Obama Foundation Scholars Program 2025 at Columbia University | Fully Funded

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University is a prestigious and fully funded graduate program that offers an unparalleled opportunity for emerging leaders from around the world. This program was launched in 2018 by the Obama Foundation, with the goal of developing the next generation of civic leaders who will create positive change in their communities and beyond.

The program is based at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), one of the world’s top institutions for international affairs education. The scholars selected for this program are immersed in an intensive, year-long curriculum that combines academic courses, workshops, leadership development training, mentorship opportunities, and field experiences.

One of the unique aspects of this program is its focus on bringing together a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds, countries, and fields of expertise. Each cohort consists of approximately 12-15 scholars who have shown exceptional promise in their respective fields and a commitment to making a difference in their communities.

Since its inception, the Obama Foundation Scholars Program has received over 5,000 applications from more than 160 countries. Each year, up to 12 exceptional individuals are selected for this prestigious program based on their track record of leadership potential and passion for making a difference in their communities. These scholars come from diverse backgrounds and bring unique perspectives that enrich the learning environment at Columbia University.

As part of their coursework, scholars are required to take core classes on topics such as public management, global policy challenges, leadership development, and social entrepreneurship. These classes are taught by renowned faculty members from SIPA and other schools within Columbia University. In addition to these core courses, scholars can also choose elective courses based on their specific interests and career goals.

Apart from academics, the Obama Foundation Scholars Program also offers various opportunities for personal growth and development. Scholars participate in workshops focused on communication skills, team-building exercises, conflict resolution strategies, and project management techniques.

Furthermore, scholars are matched with a mentor from the Columbia University community who provides guidance and support throughout the program. They also have access to a wide network of alumni, guest speakers, and experts in various fields who visit Columbia University regularly to share their experiences and insights.

The program also includes field experiences, where scholars have the opportunity to work on real-world projects with partner organizations such as NGOs, government agencies, and social enterprises. These experiences allow scholars to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical setting while making a meaningful impact.

One of the highlights of the Obama Foundation Scholars Program is the annual trip to attend the Obama Foundation Summit. This global gathering brings together leaders from all over the world for discussions on pressing issues and opportunities for collaboration.

Upon completion of the program, scholars become part of the growing network of Obama Foundation Scholars alumni, who continue to receive support from the foundation through networking opportunities, professional development resources, and access to funding opportunities for their projects.

Benefits of Being a Scholar

1. Fully Funded Education

2. Access to World-Class Education

3. Diverse Learning Environment

4. Personalized Leadership Development

5. Mentorship and Networking

6. Career Opportunities

7. Impactful Community Service

Curriculum and Focus Areas at Columbia University

Columbia University is renowned for its rigorous and diverse academic curriculum, offering a wide range of programs and focus areas to cater to the diverse interests and career goals of its students. As a participant in the Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University, you will have access to this exceptional curriculum that combines theoretical knowledge with practical experience, preparing you for leadership roles in your respective fields.

1. Undergraduate Curriculum:

At the undergraduate level, Columbia University offers over 80 majors across three schools – Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies. These majors cover a broad spectrum of disciplines including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, business, and more. With an emphasis on critical thinking and interdisciplinary learning, students are encouraged to explore various subjects before declaring their major. This allows for a well-rounded education that prepares students for a rapidly changing job market.

2. Graduate Curriculum:

Columbia University’s graduate programs are highly ranked internationally and provide unparalleled opportunities for advanced study and research. The university offers over 100 graduate degrees through its thirteen schools including professional schools such as Law, Business, Journalism, Public Health as well as traditional academic disciplines such as Arts & Sciences. With cutting-edge research facilities and renowned faculty members who are leaders in their fields, graduate students at Columbia have access to top-notch resources for pursuing their intellectual passions.

3. Focus Areas:

In addition to the comprehensive curriculum offerings at both undergraduate and graduate levels, Columbia University also has several focus areas that allow students to delve deeper into specific topics and issues. These focus areas include:

  • Global Engagement
  • Social Justice
  • Sustainability
  • Entrepreneurship

Overall, the curriculum at Columbia University is designed to foster intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skills, global awareness, and practical experience – all essential qualities for emerging leaders. By immersing yourself in this dynamic learning environment during the Obama Foundation Scholars Program , you will have the opportunity to develop a strong academic foundation and expand your knowledge in your chosen field of study while also gaining valuable leadership skills.

Eligibility Requirements

1. Citizenship and Residency:

Applicants must be citizens of one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Laos, Libya, Myanmar/Burma, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan.

In addition to citizenship requirements, applicants must also have resided in one of these countries for at least three years prior to applying for the program. This requirement ensures that the program is open to individuals who have a deep understanding and connection to their respective communities and regions.

2. English Proficiency:

As all classes at Columbia University are taught in English and participants will be expected to actively engage in group discussions and assignments with their peers from different backgrounds, candidates must demonstrate a strong command of written and spoken English. TOEFL or IELTS scores are required unless your undergraduate degree was conducted entirely in English.

3. Academic Background:

Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent by August 2021 as well as excellent academic records. This could include transcripts or other official documents showing courses taken , grades received, and degrees earned.

4. Professional Experience:

Applicants must have at least two full years of professional experience by August 2021. The Obama Foundation Scholars Program defines “professional experience” as full-time work in a paid position or in a volunteer capacity that is relevant to your field of study and future career goals. Internships, part-time jobs, and student teaching do not count towards this requirement.

5. Commitment to Service and Leadership:

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program seeks individuals who have a demonstrated commitment to service and leadership within their community and beyond. This could include previous volunteer work, community organizing, activism, or any other form of service.

Application Process

All applicants must submit an online application through the Columbia University website. This includes personal information, academic background, professional experience, essays, and letters of recommendation.

  • CV
  • Applicants must submit official transcripts
  • Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores as proof of their English proficiency.
  • Personal Video Statement( not more then three minutes)
  • Short Essay

For more information about the application process and requirements, please visit the Columbia University website or contact the Obama Foundation Scholars Program directly at scholars@columbia.edu.

Application Deadline

The application deadline for the 2024-2025 program is December 15th, 2024.

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