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US Presidential Scholars Program: How to Win the U.S Presidential Scholars Program

The United States Department of Education runs the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. It is “one of the Nation’s highest honors for students” in the United States and abroad.


The program was started in 1964 (by the Executive Order of the President of the United States) to honor the most deserving graduating seniors for their achievements in various fields, including leadership, service to the community, and academic excellence.

It grew bigger in 1979, including honoring students with extraordinary talent and scholarship in the performing, visual, and literary arts. The program expanded in 2015 to honor students with aptitude and success in career and technical sectors. 

Regardless of whether a student’s academic performance or other accomplishments otherwise qualify them for recognition, the organization has recently accepted nominations from individual recommenders of the student’s choosing.

However, according to the Department of Education’s website, “application for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is by invitation only. As mentioned, the program is not open to student applications or nominations outside the process.

The National Recognition Program, which includes many events and enrichment activities and culminates in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a ceremony sponsored by the White House, is open to all Scholars and will take place in Washington, DC, in June.

About the U.S. Presidential Scholars Commission

President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program in 1964, and it has since recognized over 7,500 exceptional high school seniors.

As the program continues to expand beyond initial recognition based on SAT or ACT results, new scholar candidates apply for awards in the visual and performing arts and creative writing.

The commission started considering outstanding students who excel in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in 2016.

The Presidential Scholars Commission will choose up to 161 US Presidential Scholars annually. During the National Recognition Program, which takes place in June in Washington, DC, the commission recognized all scholars for their accomplishments.

U.S. Presidential Scholars are guests of the Commission for the National Recognition ceremony, and the Commission will pay for any expenses incurred.

The recognition ceremony is taking place so that U.S. Presidential Scholars can interact with dignitaries, educators, and other outstanding individuals.

The commission presents the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion to the Scholars as a token of recognition during a ceremony organized by the White House.

What You Need To Know About The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Now, let’s discuss the details of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program;

Level/Field of Study

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is strictly for high school students deserving of the award.

Host Nationality

U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is a property of the United States Department of Education.

Eligible Nationality

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is strictly for U.S. citizens only.

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Scholarship Benefits

Unlike other scholarship programs, a Presidential Scholarship through the Presidential Scholars Program has no monetary value. Rather, it gives academics crucial experiences and chances that other students do not have.

The rigorous application process culminates in an exclusive, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June to visit the White House, where each selected scholar gets a Presidential Scholars medallion to recognize their academic excellence.

During their once-in-a-lifetime journey, scholars will also visit historical monuments and attend recitals, celebrations, and ceremonies.

Scholars can meet national luminaries such as renowned authors, scientists, educators, singers, and government officials during the all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Scholars can discuss social and global concerns with those who share their interests.

These occurrences can serve as a trigger for something bigger. There are numerous possibilities to network with experienced colleagues and make long-term relationships for a successful career.

While the Presidential Scholars Program does not provide students with scholarship money, it can certainly assist in obtaining other forms of financial aid.

Your academic achievements will undoubtedly stand out on any merit-based scholarship application. Scholars can go on to get an undergraduate degree while already having relationships in place for what comes after college.

U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following to be eligible for the scholarship;

  • Applicant must be a senior in high school as of the current academic year.
  • The applicant must have finished at least three career and technical education courses in a single program (or have finished two and enrolled in the third course).
  • The applicant’s career and technical education courses must have a GPA of 3.25 or above.
  • The applicant must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 (unweighted).
  • Refer to the guidelines and guiding concepts the committee will employ when evaluating the nominations.

Requirement for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

The commission evaluates candidates on various characteristics that recognize a student as the country’s best representative. With such a weighty title come extremely high standards. The following are the most important prerequisites:

  • Academic success in secondary school reports
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Leadership abilities
  • Self-assessments
  • Community service & extracurriculars
  • Nearly perfect SAT/ACT scores
  • Artistic achievement*
  • Achievement in career and technical fields*
  • Scholarship essays

Essays from students are very important while applying to the Presidential Scholars Program. In reality, whether or not you advance past the semifinal round, you will likely depend on your essay.

Since there is no established prompt, the applicant’s creativity is the only limit to the essay topic. Students should emphasize their leadership qualities and dedication to their school and community at this point.

An in-depth analysis of their scholarship essay is also provided, which assesses the applicant’s capacity to showcase high standards of excellence while telling an engaging tale.

Anything is acceptable as long as the essay is original and highlights you. If you’re unsure where to begin, consider your interests, how participating in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program can benefit you, and your long-term goals.

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Be aware that each candidate has different standards for success in the arts or vocational and technical domains. The next section contains more information about these specifications.

