The Fund for American Studies Scholarship TFAS: Apply Now

The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to inspiring and developing future leaders. For over 45 years, TFAS has offered highly competitive scholarships and summer internship programs to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students passionate about the values of freedom, the free market, and limited government.

One of their flagship programs is the TFAS Scholarship, an intensive summer program that seeks to expose students to a wide range of thought-provoking policy discussions and debates through seminars, briefings, site visits, and networking opportunities with leaders in government, business, media, and law in our nation’s capital.


History and Mission

TFAS was founded in 1967 by Dr. Frederick C. Barth, a professor of political science at Rice University, who sought to establish an organization dedicated to educating and training Americans about the principles of a free and democratic society. Originally named the Institute for Political Education, TFAS offered summer internships and seminars in Washington, D.C., to inspire political and economic literacy among college students.

Over the decades, TFAS has expanded its programming and now provides intellectual and practical experiences to students through semester and year-long internships, international programs, career skills workshops, networking events, and more. However, the core mission has remained the same – to cultivate responsible individual and societal leadership through a thorough understanding of America’s founding principles.


As stated on their website, “TFAS believes these principles of freedom, the free market, and limited government best promote individual liberty, encourage private initiative and responsibility, and foster compassion.” By exposing promising students from diverse backgrounds to the workings of our government and free enterprise system up close, TFAS hopes to develop a new generation of leaders committed to conserving these ideals.

The TFAS Scholarship Program

The flagship summer program of TFAS is simply called the TFAS Scholarship. It is an intensive 6-week residential program held annually in Washington, D.C., from late May to early July. TFAS Scholarship recipients live at American University and participate in a rigorous schedule of briefings, site visits, networking events, and seminars led by high-profile experts and thought leaders.

Some key program activities and highlights include:

  • Seminars: Hands-on seminars taught by esteemed professors at American University on topics like American history, economics, public policy-making, and more.
  • Briefings: Insider discussions with former cabinet members, ambassadors, congressional leaders, think tank experts, journalists, and other influential figures.
  • Site Visits: Behind-the-scenes tours of places like the White House, Supreme Court, Pentagon, Federal Reserve, and media outlets.
  • Networking Events: Social gatherings and mixers allow students to connect with prominent mentors, politicians, and professionals in their fields of interest.
  • Cultural Activities: Opportunities to experience D.C.’s vibrant culture through activities like museum visits, performances, and sporting events.
  • Internships: Optional 3-credit internship opportunities at select government agencies, congressional offices, think tanks, non-profits, and more.

Participating in this intensive program gives students unmatched access to learn directly from experts actively shaping policy and engaging in the free market process. As a fully immersive experience, it provides a 360-degree perspective into the real-world application of America’s founding principles of liberty, opportunity, and free enterprise.


Eligibility and Benefits

To be eligible for the highly competitive TFAS Scholarship, applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who are currently enrolled undergraduate sophomores, juniors, or seniors at accredited four-year U.S. colleges or universities. Graduate students pursuing a master’s degree are also eligible to apply.

Some key eligibility requirements and benefits include:

  • Academics: Minimum 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. SAT scores above 1350 or ACT above 31.
  • Leadership: Demonstrated leadership abilities through extracurricular activities, community service, or work experience.
  • Financial Assistance: Full financial assistance is provided, including housing, meals, program activities, books, internship costs, and a small stipend. There is no cost to participants.
  • Housing: Free room and board near the American University campus for the 6-week duration of the program.
  • Networking: Unparalleled access and introductions to professionals through briefings and networking events.
  • Credentials: Successful completion results in 3 hours of academic credit and a certificate from American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

Participating in the intensive TFAS Scholarship program exposes students to abundant resources and experiences while eliminating any financial barriers. It provides an amazing opportunity to immerse oneself in D.C.’s vibrant policy community and kickstart one’s career. By meeting influential leaders across various sectors, students can discover new passions and directions.

Selection Process

With only 50 slots available each summer out of hundreds of highly accomplished applicants, acceptance into the TFAS Scholarship program is extremely competitive. Here are the key steps in the application and selection process:

  1. Online Application: In fall/winter, candidates must complete the online application providing personal and academic information, honors/awards, extracurriculars and leadership experiences. SAT/ACT scores and transcripts are also required.
  2. Essays: Applicants must carefully craft essays that answer prompts about their interests, qualifications, and visions for leadership. It’s important to be thoughtful yet concise.
  3. Recommendations: Strong letters of recommendation from professors and mentors must highlight candidates’ character, skills, and commitment.
  4. Interview: Top candidates are invited to interview by phone or video with selection committee members to further assess fit and passion.
  5. Committee Review: Applications are thoroughly evaluated based on academic merit, demonstrated leadership abilities, and commitment to TFAS’ mission. Awards are highly selective.
  6. Notification: Candidates are notified of the admissions decision by early spring. Accepted “Scholars” then finalize housing and internship requests for the summer program.

With such a competitive applicant pool, candidates must clearly showcase why they deserve this prestigious opportunity through strong application materials reflecting passion, motivation, and leadership promise. The selection committee seeks individuals with exemplary character and potential.

Alumni Spotlight

Some notable TFAS Scholarship alumni include former Congressman Allen West, commentator S.E. Cupp, NASA mechanical engineer Tracy Dial, University of Pennsylvania provost Dr. Wendell Pritchett, political consultant Susan Del Percio, White House adviser Jessica Anderson, Goldman Sachs executive Andrew Kaplan, and many other leaders across public service, business, media, and academia.

Many alumni credit their TFAS experience with profoundly shaping their careers and leadership trajectories. As Cupp reflected, “It was one of the most informative, challenging, and rewarding experiences of my life…I left with a network of mentors, a deep understanding of policy, and an inspiration to get more involved.” Dr. Pritchett similarly notes that TFAS “opened up opportunities I never imagined and connected me with inspiring mentors who continue to support and guide me to this day.”

Clearly, the program succeeds in its mission to cultivate emerging leaders thoroughly educated in America’s founding principles and equipped to advance positive change. By fully immersing talented students in the inner workings of government, business, media, and beyond, TFAS ensures participants graduate with transformational experiences, invaluable mentorship, and career pathways toward consequential roles as future policymakers, entrepreneurs, professionals, and civic leaders.

Apply Here

Are you a highly accomplished undergraduate or graduate student seeking an unparalleled residential fellowship to accelerate your leadership journey? Consider applying for the prestigious Fund for American Studies Scholarship. Acceptance is extremely competitive, so be sure to thoroughly prepare your strongest possible application showcasing your qualifications and passion.

Applications for the summer 2025 program are due December 15th, 2024. To start an application and learn more details, please visit:

The TFAS Scholarship could be a life-changing opportunity. With comprehensive support and access to D.C.’s top minds, this six-week intensive experience will empower you with new knowledge, connections, and directions as an emerging leader committed to promoting freedom. Don’t miss this chance – apply today!


1. Is the TFAS Scholarship only for undergraduate students?

No, while most participants are typically undergraduates, the TFAS Scholarship is also open to graduate students enrolled in accredited master’s degree programs. Both sophomore, junior, and senior undergrads, along with graduate students, are encouraged to apply.

2. What types of internship opportunities are available through TFAS?

Accepted TFAS Scholars have the option to participate in a 3-credit academic internship over the summer as part of the program. Internships are available at government agencies, congressional offices, think tanks, non-profits, media outlets, and more, depending on availability. Popular placements include the White House, State Department, Smithsonian, Heritage Foundation, CNN, etc. Interns get hands-on experience and guidance from professionals in their field of interest.

3. What is the time commitment like for the TFAS Scholarship program?

The TFAS Scholarship is a full-time, 6-week program based in Washington, D.C., from late May to early July. Most days run from 9 am-5 pm with a packed schedule of seminars, briefings, site visits, and networking events. The program is very intensive but also allows evenings and weekends free for cultural activities or to explore D.C. An optional 3-credit internship may extend the commitment by 2-3 additional weeks. Overall it’s an immersive experience for dedicated students seeking insights into leadership.

4. Is housing provided for non-DC students?

Yes, housing is provided free of charge to all accepted TFAS Scholars regardless of their home location. Students will live together in conveniently located dorms at American University for the full six weeks of the program. Meals are also covered during the week. Transportation is not provided, but the campus is well-situated near public transportation for easy access around the city.

5. How competitive is acceptance into the program?

Getting accepted into the TFAS Scholarship program is extremely competitive, with acceptance rates typically between 3-5% each year. There are only 50 slots available in total, and usually over 500 qualified applicants. Students must have a minimum 3.5 GPA, strong SAT/ACT scores, demonstrated leadership experience, and passionate, well-written essays to stand out. Selection is based on academic merit as well as leadership promise. Having a polished, unique application is key to increasing one’s chances in this selective process.

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