March 9, 2018
March 9, 2018


The Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago announced the Obama Foundation Scholars Program, a new program at the Harris School of Public Policy to support the next generation of leaders making an impact on issues in their communities and around the world.

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program is a new program from the Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy for rising leaders from around the world who are focused on an issue of global importance, have a track record and commitment to advancing the public good, and want to accelerate their impact. The Obama Foundation Scholars Program seeks a diverse cohort for our first class who represent a cross-section of backgrounds including those working in government, the private sector, and NGOs and civil society organizations.

The Master of Arts in International Development and Policy (MA-IDP) is a one-year degree program that provides an introduction to policy design and analysis with particular emphasis on international development and policy. It applies evidence-based analytical approaches, cutting-edge tools, and practical policy innovation to address the world’s most pressing problems.

As an entering Obama Foundation Scholar, you will have demonstrated a commitment to making a difference in your community and now want to accelerate your impact in the world. The Harris MA-IDP curriculum has been tailored with your experiences and goals in mind as rising international leaders. You’ll have the opportunity to study topics based on your background and interests, including international development, global conflict studies and resolution, energy and the environment, health, human rights, and more – all from Harris’ and UChicago’s leading faculty.


Obama Foundation Scholars at the University of Chicago 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 Obama Foundation will offer a robust program of leadership development and service activities throughout the academic year to help Scholars gain the real-world skills, tools, and experiences to expand the impact of their work when they return home.

These may include leadership development convening’s; program experiences in New York and Washington, DC; speaker series with innovators across a variety of sectors; individual and group service projects; mentorship through the Obama Foundation network; potential internship placements; and action plan development for post-program activities.

Some of these Foundation activities will include experiences throughout Chicago and the South Side. By engaging with the local community, students will have the opportunity to complement what they learn in the classroom and also to bring their unique perspectives to Chicago.

Receive a one-of-a-kind scholarship that includes full tuition, living expenses, books, and access to exceptional programming outside the classroom in partnership with the Obama Foundation. You’ll also be part of a network of rising leaders.

It’s an experience that is sure to change you—and will help you change the world.


University is seeking emerging leaders from around the world who meet the following criteria:

Significant work experience (typically 3-5 years or more) and professional accomplishments with a clear trajectory of increasing impact.

Demonstrated a record of community service or working for the public good, either through a full-time professional role or significant engagement outside of primary employment.

Possess a clear focus on a global challenge or policy issue.

A clear commitment to return to and reinvest your new skills in your community after the program concludes.

English Language Requirements: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores are required for international students. The Harris institution code is 1849 or 1832. Both codes will be accepted. You can make your reservations to take the TOEFL with ETS directly. You will also have the option of submitting other scores (e.g., IELTS, GRE, etc.), but the GRE is not required.

The GRE is NOT required.

Successful completion of 9 graduate-level courses (900 units of credit).

A cumulative grade point average of 2.7 for all courses used toward the degree, based on a 4.0 scale.

No more than 2 courses taken pass/fail.

Courses with grades of F, I, W, or with no reported grade do not apply toward the 9-course requirement for the program.

If that sounds like you, then you have the opportunity to participate in the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. You’ll earn a Master of Arts in International Development and Policy (MA-IDP) at Harris Public Policy and receive a full scholarship that includes access to exceptional programming outside of the classroom.

Eligible Regions: Open for All.


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