Frequently Asked Questions

A list of common questions about the McConnell Scholars Program. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us directly.

1. Why is there a McConnell Center at the University of Louisville?
2. How do I become a McConnell Scholar?
3. What is the application process like for McConnell Scholarships?
4. What can I expect if I am offered a McConnell Scholarship?
5. Do I have to major in Political Science?
6. Is there a political bias to the programs?
7. Do I have to be interested in politics to be in the program?
8. What is Senator McConnell's role in the Center?
9. If I am not a McConnell Scholar, but attend the University of Louisville, can I take part in Center programs and events?
10. Does the Center offer any opportunities for graduate students?

1. Why is there a McConnell Center at the University of Louisville?

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U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell is a 1964 graduate of the University of Louisville. In the early 1990’s, Sen. McConnell came to the university in hopes of giving something back to the institution that had given him so much. Together Sen. McConnell and the university came up with the idea of creating a scholarship program for young leaders that would give them the kind of opportunities usually found only at the most elite private schools. The McConnell Center for Political Leadership was the product of these discussions and was formally launched in 1991. Now simply the McConnell Center, our programming has expanded to include civics education for high school and middle school teachers in the Commonwealth, community service events and public lectures.

Letter from U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell >>

Letter from Dr. Gary Gregg, Director of the McConnell Center >>

2. How do I become a McConnell Scholar?

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Applications are open to any high school senior in Kentucky. Students must apply for admission to the University of Louisville and then apply specifically to the McConnell Scholars Program. The application process is rigorous and demands an outstanding academic record, a strong ACT score and demonstrated leadership ability. Students should have inquisitive minds, be interested in politics and government and be dedicated to a life-long process of learning. How to Apply.

3. What is the application process like for McConnell Scholarships?

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There are three basic stages to the process we use to choose new McConnell Scholars. First, the paper applications are vetted by faculty and staff associated with the McConnell Center. The top 26-30 applicants are then invited to personal interviews at the University of Louisville. All interviews occur on the first weekend in March and are conducted by a panel of faculty, students and community leaders associated with the Center. Third, all judges then convene for a debriefing meeting where a list of top candidates is finalized. These applicants are offered scholarships, which they have until May 1 to accept.

4. What can I expect if I am offered a McConnell Scholarship?

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McConnell Scholars are guaranteed full tuition scholarships to the University of Louisville. If Scholars meet the basic academic and participation requirements of the Center, the scholarship is renewable for up to four years. Students get to meet national leaders and take part in evening and weekend colloquia on interesting books and topics not usually discussed in the classroom. Students also take part in at least three trips during their four years at the University of Louisville, including trips to Washington, D.C., and the People’s Republic of China. The Center also helps McConnell Scholars fund travel and educational opportunities that have taken them around the world - to the Philippines, Greece, India, Spain, England, Mexico and Belize, among others.

5. Do I have to major in Political Science?

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McConnell Scholars are required to at least minor in political science to stay eligible for the scholarship; a major in the discipline is not required.
McConnell Scholars have completed degree programs in engineering, music, business and pre-medicine, as well as arts and sciences.

6. Is there a political bias to the programs?

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Though Sen. McConnell is the leader of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate, the McConnell Center is not affiliated with any party and works hard to maintain its outstanding reputation for non-partisan educational opportunities. The Center never makes admissions decisions based upon the party affiliation of applicants and every year sports a diverse educational program featuring leaders from across the political spectrum.

7. Do I have to be interested in politics to be in the program?

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While a strong interest in politics and government is not a formal requirement of the program, most McConnell Center programs do involve discussions of current events and public affairs and would not be interesting to those who lack a strong engagement with political ideas. The Center offers a diversity of programs from leadership to literature, and many of our programs relate to politics and government in some form.

8. What is Senator McConnell's role in the Center?

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n cooperation with the university, Sen. McConnell established the McConnell Center in 1991 and has generously raised a multi-million dollar endowment to support its programs and scholarships. Sen. McConnell continues to be engaged with the Center by helping us attract the most outstanding leaders in the nation — and world — to speak to the University community and the McConnell Scholars.
Sen. McConnell also gives generously of his time as he meets informally with McConnell Scholars several times each semester. The senator, however, plays no role in the governance of the Center or in the selection of students who receive McConnell Scholarships.

9. If I am not a McConnell Scholar, but attend the University of Louisville, can I take part in Center programs and events?

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Absolutely. Many McConnell Center programs are free and open to the public. We encourage students and faculty at the university to attend as many of the Center’s programs as possible each semester. The diversity and distinction of the McConnell Center’s educational programs help make the University of Louisville an outstanding place to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and related fields.

10. Does the Center offer any opportunities for graduate students?

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The Center occasionally offers a graduate assistantship (tuition, healthcare and stipend) to at least one graduate student at the University of Louisville. Most often, these students are pursuing a master’s degree in either political science or history. Interested students can inquire by e-mailing mcconnell@louisville.edu .