What is the Schwarzman Scholars Program mission?
The Schwarzman Scholars Program is a fully funded 1-year master’s program in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Designed in collaboration with prestigious universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, the program’s mission is to “build a global community of future leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world.” With this goal in mind, the program’s unique graduate curriculum trains students to become leaders who will facilitate global engagement with Chinese culture and commerce in a variety of sectors.
In this post:
- What is the Schwarzman Scholars Program mission?
- Benefits for Schwarzman Scholars
- Who is eligible to apply?
- Required application components
- Unique characteristics of the Schwarzman Scholars Program
- Schwarzman Scholars application deadlines for August 2023
Benefits for Schwarzman Scholars
Once admitted to the program, Schwarzman Scholars receive a full funding package that includes:
- Travel to and from Beijing
- Tuition & fees
- Room & board
- Books & supplies
- In-country study tour
- Health insurance
- Personal stipend
In addition to taking courses in leadership in practice and global affairs, Schwarzman Scholars have the opportunity to conduct immersive fieldwork through Deep Dive, a program that sends scholars to visit to a different region, and capstone projects using case studies, policy analysis, and research. Through workshops, invited guest speakers, and mentorship opportunities, scholars are also exposed to prominent leaders in business, international relations, academia, and government.
Each cohort of scholars lives together at Tsinghua University, explores China, and participates in student-led activities, building strong professional relationships with a group of people who are all invested in deepening the understanding between China and the rest of the world. In this environment, becoming a Schwarzman Scholar is a unique opportunity to launch an international career that engages directly with China through business, government relations, and global affairs.
As with many competitive opportunities, the application process for the Schwarzman Scholars Program includes several written components that must work together to depict an applicant who is driven by clearly articulated goals that fit with the mission of the program. Ideally, the content of your materials demonstrates how aspects of the curriculum design, community, and career development offered by the Schwarzman Scholars Program will enhance your future capacity to impact China’s role in global economy and affairs.
Who is eligible to apply?
To be eligible for Schwarzman, applicants must graduate from college and be between the ages of 18 – 28 by August 1 of the year in which they plan to enroll in the program. Therefore current applicants must be between 18-28 by August 1, 2023.
Applicants must also be proficient in English and have received a minimum of the following scores on at least one of these English language exams:
- TOEFL PBT – 600
- TOEFL IBT – 100
- IELTS – 7
Aside from these requirements, competitive candidates can come from any academic background so long as they are able to articulate clear connections between past experiences and future leadership goals through specific components of the Schwarzman Scholars Program.
Though there are no other eligibility requirements, the program clearly outlines the kind of person that will be a competitive candidate in the Admissions Overview section of the website, stating that Schwarzman Scholars possess the following qualities:
- Outstanding Leadership Abilities
- Exemplary Character and Integrity
- Academic Aptitude and Intellectual Ability
- Empathy & Intercultural Competency
- Open Mindedness
- Entrepreneurial Spirit
As you brainstorm the content for your written application materials, think about which stories, experiences, and accomplishments showcase these aspects of your profile. Ideally, the people that you select to write letters of recommendation on your behalf will also be able to speak to these qualities as well.
Final Deadline for Submission: September 20, 2022– 11:59pm EDT
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Required application components
In addition to background information, transcripts, and test scores that are submitted within the electronic application, the Schwarzman Scholars Application requires the following materials:
Resume (up to 2 pages)
As stated by the application instructions, it is critical that the resume you submit to the Schwarzman Scholars committee demonstrates your leadership experience, ideally in a clearly marked Leadership section. Based on the highlighted qualities of strong candidates for this program, the resume is also a chance to provide evidence of academic excellence, intercultural competency, and entrepreneurship in sections such as Education, Honors & Awards, Leadership, Professional Experience, Projects, Community Service, Skills, and / or Interests.
