American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship

The American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship is a prestigious award for outstanding students who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and a commitment to positive social change. This scholarship aims to support and develop future leaders who will make a difference in the world.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about the American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship, including eligibility requirements, selection criteria, application timeline, and tips for crafting a strong application.

Overview of the Emerging Global Leader Scholarship

The Emerging Global Leader Scholarship is a selective and highly competitive scholarship offered by American University in Washington D.C. This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and fees for four years of undergraduate study.

The award is valued at over $200,000, making it one of most generous university-funded scholarships in the U.S. Each year, American University awards the scholarship to 20 incoming first-year students who have outstanding academic achievements, exemplary leadership experience, and a commitment to enacting positive change in the local, national or global community.

The goal of the scholarship is to empower promising young leaders to reach their full potential and make a meaningful impact in the world. As an Emerging Global Leader scholar, students have access to special mentoring, workshops, networking events, and funding opportunities to pursue experiential learning, research projects, and study abroad.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Emerging Global Leader Scholarship, applicants must:

  • Be an incoming first-year student enrolled full-time in a bachelor’s degree program at American University
  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident or undocumented student pursuing DACA status
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Have a minimum high school GPA of 3.7
  • Have a record of leadership experience and community involvement

The scholarship committee also looks for applicants who:

  • Exhibit exceptional character, ambition, and resilience
  • Are open-minded, ethical, and caring toward others
  • Can articulate a vision for positive social change and are civically engaged
  • Bring diverse perspectives and experiences to campus

The scholarship is competitive, so having excellent test scores, grades, essays, and letters of recommendation is important for a strong application.

Selection Criteria

American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship

The Emerging Global Leader Scholarship selection committee looks for well-rounded students who have excelled academically while demonstrating purposeful leadership experience, global awareness, and social responsibility. Here are the key criteria they evaluate:

Leadership Experience

Scholars are expected to have a proven track record of leadership in school, community, or family responsibilities. Leadership roles can include things like:

  • Student government positions
  • Captain of an athletic team
  • Founder of a community organization
  • Coordinator of a volunteer program
  • Editor of a publication
  • Work experience showing initiative and leadership

The committee looks for depth of involvement and commitment over several years rather than briefly holding titles. They also assess your specific contributions and impact in leadership roles.

Commitment to Social Change

Applicants must showcase a strong commitment to enacting positive social change at the local, national or global level. This can be demonstrated through sustained community service, advocacy projects, or mentoring others.

Examples include volunteer work to:

  • Improve educational access and equity
  • Combat poverty, hunger and homelessness
  • Promote human rights, social justice and democracy
  • Protect the environment and sustainability

The committee looks for passionate civic engagement focused on addressing societal problems versus episodic community service.

Academic Excellence

To qualify, applicants must have an outstanding academic record with a high school GPA of 3.7 or above. Competitive applicants will take a rigorous curriculum and have stellar standardized test scores (SAT 1450+ or ACT 32+).

The committee looks for intellectual curiosity, academic potential and excellence across disciplines including math, science, social studies, languages and the humanities.

Global Awareness

Competitive applicants demonstrate global competency, awareness of international affairs and cultural empathy. This can be shown through foreign language proficiency, studying or volunteering abroad, coursework in global studies, or interactions with multi-cultural communities.

Communication Skills

Strong writing skills, articulateness and ability to present ideas are hallmarks of a leader. The scholarship application essays, interviews and recommendations allow the committee to assess communication excellence.

Self-awareness, emotional intelligence and listening skills also demonstrate maturity as a leader.

How to Apply

Students interested in the Emerging Global Leader Scholarship must complete the following steps:

1. Apply for admission to American University

  • Submit the Common Application or Coalition Application along with all required materials by the November 15 early action deadline or January 15 regular decision deadline.

2. Complete the Emerging Global Leader Scholarship application

  • Applications open in early September each year and are due by December 1.
  • The online application involves submitting essays, short answers, resume, transcripts and letters of recommendation.

