How to Complete a Udall Scholarship Application


Applying for the Udall Scholarship will take planning and time. It will typically require you to start thinking about an application in the early fall before the spring semester application deadline (don't worry if you're late to the process). This is a good time to think about your commitment to one of the Udall's funded scholarship categories. Additionally, you will want to reflect on your commitment to your community (be it Amherst or at-large) and your own leadership experience. 

To aid you in understanding the Udall Scholarship, you can review a sample application and important FAQs, directly sourced by the Udall Foundation. 

Step 1: Explore if Udall is right for you, with us

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.

While you don’t need to have all the answers regarding your Udall application, it is important to understand the criteria for each of the Udall’s funded categories.

Native Health Care - for Native Americans and Alaska Natives pursuing health-related careers.

Tribal Policy - for Native Americans and Alaska Natives working on an array of policy issues in Native Nations.

Environment - for all students, regardless of Native status, interested in conservation and environmental issues.

You should review the category you intend to apply in. But don’t worry, we know this scholarship has a lot of moving parts. That's where we come in. Talk with us to discuss your educational and career goals by requesting an appointment.

Once you've decided if Udall is the right fit for you, you're ready for Step 2!

Step 2: Open an application

Ask Eric to register you in the Udall online application portal and begin to work on your responses. The portal will require the following:

  • A. Your Profile - basic biographical information about you and your eligibility
  • B. Career Goals - this is what you intend to do in your professional career
  • C. Education - details about your time at Amherst (or another instution) and any accolades you have recevied
  • D. Programs and Activities - this is where you highlight your committment to community and your leadership experience
  • Udall Essay - 800 word response to the essay prompt. 

As you can see, there is a a sizeable amount of information required. You do not need to input everything at once, and you do not need to complete all of this to start working on your responses. You should draft and revise your responses to these questions. Once you have a good set of answers, you should let Eric know so he can provide you some feedback.

You'll work on  this step throughout the fall and early winter. Once you've started, you can move on to Step 3!

Step 3: Reach out to recommendation writers

You should reach out to three potential recommendation writers to explain your intentions and ask if they'd be willing to write on your behalf. You can do this in person, over email, or on the phone. Ask early - at the end of the spring semester or beginning of the summer, if possible. They don't have to write it immediately, but knowing they've already agreed will reduce your stress when the deadline draws near. 

Udall Scholars are selected for their potential to shape the future of environmental or tribal policy or Native American health care and for their demonstrated commitment to tribal or environmental issues. It is important that specify in which category you are applying in. The selection committee looks for sustained participation in environmental or tribal activities, assumption of leadership roles and evidence of initiative, service to the community, and coursework or research that complements activities and career goals. While your recommenders may not address each of these areas in their letter, you should have a plan for each of these areas to be covered over the three recommendations.

Ask recommenders to read the instructions "For Recommenders" on the Udall Overview page. Ask your recommenders to send a pdf of their letter via email attachment to the Eric who will upload their letters into the online Udall portal. 

Step 4: Craft your career goals response

Section B (Career Goals) asks you the following two prompts:

  1. In one or two sentences describe your career goal. (575 characters)
  2. What are your professional aspirations? What issues, needs or problems do you hope to address? Indicate in which area(s) of the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care you are considering making your career and specify how your academic program and your overall educational plans will assist you in achieving your goals. (2000 characters)

Once you have a good draft response for this section, send it to Eric. He'll reveiw it and provide some feedback.

After you've got something crafted discussing your career goals, it's time to move onto the committment to community and leadership experience. 

Step 5: Showcase your community commitment and leadership

In Section D (Programs and Activities) you will be asked to provide information on the following items:

  1. List any programs and activities in which you have participated on campus or in your community while in school (such as clubs, publications, debate, dramatics, music, art, student government…). Please list in descending order of significance.
  2. List internships, assistantships, and jobs (including summer employment) you have held in the past four years. Do not repeat items listed previously.
  3. List public service and community activities. Do not repeat items listed previously. Please list in descending order of significance. *You may review how Udall defines "public service" in the FAQs
  4. Describe non-course-related research experience, if applicable. Indicate which areas of the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care your research affects, and the ways in which the experience will assist you in achieving your goals. If you have not engaged in research, please enter "not applicable." (1500 characters)
  5. Describe a leadership experience in which you made a difference on campus or in your community. (2400 characters)
  6. Describe a specific activity or experience that has been important in clarifying or strengthening your commitment to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. (1000 characters)
  7. Describe briefly your most significant public service, community, or campus activities associated with your interests in the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care in which you regularly participate. Explain the duration, degree, and significance of your involvement. (2200 characters)
  8. What additional information do you wish to share with the Udall Scholarship review committee? (1100 characters)

As you did with your previous draft(s), you should send your answers to Eric for feedback and review. 

Now that you're starting to get a feel for this application and it's looking a little more "complete," you can now turn your attention to the Udall Essay. 

Step 6: Get into that Udall groove!

As you've probably guessed, at least we hope, the Udall Scholarship is named in honor of  Congressman Udall and Secretary of Interior Udall. These brothers had a lasting impact on this nation's environment, public lands, and natural resources, and strongly supported the rights and self-governance of American Natives and Alaska Natives.

Since the scholarship is named in their honor, the last portion of your application requires you to adress the following essay prompt:

The public service careers of Congressman Morris K. Udall and Secretary of Interior Stewart L. Udall were guided by the core values of civility, integrity, and consensus. In 800 words or less, tell us how these three characteristics resonate with you today and how you exemplify at least one of these values in your personal and professional life.

Once you've explored how your embody those characteristics, you should send that draft to Eric for review. 

Step 7: Gather supporting documents

Request your official AC transcript and study abroad or transfer college transcripts before the internal deadline. To aid you in this process, complete an “Electronic Transcript Request” and enter Eric Myers ( as the recipient. Eric will upload your transcript(s) into the Udall portal on your behalf. The numerical GPA you enter in the application should be the one listed within Workday or on your transcript (using your AC grades only). 

If you have transcripts from other institutions, you can have those sent directly to Eric. However, you may also send him an unlocked version, saved as a PDF. 

Additional documentation is required for applicants in tribal public policy and health care and U.S. permanent residents. Please review the Udall's FAQs for more information. 

Step 8: Check for accuracy and completion, then submit (well, kind of)

  • Proofread everything you've written for the application - short entries, small paragraphs, and essays for typos. We suggest you print the app and read it out loud to yourself, word for word. (We promise you won't catch errors if you review the app on your phone.) Upload all edits within the Udall Portal. 
  • Confirm with Eric to see if your recs and transcripts are in. If not, send gentle, polite reminders. 
  • Upload all of your information by the internal deadline! 
  • You do not have to "submit" like you are typically used to. Instead, the Office of Fellowships makes sure you application is in good standing, with all of the required components, and submits on your behalf. 

What happens next?

After the internal deadline, the Office of Fellowships staff will review your application materials. At this time, there is no review by the Faculty Committee on Student Fellowships. While this could change at any point in the application cycle, you will be notified by our office regarding your candidacy. If your application accepted is by our office, we will submit your materials to the Udall Foundation for review. Typically by April, you will be notfied whether you were selected as a Udall Scholar.

Have questions? Please contact us.

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall


Mailing address: Office of Fellowships, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002

On-Campus Mailing Address: AC # 2214