Named in honor of William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth, the former Chancellor and First Lady of Washington University from 1971 to 1995, the program is a tribute to their exemplary leadership and service. 

The Danforth Scholars Program honors students with a passion for helping others. We are looking for students who have demonstrated leadership in service and a strong commitment to community. Danforth Scholars are also known for their academic excellence, personal integrity, and high ideals.

Danforth Scholars may receive full-tuition scholarships with a $2,500 stipend or half-tuition scholarships. The scholarship is renewed each year for the duration of the degree program, provided you progress academically and uphold the high standards of character required of scholars. 

For more information, visit the the Danforth Scholars Program website.


Students who apply to any undergraduate division of Washington University may apply for the Danforth Scholars Program.

We’ve eliminated the nomination requirement from the application process to ensure equal access for all students wanting to apply to this program. This ensures students from under-resourced schools and communities will be able to apply for and be considered for this program.

Interviews for Finalists

Finalists will be notified by the end of February and invited to a virtual interview. Finalists must attend the interview to remain eligible.

To Apply

  • Submit an application for admission to the Class of 2028.
  • Write a short essay (maximum 250 words) on the following topic:
    Chancellor Danforth and Mrs. Danforth deeply cared about building trust within the community and being of service to others. As servant leaders, they demonstrated a true passion and commitment to enhancing the experiences of students, staff, and faculty. In the words of Dr. Danforth, “The achievement of understanding, mutual trust, and appreciation is not only an end in itself, but it is also the prerequisite for major progress” How have you demonstrated your commitment to servant leadership and improving community? Please provide 1-2 specific examples.
  • Write a short essay (maximum 200 words) on the following topic:
    Our lived experiences shape our worldly perspectives. As a community, we aim to learn from one another through attentive listening and meaningful dialogue. How will your lived experiences impact the Danforth Scholars Program?
  • If you’re submitting the Common Application, you can find these prompts in the Writing Supplement section. If you’re submitting the Coalition Application, you will apply through the WashU Pathway after you’ve submitted both your profile and the Washington University-specific questions.
  • The scholarship committee will review the two required letters of recommendation submitted with your application for admission. To better understand you, the scholarship committee also requires a third letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to your contributions and commitment to the community.


All applications must be submitted by January 3, 2024.

William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth

As the former Chancellor and First Lady of Washington University, the Danforths inspired countless others with their values, character, and commitment. 

Dr. Danforth spent 20 years at the university as a medical resident, faculty member, and, eventually, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs. He began serving the university as its 13th Chancellor in 1971. When he retired 24 years later, he was credited with leading the effort that molded the University into one of the nation’s finest teaching and research institutions. Following his retirement as Chancellor, Dr. Danforth served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for four years and now is the University’s Chancellor Emeritus. 

Dr. Danforth and the late Mrs. Danforth devoted countless hours to building the university and maintaining ties with its students and alumni. But their reach has extended well beyond the University. Dr. Danforth continues to be one of St. Louis’ most highly regarded public citizens and a tireless champion of the community. 

The Danforth Scholars Program is funded by friends of the Danforths.