The application for the ‘24/’25 cohort is now closed.

Program Eligibility

The UChicago Obama Scholars Program is designed for emerging leaders who are at breakthrough points in their leadership journeys and who demonstrate clear potential and a commitment to tackle particular problems in their communities. It is well suited for students who are guided by core values, are committed to advancing equity, are eager to learn and to contribute to others’ learning, possess a spirit of generosity, and have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the common good.

The program seeks emerging leaders from the United States and around the world who meet the following criteria:

  • UChicago students entering their final year of study at the Booth School of Business; Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice; and/or the Harris School of Public Policy.
  • Have at least 3 years of demonstrated leadership experience with clear traction tackling a particular social challenge and are now at a “breakthrough moment” in their careers;
  • Have a demonstrated commitment, following their completion of the program, to apply their enhanced training, skills, and connections to tackling this social challenge in their community;
  • Are seeking to refine their approach to tackling this challenge by including feedback and ideas from a variety of contexts around the world;
  • Have demonstrated academic success;
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to hope, community, courage, resilience, inclusivity, integrity, imagination, strategy, accountability, and empathy; and
  • Will not be engaging in an electoral campaign for political office during the program term.

We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and ability. We are committed to building inclusive and diverse cohorts with Scholars from different nationalities, issues of focus, sectors of work, personal backgrounds, leadership ranks and titles, and life experiences. We are also committed to making this program accessible to Scholars with disabilities, from the application process through the entire program experience.

Application Requirements

A complete application, submitted entirely online, includes the following materials:

  • Resume/curriculum vitae
  • Responses to short essay questions
  • Two letters of recommendation

Only applicants selected for the finalist round will be asked to submit these letters. All applicants will be asked to enter their references' names at the time of application. 

Interested applicants must complete and submit an application through the online application system. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee. Finalists will be invited to an interview, currently slated for mid-late May. Decisions will be released in June and the cohort will be announced this fall.

Evaluation Process

A multi-staged candidate evaluation process, conducted over the summer and including an interview, considers candidates based on their potential as civic leaders to address societal challenges faced by communities around the globe.


  • January 30 | Application opens

  • March 19 | Application closes at 11:59 PM (CST)

  • Early May | Finalists notified

    • Finalists share link with recommenders to submit letters due May 16

  • Mid-May through Early June | Finalist interviews

  • By Early July | Decisions released