/sorority; (C) Government internships, commissions or boards, advocacy or interest groups, nonpartisan political activities, or military/ROTC ;(D) Partisan political activities and campaigns; (E) I have been involved with organizations or activities related to my career interests; (F) I have demonstrated some of my leadership potential; (G) I have sufficiently strong grades, coursework and recommendations to gain admittance to a first-rate graduate institution (I have taken challenging courses and mostly received A's in these courses); I read regularly a good national newspaper and a thoughtful periodical; (H) I have had one or more courses relating to my career interests.

General: (A) I would appreciate external affirmation of my values and goals; (B) I would like to become associated with Truman Scholar "change agents"; (C) I am capable of analyzing a public issue in my intended career area and presenting my findings in a one-page memo to a government official who could take action; (D) I am willing to prepare an outstanding application and policy proposal under the supervision of my Truman Faculty Representative; (E) I believe I could hold my own in a challenging interview conducted by a panel of prominent public servants, educators, and former Truman Scholars; (F) I could use $30,000 to continue my education.


U.S. citizens or nationals, or expect to receive citizenship by the date the Scholarship will be awarded.

Program Deadline: 

The national deadline, usually in early February, does not directly apply to students, who must apply for nomination through the University by the campus deadline.

University Deadline: 

October 1 annually. If this date falls on a weekend, then noon on the following Monday.

More information: 

Meet our Truman Scholar

The Selection Process

1. The Finalists Selection Committee.  A committee examines all nominations and selects about 200 Finalists to be interviewed for Truman Scholarships. Finalists are selected on the basis of:

  • extent and quality of community service and government involvement;
  • leadership record;
  • academic performance, writing and analytical skills; and
  • suitability of the nominee's proposed program of study for a career in public service.

2. The Regional Review Panels. Regional selection panels interview Finalists in March and early April, and select Truman Scholars largely on the basis of:

  • leadership potential and communication skills;
  • intellectual strength and analytical ability; and
  • likelihood of 'making a difference' in public service.

If a Panel judges that none of the Finalists from a state adequately meets each of these criteria, it does not select any candidate from that state. 

How To Apply: 

This program requires institutional nomination. Students may not apply directly to the foundation or program. Instead, applicants must apply through the University by the campus deadline. Please note that University nomination is not guaranteed. Applicants are encouraged to work with the Fellowships Office well in advance of the internal deadline to perfect their application essays and other materials.

To learn more about the Truman program, or to receive feedback on your application materials, contact Dr. Joy Viveros, Truman Representative, and Director of the Fellowships Office, for an appointment well in advance of the November campus deadline.

Resources for Applicants

Why Should You Apply for a Fulbright?

Quick Links

Fellowships Office

Dr. Joy Viveros

Phone: 415.405.2128
Reception: Grad Stop, ADM 250 
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132