Frequently Asked Questions


How important are grades?

Grades are less important than community service and leadership records, but they are still significant. Nominees should generally be in the top quarter of their class and have at least a 3.0 GPA. To see the relative importance of grades in relation to leadership, public service, and demonstrated commitment, review the application rating form at Who Should Apply.

Are any fields of study given priority?

No. Udall Scholars come from all majors and fields of study. Recent Udall Scholars have majored in environmental sciences and policy studies, agriculture, political science, natural resource management, sociology, anthropology, American Indian studies, tribal public policy, history, English, theater, landscape architecture, and public health, to name just a few areas.

Are two-year college students eligible to apply?

Yes. Two year college students may apply as sophomores in the semester before receiving their associate's degree. You must have applied and/or been accepted to a four year university as a full-time student for the following year in order to receive the award.

How does the Udall Foundation define American Indian?

For the purposes of the Scholarship or Internship Program, an American Indian or Alaska Native is any individual who is:

  • An enrolled member of a state or federally recognized Indian tribe or band, including any tribe or band terminated since 1940;
  • A descendant in first or second degree of an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized Indian tribe or band, who can demonstrate affiliation with the tribal community, according to criteria set by the Udall Foundation;
  • Considered by the Secretary of the Interior to be an Indian for any purpose;
  • An Eskimo, Aleut, or other Alaska Native;
  • A permanent U.S. resident who is a member of the First Nations of Canada.

What kind of documents are required to prove tribal enrollment or descendancy?

Applicants must submit copies of relevant enrollment forms, cards, and/or descent documentation such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood. Descendants of enrolled tribal members must provide proof of their parent's or grandparent's enrollment and birth certificates that demonstrate the applicant's relationship to the enrolled tribal member. Applicants who are members of the First Nations of Canada must submit proof of U.S. permanent residency. Applicants who cannot demonstrate tribal enrollment and do not have a CDIB should obtain a letter from a tribal leader to demonstrate their involvement in the tribal community.

I am not an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized tribe. May I still apply as a tribal public policy or Native health care scholar?

That depends. If you are not currently on your tribal roll, and do not have a CDIB, you may provide proof of a parent or grandparent's enrollment and copies of birth certificates demonstrating your relationship. You should also obtain a letter from a tribal leader indicating your involvement in your tribal community The Udall Foundation will review the letter to determine if it provides sufficient proof of eligibility to meet our criteria.

I am Native Hawaiian. Am I eligible to apply?

No, at this time Native Hawaiians are not eligible. The Foundation may revisit this issue in the future.

I have enough credit hours to be a senior, but I don't plan to graduate for another full academic year. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. The Udall Foundation considers you to be a junior if you will be a full-time undergraduate student for the following academic year. Students who intend to graduate the following December are not eligible. Students who have already applied twice for the scholarship are not eligible.

I’m technically a junior, but I have enough credits to graduate in December of my senior year. Would I still eligible to apply?

No. Scholars must be enrolled full time during the year following their award.

I’m in my first or second semester of college, but I have enough credits to be considered a sophomore. Am I eligible to apply?

No. You must have completed at least three semesters of college coursework, not including AP credits or college courses taken in high school.

If selected as a Scholar, may I defer the award? I intend to do something impressive and/or scholarly.

No, the Udall Scholarship cannot be deferred. Scholars must be enrolled as full time undergraduates during the following academic year or decline the scholarship. All Scholars must also attend their Scholar Orientation, which is an integral part of becoming a Udall Scholar. If you cannot attend Orientation, the Udall Foundation will revoke your scholarship.

I'm in a five-year combined bachelor's and master's program. May I apply?

Yes. Students in a five-year program that will lead to a combined bachelor's/master's degree may apply in their 2nd and 3rd years of study, but not in their fourth year. Students in a five-year program leading to a bachelor's degree may apply in two out of three of their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th years of study. Students may not apply more than three times.

Are students who are pursuing a second undergraduate degree eligible?

Applicants who have returned to school for a 2nd undergraduate degree are eligible if:

  • They are returning after an absence of at least 2 years;
  • Their first undergraduate degree was in a field unrelated to the environment, tribal public policy, or health care;
  • They have not previously been awarded a Udall Scholarship or Honorable Mention.

Scholar Orientation

What is Scholar Orientation?

Udall Scholar Orientation is four days of networking, critical thinking, and community building with your scholar class. Scholars tackle a challenging case study, network with alumni and special guests from a variety of tribal policy and environmental fields, learn what it means to be part of the Udall legacy, and leave Orientation feeling inspired and supported. Travel from the Scholar's home or school, lodging and meals will be provided by the Udall Foundation. All new and repeat Scholars must attend

I'm not able to attend the Scholar Orientation; can I opt out of the weekend? Attend next year?