If you have a lot of items to include in your resume, remember that there is a section for you to highlight specific leadership roles, awards, and recognition in the electronic application and provide details that may not fit in the resume. That said, it is extremely important for you to curate the content of this document so that your entries are relevant to the short- and long-term goals you discuss in other written materials.
Recommendation Letters (3)
The Schwarzman Scholars application requests that all applicants include three very specific letters of recommendation that holistically capture insights into your character, leadership, and intellectual abilities.
Based on the instructions within the application, you should select writers who can provide the following three types of letters:
- At least one letter should be written by (preferably) a professor or other appropriate recommender who can speak directly to the applicant’s academic abilities.
- One letter must address a candidate’s demonstrated leadership abilities and potential while using specific examples. This can be submitted by an employer, supervisor, mentor, faculty member, or other appropriate recommender.
- The third letter may be written by a recommender (e.g., an employer or mentor) who can offer further insight into the applicant’s current profile — provide another comment on leadership abilities, serve as an additional academic endorsement, or a combination of the above options.
Unlike many organizations, the Schwarzman Scholars program is transparent about the balance between leadership and academics that your recommenders must strike as they write strong letters in support of your application.
To make sure that at least one of your letters is fully dedicated to academic excellence and another is fully dedicated to your demonstrated potential as a leader, it is wise to show your letter writers these requirements and clearly explain which type of letter you’d like each person to compose.
Reminder Note: Letters must be submitted in English or accompanied by translations. Recommenders must submit their letters by the date of September 20, 2022 – 11:59pm EDT.
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Written Essays (5)
There are four required essays and one optional essay that contribute to the completion of a successful Schwarzman application. It is critical to approach these essays with a clear strategy that enables you to share a consistent message about what you bring to the table and how the program will support your goals. When working on applications that require multiple essays, I always identify the document, in this case the Statement of Purpose, that serves as a centerpiece for the entire application and advise that clients work on that one first. Ideally, the content of the Leadership Essay and the Short Answer can be used strategically to provide additional evidence in support of the core themes and goals presented in the centerpiece.
A) Statement of Purpose (up to 500 words)
By answering the prompts included in the application, the statement of purpose should describe your goals and explain how the program connects with your ideal professional trajectory:
- Tell us about your professional/academic interests and goals as you see them now.
- Describe what particular social, cultural, business, policy, or global issue is the current focus of your motivation.
- Why and how did you develop an interest in this issue, and why do you think that interest might continue in the future?
- What are the major factors involved in this issue, and what is your leadership vision to drive positive global change?
A strong statement of purpose will educate the reader about how you became interested in a specific cultural, business, policy, or global issue that motivates your desire to pursue a master’s degree and become a global leader. Explain why this issue matters to you, why you think it should matter to others, and how you think it will continue to impact global communities.
Ideally your statement of purpose will also explain how specific Schwarzman Scholars program resources will enhance your engagement with this issue. You might discuss available courses or career development opportunities offered by the Schwarzman program that are related to your goals.
For example, of the options for the week-long Deep Dive study tour, which include Business Development, State-led Development, Political Shadowing, and Rural Development, which would you choose? How would that specific Deep Dive experience provide you with a greater understanding of the issue of focus and prepare you to be a global leader? Or perhaps you can identify a few potential internships at Beijing organizations that are aligned with your issue and future goals.
B) Leadership Essay (up to 750 words)
In support of your future goals to become a leader, this essay suggests that you describe one distinct example that best illustrates your capacity as a leader. What do you look like when you’re a leader in action? This is a chance for you to show the reader how you first engaged with a problem, identified solutions, built a team effort to address the problem, and maintained a resilient and empowering sense of character as you carried out your plans.
As stated in the application instructions, this example may draw from your professional, academic, or personal life. Your essay might tell the story of:
- a time you used your intellectual abilities to identify an important challenge or opportunity, and how you crafted a solution;
- an instance when you used your interpersonal skills to inspire a team effort towards a solution;
- an example of when you have pushed through resistance or an obstacle to realize positive change for the community around you.
