Schwarzman Scholars

Per the Schwarzman Scholarship website: Schwarzman Scholars, inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, is a program designed to help future leaders meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond by preparing them to better understand China’s culture, economy, governance and evolving role in the world. Up to 200 Scholars chosen annually from around the world for this highly selective, fully-funded program will have an unrivaled opportunity to live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling and developing first-hand exposure to China, its people and a global group of promising leaders. Scholars will study for a one-year Masters degree in public policy; international studies; or economics and business at Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious institutes of higher education with a 100 year history of strengthening ties between China and the rest of the world and a record of producing leaders such as President Xi Jinping, former President Hu Jintao, and former Premier Zhu Rongji.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree or first degree from an accredited college or university or its equivalent.
  • Meet age requirement.
  • English language proficiency.
  • Applicants are expected to have demonstrated excellence in their academic studies, and the most competitive candidates will be among the top students in their graduating class. There are no course prerequisites for applicants to the program, although some individual classes at Tsinghua University may have prerequisites.  **Average recipient GPA: 3.8

Qualities That Make a Strong Applicant

Per the Schwarzman Scholarship website: A Schwarzman Scholar should demonstrate extraordinary leadership potential, the ability to anticipate trends, strong intellectual capacity and exemplary character.

  • Leadership: the ability to conceptualize, articulate and implement new approaches to existing conditions, with determination, energy and adaptability to drive change despite obstacles. A leader must have the ability to inspire others to help make change happen. Leadership can be demonstrated through many contexts and fields, political, social, business, the arts, and beyond.
  • Intellect: achievements demonstrated through outstanding performance in academic endeavors.
  • Character: personal values and integrity that inspire trust among others.

Specifically, strong applicants demonstrate the following:

  • Evidence of leadership as a process not just positional
  • A linkage to the Schwarzman vision
  • Problem solving and steps taken toward a solution/being a change agent
  • Academic agility (multiple academic programs)
  • High level thinking
  • Ability to anticipate and act on emerging trends and opportunities
  • A desire to understand other cultures, perspectives and positions
  • Potential to  benefit from and contribute to the Schwarzman Scholars program and network of Schwarzman Scholars alumni
  • A curiosity about China and an adventurous side

Additionally, compelling applicants can clearly answer the following:

  • What do you study now? How do your studies connect to a concentration offered by Schwarzman Scholars? How does this all connect to a clear career trajectory?
  • What is your version of leadership?  (Can range from the lead of a six-member research team to the President of a large organization)
  • Why China? Why is China important as a gateway for your career?
  • Why should you be exposed to a global network with a deep connection to China?
  • Why do you want to pursue a Masters degree in China?
  • What is Tsinghua University’s leadership in your chosen field?
  • How will understanding China help you meet your goals in the 21st century?
  • How do you plan to address a problem that is bigger than yourself? Why is China key to understanding this problem? How can you see yourself making a global impact?
  • If you already have extensive experience in China, how will being a Schwarzman Scholar fill a gap for you?

Letters of Recommendation

Currently Enrolled Undergraduates:

  • 2 letters from professors who have taught you in the classroom and can speak to your academic abilities
  • 1 letter addressing your leadership abilities (this can be from an employer, supervisor, mentor, faculty member, or other)
  • 1 institutional assessment letter (from fellowships office)

Graduate Students or Alumni:

  • At least 1 academic letter from a professor who can speak to your academic abilities
  • 1 letter of recommendation addressing your leadership abilities
  • For the last two letters, the applicant should choose from the following, focusing on letters that will best reflect their current profile as an applicant: a letter from an employer or mentor commenting on leadership abilities; a second academic letter from a professor; or an institutional letter from a fellowship office.

Chinese Nationals:

  • At least 1 academic letter from a professor who can speak to your academic abilities
  • 1 letter of recommendation addressing your leadership abilities
  • For the last letter, the applicant should choose from the following, focusing on letters that will best reflect their current profile as an applicant: a letter from an employer or mentor commenting on leadership abilities; a second academic letter from a professor; or an institutional letter from a fellowship office.

Institutional Assessment Letter

Currently enrolled undergraduates are required to secure an institutional assessment letter from AHF in order to apply for Schwarzman Scholars. USC graduate students, recent alumni and Chinese nationals are welcome to apply for endorsement to have an institutional assessment letter written on their behalf. To be considered, applicants must meet the campus deadline below.  Please note that meeting campus deadlines does not guarantee an interview or USC endorsement.

Endorsed applications will receive mentorship from AHF staff and USC faculty.

Campus Deadlines

April 3, 2017 at 5pm – Deadline to submit Schwarzman Scholars Endorsement Application *Select candidates will be invited to interview mid-April

April 21, 2017 – Campus endorsement interviews  *Select candidates will receive nomination to move forward in the application process

Application Systems and Competition Timelines

China Application System

Applicants who hold passports from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao apply online from March to June 2017. Finalists will be notified before July, and will attend interviews to be held at Tsinghua University in Beijing, in July. Final admissions decisions for Chinese Schwarzman Scholars will be announced before October 1, 2017. The application for Chinese candidates can be accessed on the Tsinghua University Schwarzman Scholars webpage.

United States/Global Application System

Applicants holding a passport from any other country, will apply between April 2017 and September 2017. Finalists will be notified in mid-October if they are to be invited to interviews. Interviews will take place in three locations around the world, with candidates being invited to the geographically closest location.

Applicant Resources

USC Dornsife student and alumnus named 2018 Schwarzman Scholars

Visit STU 300 M-F 9am-5pm to review successful Schwarzman Scholar essays written by USC students.  No appointment needed.

Join the Schwarzman Scholars Mailing List to receive occasional updates with news about the Schwarzman Scholars application process.

Watch Schwarzman Scholar Videos

Read the bios of selected Schwarzman Scholars

Schwarzman Scholars FAQs

Campus Contact

Katie Capra, kcalvert@usc.edu