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Frequently Asked Questions About the Mitchell Scholarship Program

About the Mitchell Scholarship

Mitchell Scholarship Applications

Institutional Endorsements

Recommendations

Study in Ireland

Selection Process

About the Mitchell Scholarship

How many apply for a Mitchell Scholarship each year?

It varies, but generally speaking, the Scholarship office receives approximately 300 completed applications each year.

How many Mitchell Scholarships are awarded each year?

Up to twelve Scholars are selected, however, this number is not absolutely fixed and depends on the Selection Committee assessment of candidates, as well as university placement in Ireland.

Do Mitchell Scholars have to be Irish-Americans in order to apply?

No. Ethnic origin or ancestry is not a factor in the selection process. The Mitchell Scholarship Program openly welcomes and encourages candidates of all ethnic, racial, religious, and political backgrounds to apply.

Is there any advantage for an applicant who is a Democrat or active in Democratic Party organizations given the George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program is named after the former Democratic Senate Majority Leader from Maine?

No, political affiliation plays no role in the selection process. The scholarship is named to honor the former US Senator's extraordinary and pivotal contributions to Northern Ireland's Good Friday peace agreement in 1998, an achievement that received overwhelming bipartisan support in the United States.

If a candidate has studied in Ireland previously, does this help or hurt the application?

The Selection Committee's overriding interest is in an applicant's record of scholarship, leadership, and commitment to community and public service.  The Mitchell Scholarship Program seeks to introduce future American leaders to the island of Ireland, and therefore, the lack of previous experience there could weigh in favor of a candidate among equally qualified applicants. Previous or current study in Ireland, however, does not preclude someone from being selected as a Mitchell Scholar.

What benefits do Mitchell Scholars receive?

The Mitchell Scholarship Program supports one year of [post]graduate study in any discipline offered by an institution of higher learning in Ireland or Northern Ireland. The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides tuition, housing, a cash stipend for living expenses, and an international travel stipend.

Can I apply for other scholarships, like the Marshall and the Rhodes?

Mitchell candidates can also apply for other awards, including the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships.

If a candidate accepts a final Mitchell interview, the candidate must commit to accepting the Mitchell Scholarship if offered it. (Any candidate not chosen for a Mitchell is free, of course, to accept another scholarship.)  Only 20 people are offered final interviews-- so it is essential that all finalists commit to accept the Mitchell Scholarship if selected.

The Rhodes final interview is held the same day as the Mitchell Scholarship interview.  Therefore, it is not possible for a candidate to pursue both a Rhodes and a Mitchell interview.  Candidates must withdraw from one process or the other if offered both interviews.

Is the GRE required for the Mitchell Scholarship?

No. Neither the results of the GRE, nor of any other test are required or considered in the selection process.

Is financial need a consideration?

No. Financial need is not a factor in the selection process.

Can an unsuccessful candidate reapply?

Yes, as long as the candidate remains eligible. The candidate, however, must submit a completely new application, including all supporting letters and materials.

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The Mitchell Scholarship Application

How are supporting documents, such as transcripts, submitted? 

Supporting documents, such as transcripts, photo, and signature, must be submitted online. You may upload unoffcial transcripts at the application stage. Only finalists must present official transcripts -- either in a sealed envelope from the registrar or a secure electronic version from the registrar -- at the finalist weekend in November.  Finalists must also bring proof of citizenship (most commonly a passport).

Is there a GPA requirement to qualify for the Mitchell Scholarship Program?

We do not have a fixed grade-point average requirement. We expect, however, that applicants will exhibit sound scholarly excellence and strong preparation for the proposed field of graduate study.

I can't upload a transcript, a photo, or a signature.  What do I do?

The application will only accept PDF uploads.  If you are receiving an error in uploading your transcript, signature or photo, you may be using the wrong file type.  Please ensure you are uploading a PDF document (and not a graphic .jpeg file). We also recommend uploading your transcript early in the process.  When everyone tries to upload these large files on the last day, the system slows down and some people do not finish before the deadline.  

I'm worried about the video interview, can you tell me what to expect?

