The Jefferson Scholarship selection process is designed to give students an opportunity to showcase their excellence in leadership, citizenship, and scholarship.  For the 2019-2020 competition, the Foundation received over 2,000 nominations from secondary schools participating in the regional competitions. 


No one may apply for a Jefferson Scholarship. Participating schools are asked to nominate the student in the senior class who best exemplifies excellence in the areas of leadership, scholarship, and citizenship.

  • An eligible school’s nominating committee is asked to nominate one student. 
  • Successful candidates have demonstrated uncommon academic abilities, exceptional leadership talents, and an understanding of the broader community around them.
  • Prior interest in the University of Virginia and financial need should not be factors in selecting a nominee.
  • Nominations are completed by both school officials and students and include a scholastic report, extracurricular activities, and two essays. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation is separate from the Office of Undergraduate Admission and does not have access to the Common Application.
  • The Jefferson Scholars Foundation seeks to identify the most highly talented students in the world, and all that is asked of these students is a willingness to participate fully in the selection process.
  • All counselors and Jefferson Scholar nominees must submit a completed nomination form by December 1.

*Schools will be allowed to nominate a second candidate if and only if they feel they have two equally qualified candidates between whom they are unable to distinguish.  

Admissions At-Large Nomination

A separate competition permits a review of all:

  • U.Va. Early Decision or Early Action applicants attending secondary schools not eligible to participate in the regional competitions
  • Nursing School applicants
  • School of Architecture applicants

Students who wish to be considered for a Jefferson Scholarship nomination but do not attend an eligible school must apply using the Early Decision or Early Action admission process to the University of Virginia. Due to the volume of students in the Admissions At-Large competition, only those students receiving a nomination will be notified of their status.

Regional Selection

Each year the Foundation identifies finalists from over 60 regional competitions around the country and 2 international competitions. Regional selection committees—comprised of alumni and friends of the University—review transcripts, extracurricular activities, essays, and recommendations before conducting one or more rounds of interviews. Of these regional nominees, 120 finalists are invited to Charlottesville to compete at the Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend in March.

Selection Event

In March, all 120 finalists arrive on Grounds for the Jefferson Scholars Selection Event, a multi-day opportunity to explore the University of Virginia and complete the Jefferson Scholarship competition. Activities included participation in seminars led by University professors, a written exercise, a math/logic exam, and a personal interview. At the competition’s conclusion, the Selection Committee selects the recipients of the Jefferson Scholarship, who must then decide whether to accept the scholarship offer by mid-April.



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