The Sumners Scholarship is a merit-based program. Successful candidates will demonstrate academic excellence, a sense of civic responsibility and the potential for leadership.
The Foundation has six endowed graduate and undergraduate scholarship programs in Texas and Oklahoma. In each case, scholarship applications and administration are handled by the individual institutions.
Law schools: The Sumners Scholarships at the Oklahoma City University School of Law and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law provide full tuition and fees, a book allowance, and a living allowance. This three-year scholarship requires, among other things, that the recipients rank in the top one-third of their class on an annual basis. Four to six new Scholars are selected at each law school each year.
Undergraduate: The two-year Sumners scholarships at Austin College, Howard Payne University, Schreiner University, and Texas Wesleyan University are available for students beginning their junior year. Preferred majors are in the area of political science, although scholarships have been granted in education, history, journalism, pre-law, and other disciplines.
Awarded in differing amounts, the undergraduate Sumners Scholarships require the recipient to maintain at least a 3.25 GPA for renewal each semester.
Working from a pool of candidates deemed qualified in all respects for the Sumners Scholarship by each institution, the trustees of the Foundation conduct personal interviews of the finalists on each campus and make the final scholarship decisions each spring. In addition to academic excellence, the trustees seek young men and women who are civically engaged and possess a capacity for leadership. Those wishing to apply must contact the institution directly for an access code. Applications are to be submitted online.
PhD Candidates in Political Philsophy: Applicants must be enrolled as full-time Ph.D. students who have advanced to candidacy by the time applications are due. Applications must be submitted on the Sumners Foundation Web Portal https://www.sumnersfoundation.org/scholarships/. Candidates may or may not be interviewed virtually or in person for the Trustees to make their final decisions.
Expectations of Scholars selected include:
- Attending one of two required programs offered during each academic year (one is offered in the fall and one in the spring)
- Attending any two other programs offered by the Foundation each year
- Participating in the spring Scholar luncheon each year
- Willingness to be interviewed by the Foundation regarding their dissertation and have the interview published
- Committing to one oral presentation arranged by the Foundation
- Maintaining a minimum 3.5 GPA
Candidates may have a permanent residence in any of the following states (Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma or Texas), but must be attending college in either Texas or Oklahoma. Scholarships are $15,000 a year for up to two years.
At-large scholarships support qualified students who demonstrate a passion for self-government. Students from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas are eligible to apply as long they are attending a college or university in Texas or Oklahoma.
Working from a pool of undergraduate candidates deemed qualified in all respects for the Sumners Scholarship, the Trustees of the Foundation conduct personal interviews of the finalists and make the final scholarship decisions. In addition to academic excellence, the trustees seek young men and women who are civically engaged and possess a capacity for leadership. Trustees are looking for students are are actively working to further our democracy. A cumulative minimum GPA of 3.5 is required and must be maintained if selected as a Sumners Scholar. Students must be US citizens. Scholarships are for rising juniors with funds to be applied for the junior and senior years of undergraduate work only.
Additional Program Benefits
In addition to receiving varying degrees of financial support for their collegiate or post-graduate education,
Sumners Scholars enjoy special access to other programs sponsored by the Foundation. These currently include private access to speakers as part of a lecture series; participation in a variety of public policy, leadership, and civic participation programs; and access to several educational and internship opportunities.
Among the distinguished figures with whom Sumners Scholars have had private meetings are President Gerald Ford, then-Governor George W. Bush, Queen Noor of Jordan, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, John Stossel of ABC's 20/20, and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News.
Expectations for Sumners Scholars
The Sumners Scholarship is a merit-based program. Successful candidates will demonstrate academic excellence, a sense of civic responsibility, and the potential for leadership.
In line with the Foundation’s statement of purpose, the Foundation will work to enhance these traits and skills in each Sumners Scholar by making additional, unique educational experiences available.
The Sumners Foundation’s expectations of its Scholars are driven by its statement of purpose. The trustees expect each Sumners Scholar to:
- Develop or strengthen their understanding of, and appreciation for, the underlying principles of America’s representative democracy.
- Become politically informed and actively participate in the democratic process on the local, state, and national levels.
- Honor their civic responsibilities by committing their time, talent, and treasure to the betterment of the larger community.
- Actively assist the Foundation in carrying out its charitable purpose.
As the Sumners Foundation’s expectations of its scholarship recipients are fulfilled, the trustees believe it will result in a continually growing pool of talented citizens who are participating at the core of American civic life.