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Student Scholarships, Awards & Special Programs

U.S. Presidential Scholarship Program

Each year, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (DESE) Commissioner seeks school nominations of high school seniors for the U.S. Presidential Scholar's Program.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. Each year up to approximately 160 students from across the country are named by the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Scholars are chosen based on their accomplishments in many areas — academics, leadership, and involvement in their school and the community and represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America's youth. U.S. Presidential Scholars are honored for their accomplishments during the National Recognition Program each June and to commemorate their achievement, the Scholars are awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion.

Please see the chart below for general program timelines. Specific dates for a given year may vary. Dates and details for each year are publicized once confirmed.

Typical TimingSteps
SeptemberAll high schools are invited by the Commissioner to submit names of up to two students (of different genders).
October 6, 2023Student nominations from high schools due to DESE for consideration. See Nomination Guidelines for submission details.
End of OctoberCommissioner selects up to 20 students (no more than 10 male and 10 female) nominees for the General Category, and up to 5 total (of any gender) for the Career Technical Education (CTE) Category.
Early to Mid-NovemberNames of selected student nominees (up to 25) are submitted to U.S. DOE from DESE.
DecemberPrincipals and superintendents are notified of each state's student nominees. These are referred to as "candidates" at the U.S. DOE level.
Mid-JanuaryU.S. DOE application cycle launched with candidate invitation sent from U.S. DOE to students.
Mid-FebruaryU.S. DOE application due date (for candidates)
Mid-AprilSemi-finalists announced by U.S. DOE.
Early MayScholar awards announced by U.S. DOE.
Late JuneU.S. Presidential Scholar's Recognition Program held.

Current and prior Candidates, Semi-finalists, and Scholars can be found on the U.S. DOE Presidential Scholars web site.

Details for the 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program will be available in early fall 2023.

Last Updated: September 15, 2023

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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