McConnell Scholars Program

The McConnell Scholars Program is a prestigious leadership and scholarship program at the University of Louisville open to graduating Kentucky high school seniors. Ten students (one cohort) are added each year with a total of 40 McConnell Scholars (four cohorts) in the program at one time.

Meet the Scholars

Scholars continually earn top positions in UofL campus organizations and excel in a variety of academic programs. Scholars major in a wide variety of fields including the arts, engineering, music, pre-medicine, pre-law and political science, among others. As part of their participation in the program, Scholars must at least minor in political science at UofL.

Current McConnell Scholars | In their own words: Scholars share about their undergraduate experiences and research.

How to Apply

Students selected for the program are chosen based on their strong record of commitment to leadership, scholarship and service. Applications, due December 15, are open to graduating Kentucky high school seniors and require an essay on leadership, resume and two letters of recommendation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits & Program Structure

McConnell Scholars receive four years of enhanced academic experience under the direction of Gary L. Gregg, PhD. Programming focuses on the foundations of leadership and political and social thought in America.

Additional benefits include financial awards; mentored studies of leadership, citizenship and the liberal arts; international and domestic travel; opportunities to meet and engage with prominent national, state and local leaders; and access to the center’s alumni leadership network.

Financial Awards

McConnell Scholars receive a four-year renewable scholarship to attend the University of Louisville. Exact scholarship amounts vary based on a student's overall university scholarship package, but Scholars are guaranteed full in-state tuition to attend UofL.

As funds permit, Scholars also have the opportunity to apply for internship and professional development grants from the center.

Mentored Studies of Leadership, Citizenship & the Liberal Arts

In addition to financial awards, McConnell Scholars are given numerous enrichment opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. While specific programmatic expectations vary by year, general opportunities include:

Series of Seminars, Lectures & "Great Books" Discussions Each Semester

Scholars take part in Socratic-style seminars on a wide variety of topics related to leadership and American social and political thought. Recent examples include discussions on dystopian literature, the women's suffrage movement, "America's British Tradition" and the Federalist and Anti-Federalist debates at the American founding. Sessions are led by UofL faculty and nationally-recognized experts, authors and professors and supplement the classroom curricula Scholars receive through their individual studies at UofL.

Domestic & International Travel

Scholars take part in domestic and international travel packages designed by the Center. The Washington, DC, trip includes meeting with politicians, policy analysts and experts, with visits to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol and Mt. Vernon. An extended summer study to China, led by UofL Political Science Professor Shiping Hua, PhD, allows immersion study of Chinese government at a Chinese university and travel to Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai.

Additional signature travel opportunities include leadership retreats to destinations in Kentucky. Funding for individualized study and internships may also be available. 

Meet & Engage with Prominent National, State & Local Leaders

Since 1993, the McConnell Center has welcomed a wide variety of political leaders and public servants to the University of Louisville. Scholars have the opportunity to meet privately with such leaders, asking hard-hitting policy questions and receiving internship and career advice.

Access to Our Leadership Network 

The center is affiliated with similar civic organizations and university programs across the country, allowing McConnell Scholars opportunities to participate in leadership conferences. Affiliations include Harvard University's Institute of Politics' National Campaign and West Point's Student Conference on US Affairs, among others. Scholars also have access to our 250+ McConnell Scholar alumni network with a world-wide base of mentors in a variety of fields.

Nationally Ranked Moot Court Team

Coached by McConnell Scholar alumnus Sean Williamson ('11), our undergraduate moot court program has been ranked in the top-20 programs nationally. McConnell Scholar Arsh Haque ('15) was named the top orator in the nation.