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Columbia University Scholars



In addition to the programming offered through the Obama Foundation, and conducted with their counterpart Scholars cohort, Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia University participate in an immersive program on Columbia’s campus that brings together academic, skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation.

Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia University are based at Columbia World Projects, an initiative that mobilizes the university’s researchers and scholars to work with governments, organizations, businesses, and communities to create tangible solutions to real-world issues. The program takes advantage of the unique opportunities for engagement that come with being at one of the world’s most important centers of research and residing in New York City.

Key components of the program at Columbia University include:

  • Weekly Seminar

    A Weekly Seminar that runs the length of the academic year, exploring questions in tandem with key global trends including inequality, technological developments, the diffusion of power, population movements, and climate change.

  • Personal and Professional Development Workshops

    Personal and Professional Development Workshops designed to strengthen practical skills to enhance Scholars’ ability to lead. Previous workshop topics, led by institutes and faculty from across Columbia, include conflict management and resolution, design thinking, public speaking, and data analysis and interpretation.

  • An Experiential Learning

    An Experiential Learning component that engages Scholars in the work of Columbia World Projects.

  • Audited Coursework

    Audited Coursework that provides Scholars with the flexibility to select and enroll in up to two graduate level courses each semester at Columbia.

  • Thought Leadership Speaker Series

    A Thought Leadership Speaker Series that introduces Scholars to seasoned practitioners from the NGO community, and philanthropic, governmental, and international organizations to expand Scholars’ networks and perspectives to help advance their work.

  • Partnership with a Columbia Faculty Adviser

    Partnership with a Columbia faculty adviser selected for their subject matter expertise to provide Scholars with new insights and perspectives to inform Scholars’ work.

  • Engagement

    Meaningful opportunities for Scholars to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus and gain exposure to different perspectives by engaging with the Columbia University community.

How to apply

The application for the 2024-2025 Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University is now closed. Please follow along on social media to be notified when the 2025-2026 application becomes available in Fall 2024.


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