3. Interview

  • Based on the application, select semi-finalists are invited for an in-person or Skype interview in January.

4. Notification

  • Final scholarship recipients are notified in March prior to incoming student admission notifications.

Be sure to start your application early! It requires in-depth essay responses, compiling supporting documents and obtaining recommendations. Allow 2-3 months to put together a competitive application.

Tips for Applying

Here are some top tips for applying for the Emerging Global Leader Scholarship:

  • Start early – Give yourself plenty of time to thoughtfully prepare each component of the application. Rushing will jeopardize quality.
  • Read carefully – Follow all instructions and fully answer each question. Stick closely to word counts. Failure to follow directions will cost you.
  • Be specific – Avoid platitudes and provide concrete examples demonstrating your qualifications and leadership impact. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible.
  • Convey passion – Let your authentic personality and passion for leadership and change shine through. Back up claims about your commitment with examples.
  • Know your recommender – Choose someone who knows you well enough to provide detailed and compelling anecdotes about your leadership, character and talents. Provide them direction.
  • Nail the interview – If you get an interview, prepare by researching the university’s mission and practicing answers to common leadership questions. Highlight the concrete ways you can contribute on campus. Dress professionally and show genuine enthusiasm.
  • Proofread – Closely edit your application essays for typos, grammar issues and unclear language. Ask others to review your writing.
  • Be truthful – Do not exaggerate accomplishments or interests. Authenticity and integrity are vital leadership traits.

Following these tips can help you submit an application that will catch the attention of the scholarship committee. With early preparation, attention to detail, and a passion for leadership, you can present your strongest case for selection.


The American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship recognizes students who excel both inside and outside the classroom while demonstrating promising leadership talent. Earning this prestigious scholarship provides the mentoring, resources and experiences to help you achieve your full potential and make a difference as a leader.

By applying early, thoughtfully highlighting your achievements, and following these tips and strategies, you can put your best foot forward in applying for this selective scholarship. With a compelling application emphasizing your scholarly passions, service commitment and leadership impact, you have a strong chance at becoming American University’s next Emerging Global Leader scholar.

Top Questions About Emerging Global Leader Scholarship

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship:

Do I need to be nominated to apply?

No, the scholarship is open to all first-year applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. You do not need an official nomination, just strong letters of recommendation.

Is the scholarship renewable all four years?

Yes, the scholarship is renewable annually for up to four years of undergraduate study if you maintain a 3.0 GPA and meet the scholarship requirements for leadership involvement and campus citizenship.

Can I apply Early Decision and for the scholarship?

Yes, we recommend applying Early Decision if American University is your top choice. You can submit the main application by the Early Decision deadline of November 15 and then complete the scholarship application by the December 1 scholarship deadline.

Does American University offer interviews for admission?

No, an admission interview is not required or offered. Interviews are only conducted for select scholarship finalists. Do not be concerned if you are not interviewed yet still admitted to the university without a scholarship.

Do I have to commit to a major when applying?

No, you do not need to declare a major during the application process. One of the benefits of the scholarship is that it provides the flexibility to explore different academic interests before declaring a major.

If I’m an international student, do I apply as first-year or transfer?

If you are an international student and will be coming to American University straight from secondary school, you would apply as a first-year student, even if transferring credits. Only students who completed university-level study after secondary school apply as transfer international students.

How many scholarships are awarded annually?

Typically around 15-20 Emerging Global Leader Scholarships are awarded each year out of over 400+ applications. The committee sizes the cohort based on the competitiveness of the applicant pool.

What are my odds of getting the scholarship?

With around 20 scholarships awarded from 400+ applicants, the acceptance rate is quite selective at under 5%. But your individual odds depend on the strength of your credentials compared to the applicant pool. Crafting an outstanding and well-rounded application greatly improves your chances over randomly applying.

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