Advice & Guidance

The Truman Scholarship application consists of the following:

  • A letter of nomination from your institution;
  • A completed application including short essays on leadership, service and your future path in public service;
  • A policy proposal on a subject that interests you;
  • Three letters of recommendation; one each on:
    • Leadership Abilities;
    • Commitment to a Career in Public Service; and,
    • Likelihood of Academic Success.
  • A transcript.

Approaching the Application

The Truman application is a lengthy, time-consuming and competitive process. But while the process can be challenging, most applicants report positive outcomes from the process even if they are not successful.

Many candidates report that the application helped them to clarify their path in public service, which graduate degree is best for them, and how they plan to have an impact in public service. Others report that working on the application made them a stronger writer or a better advocate for themselves. Material developed for the application can be helpful for other scholarships as well as graduate school applications.

The strongest applicants approach the Truman with these benefits in mind. The process itself has value and is worth their sincere effort. For these students, there is value in the process beyond the scholarship. 

However there are challenges to approaching the application in this way. Not every applicant or every institution is equipped similarly. Some applicants have access to strong advising and ample opportunities, others do not - still others are in the middle.

We are responsible for addressing some of these issues in our process and in the way we assess materials and train our readers and interviewers. We also strive to provide equitable access to materials regardless of the resources at an institution.

This section includes a number of items designed to help prepare the best application possible. Applicants should take care to assess advice given for their own situation as no two applicants are alike and blanket advice rarely works for everyone.