The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program

By Bright Silas

Scholarship Snapshot
Amount: Full Cost of attendance
Scope (Full or Partial): Full
Target Country: United States
Target Audience: High School Seniors/Undergraduate Students/International students
Deadline: Varies

Are you looking for a prestigious full-ride scholarship that can support you through your college education?

The Robertson Scholars Leadership offers an excellent opportunity for students to get access to quality education without worrying about the expenses of a college education.

In this article, we will discuss what the Robertson Scholars Program is all about, the benefits of being a Robertson Scholar, the eligibility requirements for the different classes of students that the scholarship targets, and how they can apply to become a Robertson Scholar. 

What is the Robertson Scholarship?

The Robertson Scholars Program is a joint undergraduate leadership development program between two prestigious institutions: the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Duke University. Benefactor Julian Robertson, a 1955 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill established this program in 2000.

His intent was to foster collaboration between Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hills and to mold outstanding students into exceptional leaders in society. 

The Robertson Scholarship is a merit-based full-ride scholarship. A merit-based type of scholarship is awarded based on merit, usually for academic excellence. It’s typically given to students with exceptional academic achievements, including high GPA, class rank, AP/honors classes, and perfect or near-perfect SAT or ACT scores. Merit-based full-ride scholarships may also consider leadership skills, extracurricular activities, and other accomplishments.

 The Robertson Scholars Program looks out for students who show excellent academic and leadership capabilities. It offers such students support to attain a college education at little or no cost. High school students, current students at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, and international students are eligible to apply for this scholarship.. 

How hard is it to get the Robertson Scholarship?

The Robertson scholarship is highly competitive with an intense selection process. The acceptance rate of this scholarship is not clearly defined. The program receives thousands of applications every year but only about 25-30 students get awards as Robertson Scholars to both Universities. However, despite its low acceptance rate, you too can be among the Robertson Scholars with the right information, preparation, and determination.

Benefits of the Robertson Leadership Scholars Program

Robertson Scholars enjoy a lot of unique benefits. They include the following:

  • Full cost of attendance: The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program provides eight semesters of full tuition, room and board, and most mandatory fees for Scholars at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. The Program is worth over $66,000 per annum.
  • Dual Citizenship: The Robertson scholarship offers participants a unique “dual citizenship” at both Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Robertson scholars enjoy a peculiar opportunity to switch campuses. During the second semester of their sophomore year, Robertson Scholars live and take classes on their sister campus. This helps to strengthen the educational and community ties between both Universities and train Scholars on how to adapt and thrive in new or challenging environments. 
  • Summer Opportunities: The Robertson Scholars program provides funding for three summers to pursue transformative experiences such as internships, research, service projects, and study abroad programs.
  • Leadership Development: The program offers a robust leadership development curriculum, mentoring opportunities, and workshops that equip scholars with the skills necessary to become effective leaders in their respective fields.
  • Community Engagement: Scholars have access to a vibrant and supportive community of fellow scholars, alumni, and mentors who offer guidance and support throughout their academic journey and beyond. Scholars actively engage with this community, both on and off campus, through service initiatives, volunteer work, and social entrepreneurship projects.

Robertson Scholarship Requirements

Applicants for the Robertson Scholars Program must consider the program’s eligibility criteria. They include the following requirements:

  • High school seniors, current undergraduate students in Duke or UNC, and international students of any nationality are eligible to apply. This scholarship is not open to transfer students.
  • Applicants must show exceptional academic achievement. Robertson Scholars must have a minimum GPA of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. Students who have taken challenging courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IP) have a higher advantage. 
  • Applicants must show outstanding leadership potential, must participate in extracurricular activities, and display a commitment to community service.
  • International applicants must ensure they obtain a VISA to study in the United States.
  • The Roberson Scholars Program seeks individuals with a collaborative spirit, that are open to learning opportunities
  • Students must apply to either of the respective colleges of their choice by the deadline specified by the institution. 
  • Applicants must demonstrate intellectual curiosity and a commitment to pursue a meaningful career field or service opportunity after graduation
  • Applicants must display strength of character and moral values. 

