Application Information

Students selected as Hunt Leadership Scholars for the Class of 2025 will receive an annual Hunt Scholarship of $44,000, or a total of $176,000 over four years. The Hunt Scholarship will replace and supersede any centrally administered merit aid, but Hunt Scholars may also be eligible for additional departmental scholarships or need-based aid for a total scholarship package valued up to the cost of tuition and fees. In addition, because leaders of the 21st century will need to have a global vision in any area of leadership, the scholarship also covers the airfare for a leadership-based study abroad program immediately following each scholar's sophomore year.

  1. Demonstrated Extraordinary Leadership:

    This is normally reflected through serving in top leadership positions of high school organizations. This requirement may also be reflected through significant leadership accomplishments in areas outside the high school setting. Examples of such leadership may include: Senior or Junior class president or Student Council president, Editor-in-Chief of school newspaper, founders of organizations, senior leadership in scouting or service organizations, Boys State or Girls State representative.

  2. Submission of the Hunt Essay and YouTube statement (see below), and a completed first-year application for admission to SMU.

  3. Rank in top 25% of graduating class.*

  4. Composite SAT 1330 or ACT 29 (Note: SMU is adopting a one-year test-optional policy to ease student stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spring and Fall 2021 applicants to SMU will not have to submit standardized test scores, nor will Fall 2021 applicants to the Hunt Leadership Scholars program.)

  5. Completion of a strong college preparatory curriculum, typically including AP courses, IB courses, and honors classes.
Students who lack one of the criteria 3, 4, or 5 may be considered if outstanding abilities in other areas are identified in addition to demonstrated extraordinary leadership. Only first-time, full-time domestic students are eligible for the Hunt Scholarship.

* If the school does not rank students, then the expectation is a strong academic record.

 In addition to submitting an application for admission to SMU, students applying for the Hunt Leadership Scholarship must submit an additional essay and YouTube video statement.

Essays should be submitted online in Word document or PDF form. Links to YouTube video statements should be copied and pasted into the application form.

The selection committee will have access to your full application for admission, including letters of recommendation. Should you feel that your existing letters of recommendation do not address your leadership skills, you may email one additional letter of recommendation to

Please note: the application for the Class of 2025 is now available!

Approximately 20 entering first-year students each year will be selected as Hunt Leadership Scholars. Leadership is the primary criterion for selection. Around sixty finalists are invited to interview (the interview is required for consideration for the Scholarship) on a designated day in March.

Due to ongoing health and safety concerns due to COVID-19, interviews for finalists for the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program for will be conducted virtually this year, on Friday, March 12, 2021. We know that visiting campuses is a critical part of your college search process, so each finalist for the Hunt Leadership Scholarship will also receive funding for one airfare and a hotel stay to visit the SMU campus at a time of their choosing. Additional details will be provided to the 2021 finalists when those decisions are released in mid-February.

In 2020, over 700 applicants for the Program were considered. Those invited to interview had shown truly exceptional leadership and service to their high schools and communities. They combined effective, dedicated, and energetic service and the ability to lead others with a spirit of inquiry and a strong sense of social responsibility. Beyond these factors, there are no stereotypes or typical characteristics for the Hunt Leadership Scholars. Their academic intentions span the University -- Philosophy, Premed, Political Science, Undecided, etc. – and they have widely varying interests, activities, and backgrounds.

Q: I’ve applied early action to SMU. Must I submit my Hunt Essay and recommendation letter at the same time, or do I have more time?
A: You have more time. The materials that are specific to the Hunt Leadership Scholarship do not need to be submitted at the same time that you submit your SMU application. If you submit a completed SMU application earlier—for instance, by November, December, or January 15—you can still submit the additional Hunt Leadership Scholarship materials by January 15.

Q: I see that the Hunt Leadership Scholarship deadline is January 15. If I submit my SMU application earlier, can I still submit my Hunt Leadership Scholarship application?
A: Yes. The materials that are specific to the Hunt Leadership Scholarship do not need to be submitted at the same time that you submit your SMU application. If you submit a completed SMU application earlier—for instance, by November or December—you can still submit the additional Hunt Leadership Scholarship materials by January 15.

Q: I have completed my SMU application online. Is there a place to fill out the Hunt Essay online?
A: Yes. Your Hunt Essay and application must be submitted online. You will be asked to upload a copy of your essay, either as a Word document or a PDF.

Q: Are test scores required for the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program application?
A: No. Hunt Leadership Scholars Program application requirements align with SMU's temporary test optional policy. Spring and fall 2021 applicants have the option to submit standardized test scores. If applicants choose to report their scores, SMU accepts self-reported scores during the application process. If applicants submitted unofficial scores and enroll at SMU, we will then ask them to send official score reports from testing agencies (ACT code: 4174; SAT code: 6660). More information is available on the Office of Undergraduate Admission website.