The commission carefully examines a scholarship applicant’s essay, and this assessment gauges how well they can convey an engaging narrative while upholding high standards.

The essay can be about anything if it is distinctive and puts you in the forefront. If you don’t know where to start, consider your interests, how participating in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program can benefit you, and your long-term goals.

How to Apply For U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

There are no open applications for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Students must apply because applications are only by nomination and cannot apply individually.

Furthermore, an exclusive invitation to apply is only for the best of the country’s best; thus, getting a recommendation to apply is a significant accomplishment.

Candidates must meet the following criteria to get an invitation to apply: U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States at the time of the application process, current high school seniors at the time of the application process, and participate in one of the eligible components.

Students can apply via one of three paths of achievement:

  • General Component – Nationally, score in the top percentiles for the SAT or ACT.
  • Component of CTE (Career and Technical Education) – Be nominated by your Chief State School Officer (CSSO).
  • Arts Component – Be recommended by the review committee or a partner organization, such as the YoungArts Program.

After being nominated by qualified individuals, invitations with a unique nomination I.D. number are delivered to the selected students, granting access to an online portal to submit candidacy papers.

Such resources include essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and formal transcripts.

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How to Get the Scholarship

You have several options if you want to be considered for a presidential scholarship. The first path is performing well on the SAT or ACT. This means getting good marks and getting in the top percentile of the country.

Although it can be difficult, becoming a scholar has numerous advantages. Unlike other evaluation methods, you can take the SAT/ACT as often as needed until you are satisfied with your results. As you’ll see below, more invitations are based on exam scores than art or CTE components.

You can also join or join several recognition groups with the authority to propose to kids. Since the program’s expansion in 1979, any brilliant senior in high school in the performing or visual arts can be nominated for the Presidential Scholarship through the YoungArts Program.

Eligible students will be evaluated further during National YoungArts Week, where participants are judged against excellence standards from one of ten disciplines: cinematic arts, dance, design, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice, and writing.

If you want to pursue a career in technical education, you have another option. The program was expanded in 2015 to include high school students who demonstrated talent and skills in vocational and technical education disciplines.

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Based on CTE achievement, these students are personally nominated by their Chief State School Officer (CSSO).

The White House assembles an impartial assessment team of educators nationwide to analyze the final nominees. After significant deliberation, this body, known as the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, selects the year’s official scholars.

Potential candidates will be judged by standards of excellence in each component rather than competing for a nomination. To be eligible for a presidential scholarship, students must excel academically, participate in community service, and go above and beyond.

Application Deadline 

The Presidential Scholars Program follows the same timeline every year. Typically, invitations to apply are issued in January, with the deadline for submitting candidacy documents at the end of February.

In the months leading up to the end of the program cycle, the review committee will review the applications and confirm the 161 finalists, with recognition celebrations in June.

Tips to Ace U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

To increase your chances of winning the Presidential Scholars Program, it’s important to focus on a few key aspects.

Firstly, maintaining a strong academic record by consistently striving for excellence in our studies is essential. Rigorous coursework and impressive grades lay the foundation for consideration.

Equally important is engaging in extracurricular activities and demonstrating leadership qualities. By actively participating in clubs, sports, community service, or other pursuits, showcase your well-roundedness and dedication to making a difference.

Crafting a compelling application is another crucial factor. Expressing your unique experiences, aspirations, and passions through well-written essays and obtaining strong recommendations helps us stand out among the pool of applicants.

Lastly, staying informed about the specific requirements and deadlines of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is essential. Regularly visiting the program’s official website and seeking guidance from your school counselors can ensure you’re up to date with the latest information.

The journey to becoming a U.S. Presidential Scholar is not solely about winning the award but the growth and personal development you experience. Regardless of the outcome, the effort you put into this endeavor will undoubtedly contribute to your future success.


How are U.S. presidential scholar candidates selected?

Candidates are assessed based on their essay analysis, leadership and service activities, personal traits, and academic success. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, an independent national council of academics, selects about 500 semifinalists in late March.

How much money is the U.S. Presidential Scholarship?

The prize carries no financial stipend. Over 8,000 of the best students in the country have received awards from the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program since its founding 60 years ago.

The program was enlarged to acknowledge students with remarkable potential in the performing, literary, and artistic arts.


Winning the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is an incredible achievement that can open doors to exceptional opportunities. You have worked hard throughout high school to excel academically and showcase your talents.

Participating in this prestigious program allows you to be recognized for your accomplishments and be rewarded for your dedication.

So, strive for excellence, showcase your unique qualities, and embark on this exciting opportunity to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar. Good luck, and may your achievements shine brightly!



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