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Phi Beta Kappa Key Into Public Service Scholarship

Phi Beta Kappa Society's Key Into Public Service Scholarship is designed to inspire students in the liberal arts and sciences to consider careers in public service, and to prepare them with pathways to active citizenship and careers in local, state, or federal government.

Award: $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and participation in a conference that provides training, mentoring, and reflection on pathways into local, state, and federal government careers.

Application Opens: Early November 2023

UC San Diego Deadline: January 22, 2024


Required Criteria

  • Good academic standing (Minimum 3.5 GPA)
  • Sophomore, junior, or non-graduating senior
  • Intellectual curiosity, breadth, and depth of interests reflected in liberal arts and sciences coursework
  • Positive contributions through academic research, internships, and community work
  • Demonstrated commitment to serve others
  • Be able to attend a required conference for Service Scholars in Washington, D.C. for 4 days in June. (The Society will provide travel, lodging, and meals for this event.)

Preferred Characteristics

  • Intellectual Curiosity: Ideas excite you and you learn from many viewpoints. You are passionate about your arts and sciences education, and eager to learn more about the world around you.
  • Breadth and Interdisciplinary Depth:  You demonstrate academic excellence in your arts, humanities, mathematics, natural science, or social science major with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. In addition, you also take a range of coursework outside your primary field of interest as demonstrated in your transcript and can communicate why a well-rounded education matters. 
  • Leadership: You can identify how you influence others positively, either on or off campus through academic research, campus extracurricular activities, internships, employment, or community organizing.
  • Service to Others: You would like to pursue a career in government or another form of public service to serve the common good. You can show a meaningful commitment to others by your participation in volunteer/community service activities.

Application Requirements

  • List of activities and outside interests
    • Briefly describe your extra-curricular activities and interests, including any jobs/internships, research, or leadership positions you have held.
  • Essays
    • In 250 words or less, what does your liberal arts and sciences education mean to you and how has it influenced your interest in public service?
    • Every individual is a part of communities that contribute to their perspective and provide opportunities to celebrate diversity of thought and freedom of opinion. These communities can be defined by geography, ethnicity, religion, income, identity, etc. In 250 words or less, describe a community you are a part of and what it means to you.
  • Short answer questions (up to 150 words for each question below)
    • Please tell us about an arts and sciences course that changed your perspective on a topic and how your perspective changed.
    • Please describe your career goals post-graduation and how they connect to local, state, or federal service.
    • Please discuss a member of Phi Beta Kappa that you admire. (Notable Members)
    • Briefly describe your plans to enter local, state, or federal government service after graduation.
  • Letter of recommendation
    • Please provide contact information for a professor, faculty member, or academic advisor who can who can attest in a letter of recommendation to your academic achievements and/or interest in public service on your behalf. Please do not select an off-campus internship or job supervisor to write your letter of recommendation because they cannot fully speak to the breadth of your arts and sciences academic background. Find additional guidance here.
  • Official transcript
    • Unofficial transcripts will be accepted with the application. If a student is selected for the Scholarship, an official transcript will be required before the award is confirmed.
  • Signature
    • To participate in the required educational conference in Washington, D.C., I understand that I will be required to provide the Society with proof that I am up-to-date with all COVID vaccination doses available to me.
    • I understand that if I am awarded a scholarship under the Key Into Public Service Program and accept the scholarship award, funds may only be applied to offset financial obligations that I have incurred or reasonably expect to incur for tuition, room, board, and other educational expenses during the academic year. I further understand that if I receive a scholarship under the Key Into Public Service Program, the $5,000 award will be paid by check directly to my college or university to cover tuition, room, board, and other educational expenses. I certify that the information I have provided herein is true and correct. I authorize the Phi Beta Kappa Society to verify the accuracy of all information I have provided. I further authorize the Phi Beta Kappa Society to use information about me and my background for publicity purposes and give permission to publish my photo and bio should I be selected for a scholarship. I waive the right to access letters of recommendation written on my behalf. Lastly, I understand that all decisions of the Phi Beta Kappa Society regarding the awarding of scholarships are final.

Contact Information

Undergraduate Research Logo

Contact: Sophia Tsai Neri, PhD


Phone: 858-534-9014

Make an appointment: