How to Apply


Applications for the 2017 class of Presidential Leadership Scholars are now closed.

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The Presidential Leadership Scholars program is for individuals who have the skills, values, and motivation to become a special kind of leader. We are looking for people who have the desire and capacity to take their leadership strengths to a higher level in order to help their communities, professions, organizations, and, thus, our country. While the program is designed to assemble a unique and diverse cohort of high-potential leaders, Scholars most successful in the program share certain personal characteristics:

  • Civically Minded: Scholars are willing and eager to take actions to improve society.
  • Eager to Receive Feedback: Scholars willingly seek, humbly accept, and actively respond to feedback.
  • Accepting of Diverse Points of View: Scholars welcome opportunities to interact with and learn from others with different backgrounds or perspectives.
  • Experienced Professionals: Scholars are accomplished professionals who have a breadth and depth of professional experience.  Though “quality” is not easily measured in time, the majority of Scholars have 10+ years of professional experience and are at a point in their careers where their participation in PLS will be felt for many years to come. 
  • Demonstrated Leadership: Scholars are interested in building on their established record of meaningful leadership. (Note: PLS is not an introductory course on leadership). 
  • In Positions of Influence: Scholars are expected to take action and make change in their communities or organizations, so they must have an opportunity to effect change.
  • Committed to the Program: The PLS program is rigorous and intense. Over the course of the six-month program, Scholars are required to be on site at modules in five different locations for approximately 20 days and spend 50+ hours on pre- and post-module assignments.  

The program seeks participants from a wide range of fields, including business, military, nonprofit, and government.

To qualify for consideration, applicants must be U.S. citizens and legal residents living and working in the United States or are able to get to the United States at their own expense for each module.


All application materials for the 2017 class, including recommendations, were due by 11:59 P.M. (Pacific Time) on Wednesday, August 31, 2016.


Candidates will be assessed by their application submission, recommendations, and essays. Select candidates may also be invited to participate in final interviews.

Finalists will be notified by early November if they have been invited to participate in the interview process.

Interviews will be conducted via videoconference through late November and final acceptance decisions will be made before the end of December 2016.


  • Session 1: Opening Week: Tuesday, February 7th – Saturday, February 11th
    Location: Washington, DC

  • Session 2: Thursday, March 9th – Saturday, March 11th
    Location: George H.W. Bush Presidential Center, College Station, TX

  • Session 3: Thursday, April 6th – Saturday, April 8th
    Location: William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, AR

  • Session 4: Thursday, May 11th – Saturday, May 13th
    Location: George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas, TX

  • Session 5: Thursday, June 15th – Saturday, June 17th​
    Location: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Center, Austin, TX

  • Session 6: Closing and Graduation: Tuesday, July 11th – Friday, July 14th​
    Location: George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas, TX

More questions? View Application FAQs.