Eligibility Requirements

Defining an Olmsted Scholar

What Characteristics are Desirable in an Olmsted Scholar?

  • Demonstrated scholastic ability and language aptitude
  • Demonstrated qualities of leadership to include integrity, imagination and initiative
  • Personal attributes: devotion to duty, a desire to mix with people, general adaptability
  • Strong professional performance and promotion potential
  • Dedication to a career as a military officer

Who is Eligible to Apply to Become an Olmsted Scholar Candidate?

Active duty officers in the United Armed Forces.

An active duty officer in the US Armed Forces means a commissioned officer serving in one of the five branches of the US military, that is, the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, or the Coast Guard. It does not mean Reserves or National Guard officers on extended active duty within DoD nor does it mean non-DoD entities as the US Merchant Marine, or US Public Health Service.

Officers serving in specified career fields.

Officers serving primarily in operational career fields across the Armed Forces. The program excludes doctors, dentists, veterinarians, chaplains, lawyers, public affairs, contracting, and finance officers. View your Service’s list of Olmsted-eligible officer career fields.

Mid-career officers with a minimum of 3 years of commissioned service as of 1 April of the year of Scholar selection by the Board of Directors. Total active federal service time restrictions vary by Service from 11 years to 13 years and 6 months. Contact the appropriate Service point of contact listed under Selection Process for applicable details.

Three years of commissioned service enables an officer to demonstrate documented performance of military duties, especially with regard to leadership, promotional potential, and career intentions.

Total active federal service includes any enlisted time served on active duty in the Armed Forces and any extended active duty served under Reserve or Guard auspices.

Outstanding professional performance and promotion potential

We understand this is a subjective judgment, but your officer evaluations should clearly earmark you as a standout among your peers. Ultimately, promotion potential and demonstrated outstanding duty performance are the primary factors considered by the Board of Directors of the Olmsted Foundation in selecting Scholars.

Demonstrated scholastic achievement

This is an academic program and most candidates generally have relatively high grade point averages (GPAs) and class standing (at institutions where it is computed). In the past, The Foundation set a notional minimum 3.0 GPA. However, factors such as quality of undergraduate university, academic major, extracurricular activities, and personal situation may have significantly influenced your academic results. Subsequent academic achievements while on active duty will also be factored into this assessment.

Strong desire to study in a foreign language at a foreign university

The essential aspect of our program is communications – communications in a foreign language. After selection as an Olmsted Scholar, the successful candidate will have up to one year to arrive at language competency in order to fulfill graduate course requirements at a foreign university. To assess your capacity to learn a language, DoD uses the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB). The average DLAB for Scholars selected over the past eight years was 130. However, do not consider this benchmark as a required minimum or an exclusionary level for application.

Approval of service career planners/detailers/assignment officers

A commitment to The Foundation’s goals as evidenced in a personal interview

Expectations Regarding Family Participation

Scholars are selected without regard to marital or family status. However, if they are married, or have dependent children, The Foundation prefers that the potential Scholar plan to be accompanied throughout the Scholar Program (to include language training) by his/her spouse and/or children. Our experience since program inception is that Scholars’ family members overwhelmingly benefit from the language, cultural immersion, and travel opportunities inherent in the program, and being accompanied allows the Scholar to experience entire cultural immersion of life overseas without being concerned about, or deprived of, his/her “stateside” family. It is important that each candidate for the Scholar Program discuss this aspect of the program with his/her spouse (and/or children as appropriate), and that the spouse, and/or children, are supportive of the candidate’s intention to participate in the Olmsted Scholar Program.

It is recognized that there may be reasons that a candidate’s spouse and/or family may not be able to accompany them during a portion or all of the Olmsted Scholar Program. This is especially true for active duty joint spouse military couples, but may also be due to a spouse’s professional commitments, restrictive health care issues, or other reasons. If a candidate anticipates that their spouse, and/or family, will not be able to participate in all or any part of the Olmsted Scholar Program, they must submit a letter outlining the circumstances preventing participation, and describe what steps the candidate is taking, or will take, to minimize both the time separated from family, and the possible negative impact the separation may have on the Scholar’s Olmsted experience. This letter is to be included with their Olmsted Scholar Program initial application to their respective Service personnel center. These letters, and the circumstances they describe, will be considered on a case-by-case basis and included as part of the overall evaluation of the candidate.

If a prospective candidate has any questions or concerns about spouse or family participation, they should contact The Foundation directly to discuss their specific situation and circumstances.

Expectations Regarding Personal Conduct

  • It is recognized that during participation in the Olmsted Scholar Program, Scholars remain on active duty with the military and are subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
  • Scholars are also expected to participate in the academic environment while adhering to institutional honor codes, professional conduct and accepted standards of academic rigor and accountability.
  • Though sponsored administratively and financially by The Foundation, Scholars are independent of The Foundation and operate with considerable autonomy. They serve as representatives of our country, their military Service and this Foundation.
  • After successful completion of the Scholar Program, Scholars remain eligible to assist Foundation operations in a variety of ways. They also benefit by participating in Foundation functions and by networking in the larger Olmsted Scholar community.
  • In cases involving conduct unbecoming an officer, an Olmsted Scholar or other violations of the UCMJ, or violations of accepted academic standards, The Foundation reserves to its Board of Directors the right to remove an individual from status as an Olmsted Scholar and to pursue other actions as may be appropriate.