Frequently Asked Questions

A list of common questions about the McConnell Scholars Program

How do I become a McConnell Scholar?

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

  • Apply by Dec. 15 of your high school senior year
  • We encourage you to shadow a current UofL student to learn about about the McConnell Scholars Program and other university programs and opportunities.

What is the application process like for McConnell Scholarships?

There are three basic stages to the McConnell Scholar selection process:

  • Application Review: Applications are vetted by a committee comprised of McConnell Center affiliated faculty and staff.
  • Campus Interviews with Semi-Finalists: The top 26-30 applicants are invited to interview for two days (Friday and Saturday) at UofL in late February/early March. Interviews are conducted by a panel of faculty, students and community leaders associated with the Center
  • Final Scholar Selection: Judges convene for a debriefing meeting where a list of top candidates is finalized. These finalists are offered scholarships, which they have until May 1 to accept.

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

McConnell Scholars receive four years of enhanced academic experience under the direction of Gary L. Gregg, PhD. 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.

If Scholars meet the basic academic and participation requirements of the Center, the scholarship is renewable for up to four years.

Learn more about the McConnell Scholars Program and how it is structured.

Hear from McConnell Center Alumni and see how the McConnell Scholars Program can influence you beyond graduation.

What can I study at UofL as a McConnell Scholar?

Scholars are encouraged to pursue academic studies of their choice. McConnell Scholars are required to at least minor in political science to stay eligible for the scholarship.

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

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is a 1964 graduate of the University of Louisville. In the 1990s, he approached the university in hopes of giving something back to the institution that had given him so much. Together Sen. McConnell and university leadership 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 Scholars Program was the product of these discussions, and the McConnell Center was formally established in 1991 to develop this program for Kentucky high school graduates.

Is there a political bias to the program?

Though Sen. McConnell is the leader of the Republican Party in the US Senate, the McConnell Center is not affiliated with any party and works hard to maintain its outstanding reputation for nonpartisan educational opportunities, featuring leaders from across the political spectrum. The Center never makes admissions decisions based upon the party affiliation of applicants.

What is Sen. McConnell's role in the Center?

In cooperation with university officials, 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. He also gives generously of his time as he meets informally with McConnell Scholars several times each year. The senator, however, plays no role in the governance of the Center or in the selection of students who receive McConnell scholarships.

If I attend UofL but am not a McConnell Scholar, can I take part in Center programs and events?

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.

Does the Center offer opportunities for graduate students?

The Center occasionally offers a graduate assistantship (tuition, healthcare and stipend) for University of Louisville graduate students. Most often, these students are pursuing a master’s degree in either political science or history. Contact to check availability.