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Thank you for taking the time to write a letter of recommendation for a nationally competitive scholarship application. Yours is a valuable contribution to this formative process and we appreciate your advocacy on behalf of the applicant.

Please be aware, it is a matter of NCS policy that applicants must waive their right to see your letter of recommendation. We also cannot accept letters authored by applicants; the endorsement must be from the letter-signer.

At any time in the process, from brainstorming the first draft to finalizing your letter, we are delighted to help. Please contact if you would like to discuss further or for questions or concerns.

  • Record of extensive and quality community service and government involvement
  • Likelihood of 'making a difference' in public service
  • Leadership record, potential, and communication skills
  • Academic success, including writing and analytical skills
  • Suitability of the nominee's proposed program of study for a career in public service
Endorsement required?Yes. This is a multi-stage process.

Number of

Recommendation Letters

The Truman Scholarship asks applicants to submit three letters of recommendation, each reflecting on a different selection criterion, although it is acceptable for a letter to discuss more than one criterion.

  • The ‘Leadership Abilities and Potential’ letter should comment on the activity outlined by the applicant in their leadership essay (Question #7).
  • Likewise, the ‘Commitment to a Career in Public Service’ letter should comment on the activity outlined by the applicant in their public service essay (Question #8).
  • The third letter should be dedicated to ‘Intellect and Prospects for Continuing Academic Success’.


Application Timeline
Endorsement Application Deadline

NCS will convene a faculty committee to decide which applicants will go forward to compete at the national level.

November 22
Endorsement Decisions Announced Early December
National Deadline February 7



Submit your letter by email to It should be a signed PDF on letterhead. If your applicant is endorsed, Duke will submit your letter to the national committee on your behalf.

Please address your letter to the “Truman Selection Committee”.

  • How does the applicant meet the Truman criteria?  What is outstanding about their scholarship, leadership, and/or character?
  • Do you see this person as being a “change agent” of the future?
  • How does their graduate study plan fit into their future ambitions?
  • What examples can you share that illustrate your strong endorsement for the candidate?
  • How does this applicant compare to other people you have taught/supervised?

Applicants are instructed to let you know as soon as they learn the decision of the campus endorsement committee. Endorsements are usually made by NCS before the end of the fall semester.

Further Resources

Advice from the Truman Foundation to recommendation writers: