Selection Process

Campus Selection

The selection process varies widely by campus. Some institutions select potential Truman nominees very early in the process. Others require lengthy applications. We recommend reaching out to your campus Advisor as soon as possible to determine the process on your campus.

If your campus does not have an Advisor, an early start will also give you time to identify the right person to assist with your application. 

Submitting the Application

Some institutions use our application as part of the campus process, others use their own forms. Regardless, at some point your Advisor must provide you with access to our online system.

Additional information about the application itself can be found in the Advice and Guidance section. We generally recommend working on the application over a period of several days if not weeks. Strong applications require significant research and revision. Most successful applicants report writing and rewriting several drafts.

You can either work on your application within the online system or work in another program and copy your responses into our form. You can invite your Advisor to review your application at any time. Sharing access with them does not interfere with your ability to view and edit your own application. Discuss with them when you are best able to receive feedback. Once the application is ready for the Foundation's review, your Advisor will allow us access to your materials. Again, you will still have the ability to review and edit your materials up until the deadline.

You must also secure three letters of recommendation and a transcript from any institution you attended. These items should be given to your Advisor; they have instructions for how to upload them in the system. 

We must receive all materials by 11:59 p.m. in your time zone on the evening of the deadline. The deadline is the first Tuesday in February.


The Wednesday after the deadline, the Foundation begins processing applications. After this point, you cannot make edits to your materials and additional items will not be accepted unless an extension has been granted.

Members of the staff will individually check each application to ensure it is complete and legible. We will also review all supporting materials to ensure they meet our requirements. If there is an issue with any of your materials or application, we will contact your Advisor to correct the issue. Please stay in close contact with your Advisor during this time. By Saturday morning, you will either have received an email from us indicating your application is complete or you will already be in touch with us regarding an issue with your materials.

Please do not contact the Foundation to confirm receipt of materials prior to the Sunday following the deadline. If you have not received a confirmation by then, please contact Tara Yglesias.

Log-in ends with Foundation staff rechecking the number of applications against various records to ensure none are missing. The applications are then divided by state of residence and then bundled into regions. Each region usually contains two or more states.

Finalist Selection Committee

Approximately ten days after the deadline, the Foundation will convene our Finalist Selection Committee (FSC) to review applications and select Finalists for each region.

FSC readers are a mix of graduate school admission professionals from programs preferred by Truman Scholars, distinguished Truman Scholars, representatives of other competitive scholarship programs, and at least one Truman Advisor. The Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary also serve on the reading committee.

Prior to meeting, FSC readers receive a series of sample applications that they must read and score. These scores are then tabulated and discussed during our reader training and calibration exercise on the first day. The Foundation uses this meeting to ensure that the readers are following the guidance established by the Foundation. We also use the sample applications as a way to guide discussion on selection criteria as well as other items such as conscious and unconscious bias.

Immediately following this meeting, readers split into groups of three or four. Each group is given one to three regions to read over the course of the weekend. The readers begin with another calibration exercise where everyone in the group reads the same small group of applications and scores them. They then discuss their scores to ensure that they are scoring in similar ranges and able to follow the guidance established by the Foundation.

After calibration, the readers divide the remaining files in the region. Each file is read by at least two members of the group, sometimes it is read by everyone in the group. Once all the files in a region have been read, the group convenes to select the top files in the region as Finalists. These applicants are selected based on their leadership and service records, as well as their likelihood of success in graduate school. Many of the files are strong in similar ways. In the most competitive regions, the distinction between an applicant who advances and one who does not can be very small. 

Throughout the weekend, the Foundation will contact Finalists to let them know they have been selected for interview. By the end of the weekend, all applicants will have received an email either requesting they attend an interview or thanking them for participating in the selection process to this point.

Regional Review Panels

Interviews are conducted by Regional Review Panels (RRP) at various locations across the country. RRP panelists are usually Truman Scholars who come from a variety of public service backgrounds. Panel may also include members of our Board of Trustees or other distinguished public servants.

Finalists convene as a group and spend the day together. Each Finalist will have a 20 minute interview with the panel at some point during the day. The interview can be very challenging. Questions begin as soon as the Finalist enters the room and the time goes by very quickly.

After all the interviews for a state are complete, the panel begins to deliberate. By the end of the day, they are expected to have one Scholar selected from each state. Some panels will make additional recommendations from the region if they believe them to be strong enough. In rare cases, no one from a state meets the criteria for selection. 


Once the Foundation receives the recommendations of the panels, they determine how many Scholarships can be offered in a given year. Based on that number, they can accommodate some, but generally not all, of the additional recommendations of the panel.

Finalists will receive their results via both physical letter to the permanent address provided in the application as well as email. Every effort is made to notify prior to the public posting in mid-April.

Craft your best application

Get started with advice from Foundation staff, our selection committee and Truman Advisors

Advice & Guidance