The Obama Foundation Scholars Program seeks to support dynamic, collaborative, rising leaders from around the world in an innovative one-year academic experience. The Obama Foundation Scholars Program will give rising young leaders around the world who are already making a difference in their communities the opportunity to take their work to the next level through a newly designed curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based, and hands-on learning. The Scholars Program empowers individuals with a proven commitment to service with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective, to identify innovative solutions to complex global problems, and promote change through values-based leadership.
The program will build lasting relationships among emerging leaders who are committed to working together to solve the most pressing challenges of our time, creating a global network that reaches across issues and borders. After completing the program, Obama Foundation Scholars will return to their communities and continue the important work they started in the program by implementing their own personalized action plan. They will also have an opportunity to play a role in the Obama Foundation’s efforts to inspire, train, and connect rising leaders from around the globe.

Host Country:
  • United States of America
Host University:
  • University of Chicago ‘
Scholarship Benefits:
  • Obama Foundation Scholars at the University of Chicago will earn a Master of Arts degree focused on International Development and Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
  • In addition to classroom studies, the Obama Foundation will offer a robust program of leadership development and service activities throughout the academic year to help Scholars gain the real-world skills, tools, and experiences to expand the impact of their work when they return home.  These may include
    • leadership development convenings;
    • program experiences in New York and Washington, DC;
    • speaker series with innovators across a variety of sectors;
    • individual and group service projects;
    • mentorship through the Obama Foundation network; potential internship placements; and
    • action plan development for post-program activities.
  • Some of these Foundation activities will include experiences throughout Chicago and the South Side.
  • By engaging with the local community, students will have the opportunity to complement what they learn in the classroom and also to bring their unique perspectives to Chicago.

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Eligibility Criteria:
  • Significant work experience and professional accomplishments with a clear trajectory of increasing impact.
  • Demonstrated record of community service or working for the public good, either through a full-time professional role or significant engagement outside of primary employment.
  • Possess a clear focus on a globally applicable challenge.
  • A clear commitment to return to and reinvest your new skills in your community after the program concludes.
Required Documents:
  • Transcripts
    • You may submit unofficial transcripts through the electronic application process; however, official transcripts will be required upon admission for enrolling students. Please submit transcripts for all prior academic work from any institution of higher education.
  • Test Scores
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores are required for international students. The Harris institution code is 1849 or 1832. Both codes will be accepted. You can make your reservations to take the TOEFL with ETS directly.
    • You will also have the option of submitting other scores (e.g., IELTS, GRE, etc.), but the GRE is not required.
  • Work Experience
    • Please include current and prior positions, preferably demonstrating 3–5 or more years of work experience, the nature of your job, and responsibilities. You may upload a current resume reflecting this information along with your education, community service, professional honors, and any other relevant information.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • We prefer to have at least one reference from a previous professor who can speak to your academic background and preparedness for graduate studies.
    • Those making a recommendation should submit letters through the electronic application—hard copy letters will be accepted but are not preferred. (Your references will receive an email requesting a recommendation.)
  • Short Essay Responses
    • Tell us about your current work (which may be your paid employment or your significant volunteer activity). In answering, please describe the concrete impact – however you define impact – your current work is having. Why have you chosen this work? What are the challenges you have faced in this work and how have you sought to overcome them? (400 words or fewer)
    • What impact do you want to have on the world? How would becoming an Obama Foundation Scholar help you achieve this? What do you plan to do after the Obama Foundation Scholars Program? What will you do if you are not selected? (300 words or fewer)

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How to Apply:

All applicants must complete the online application and include the above mentioned documents, which are required to apply for the Harris MA-IDP and participation in Obama Foundation Scholars Program:

Application Deadline:
  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

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