To communicate the value of your contributions as a leader, it’s critical that you provide context for your reader, outline the situation using important background details, reflect on your growth, and explain how this experience continues to shape your approach to leadership.
Before you decide which story to tell, you might consider identifying an example that best demonstrates your capacity to engage with challenges related to the issue of interest you’ve articulated in your statement of purpose. You might also consider whether one of your letter writers has witnessed you engage in a particular leadership activity and can add a different lens to the same story.
Another strategic way of thinking about this essay would be to think of a story that enables you to weave evidence of your intercultural competence, empathy, integrity, entrepreneurial spirit, and open mindedness into the narrative.
The most important thing you need the Admissions Committee to understand after reading this essay is a clear view of your authentic self when you have pushed through resistance or an obstacle to realize positive change for the community around you. Describe your own thoughts on leadership, and the communication style you use to accomplish your goals. How you present your ideas on leadership in this essay often tells as much as what you choose to write about.
C) Two Short Answer Questions (up to 100 words each)
1. Take one aspect of the Schwarzman Scholars mission as you see it and describe how it aligns with where you are today, professionally and personally, and how it will advance your goals.
While there is no singular “mission statement” to be found on the Schwarzman Scholars website, a few key items provide insight into the mission of the program.
In the first few pages of the Schwarzman Admission Brochure the Founding Trustee of Schwarzman Scholars, Stephen A. Schwarzman, states:
“Those who will lead the future must understand China today.”
The description of the program that appears on page 3 of the brochure goes on to explain:
“Schwarzman Scholars is the first scholarship created to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. As China’s role in global trends continues to grow, the success of future leaders in any sector depends upon an immersive understanding of the country and its culture. A one-year, fully-funded master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Schwarzman Scholars is designed to build a global community of future leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world.”
Some of the important aspects of these descriptions include:
- The Value of a Global Community of Leaders
- A Contemporary Response to the Geopolitical Landscape
- The Importance of Deepening a Global Understanding of China
These are not the only aspects of the Schwarzman Scholars program that you can focus on in your response to this question, nor should you attempt to focus on all of them. In fact, the prompt asks you to identify and reflect on one aspect of the Schwarzman Scholars mission as you see it. So, make sure that you use your 100 words to clearly articulate your thoughts on only one aspect and explain how this specific of element the program’s mission aligns with your personal/professional trajectory and goals.
2. Tell us something about yourself that we would not otherwise know based on the materials in this application.
This is a very open-ended prompt and serves as an opportunity for you to say pretty much anything you want to the committee. That said, I suggest writing the answer to this question after you’ve completed the other components of your application so that you can balance out your materials with something that might be missing.
Here are some questions that you can use to brainstorm content for your short answer:
- Is there a particularly interesting personal insight or goal that you had to cut out of one your pieces for the sake of length?
- Are there any surprising personality traits that made you successful in your past endeavors as a leader?
- Have you left out a personal motivation that drives you to focus on a specific social, cultural, business, policy, or global issue as a Schwarzman Scholar?
Ideally, the Statement of Purpose, Leadership Essay, and Short Answer Essays will work together to show the committee a well-rounded portrait of your character, capacity to lead, unique personality, and future goals. While it is important for these documents to compliment each other and contribute to an overarching message, keep in mind that the content of each of these essays can and should be different. Each written component can discuss different experiences and highlight specific achievements. With so few words to work with, there really is no need to repeat yourself among these essays.
D) Additional Information (up to 200 words)
If you wish to clarify any information you provided in the application, please do so in this section. For example, if you took a leave of absence, faced unusual circumstances in your studies or in your career, you may explain that here. You may also include any impacts due to the global pandemic that you feel are important for the Admissions Committee to know. This can include disruptions to your education and/or access to leadership involvement.
This section serves as an extra space to cover several different topics. If there are gaps or dips in your transcript, provide an explanation of what was happening at the time, how you’ve grown since then, and how you plan to engage in support systems to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Perhaps you had some exciting plans in the past couple of years that were interrupted because of the global pandemic. In that case, provide a description of what you planned to accomplish, how the pandemic made your goals difficult to achieve, and what you chose to do instead.