     You will open the video program and are provided some background on how the video works.  You are given a chance to read boilerplate questions in order to test your video quality and internet connection.  If you have technical problems, you have direct access to the video team, Sonru Support, who are on call 24/7 and should answer within an hour no matter where in world you are recording.  Once you are comfortable with your connection, you can start the recorded session.
New in 2014: applicants can do the interview using Androids or iPhones, as long as the phone has a front facing camera.
There are three questions from the Mitchell program and a fourth default question at the end that gives you a chance to correct anything said or add something forgotten.  This fourth question should NOT be used to thank us for letting you record your video.  We prefer to avoid watching 600 minutes of thank you notes.
The questions will feed to the applicant one at a time.  Each question will have a time allotted to read and think about the question (maybe 30 seconds) and a given time to record an answer (1:00 to 3:00 minutes).  The time allotted varies per question.  The video stops recording when the time for the question is up.  When you are ready, you can ask for the next question.
The questions are randomly selected, so interviews vary.  This was done in response to candidates sharing questions with each other.  We want the answers to be spontaneous and not prepared.  The best advice we can give you is to "relax and be yourself."  We are not asking complicated questions about nuclear fission.  We are asking simple questions to get to know you.  You will know the answers.
No one is present but you and a video program, so no one is asking follow-up questions.  The answers are recorded.  We attach the video to the bottom of your application.  When a person evaluating a candidate opens the application, the video is viewed as part of the application.  We advise our readers to evaluate the written material first and then watch the video.

Is the Mitchell Scholarship only available to students interested in Irish Studies or an Irish-specific topic?

No, a Mitchell Scholar may study any academic discipline offered in a degree or certificate program at an institution of higher learning in Ireland or Northern Ireland. The wide range of academic interests among Scholars -- from computer science and biotechnology to international relations and economics -- illustrates the vast opportunity for post-graduate study available.

Does a candidate have to be accepted by the institution of higher learning in Ireland or Northern Ireland prior to applying to become a Mitchell Scholar?

No, a candidate does not have to apply for university admission before entering the application process. A candidate's assignment to a university in Ireland or Northern Ireland is part of the selection process. We urge candidates to list at least three universities as possible places to study. Although we try to honor a candidate's university preferences, candidates are not guaranteed their first choice. If a candidate is selected to be a Mitchell Scholar, the program assigns the Scholar to a course of study. The program then forwards the candidate's materials to the selected university for final review and approval.

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Institutional Endorsements

Is there a word limit for the institutional endorsement letter?

Yes.  The institutional endorsement must not exceed 750 words.

How many applicants may a university or college endorse?

There is no fixed limit on the number of applicant endorsements a university or college can make - we recognize that a school may have several strong candidates. We do request that a college or university only endorse those candidates who clearly exhibit the qualities of a Mitchell Scholar: academic excellence and superior records of accomplishment in leadership and community service.

Does every applicant need to submit a letter of institutional endorsement?

An applicant who is a full-time undergraduate student at the time of application must submit an institutional endorsement.  Graduate students, part-time students, and former students do not need an institutional endorsement and none should be submitted.  We will not accept institutional endorsements for graduate students, part-time students, or  former students.

How can I find the responsible endorsing official on my campus?

An applicant can find many campus representatives using a tool on our website. You may wish to search by state, if you cannot initially find your institution. Absence from this listing does not mean that you cannot apply. The official is usually appointed by the Provost and often also manages the nomination processes for other major national programs such as the Marshall, Rhodes, and Truman Scholarships. The correct person can add themselves to our database or contact the program director for information– director@mitchellscholars.org.

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Recommendations

Is there a word limit for the letters of recommendation?

Yes.  The letters of recommendation must not exceed 750 words.

How many letters of recommendation are required? Do you suggest sending more than are required?

Four letters of recommendation are required for all applicants.

For full-time students, at least two of these recommendations must be from persons with whom the candidate has done academic work.

For those who are not full-time students and have not been for the past year, at least one of the recommendations must be from someone with whom the candidate has done academic work.

We do not allow more than the required four recommendations – it is more important to choose the people who you feel know you best and will provide the best recommendations.

If one of my recommenders does not have an email address, can he/she submit the recommendation through the mail?

