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.
The Obama Foundation Scholars Program was entirely virtual for the 2020-2021 academic year and Scholars participated in the program remotely from their home countries. The Obama Foundation and Columbia University continue to monitor the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to hold the program on-site in New York City for the 2021-2022 academic year if it is safe to do so. However, there is a possibility the program will be conducted remotely and Scholars will not reside in New York City.
- Monthly stipend to assist with living expenses in New York City
- A furnished studio apartment within walking distance of Columbia University, if the program is able to convene in person
- All tuition and fees for up to four courses at Columbia University
- Basic medical, dental and life insurance for the duration of the program in New York City, if the program is able to convene in person
- Air travel to and from home country and any program-related activities, if the program is able to convene in person
The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from around the world 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
- 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, written and spoken)
- 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
- Open for All Nationality
We are pleased to share that, for the first time, we are extending the
application for the 2021-2022 cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars at
Columbia University to U.S. citizens and residents who are making
significant contributions to communities, countries, or regions within
the United States in addition to seeking leaders from around the world.
Complete the online application form for the 2021-2022 Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University by February 5, 2021 at 5:00PM ET. Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
- Complete online application form
- Résumé/curriculum vitae
The résumé/curriculum vitae should be a chronological listing of employment and educational history, academic endeavors and other significant activities. Applicants should include any awards, publications or other achievements they have received.
- Personal video statement
The personal video statement should be a short video (no longer than three minutes in length) introducing the applicant and their work to the selection committee. Applicants will upload their video statement to a video hosting service, like YouTube or Vimeo, and will include a link to their video in the online application. Additional information on the requirements for the personal video statement can be found in the online application.
- Responses to short essay questions
The short essay questions help the selection committee understand the applicant's work, their motivation and how the program fits into their career trajectory. Applicants will submit their essay questions in the online application.
- Proof of English proficiency
Applicants whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language by submitting scores from one of four exams: The internet-based or paper-based exams of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic); or the Duolingo English Test (DET). No other exams will be accepted.
This requirement is waived for applicants who:
- have completed an undergraduate degree - not a master's or graduate degree - in a country where English is an official language;
- have previously taken the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic, or DET exams in the last five years and scored at or above the minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL-IBT), 600 (TOEFL-PBT), 7.0 (IELTS), 68 (PTE Academic), or 120 (DET; 75 on the DET taken prior to July 2019). If applicants qualify for a waiver under this exception, they must upload a scanned copy of their score report to the online application to ensure their application is eligible for review. If they did not score at or above the required minimum or no longer have a copy of their old results, they must retake an English proficiency exam.
- Minimum Scores:
- TOEFL – Internet-Based Exam: 100
- TOEFL – Paper-Based Exam: 600
- International English Language Testing System Academic: 7
- Pearson Test of English Academic: 68
- Duolingo English Test: 120 (75 on the exam taken prior to July 2019)
Please note that while applicants who received scores below the posted minimums may still apply, applications are not guaranteed to be reviewed.
- Two letters of recommendation (a maximum of three letters may be submitted)
Two letters of recommendation are required from individuals who are familiar with the applicant and the applicant's work in an academic, professional or community service setting. Recommendations should directly address the applicant's suitability for admission to the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. Recommendations should not be written by family members or friends.
05 February 2021