Students who apply to any undergraduate division of Washington University may apply for the John B. Ervin Scholars Program. This nationally pre-eminent program is intended to foster a richly diverse educational atmosphere on campus and to enhance the overall quality and diversity of the Washington University student body. The Ervin Scholars Program is open to all qualified applicants, regardless of race, who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
The university is seeking students who demonstrate exceptional intellectual and leadership achievements, and who have shown a commitment to community service. The program supports students who demonstrate their commitment to bringing diverse people together.
Multiple scholarships—each with full tuition and a $2,500 annual stipend—are awarded each year; partial scholarships may also be awarded. The scholarships support four years of undergraduate study if the Ervin Scholar maintains a satisfactory academic record and meets the expectations of the program.
In honor of John B. Ervin, Washington University established the Ervin Scholars Program to help create a more diverse community on campus. Recognizing the intellectual, leadership, and service achievements of these students.
Students selected as Ervin Scholars are expected to participate in each component of the program, including orientation to Washington University, meetings with university and community leaders, academic support and advising, and events with other Ervin Scholars and the program’s administrators. Ervin Scholars are also expected to engage in organizations and activities on campus and in service projects in the community. For more information, visit the program website at ervin.wustl.edu.
The Ervin Scholars Program is open to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, regardless of race. Applicants should excel academically, challenge themselves, demonstrate initiative and leadership in their communities, bring diverse groups together, commit to community service, serve historically underprivileged populations, and/or persevere through challenging circumstances.
Students selected as Ervin Scholars are expected to exemplify the spirit of John B. Ervin and to commit to continuing to honor and extend his legacy in the Washington University community.
The Ervin Scholars Committee will evaluate applications and invite finalists to Washington University for a four-day weekend program, including group activities and personal interviews. To remain eligible for the scholarships, finalists will need to come to Washington University for these activities. Washington University will pay for finalists' round-trip expenses within the United States and their expenses in St. Louis during these four days.
- Submit an application for admission to the Class of 2021, including a transcript.
- Submit a separate application for the Ervin Scholars Program.
Write a brief response (150 words or less) to one of the following questions:
- If you wish to apply online, you must first submit your Common Application to gain access to the WashU Pathway. You may apply online through a link when you log in to the WashU Pathway.
- If you prefer, you may submit the application by mail.
Write an essay of approximately 500 words on the following topic:
- Describe your most difficult challenge and how you approached it.
- In which of your high school or community activities do you take the greatest pride? Why?
Required: Submit an additional (third) letter of recommendation from a member of your community who knows you well. You may submit the recommendation by mail, or request the recommendation electronically using the link in the WashU Pathway. If you submit an "other" letter of recommendation through the Common Application, that letter will be used for your Ervin Scholarship.
Keep a copy of your completed scholarship application.
- Review the biography of John B. Ervin below and the eligibility requirements, and reflect upon your academic and community experiences. Please describe your experience with diversity and your commitment to bringing diverse groups together. Then describe your commitment to leadership in your school and how you would continue that commitment at Washington University if you are selected as an Ervin Scholar. Include specific examples of your dedication to the ideals embraced by the Ervin Scholars Program.
A nationally renowned black educator, scholar, and author, Dr. John B. Ervin (1916–1992) committed his life to the education of all people. He knew the power of education in his life, and he saw it as a preparation for a full and more humane life, a life of leadership and service committed to the improvement of the human condition. The story of John B. Ervin, born in Birmingham, Alabama, and reared in Kent, Ohio, is one of achievement and determination in the face of discrimination.
He received his doctorate from Columbia University and trained teachers for a number of decades. In 1968, Dr. Ervin was invited to Washington University in St. Louis as dean of the School of Continuing Education, becoming the first African-American to hold a dean’s position at the university. He held leadership positions on boards of numerous St. Louis organizations, including the Danforth Foundation, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Saint Louis Art Museum, and the United Way. Presidents Ford and Carter appointed him to the National Advisory Council on Extension and Continuing Education. He was also a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Dr. Ervin published a number of articles on education in professional journals. He also served as vice president of the Danforth Foundation from 1977 until his retirement in 1986.
A beloved member of the university community, Dr. Ervin was deeply respected for his honesty and integrity. He is best remembered for his commitment to excellence, his engagement with the community, and his efforts to bring diverse people together to heal divisions among them.