Selection Process

How & Where to Apply

The Selection Process

The Olmsted Foundation selects the finest young military officers to become Olmsted Scholars. Top candidates show an aptitude for leadership and the qualities that accompany it: Self-discipline, drive, a spirit of adventure and a history of personal achievement.

To qualify, candidates must be active duty officers in the US Armed Forces and be within 3-11 years of total active federal military service. They must also demonstrate outstanding performance and serve primarily in operational career fields. Eligibility requirements differ slightly from service to service. Please see our Eligibility Requirements page for more details.

The Olmsted Foundation traditionally selects 15 to 20 Scholars each year, distributed among all six services.

The selection process is as follows:

  • Candidates are nominated at various times in the year depending on the service
  • The Olmsted Foundation reviews dossiers and conducts phone interviews with all candidates
  • Finalists are selected and presented to the Olmsted Foundation Board of Directors (OFBD)
  • Final Olmsted Scholar Class selections are made by the OFBD, including study location and university
  • Services notify Olmsted Scholars of their selection

The Olmsted Foundation traditionally selects 15 to 20 Scholars each year, distributed between all six services. Candidates who aren’t selected to become a Scholar may reapply if they are within the eligibility window.

How to Apply

Officers interested in applying to become an Olmsted Scholar candidate may do so through their respective personnel headquarters. The Olmsted Foundation does not solicit or process Olmsted Scholar Program applications.

Services nominate their top candidates to the Olmsted Foundation on an annual basis after designated screening boards review the applicants from each service.

Historically, the Army calls for applications in November and December, the Navy in March and the Air Force and Space Force in June. The Marine Corps uses its annual Commandant’s Career-Level Education Board to screen and nominate candidates. The Coast Guard calls for candidate applications from May to September each year.

For more information, please contact your respective service point of contact listed below:


Application Packages and Service Screening Boards

It is critical to assemble the application package and complete your dossier by the deadlines imposed for each specific Service Screening Board process. The Army Board typically convenes in May – June, Air Force in September, Navy in October and the Marine Corps in November.

For a graphic depicting the notional timeline for application and selection, please see our Timeline for further details.

Field of Study and University Selection Process

The Foundation makes every attempt to assign Scholars to their preferred location, however, an exact match is not always possible. The Foundation normally does not assign two Scholars to the same city at the same time. To view current locations not open to the next Olmsted Scholar class, click here.

University registration is the responsibility of the Scholar. The Foundation only guarantees complete tuition support to universities with its approval.

Social and Political Sciences, History and International Relations/Affairs are the Foundation’s preferred areas of study for Scholars. However, Scholars may change the choice of study with the agreement of the Foundation, and provided the opportunity to study and probability of successful completion of the academic requirements are attainable.