Presidential Scholarship

The University of Washington’s Presidential Scholarship Program aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders, in Washington state and the world. We believe that high school students who show a deep commitment to the well-being of others — and who lead by example by acting on that commitment — should be encouraged, celebrated and nurtured.

Presidential Scholar Ruth Mulugeta, ’22, is a biology major who plans to go to medical school.

Presidential Scholar Ruth Mulugeta, ’22, is a biology major who plans to go to medical school.

Presidential Scholars recognize that their most valuable accomplishments elevate not only themselves but also the people around them.

They use their talent and creativity to innovate on behalf of their communities — whether by creating a new organization, program or app; telling the stories that have not yet been told; filling a gap in a political, scientific or artistic field; or developing new platforms to advocate for change.

Our Presidential Scholars bring leadership skills and empathy for others, embodying Husky values and enriching the UW community.

Meet the first cohort of Presidential Scholars

What is the Presidential Scholarship?

Recipients are notified with a special package and a letter from President Cauce.

Recipients are notified with a special package and a letter from President Cauce.

The Presidential Scholarship is a leadership opportunity for a small cohort of exceptional students from Washington state. This merit-based scholarship provides $10,000 annually, for up to four years, to selected Washington residents who have demonstrated:

  • Emerging leadership — creating positive change that impacts the world around them
  • Community engagement — having a deep commitment to the greater good
  • Notable innovation or creativity — developing and implementing ideas that contribute to a field of knowledge or entrepreneurial endeavor
  • Recognized talent — gaining recognition for artistic, academic or scientific achievement

The Presidential Scholars Program and Scholarship began in 2018 with a founding endowment from William and Pamela Ayer, who wished to support the enrollment of such students at the University of Washington.

Who is eligible and how do I apply?

The scholarship is open to all Washington residents. Students do not apply for the scholarship — they are considered automatically when they apply to the University of Washington in Seattle.

How are students selected?

Presidential Scholars are selected for their values, rather than their academic accolades, and the self-directed actions they take that uphold those values to create a better life for others.

How does the UW invest in them?

In addition to receiving a four-year scholarship of $10,000 per undergraduate academic year, Presidential Scholars are supported throughout their time at the University by a customized leadership-development track that includes training, practice and reflection. Their successes are celebrated, and their stories are shared across campus as an inspiration and example to others.

What do Presidential Scholars do?

As participants in the program, Presidential Scholars will be expected to:

  • Enroll in at least 12 credits per quarter at the UW’s Seattle campus
  • Attend the Presidential Scholars orientation
  • Attend Presidential Scholar cohort meetings during autumn quarter
  • Pursue a minor in leadership or participate in the Husky Leadership Certificate program

Why did the University start the Presidential Scholarship Program?

We want students to recognize that doing good for others is just as important as winning success for themselves, and excellence of character counts just as much as academic merit. In awarding the scholarship, we look beyond grades at the whole person, and how they will make the world a better place. Through sharing their experiences and developing as leaders, our Presidential Scholars make a mark — and make a difference.