Scholar Orientation is an integral part of becoming a Udall Scholar; all new and repeat Scholars must attend. If you are awarded the scholarship and cannot attend the Orientation, the Udall Foundation will revoke your scholarship.

Application Advice

I applied my sophomore year, but did not receive a scholarship. How can I improve my chances?

  • Ask your faculty representative for a detailed critique of your application. Your faculty representative may also contact the Foundation to request feedback on your application (we will provide feedback to FacReps, but not to individual applicants).
  • Ask yourself: Does your commitment to the environment, tribal policy or health care shine through in every answer? What are you doing now that demonstrates that commitment? What problems or issues do you hope to find solutions to? How will your educational goals and career plans help you address these issues?
  • Spend some time reading about Mo or Stewart Udall’s life and legislative achievements. The essay is an essential component of the application. Be sure to integrate your analysis of a significant speech, legislative act, book, or public policy statement by Congressman Morris K. Udall or Secretary of Interior Stewart L. Udall with its impact on your studies or career goals.
  • Revise, revise, revise.

  • Can you give me any advice on the essay?

    Neither a personal essay nor a policy proposal, the Udall Scholarship essay falls somewhere in between. The best essays demonstrate a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of Morris Udall or Stewart Udall's environmental or tribal policy legacy, and clearly relate their chosen topic to the nominee's interests and career goals.

    A good essay will do more than summarize a Udall speech or legislative act. Your analysis should demonstrate that you are well informed about past and/or present environmental or Native American issues, and familiar with Morris Udall or Stewart Udall’s legacy. By relating your analysis to your career goals, you engage with the text of the speech or the intent and/or impact of the legislation.

    How does the Udall Foundation define public service?

    Examples of public service include work in the public's interest that is either paid or volunteer. This includes

    • Work for government at any level, such as law enforcement, military service, elected office, the park service;
    • Education;
    • Work for non-profit or public interest group;
    • Preservation and/or restoration of natural and cultural resources;
    • Health care services; and
    • Volunteering for your campus community.

      Consult with your faculty rep if you are unsure whether your service meets the Udall Foundation's criteria.

    I haven't yet been involved in formal research. How should I approach the question on research (D3)?

    Many students who haven't undertaken formal, scientific research have conducted research projects for campus initiatives and community organizations; an example would be researching alternatives to Styrofoam take away containers and conducting surveys to determine which alternatives would be appropriate for your campus community.

    You need only answer the question "if applicable." Readers do not penalize applicants who leave the question blank.

    I've been involved with many campus initiatives, but I like to think of myself as a team player. How important is leadership?

    Leadership is an important quality in a Udall Scholar. The selection committee looks for applicants who:

    • Bring people together by inspiring and motivating others to act, or by mediating opposing factions or groups to bring about consensus;
    • Identify problems or needs and propose and implement solutions;
    • Take initiative by looking for and creating opportunities.
    • The committee also evaluates whether applicants are likely to have a significant impact in their chosen career field.

    How to Apply

    Why can't I access the online application?

    Your Udall faculty representative must register you in order to give you access to the online application. When you have been registered, you will receive an email with a link to the application and your username and password.

    My school doesn’t have a faculty representative. What should I do?

    Discuss your interest in the Udall Scholarship with a professor, the dean of your academic college, or a faculty advisor. Direct them to the Udall Faculty Reps webpage to explain the importance of the faculty rep's role in the application process. In the meantime, use the sample application to begin thinking about your essays and letters of recommendation (you can request your letters even before you have a faculty rep). If one of your letter writers is affiliated with your undergraduate institution as faculty or staff, that person may also serve as your faculty rep. If you are having trouble recruiting a faculty rep, please contact the Udall Scholarship program manager for assistance.

    How do I determine my state of legal residence?

    Typically, your state of legal residence is the state in which you are registered to vote or your family's primary residence. Your school address is not usually your legal residence unless you have a permanent address in that city (and are not there simply for the purpose of attending university).

    Which transcripts should I submit with my application?

    You should submit transcripts from your current institution, transfer institutions, and any institutions where you took summer courses for college credit. If your transcript lists transfer credits, but no grades, we require transcripts from the transferring institution.

    You do not need to submit transcripts for:

  • College courses taken during high school;
  • Summer courses that were not for college credit;
  • Courses for which you did not receive credit at your current institution;
  • College courses taken more than 10 years ago.