Obama Foundation Scholars FAQ

Q: Who can apply for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program?

A: The Obama Foundation Scholars Program seeks a diverse cohort who represent a cross section of backgrounds including those working in government, the private sector, and NGOs and civil society organizations. Leaders may apply to both the University of Chicago and the Columbia University Scholars programs.

The University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars Program seeks rising leaders from around the world who meet the below 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.
  • Are fluent in English (verbal and written).

You can find more information on University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars requirements and application timelines HERE.

The Columbia University Obama Foundation Scholars Program seeks rising leaders from around the who meet the following criteria:

  • Have a proven commitment to service and leadership within a community, region, or country outside the United States, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to return to these communities following their completion of the Program and apply their enhanced training, skills, and connections on a long-term basis for the benefit of these communities going forward.
  • Are emerging leaders who have made meaningful contributions to their field and are now at a “tipping point” in their careers.
  • Are fluent in English (verbal and written).
  • Have the ability and inclination to positively shape the future of their community.
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to humility, integrity, inclusivity, stewardship, fearlessness, imagination, and teamwork.

You can find more information on Columbia University Obama Foundation Scholars requirements and application timelines HERE.

Q: How does the Obama Foundation Scholars Program differ from the Obama Foundation Fellowship Program?

A:  These programs are both part of the Obama Foundation’s goal of inspiring and empowering emerging leaders from around the world, but offer different paths for participants so they can tailor their Foundation experience to their unique situation.

The Obama Foundation Fellowship is a two-year, non-residential program that will offer hands-on training, resources, and leadership to community-minded rising stars from around the world. Fellows will participate in four multi-day gatherings over the course of their Fellowship and return to their communities to tackle the problems they face in innovative ways.

The Obama Foundation Scholars is a one-year, full time program and participants will live in Chicago for the duration of the academic year. Scholars will receive a Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy when they successfully complete the program.

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