Beinecke Scholarship

Website: Beinecke Scholarship Program


The Beinecke Scholarship program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Since 1975 the program has selected 719 college juniors from 120 different undergraduate institutions for support during graduate study at any accredited university.

Each scholar receives $5,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school. There are no geographic restrictions on the use of the scholarship, and recipients are allowed to supplement the award with other scholarships, assistantships and research grants. Scholars are encouraged to begin graduated study as soon as possible following graduation from college, and must utilize all of the funding within five years of completion of undergraduate studies.


To be eligible for a Beinecke Scholarship, a student must:

  • Demonstrate superior standards of intellectual ability, scholastic achievement and personal promise during their undergraduate career.
  • Be a college junior pursuing a bachelor's degree. "Junior" means a student who plans to continue full-time undergraduate study and who expects to receive a baccalaureate degree between December and August the following academic year.
  • Plan to enter a research-focused or creative-focused master's or doctoral program in the arts, humanities or social sciences.
    • Students in the social sciences who plan to pursue graduate study in neuroscience should not apply for a Beinecke Scholarship.
    • Also, students who plan to pursue professional school programs that emphasize skills and practical analysis over theory and research (such as law, business, education, architecture, journalism, clinical psychology, social work, etc.), are not competitive for selection.
  • Be a United States citizen, or a United States national from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Have a documented history of receiving need-based financial aid during their undergraduate years, with a preference for Pell Grant recipients. Other evidence of meeting this criterion is a student’s history of receiving need-based institutional, state, or federal grants-in-aid. The nominated student will be required to complete and submit a Financial Aid Data Sheet outlining how the student meets this criterion. During the selection process, the amount of financial need will be one of the factors considered with preference given to candidates for whom the awarding of a Beinecke Scholarship would significantly increase the likelihood of the student’s being able to attend graduate school.


Student Type
  • junior
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen

UW Application & Nomination Process

Students must be nominated by the UW to compete for the Beinecke Scholarship. Candidates may not apply directly to the program. The UW is permitted to nominate one student per year.

Students interested in applying for the UW nomination for the Beinecke Scholarship should complete the UW application online. The UW application will open on October 6, 2023.

The application requires:

  • Completion of the UW online application
  • A personal statement of 1,000 words or less describing your research or creative interests for graduate study and career aspirations beyond these studies. It should also include a discussion of the most relevant academic, professional, extracurricular, and personal experiences that have influenced or shaped your interests and plans. Please be as specific as you can, and do some research on your options for graduate study to inform your writing. In considering career aspirations, it may be helpful to think about what your education will help you to accomplish for yourself, for society, and/or for the furtherance of your field.
  • A curriculum vitae (CV). While your CV should be brief and concise, please also be sure to include brief descriptions of those research, work, volunteer, internship, extra-curricular and other experiences and skills you include on your CV, so the readers can get a sense of their importance to you. There is no page limit on this document.
  • Three recommendation letters. These letters should focus primarily on your academic strength, intellectual curiosity and potential for advanced graduate study. In particular, letters should address:
    • How does the candidate’s academic ability compare to their peers?
    • Why is the candidate’s focus of research unique or important?
    • How is the candidate particularly well-suited to pursue this research (academic strength, research experience, other factors)?
    • Why are the graduate schools identified by the candidate a good fit for the candidate and their research interests?
  • Unofficial UW transcripts will automatically be included in your application through the online application system. Applicants also have the option to include unofficial transcripts from other colleges/universities attended. (Please note that official transcripts will be required for the nominee's national application.)
  • Creative and performing artists only: applicants who wish to pursue an MFA degree should include up to five examples of their work

All materials (except recommendation letters) will be submitted via the online application form.

Submitting recommendation letters:

Please provide your recommenders with the information above regarding the focus for their letters.

Letters of recommendation should be sent by recommenders to Robin Chang at as pdf attachments for the campus review and nominee selection process. Though letters should be submitted to Robin, they should please be addressed to the Beinecke Scholarship Program. Letters of recommendation are due by the campus application deadline. 


Campus Selection Process & Selection Criteria:

After the campus deadline, a UW selection panel will review all completed applications and select one student to nominate to compete in the national competition. The UW selection committee will use the same selection criteria the Beinecke Scholarship national selectors use in awarding Beinecke Scholarships. The Beinecke Scholarship selection criteria are:

  • Evidence of academic success and relevant academic background: Does the transcript show evidence of high academic achievement? Does the coursework prepare the candidate for the planned field of study? Is there other evidence of high-level performance (e.g., merit scholarships, academic prizes, artistic creations, research publications)?
  • Clarity of research/creative focus: Are the research questions/creative impact and career path well-defined, coherent, and well thought through? Does the candidate’s writing give evidence of higher-order thinking skills and the ability to express  thoughts clearly and without jargon?
  • Knowledge and fit of proposed graduate programs: Has the candidate proposed graduate programs that are appropriately ambitious and a good fit for their scholarly and career plans?
  • Quality and breadth of recommendations: Are the recommendations excellent and from people who know the candidate and can make informed comparisons with other students? Can any of the recommendations speak to the relevance of the  proposed research/creative work, the suitability of the proposed courses, and the ability of the candidate to undertake and excel at scholarly research/creative work?


Notification of the UW selection panel's decisions will be e-mailed to applicants in late-January. Interviews will only be conducted in the event the UW selection panel cannot reach a decision based on the written applications. The applicant selected for nomination will have a few weeks to continue revising application materials for submission to the national competition. National competition results are expected to be announced by June.



The Beinecke Scholarship Program was established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company to honor Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke. The Board created an endowment to provide substantial scholarships for the graduate education of young men and women of exceptional promise.

In the fall of 1994, the University of Washington was invited to participate in the Beinecke Scholarship competition. Since 2000, six UW nominees have been selected to receive Beinecke Scholarships.

Contact Information

Robin Chang
Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
171 Mary Gates Hall
Box 352803
Seattle, WA 98195-2805
Phone: 206-543-2603
Fax: 206-616-4389