No. All letters of recommendation must be submitted online. The application review is done online, and therefore, written recommendations cannot be considered. There are no exceptions. Recommenders unequipped with email may submit through a colleague's email address, however, the applicant must register the recommender with that address. Applicants should ensure that their recommenders understand both the deadline and the online submission process. The Mitchell Scholarship Program makes no exceptions, technical or otherwise.

I'm having trouble pasting my recommendation letter or essay into the text fields.  What do I do?

There is no special formatting allowed in the long text fields (essays and recommendations). Any centered, bold text or other formatting will be stripped out. This is to ensure that all applicants are evaluated on the same basis.  If typing directly into the field, save often as the web browser will time out every 20 minutes.

If you are cutting and pasting a recommendation you have already written in a word processing program, please use the keyboard shortcuts for copy (Control-C or Command-C) and paste (Control-V or Command-V).  If you have trouble pasting in your text, please try a different browser or contact the IT department at your university. Make sure you are using a laptop or desktop, and not a mobile device. Please make every effort to resolve technical difficulties on your own before contacting us. 

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Study in Ireland

How many Higher Education Institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland should a candidate list as choices?  If an applicant wants to study at only one university, is there a handicap in limiting preferences to that one institution?

Applicants should list at least three institutions and can list up to five. Institutional balance is a factor in the placement of Scholars at universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland, so an applicant's prospects are enhanced by indicating multiple university preferences.  An applicant who lists just one or two institutional preferences, weakens his or her chances of selection as a Mitchell Scholar.  The four University of Ulster campuses can be considered different institutions for this purpose.

Is there any possibility of extending the Mitchell Scholarship for a second year of study?

No, the Mitchell Scholarship Program funds scholars for one year. Scholars normally are enrolled in a one-year master's degree or similar program. Prospective applicants interested in sponsorship for a multi-year program should focus on other fellowships that offer this option

Does the Mitchell Scholarship Program support independent study or research at an institution other than in Ireland or Northern Ireland?

No. All Mitchell Scholars are enrolled in a degree or certificate program at an institution of higher learning in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

How does an applicant decide on preferences for universities and proposed graduate programs?

Each applicant is responsible for doing the research necessary to identify university preferences. Applicants should examine university websites and may want to consult with department chairs, faculty, or registrars at the universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Faculty and fellowship offices at an applicant's own college or university can also be helpful in deciding where to apply.  An applicant must have the requisite undergraduate background for the proposed program. Applicants should carefully research prospective programs to determine the required period of residence; some master's programs require two years of study, and the Mitchell Scholarship Program provides support for only one year.

Can a candidate pursue a graduate program in Ireland unrelated to his/her undergraduate major?

An applicant must demonstrate sufficient undergraduate or non-academic preparation to study for the designated graduate degree. Although this may be in a field different from the applicant's undergraduate major, the applicant still should have the necessary academic or professional training necessary for the proposed graduate study.

Can a Mitchell Scholar work during the year in Ireland?

In Ireland, international students may work part-time during the academic year and full-time during vacation periods. The Scholar's respective university can provide details about employment permits.  The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides a stipend to cover living expenses, and therefore we strongly encourage Mitchell Scholars to leave enough time in their schedules to participate in Mitchell events, enjoy stimulating volunteer placements, become involved in the communities in which they live and study, explore the island and travel.

Do Mitchell Scholars get health insurance as part of the scholarship?

No.  Each Mitchell Scholar is responsible for providing and paying for his or her own health insurance while abroad.  We recommend that this health insurance policy cover travel to both Ireland and Northern Ireland, Europe, and any other countries to which the scholar intends to travel.  A Mitchell Scholar should also consider having coverage in the United States to cover him or her in the event that he or she needs to return to the United States for treatment.

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Selection Process

If a finalist is out of the country, is there any arrangement for telephone interviews by the Committee?

A finalist must be present for the Selection Committee interview in Washington, DC, in order to be considered.

Who is responsible for the costs of travel to, and accommodation in, Washington, DC, for the finalist interviews?

The applicant and/or the college or university fund travel to Washington. The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides hotel accommodation. Some support may be available for travel to Washington in situations of financial need.

What should I do if I have disability issues that may interfere with my ability to complete the video interview?

We will be happy to discuss ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodations for those who require them. Simply email the Mitchell Scholarship Program director – director@mitchellscholars.org – to discuss your situation.

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