University Scholars Program

Every year, twenty outstanding second-year students from a variety of disciplines are selected to become the new generation of University Scholars.

Each University Scholar:

  • receives a one-time scholarship ($1500)
  • is connected with a faculty mentor,
  • and enrolls in an interdisciplinary seminar taught by a faculty member noted for a distinguished teaching record.

Details on the Spring 2018 University Scholars Seminar:

"Herman Melville’s America: Studying Inequality, Literature, and History​"

Arguably the greatest U.S. writer of the nineteenth century, Herman Melville was consumed by making sense of, or at times just making fun of, the deep inequalities surrounding him in the post-Revolutionary United States. Masters and slaves, men and women, the overdeveloped world and the Global South, sailors and captains, settlers and indigenous people, workers and their bosses, humans and animals, as well as the rural poor and their supposed betters all engaged Melville’s searching attention and deep sympathies. That Melville sustained these interests so long and so deeply without much participating in political movements critiquing social relations in the U.S. raises profound questions about literature and politics.  In this discussion-based seminar students will read mostly short stories from Melville as well as the classic novella of slave revolt Benito Cereno and chapters from Typee, The Confidence Man, and Moby Dick. Interspersed will be short texts by social theorists from Melville’s time—for example Marx and Hegel—who were trying to understand inequality. The class will also read and discuss articles from modern historians, who often use Melville texts to examine inequality. Taught by Foundation professor and chair of the American Studies Department David Roediger, the class aims to teach writing and critical thinking skills as well as ability to analyze sources in a seminar situation and to trust in others’ intelligence while working through difficult questions. 

The course will be offered Tuesdays, 2:30-5:00 pm. 

How to Apply

1) Fill out the application.

2) Ask two people to fill out the recommendation form.

Applications for the 2018 cohort are due September 21. Interviews are planned for October 22.

Students in their second year at KU with a strong academic record (about 3.75 gpa) are invited to apply at the beginning of the fall semester. University Scholars are selected on the basis of academic credentials; commitment to their education; intellectual promise; involvement outside of the classroom; and evaluations by instructors, advisers, and other faculty members.

University Scholars Application
University Scholars Recommendation Form
Application FAQs

Still have questions? Contact program director Erin Spiridigliozzi at

Note: The Global Scholars Program, housed in the Office of International Programs is a sibling program to the University Scholars Program; students may apply for only one of the two programs.

History of the University Scholars Program

The University Scholars program was founded in the Spring of 1982 by Judge Deanell Tacha then Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor Francis Heller. The program now counts over 600 alumni, including 5 Rhodes Scholars, 3 Marshall Scholars, 28 Goldwater Scholars, 13 Truman Scholars, and leaders in a variety of fields.

2017-2018 University Scholars
2016-2017 University Scholars
2015-2016 University Scholars
2014-2015 University Scholars
2013-2014 University Scholars
2012-2013 University Scholars
2011-2012 University Scholars
2010-2011 University Scholars
2009-2010 University Scholars
2008-2009 University Scholars
2007-2008 University Scholars
2006-2007 University Scholars

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