Obama Foundation Scholars Program 2021-2022 (Fully Funded)

Obama Foundation Scholars Program 2021-2022 (Fully Funded)

The application for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program 2021-2022 is now ongoing. Interested applicants are hereby invited to apply for the Obama Foundation Scholarship Program at Columbia University.

The application form along with a list of eligibility requirements and detailed application instructions are provided below.

What You Need to Know About the Obama Foundation Scholars Program 2021-2022


The Obama Foundation Scholarship Program at Columbia University brings together emerging leaders from around the world who have demonstrated their commitment to finding solutions to the problems of their communities, countries and regions.

During an academic year, the Obama Foundation Fellows will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and skills and create new capacities and networks that will accelerate their impact in their home country.

Who Can Apply for Obama Foundation Scholars Program 2021-2022?


The information contained below explains the sets of individuals who are qualified to apply for the Obama scholars program for 2021-2022 academic session at Columbia University.

Level/Field of Study

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from around the world who meet the criteria stated below.

Host Nationality

The Obama Foundation Scholarship will be organised and hosted at Columbia University, New York.

Please Note;

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program was entirely virtual for the 2020-2021 academic year and Scholars participated in the program remotely from their home countries. The Obama Foundation and Columbia University continue to monitor the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to hold the program on-site in New York City for the 2021-2022 academic year if it is safe to do so. However, there is a possibility the program will be conducted remotely and Scholars will not reside in New York City. 

It might interest you to know about our other scholarship opportunities.

Eligible Nationality

The Obama Columbia University Scholars Program is opened to international sudents. Check below for more eligible criteria for this scholars program.

Scholars Benefit

  1. Monthly stipend to assist with living expenses in New York City
  2. furnished studio apartment within walking distance of Columbia University
  3. All tuition and fees for up to four courses at Columbia University
  4. Basic medical, dental and life insurance for the duration of the program
  5. Air travel to and from home country and any program-related activities
  6. Leadership development programming led by the Obama Foundation that will help scholars gain the real-world skills, tools and experiences to expand the impact of their work when they return home 

Obama Scholars Eligibility Requirements

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from around the world who meet the following criteria:

  • Are emerging leaders who have made meaningful contributions to their field and are now at a “breakthrough moment” in their careers
  • Have a proven commitment to service and leadership within a community, region or country, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to return to these communities following their completion of the program and apply their enhanced training, skills, and connections on a long-term basis for the benefit of these communities
  • Are fluent in English (verbal, written and spoken)
  • Have the ability and inclination to positively shape the future of their community
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to humility, integrity, inclusivity, stewardship, fearlessness, imagination and teamwork

We are pleased to share that, for the first time, we are extending the application for the 2021-2022 cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia University to U.S. citizens and residents who are making significant contributions to communities, countries, or regions within the United States in addition to seeking leaders from around the world.

How to Apply for Obama Foundation Scholarship Program 2021-2022

Complete the online application form for the 2021-2022 Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University by February 5, 2021 at 5:00PM ET. Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Resume/curriculum vitae

The resume/curriculum vitae should be a chronological listing of your employment and academic history, and other significant activities, including any awards, publications, or other achievements․

Personal video statement

The personal video statement should be a short video (no longer than three minutes in length) introducing the applicant and their work to the selection committee. Applicants will upload their video statement to a video hosting service, like YouTube or Vimeo, and will include a link to their video in the online application. Additional information on the requirements for the personal video statement can be found in the online application.

Responses to short essay questions

The short essay questions help the selection committee understand the applicant’s work, their motivation and how the program fits into their career trajectory. Applicants will submit their essay questions in the online application.

Proof of English proficiency

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language by submitting scores from one of four exams: The internet-based or paper-based exams of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic); or the Duolingo English Test (DET). No other exams will be accepted.

This requirement is waived for applicants who:

  • have completed an undergraduate degree – not a master’s or graduate degree – in a country where English is an official language;


  • have previously taken the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE exams in the last five years and scored at or above the minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL-IBT), 600 (TOEFL-PBT), 7.0 (IELTS), or 68 (PTE Academic). If applicants qualify for a waiver under this exception, they must upload a scanned copy of their score report to the online application to ensure their application is eligible for review. If they did not score at or above the required minimum or no longer have a copy of their old results, they must retake an English proficiency exam.

Minimum Scores

  • TOEFL – Internet-Based Exam: 100
  • TOEFL – Paper-Based Exam: 600
  • International English Language Testing System Academic: 7
  • Pearson Test of English Academic: 68
  • Duolingo English Test: 120 (75 on the exam taken prior to July 2019)

Please note that while applicants who received scores below the posted minimums may still apply, applications are not guaranteed to be reviewed.

Two letters of recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required from individuals who are familiar with the applicant and the applicant’s work in an academic, professional or community service setting. Recommendations should directly address the applicant’s suitability for admission to the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. Recommendations should not be written by family members or friends.

Use the link below to complete your application

Obama Scholars Application Deadline

The deadline to apply is  February 5, 2021 at 5:00PM ET

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