The 2020 – 2021 Obama foundation scholarship program is now open for application until December 13, 2019. The Obama foundation offers a master of arts degree focused on International development and policy. The aim of the scholarship is to support dynamic, collaborative, rising leaders from all over the world with an innovative one-year of academic and leadership experience. The scholarship program empowers you with a proven commitment to service with the tools you need to make your efforts more effective, to identify innovative solutions to complex global problems, and promote change through values-based leadership.

Which U.S. Universities participate in the Scholarship program?

Columbia University

You will participate in Columbia World Projects, a new initiative in which faculty and researchers from Columbia will partner with governments, nonprofits, the private sector, and intergovernmental organizations to create tangible solutions to real-world issues.

University of Chicago (New Class)

You will earn a Master of Arts degree focused on International Development and Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. In addition to classroom studies, the scholarship offers you a robust program of leadership development and service activities throughout the academic year to help you gain real-world skills, tools, and experiences to expand the impact of your work in your community.

What benefits can you get from the Scholarship Program?

  • To help you with living expenses in New York City, you will be provided with monthly financial assistance.
  • Tuition and fees for up to four courses at Columbia University.
  • Air travel to and from home country and any program-related activities.
  • Basic medical and life insurance for the whole duration of the program.
  • Studio apartment within walking distance from Columbia University.

Who is eligible to apply for the Scholarship program?

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

Proficiency in English language 

You must be fluent in English; verbal, written and spoken English.

Meaningful contribution to your field

You must be an emerging leader who has made a meaningful contribution to your field and are now at a tipping point in your career.

Proven commitment to serve and be a leader in your community

You must be committed to service and leadership in your community; which needs to be a region or country outside of the U.S. And you need to show that you are committed to returning to your community after completing the scholarship program and apply what you have acquired through the program for the benefit of these communities in a long-term basis.

Do you believe you have all the qualities and commitment to be eligible for the Obama Foundation scholarships program? That’s great! The next step is completing an application that is completely done online through the program’s online platform.

Materials required for a successful application?

The complete application is submitted entirely online, includes the following materials:

Online Application Form

You need to complete the online application Form before the Deadline: December 13, 2019

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

You need to showcase your employment and academic history, and other significant activities, including any awards, publications, or other achievements through a chronological listing.

Short Personal Video Statement

It should be a short, no longer than 5 minutes video that can introduce you & your work to the selection committee. You will need to upload your video to Youtube and then include the link to this video on your online application.

Answers to Short Essay questions 

These questions are included in the online application, they are intended to help the selection committee better understand your work, motivation and how the program can fit into your career.

Proof of English Proficiency 

Applicants whose native language is not English will need to demonstrate proficiency in the English language by submitting scores from one of three exams: TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic. However, this requirement can be waived or omitted for applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree – not a master’s or graduate degree – in a country where English is an official language or 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).

Minimum scores required are; 100 for TOEFL – Internet-Based Exam, 600 for TOEFL – Paper-Based Exam, 7 for International English Language Testing System and 68 for Pearson Test of English Academic.

Letters of recommendations 

You will need to submit three letters of recommendation from individuals who knew you and your work in an academic, professional or community service setting. These recommendations shouldn’t be written by family members or friends and should directly address the applicant’s suitability for admission to the Obama Foundation Scholars Program.

The deadline for application is December 13, 2019 and it’s best that you start your application early on so that you can manage to acquire the materials required for the application. You can also find scholarship application and essay tips on’s recent scholarship article, I had a chance to participate in a Scholarship application tip discussion that was conducted on a Telegram group called Mandela Washington Fellowship 2020 application Tips Ethiopia, which was administered by helpful Ethiopians who were Mandela Washington Fellowship winners. I would like to thank them very much for their help and here is the summary of the discussion,  it will definitely help you create a good essay and make a successful scholarship application. Essay writing and Scholarship Application Tips for Mandela Washington Fellowship