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President's Scholars Program


President's Scholars Program

The President's Scholars Program attracts some of the most academically gifted students in the nation. Each year SMU invites 20-25 of the most gifted first-year students in the entering class to receive President’s Scholarships: the highest academic merit awards given by the University. The President’s Scholars Program is so named because it represents the University’s highest commitment to attract and serve high-achieving students. President’s Scholarships provide full-tuition and fees for eight consecutive fall and spring academic semesters or graduation, whichever comes first.

Since its founding in 1982, the President’s Scholars Program has provided a world of opportunity to some of the nation’s brightest students, who in turn enrich the University environment with their intellectual vitality, diverse talents, and campus involvement.  

International study

President's Scholars also receive travel expenses and tuition for study abroad, choosing from more than 100 programs throughout the world. Some President’s Scholars take advantage of SMU summer programs abroad, while others compete to be admitted as students for a year at prestigious universities abroad such as those in Great Britain.

Meeting world leaders

Scholars also have opportunities to meet world leaders on campus for the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, which sponsors several of the scholars. In its 37 years, the Series has brought to campus three former U.S. presidents, nine foreign heads of state, eight Nobel Laureates, and two Supreme Court Justices. For more information, the Tate web site can be visited at

A community of learners and leaders

President’s Scholars join a tight-knit community of highly motivated students and dedicated faculty and staff mentors. Activities throughout the year include the annual retreat at the SMU-in-Taos campus, located on the site of a pre-civil war fort and a 13th century Anasazi pueblo nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. Dinner discussions at faculty members’ homes bring scholars together with other professors for conversations about current events and hot topics. Many scholars interact with corporate and community leaders who underwrite their scholarships and offer mentoring opportunities. SMU President R. Gerald Turner also welcomes scholars to his home for special events.

President’s Scholars join the University Honors Program, which fosters an intellectual community through challenging interdisciplinary courses, student-initiated research, internships, and classes taught by exceptional faculty ( It is not unusual for President’s Scholars to combine double or triple majors across disciplines, while also actively participating in campus life. After graduation, many continue their studies at distinguished medical, law, and other graduate schools throughout the world.

Many President’s Scholars are leaders in student government and serve on committees of the SMU Board of Trustees, the governing body of the University. SMU is one of the few universities in the nation to have a voting student-member on its Board of Trustees, along with student members serving on all Board committees.