The Obama Foundation Scholars Program

March 9, 2018

About the Program

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program features a graduate degree tailored for promising international leaders - the Master of Arts degree in International Development and Policy (MA-IDP) - offered by the world-renowned University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. Drawing on the core strengths of a Harris education, the MA-IDP is a one-year degree program that provides a solid foundation in policy design and analysis, with particular emphasis on international development and policy.

You'll earn a Master of Arts in International Development and Policy (MA-IDP) at Harris Public Policy and receive a full scholarship that includes access to exceptional programming outside of the classroom.

The nine courses in the Harris MA-IDP curriculum can be completed in one academic year and cover three categories: foundational skills for policy analysis, international development and policy, and electives. The Harris MA-IDP program includes:

  • Three foundational courses in data analytics, analytical politics, and economics.
  • Two-course sequence focusing on governmental policies and their impact on economic development and improving population outcomes
  • Four electives at Harris or from across the University of Chicago



We're seeking emerging leaders from around the world who meet the following criteria:

  • Significant work experience (typically 3-5 years or more) 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 global challenge or policy issue.
  • A clear commitment to return to and reinvest your new skills in your community after the program concludes.



All applicants must complete the online application ( by April 10, 2018 and include the following, which are required to apply for the Harris MA-IDP and the Obama Foundation Scholarship:

  • Transcripts

You may submit unofficial transcripts through the electronic application process; however, official transcripts will be required upon admission for enrolling students. Please submit transcripts for all prior academic work from any institution of higher education.

  • Test Scores

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores are required for international students. The Harris institution code is 1849 or 1832. Both codes will be accepted. You can make your reservations to take the TOEFL with ETS directly.

You will also have the option of submitting other scores (e.g., IELTS, GRE, etc.), but the GRE is not required.

  • Work Experience

Please include current and prior positions, preferably demonstrating 3–5 or more years of work experience, the nature of your job, and responsibilities. You may upload a current resume reflecting this information along with your education, community service, professional honors, and any other relevant information.

  • Three (3) ­ Letters of Recommendation

We prefer to have at least one reference from a previous professor who can speak to your academic background and preparedness for graduate studies.

Those making a recommendation should submit letters through the electronic application—hard copy letters will be accepted but are not preferred. (Your references will receive an email requesting a recommendation.)

  • Two (2) Short Essay Responses
  1. Tell us about your current work (which may be your paid employment or your significant volunteer activity). In answering, please describe the concrete impact – however you define impact – your current work is having. Why have you chosen this work? What are the challenges you have faced in this work and how have you sought to overcome them? (400 words or fewer)
  2. What impact do you want to have on the world? How would becoming an Obama Foundation Scholar help you achieve this? What do you plan to do after the Obama Foundation Scholars Program? What will you do if you are not selected? (300 words or fewer)



Applications are due Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Notifications of admission and scholarship decisions to be released on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Candidates have until Sunday, July 1, 2018 to confirm this acceptance.

Leadership Development Week (for scholarship recipients) begins late summer. (Date TBD)

Harris Welcome Week begins Monday, September 27, 2018.

Classes begin Monday, October 1, 2018.



Admissions Email:

Request for Information:





  • 数据分析、分析政治学、经济学领域的三门基础课程;
  • 由两门课程构成的系列课程,聚焦政府政策及其对经济发展和改善人口结果的影响;
  • 哈里斯学院或芝大其他学院的任意四门选修课。




  • 拥有丰富的工作经验(3-5年或更长)、卓越的职业成就以及与日俱增的社会影响力;
  • 拥有突出的服务社会或社会公益经历,可以是全职工作,也可以是本职工作之外的志愿活动;
  • 对某一全球问题或政策问题有明确且清晰的兴趣;
  • 在项目结束后,有志于回到原有社区,用项目所授的新技能更好地服务于社会。




  • 成绩单


  • 考试成绩



  • 工作经验


  • 三封推荐信



  • 两篇短文
  1. 介绍一下你现在的工作(既可以是正式工作,也可以是重要的志愿活动)。在回答中请详细说明:你的工作产生了哪些具体的影响(无论你如何定义“影响”)?你为什么选择这份工作?你在工作中曾经遇到过哪些困难,你又是如何解决的?(不超过400字)
  2. 你希望为社会带来什么样的影响?成为奥巴马基金会学者将如何帮助你实现这一目标?在入选该项目后你有什么计划?如果不幸落选,你又将作何打算?(不超过300字)