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Truman Scholarship

Truman Foundation 40th Anniversary Video

U-M Nomination Deadline: Monday AFTER Thanksgiving by 12:00 noon. 

U-M Contact: Henry Dyson, Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (ONSF)


Founded in 1975 as a living memorial to our thirty-third President, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation provides up to $30,000 for the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership.  Students apply in their third undergraduate year and should have an outstanding record of public service activities and leadership.  The Foundation is bipartisan and defines public service broadly as working for the common good.  Students in a wide variety of academic fields are encouraged to apply.

Institutional Endorsement: The Truman Scholarship does not accept direct applications; students must be nominated by U-M’s Truman Scholarship Committee.  Please see this page for application instructions for endorsement.


  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or expect to receive citizenship by the date the scholarship will be awarded.

  • Junior-level academic standing or third-year senior.

  • Commitment to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector, or public interest and advocacy for at least three of the first seven years after completing the Foundation-funded graduate degree.

  • Approximately top 25% of the class (although this is flexible) and/or competitive for admissions at the graduate programs at which they would use the Truman Scholarship.

  • Extensive record of public service and leadership in two or more of the following areas: student government and organizations, community service, government or nonprofit internships, and partisan politics or campaigns.  Please see the Truman website for a more detailed description of successful applicants and profiles of recent winners.

Application Procedures:

  1. Contact  Henry Dyson early in the fall term to be registered on the Truman website.

  2. Complete the online application which includes:

  3. Resume of service activities, research, and employment/internships

  4. Brief essays detailing your leadership accomplishments, most satisfying service activity, an important issue you plan to address in your service career, graduate school and post-graduate career plans.  Note that the leadership and service essay topics should be chosen in conjunction with your leadership and service letter writers.

  5. A policy statement addressing an important issue related to your intended service career field.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to work with Henry Dyson in the selection of this policy topic.

  6. The completed application will be submitted electronically to Henry Dyson via the Truman Foundation website for review and institutional endorsement.

  7. Submit up to five letters of recommendation from faculty, work/internship/volunteer supervisors, or community leaders who can speak to your:

    • Leadership Abilities and Potential

    • Commitment to a Career in Public Service

    • Intellect and Prospects for Continued Academic Success

  8. Note that the writer of your Leadership letter and Public Service letter should discuss the activities that you write about in response to Leadership and Service essays on the online application.   Only three letters can be used for the national Truman Scholarship competition. You should make clear to your letter writers that they are writing, first and foremost, to support your application for one of U-M's four nominations to the national scholarship. Henry Dyson will help the selected nominees choose the three letters that best fit their applications as a whole.

  9. Letters should be sent directly to U-M's Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (ONSF).  Only the letters for official nominees will be uploaded to the Truman Foundation site.

  10. Completed applications, letters of recommendation, and policy statements are due to ONSF on the Monday after Thanksgiving at 12 noon.

  11. The U-M Truman Committee will interview candidates and select U-M’s official nominees in early December.  Committee members will work extensively with these nominees to polish their applications before submission to the Truman Foundation in late January.

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