What is the Schwarzman Scholars Program?
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 unique curriculum trains students to become leaders who will facilitate global engagement with Chinese culture and commerce.
In this post:
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 conduct immersive fieldwork through Deep Dive, a required 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 those 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?
In order to be eligible for Schwarzman, applicants must graduate from college and be between the ages of 18 – 29 by August 1 of the year in which they plan to enroll in the program.
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:
- Academic Excellence
- Outstanding Leadership
- Character and Integrity
- 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.
Application Opens: April 14, 2021
Final Deadline for Submission: September 21, 2021 – 11:59pm ET
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 indicate 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.
You should select writers who can provide the following three types of letters:
- One letter from a professor who can speak to your intellect and academic abilities.
- One letter addressing your leadership abilities with examples (this can be from an employer, supervisor, mentor, faculty member or other). It is a requirement to have at least one letter which speaks to your demonstrated leadership and potential.
- For the third letter, identify a recommender who can offer further insight that best reflects your current profile as an applicant: a letter from an employer or mentor commenting on leadership abilities, an additional academic endorsement, or some combination of the above options.
Unlike many organizations, the Schwarzman Scholars program is fairly 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 22, 2021 – 11:59pm ET.
There are three distinct essays required for 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 following questions listed in the application, the statement of purpose should describe your interests and goals as well as explain how the program connects with your ideal professional trajectory:
- What particular social, cultural, business, policy, or global issue is your focus of interest?
- What are the major factors driving change on this issue?
- Why are you dedicated to this issue and what is your vision to lead positive impact in the future?
- How will Schwarzman Scholars and a deeper knowledge of China’s role in the world advance your goals?
A strong statement of purpose will not only educate the reader about a specific cultural, business, policy, or global issue of interest, but it will also show how available resources through the Schwarzman Scholars Program will enhance the candidate’s engagement with that issue through the study in and of China. This is a good place to discuss specific courses and career development opportunities offered by the curriculum that you plan to take advantage of as a scholar. For example, there are a number of options for the week-long Deep Dive study tour that is part of the curriculum, including Business Development, State-led Development, Political Shadowing, and Rural Development. Which of these would you choose? Why would that particular Deep Dive experience provide you with a greater understanding of your issue and prepare you to succeed in your future goals? Additionally, you might want to identify potential internships at Beijing organizations that are aligned with your particular interests and goals.
B) Leadership Essay (up to 750 words)
In support of your future goals to become a leader, this essay suggests that you describe at least 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 to show the reader how you first engaged with a problem, identified solutions, built a team effort to address the problem, and maintained resilient and empowering character as you carried out your plans.
As stated in the application instructions, this example may draw from your professional, academic, or personal life. However, whichever story you choose to tell should highlight leadership qualities that include:
- Your ability to identify and understand challenges as opportunities to envision success
- Taking the initiative to act and communicate why that action is important to others
- Interpersonal skills that inspire a team effort
- Your ability to push through resistance and or challenges in order to reach positive results or make a change for the better
Also, consider answering the following questions asked by the Schwarzman Scholars application itself:
- What was the problem or issue you identified, and why did you choose to act? What was your plan of action?
- What obstacles or challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
- What were the outcomes and impact on the community or purpose?
- What did you learn and what lessons would you pass on to others?
- How has this experience shaped you as a leader and how does it connect with your vision of future leadership aspiration
In order for you to communicate the value of your contributions as a leader, it’s critical for you to provide context for your reader, outline the situation with critical details, reflect on your growth, and explain how this particular experience will shape your future actions as a leader. Before you decide which story to tell, you might ask yourself what leadership example best demonstrates your capacity to engage with specific challenges related to the issue of interest that you’ve identified in your statement of purpose. You might also consider whether or not one of your letter writers has witnessed you engage in a particular leadership activity and can add a difference lens to the same story. Another strategic way of thinking about this essay to to make sure to weave evidence of your intercultural competence, empathy, integrity, entrepreneurial spirit, and open mindedness into the content of this essay.
C) Short Answer (up to 100 words)
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 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 three essays.
D) 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 of your written materials, you must use this exact naming convention when titling your PDF documents for submission:
Video introduction (1 minute)
In a one-minute video, introduce yourself in any style or setting you think best conveys your interests and personality.
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 yet to 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 about 150 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.
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.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Do you need professional guidance on your Schwarzman Scholars application? Accepted’s clients received over $1 million dollars in scholarship offers in the last application cycle and we can help you reach your scholarship goals as well! Check out Accepted’s scholarship application services and find out how we can help you get accepted.By Rebecca Lippman, Accepted consultant. Prior to working at Accepted Rebecca worked as a Student Affairs Advisor at the UCLA Scholarship Resource Center. She has taught undergraduate and graduate students how to write large grant applications for grants awarded by organizations such as Fulbright Student Program, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Knight-Hennessy Scholars, Ford Foundation, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and the National Science Foundation. Rebecca has a masters degree from University of Cambridge, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Comparative Literature at UCLA. Want Rebecca to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!