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How to Apply


For the 2023-2024 application cycle, applicants must be sophomores enrolled at Oxy who are expecting to graduate between December 2025 and May 2026 or transfer student juniors who are expecting to graduate in May 2025. The program is open to exceptional Oxy students of all backgrounds, with preference given to applicants who are first-generation college students, veterans, and/or community college transfer students. Applicants must be available to participate in all Obama Scholars programming, including an on-campus summer program in Summer 2024, the Obama Scholars Seminar* during the academic year, the Obama Scholars Speakers Series*, and a spring reception*.

*Virtual options for participating will be available for those enrolled in an Oxy off-campus program, such as study abroad, the UN program, or Campaign Semester

Selection Criteria

Obama Scholars will be chosen based on the following criteria:

Commitment to the public good - Scholars will be able to define a problem they want to address in the public good and will convey a clear motivation to pursue a career that improves others’ lives. Successful candidates will have a track record of pursuing service activities that are meaningful to them.

Leadership potential - Scholars will demonstrate through their past experiences the ability to take initiative to solve problems they care about. They will have the communication skills, maturity, open-mindedness, and interpersonal skills necessary to motivate others and coordinate group problem-solving efforts.

Academic strengths - Scholars will demonstrate the ability to balance their service activities and their academic program. They will show the academic potential necessary to reach their proposed future goals

Interest in the program’s components and goals - Scholars will be eager to develop their leadership skills, interested in refining their conception of the public good, excited to contribute to and participate in the Obama Scholars community, and passionate about making changes that will improve others’ lives.

How to Apply

The application may be accessed online. Applications are due no later than November 13, 2023. Scholars will be notified by late January.

Components of the application include:

  • A list of high school and college activities demonstrating your leadership and commitment to the public good
  • A short answer about the public problem you most want to address in your future career, and why you are motivated to address it
  • A short answer explaining a time when you identified a problem and stepped up as a leader to help solve it
  • An uploaded one-page personal statement explaining your motivation for entering the public good, your future goals, and why you want to be part of the Obama Scholars Program
  • An uploaded unofficial transcript

Applicants must also request that 2 letters of recommendation be emailed to by November 13. These recommendations should speak to the Obama Scholars selection criteria and should be from professors, supervisors, or mentors. At least one letter must be from an individual at Occidental.