How to Become a Robertson Scholar?

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program welcomes applications from all students regardless of nationality or citizenship. As already mentioned, Program is open to three audiences, namely: High school students, Current undergraduate students at Duke or UNC, and International students. Each of these groups of people shares something in common: they require recommendation letters but do not require any standardized tests or transcripts to apply. However, they have slightly different application processes and deadlines. We will discuss them individually to enable you to follow accordingly in the group you fall into.

High School Students

High school students that have graduated and have not yet matriculated to any University can apply for the Robertson Scholars Program. There is only one application available for all High School students regardless of nationality or citizenship with the exception of New Zealand, Australia, and the African Leadership Academy. Students must apply separately for undergraduate admission to either Duke and/or UNC-Chapel Hill the same year they apply to the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program by the respective Early or Regular deadlines. 

Application Timeline

  • Application opens August 15, 2023
  • Application closes November 15, 2023
  • Semi-finalist interviews occur Mid-February 2024
  • Finalist interviews take place in early March 2024
  • Connection weekend occurs in late March 2024

Current Students at Duke or UNC

Full-time undergraduate students in their first year of study at Duke or UNC can apply to join the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. Students should apply using the Current Duke & UNC Students Application. Selected students will join the Robertson Cohort for Community Summer and will receive full tuition, room and board, and fees for up to six (6) semesters. The scholars are also eligible for the same summer funding opportunities as students selected in the High School process. 

Students with another scholarship that is not full-ride may apply. Students that applied as High school students but did not get in can also apply. The application requires one letter of recommendation from a current faculty member at UNC or Duke University. Applicants must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA after the first semester to show academic abilities.

Must have a minimum 3.0 GPA after the first semester at UNC or Duke Must be enrolled 

Application Timeline

  • Application opens October 1, 2023
  • Application closes January 2, 2024
  • Semi-finalist interviews occur in early February 2024
  • Finalist interviews take place in early February 2024
  • Connection weekend occurs in late March 2024

International Students

  • African Leadership Academy: Students who complete the sixth form at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) can apply to the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program through the ‘High School’ application if they receive a nomination. Application opens in August and application deadline for ALA nominees is October 15th. To apply, ALA students should choose the High School Application option and select ‘African Leadership Academy Applicant’. They will need to enter the password provided by the ALA administration for nominees. 
  • New Zealand: The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program collaborates with Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara to select students who are New Zealand citizens or studying in New Zealand high schools. If you are studying in New Zealand, you will need to apply for admission to Duke University and/or UNC-Chapel Hill and follow the specific application procedures provided by Te Pōkai Tara for the Robertson Scholars Program. The application for New Zealand students is only available on the UNZ-Te Pōkai Tara website. Application opens on 1st August and closes on 1st December. Scholarship decisions are taken in late February.

Admission Applications

UniversityApplication mediumApplication OpeningApplication Deadline
Duke UniversityApply using either the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application.Mid-AugustEarly Decision applications are due November 1.
Regular Decision applications are due January 3.
University of North Carolina-Chapel HillApply through the Common ApplicationEarly Decision applications should apply by October 15.
Regular Decision applications should apply by January 15.
Admission decision takes place for Early applicants by January 31
Admission decision takes place for Regular applicants by March 31


The Robertson Scholars Program is a beacon of opportunity for ambitious students seeking a transformative undergraduate experience. With its focus on academic excellence, leadership development, and community engagement, the program equips scholars with the tools they need to excel academically and make a positive impact in the world. As an aspiring student, consider the Robertson Scholars Program as a stepping stone to unlock your full potential and become a catalyst for change in your chosen field. Apply today and embark on a journey that will shape your future and empower you to make a difference.

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