George Mitchell Scholarship
The George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program (Links to an external site.) is a nationally competitive award for U.S. citizens sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance. Named in honor of the former U.S. Senator’s pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, the Mitchell Scholarship is designed to introduce and connect future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognizing and fostering academic excellence, leadership, and a commitment to public service.
Up to twelve Mitchell Scholars between the ages of 18 and 30 are chosen annually for one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A candidate for the Mitchell Scholarship Program must meet ALL of the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be 18 years of age or older, but not yet 30, on the date the application is due. For example, if the deadline is September 29 and you turn 30 on September 28, you are not eligible.
- Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university before beginning study as a Mitchell Scholar. On the application deadline, you may be a graduating senior or recent alumnus/a.
The scholarship aims to connect the next generation of young leaders to Ireland while creating a community of Scholars committed to service, integrity, intellectual curiosity, and imbued with a sense of responsibility to each other and society.
- Academic excellence
- A record of outstanding leadership
- Sustained commitment to community and public service
The ideal candidate also has sufficient undergraduate preparation for the proposed course of study and demonstrated interests in strengthening Irish-European-US relationships or in making people-to-people connections across borders.
Graduate Study in Ireland
The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides funding for one year. Scholars normally enroll in one-year master’s degree (or similar) programs.
Applicants should list at least three different institutions and may list up to five. Institutional balance is a factor in the placement of Scholars at universities on the island, so an applicant’s prospects are enhanced by indicating multiple university preferences.
Undertake thorough research to familiarize yourself with the top programs in your field in Ireland. First, understand that graduate study is highly specialized and admissions is handled at the departmental level. The university’s overall ranking or reputation as a “world-class university” has surprisingly little bearing on the ranking of specific graduate programs and academic departments. Although you may have heard of specific Irish universities before, or have interest in studying in Dublin because it is a large cosmopolitan city, the top programs in your field and the faculty experts in your subfield of interest may be at other universities with which you are not yet familiar.
To get started, please read the U.S.-Ireland Alliance’s Guide to Institutions in Ireland (Links to an external site.).
Consider the reputation of particular courses and the fit of their faculty expertise and curricular offerings with your long-term academic focus, more than the institutions where they are situated. Ask your faculty for discipline-specific guidance as you narrow your options, as they are best positioned to discuss where you can find top faculty experts in your subfield to mentor you on graduate thesis projects.
Take copious notes as you browse the course websites and lists of faculty, because in your essays you must provide evidence that your selection of particular courses is intentional and the best path forward for your particular professional goals, including the importance of study in the U.K. to your specific plans. You can use a spreadsheet to organize your graduate program research notes.
Candidates should carefully examine the degree residence requirements at each university, as master’s programs can be for 1 or 2 years, but the Mitchell Scholarship funds only 1 year.
If you decide to contact your potential host universities in Ireland for more information or to form connections with Irish faculty who may supervise your research or creative activities, introduce yourself and your reasons for applying for the Mitchell Scholarship as well as the specific degree program that interests you. Attach your CV or resume to your email. You might also ask to speak to a current graduate student so that you can get a sense of the student experience at the university.
Finally, any reference to the geographic location of your course(s) should not be shallow or arbitrary; emphasize specific professional development opportunities and involvements in that city that would increase your long-term engagement with the Irish community, outside of the classroom.
Endorsement (Nomination) Requirements
Only applicants who are full-time or part-time undergraduate students at the time of the application deadline are required to submit an institutional endorsement. Graduate students and students in possession of an undergraduate degree at the time of the application deadline do not need an institutional endorsement, and one will not be accepted.
UNL may endorse as many Mitchell candidates as we would like, so you are only in competition with your own “best self.”
Each applicant must submit four letters of recommendation. Please match your choices of reference writers to the selection criteria. For full-time undergraduate students, at least two of the four letters must be from persons with whom the applicant has done academic work (such as course instructors or research mentors). For those who are not full-time students and have not been for the past year, at least one of the letters must be from someone with whom the applicant has done academic work. We do not allow more than the required four recommendations – it is more important to choose the people who you feel know you best and will provide the best recommendations.
Please provide your reference writers with a link to the guidance for references (Links to an external site.). Each letter of recommendation must not exceed 750 words and must be submitted through the online application system. Recommenders will receive an automated email from the Mitchell Scholarship Program once you enter their information in the online application.
The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides full tuition, housing (on-campus, when available), and a monthly living stipend (currently $1250 USD) for up to 12 months of post-graduate academic study on the island. Most programs run for nine months. Up to three additional months of summer stipend will be provided if residence on the island is required by the program of study (for a maximum of 12 months). One round-trip airline ticket between the United States and Ireland is also provided and booked directly by the US-Ireland Alliance. Each Mitchell Scholar is responsible for securing and financing his or her own health insurance while abroad.
The Mitchell Scholars Community
Attendance is mandatory at several program events, including:
- A pre-departure summer orientation in the DC-area (July).
- A welcome weekend/orientation in Dublin at the beginning of the Mitchell year (September).
- A mid-year retreat in Northern Ireland (February).
- A commencement weekend in Ireland at the end of the Mitchell year (mid to late May).
After the Mitchell year, the US-Ireland Alliance expects Mitchell Scholars to become active members of our non-profit organization, our alumni scholar community, and to remain connected to the island of Ireland. We urge applicants to consider this before applying. If you are just looking for a program to pay for your graduate degree, this is not the program for you.
Other Funding Opportunities for Ireland
Consider the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Open Study/Research or university partnership awards for Ireland (Links to an external site.). These two fellowship programs are similarly competitive and both looking to support student leaders with cross-cultural exchange opportunities. Like Mitchell, Fulbright will support one academic year of graduate study, though in a Fulbright application, your application will focus on only one Irish university.