The John B. Ervin Scholars Program was founded on four pillars—academic excellence, leadership, community service, and diversity. All our scholars are expected to exemplify these ideals to be competitive for this program.

If selected as an Ervin Scholar, students will participate in variety of opportunities as part of the program, including a special orientation to WashU, 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 John B Ervin Scholars Program website.


The Ervin Scholars Program is open to only U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Students admitted into any of WashU’s undergraduate divisions may apply for the Ervin Scholars Program. A separate application and additional letter of recommendation are required.

On-Campus Interviews for Finalists

Finalists are notified in mid-February and invited to campus for our Scholarship Weekend, March 26-29, 2020. The university will pay for finalists’ round-trip expenses within the United States and their expenses in St. Louis during this visit. To remain eligible, finalists must attend these activities. Each committee prepares special activities and events that allow them to get to know the finalists and that allow the finalists to interact with our current scholars, faculty, staff, and each other. 

To apply for the John B. Ervin Scholars Program:

  • Submit an application for admission to the Class of 2024.
  • Log in to your WashU Pathway account to submit the separate application for the Ervin Scholars Program.
  • Write a brief answer (150 words) to the following question:
    Describe a high school or community activity in which you have taken initiative. What were the challenges and outcomes? What did you learn?
  • Write a short essay (250 words) on the following topic:
    Review the biography of Dr. John B. Ervin (below) and the four Program Pillars (above). How have you demonstrated your commitment to the ideals of the program? Please provide 1-2 specific examples.
  • Submit an additional (third) letter of recommendation from a member of your community who knows you well. If you submit an “other” letter of recommendation through the Common Application or Coalition Application, that letter may be used.
  • All applications must be submitted by January 2, 2020 and complete in our office by January 6, 2020. For best consideration, we encourage you to submit your applications by December 15, 2019. 

John B. Ervin

The story of Dr. John B. Ervin is one of achievement and determination in the face of discrimination. Dr. Ervin was a nationally renowned black educator, scholar, and author who committed his life to the education of all people. In 1968, he became the first African-American dean of the School of Continuing Education at Washington University. He was also very involved with the St. Louis community, holding leadership positions on boards of numerous organizations and foundations. As a beloved member of the WashU community, Dr. Ervin 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.