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2021-2022 Young Scholar Awards Program

The Initiative on Faith & Public Life’s Young Scholar Awards Program seeks to foster high-quality academic research and writing by awarding $5,000 scholarships to up to six undergraduate students each year. Students are awarded scholarships for demonstrating significant promise in their field of research and for sharing AEI’s commitment to democracy, free enterprise, and solidarity with those at the periphery of our society.

Under the guidance of a faculty advisor at their school, selected students conduct year-long academic research projects on a topic of public policy, economics, law, or political philosophy. Upon submitting their final projects at the end of the academic year, students travel to Washington, DC to present and defend their work before panels of experts.

AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life provides opportunities for students to explore issues of economics, public policy, and society from a perspective of Christian faith, theology, and ethics. Young Scholars are encouraged to integrate faith-based reflections into their research projects, but are not required to.

Program Details


  • Applicant must be a rising junior or senior (in other words, have junior or senior status by Fall 2021);
  • Applicant must be a full-time undergraduate student; and
  • Applicant must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above at the time of entry.

Application Instructions:

  • Submit basic personal information via our online application form, as well as an up-to-date resume and an unofficial transcript;
  • A 500-word statement describing his or her views on the role of faith in the public square and why he or she would like to be selected as a Young Scholar;
  • A 500–1000-word prospectus for a research project in public policy, economics, law, or political philosophy. The prospectus must be well-developed and include an explanation of the motivation behind the selected topic, a clear hypothesis, brief literature review, an outline of any potential data sources, and a brief explanation of the intended methodology for the project. For further instructions and examples, click here;
  • A previous undergraduate research paper of at least 2,500 words (not required, but preferably a paper in a discipline related to your intended topic); and
  • Two letters of recommendation, including one from a faculty sponsor at the applicant’s undergraduate institution who has agreed to oversee the project.

Final Project Parameters:

  • Projects must be 5,000-7,500 words in length and demonstrate serious scholarship in the fields of public policy, economics, law, or political philosophy;
  • Projects may be presented as a formal academic research paper or as a public policy analysis paper (and may consist of qualitative and/or quantitative research);
  • Projects may have a historical component but should focus on a relevant, contemporary public policy topic or economic or social trend;
  • Projects may include hands-on research and interviews, although it is not required; and
  • Projects may be completed as part of a credit-bearing course at the Young Scholar’s college or university, although it is not required.

The application deadline is Monday, July 12, 2021.

Questions may be directed to Aryana Petrosky Roberts at [email protected]

Young Scholars will receive:

  • A $5,000 scholarship toward college tuition, to be disbursed to the college or university in the student’s name in two installments: after the November 2021 progress report has been received and approved, and after the second (winter) progress report has been received and approved. If the Young Scholar does not have remaining undergraduate financial commitments, he or she may designate the scholarship to a charity or nonprofit;
  • An invitation to AEI’s 2022 Annual Dinner (expenses paid);
  • Opportunities to blog for the Faith & Public Life website; and
  • Placement of an op-ed-length version of their project (along with the entire essay) on the Faith & Public Life website.

Faculty sponsors will receive:

  • A $2,500 stipend, to be received after the project’s completion; and
  • An invitation to AEI’s 2022 Annual Dinner (expenses paid).

To receive their scholarship, applicants must commit to:

  • Provide a work schedule by September 2021, that includes three AEI progress reports over the course of the year and terminates no later than the end of March 2022. Applicants must allow at least eight business days for their faculty sponsor to review the project in advance of each progress report. 
  • Submit a final draft of the project no later than April 1, 2022;
  • Travel to Washington, DC (expenses paid) to present and defend their project before a panel of experts in April 2022; and
  • Make final revisions to the project and write an op-ed version of their project to be published on the Faith & Public Life website following the project defense. The op-ed and final project may be submitted up to one month after the defense is complete.

To receive their stipend, faculty sponsors must commit to:

  • Provide oversight and periodic feedback for the project;
  • Review the project in advance of each progress report and return feedback in a timely manner. Students must give faculty sponsors at least eight business days to review the project; and
  • Schedule permitting, attend the project defenses in Washington, DC in April 2022 (expenses paid).