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University of Chicago Scholars

The inaugural cohort of Obama Scholars graduated from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago with Master of Arts degrees focused on International Development and Policy.


Students in their final year of study in a Master’s program at one of three Schools at the University of Chicago: the Harris School of Public Policy; Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice; and Booth School of Business can participate in the Obama Foundation Scholars program at the University of Chicago. In addition to the programming offered through the Obama Foundation and conducted with their counterpart Scholars cohort, University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars will participate in a unique slate of activities based on the University of Chicago’s campus.  

With a particular focus on the neighborhoods near campus, this program will provide opportunities for students to experience and examine how community engaged partnerships on the South Side of Chicago can inform scalable solutions that can, in turn, help solve pervasive problems in communities around the world. Over the course of this one-year program, students will develop a distinctly interdisciplinary approach to advancing social change, and they will leave the University and program prepared to reinvest this experience and committed to working to address complex social challenges through impactful careers across sectors and the world.

In addition to students’ degree coursework, the University of Chicago will organize and lead a series of supplemental initiatives that bring Scholars across the schools together to engage with a curated selection of University researchers, civic leaders, and social sector practitioners to bring academic insights to bear in creating scalable solutions around the world.

Key components of the program at the University of Chicago include:

  • Community Impact Seminars

    Community Impact Seminars that draw from faculty across the University’s research and impact ecosystem, designed to help students better understand how engaged scholarship can bridge rigorous research with the practice of uplifting communities–from Chicago’s South Side to around the globe.

  • Quarterly Civic Treks

    Quarterly Civic Treks that bring Scholars off-campus to meet with and learn from civic leaders and community activists who are confronting pressing social issues that shape Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and are of critical concern to communities around the world. Through these treks, Scholars will develop sustained relationships with civic practitioners who are working on the South Side and access new opportunities to support local nonprofits.

  • Exclusive Opportunities

    Scholars will have an exclusive opportunity each quarter to meet with, question, and learn from the Institute of Politics Pritzker Fellows, a diverse cohort of elected officials, diplomats, policymakers, activists, nonprofit leaders, and journalists.

  • Paired Mentorship

    Paired mentorship with accomplished professionals from their University of Chicago schools’ alumni community to help them connect their coursework with the practical day-to-day challenges and opportunities that await them in their careers.

How to Apply

The application for the 2024-2025 Obama Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Chicago is now closed. Please follow along on social media to be notified when the 2025-2026 application becomes available in Fall 2024.


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University of Chicago Scholars 2023 - 2024

Former University of Chicago Scholars