Since the Schwarzman Scholars program is extremely focused on leadership skills and experiences, this is a great space to shine if you feel like you lost the opportunity for a specific kind of leadership. Give the readers a snapshot of your plans and an explanation of why they mattered to you. Finally, you might also want to reflect on how the restrictions caused by the global pandemic changed the way you think about leadership in the first place. Perhaps you discovered a new way to lead that you wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise.
E) Biographical Profile (up to 100 words)
The goal of your biographical profile is to summarize your major leadership accomplishments and future aspirations in a succinct yet memorable way. Keep in mind that this piece of writing will be referenced by the committee throughout the selection process, so it’s a great place to develop your “tagline” as a candidate who is hard to forget. In accordance with the application instructions, make sure that your biography ends with an indication of your country of citizenship. Finally, since this exact text will appear on the Schwarzman Scholars website if you are selected for the program, you should review the profiles of previous scholars to get a sense of what a strong profile looks like in writing.
Reminder Note: For all your written materials that are submitted in the form of an attachment, you must use this exact naming convention when titling your PDF documents for submission:
Video Introduction (1 minute)
Introduce yourself in a one-minute video, in any style or setting you think best conveys your interests and personality. A video taken on your mobile phone, laptop, or camera will suffice; the committee must be able to see and hear you.
This part of the application does not have to be technically brilliant. In fact, as long as you are visible and audible, the technical quality of the video is not as important as the content. This is an opportunity for you to show the committee what you are like in person.
When putting this video together I suggest that you pretend that the audience has not yet read any of your materials. What is the main message that you’d like the committee to walk away with once they’ve gotten to know you through this application process?
You may wish to highlight where you’re from, identify your issue of interest, describe an accomplishment related to your issue, and provide an example of your future goals.
One minute isn’t very much time, so I suggest that you condense these main points into a written script of 60-120 words that is different from your biographical profile and practice reading it out loud before you record yourself. Remember to wear professional attire (at least from the waist up) and present yourself as if you were participating in a formal job interview while recording the video!
Reminder note: Save the video on YouTube, VIMEO, Google Drive or a similar service that is readily accessible and provide the direct link to the page in the space below. Do not password protect the video.
Acceptance Rates for Schwarzman Scholars Program
Based on information provided in the Schwarzman Admission Brochure, acceptance rates are pretty competitive.
Annually the Schwarzman Scholars Program receives 3500+ applications, invites 400 candidates for interviews, and identifies a total of 140+ of those interviewed to participate in the program.
Of those admitted, 40% are United States Citizens, 20% are Chinese citizens, and 40% are from other countries across the globe. If you aren’t from the US or China, don’t be discouraged by these percentages. The Schwarzman Scholars Program is interested in training people from all over the world. In fact, last year’s cohort of scholars included individuals that represented 40 international countries.
Unique characteristics of the Schwarzman Scholars Program
The Schwarzman Scholars Program is a unique scholarship because it is attached to a specific academic program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. The custom designed curriculum prepares students with knowledge about and networks within global business and government affairs related to China.
With this type of training in mind, strong candidates for the program must demonstrate the desire to become a leader who will facilitate China’s relationship to the world through a specific field or issue of interest. Given that every single person who enrolls in this program will be a Schwarzman Scholar, your unique issue or field of interest is what you will contribute to the classroom environment.
So, what is your issue? Through what specific industry, social or political arena, business idea, or innovative technological advancement will you develop a career that deepens the understanding between China and the rest of the world? Answering this question is perhaps the best place to start as you brainstorm strong content for your application materials.
Schwarzman Scholars application deadlines for August 2023
|August 2023 Start Date|
|U.S. and Global Applicants||Sept 20, 2022|
|Applicants with Chinese Passports||Application Closed|
Source: Schwarzman Scholars website
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
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