Frequently Asked Questions

In General

Who are Udall scholars?

Udall Scholars are a diverse group of students who are united by their interest in our nation's heritage: natural resource protection, conservation, and Native American policy, health, and governance. Recent Udall Scholars are pursuing majors in a variety of fields, including:

Environmental Science
International Studies and Conservation Biology
Industrial Ecology
Environmental Health
Coastal and Marine Policy and Management
Native American Studies
Resource Conservation
Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy
Environmental Engineering
Philosophy and the Environment
Architectural Engineering
Environmental Geography
Civil Engineering
Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Biological Engineering
Human Ecology
Political Science
Water Resources Engineering
Wildlife Conservation and Management
Earth and Planetary Science
Computer Science
Social Welfare

Their career goals are similarly diverse. Among them:

Design water systems that mimic natural ecosystems
Advocate for Native American healthcare policy
Develop interactive tools that integrate software and web applications with environmental decision-making
Research remediation technologies for polluted waters
Improve education on the Navajo reservation
Develop environmental education curriculums for primary education
Influence tribal education policy on a federal level
Study urban planning and public policy
Serve as an optometrist with Indian Health Service
Conduct field research in behavioral ecology
Design communities to reduce energy waste
Resolve natural resource conflicts among tribal, state and federal governments
Practice physical therapy among the Blackfeet people
Resolve international freshwater conflicts

What types of jobs do previous Udall Scholars hold?

Udall Scholars are now working in many professions:

  • As environmental consultants for industry, not-for-profit entities, and government;
  • With cities as environmental managers and urban planners;
  • As legal counsel for environmental organizations and tribal communities;
  • As environmental educators;
  • In tribal resource management;
  • In public health and environmental justice fields.

  • Are any fields of study given priority?

    No. Udall Scholars come from all majors and fields of study. Recent Udall Scholars have majored in environmental sciences and policy studies, agriculture, political science, natural resource management, sociology, anthropology, American Indian studies, tribal public policy, history, English, theater, landscape architecture, and public health, to name just a few areas.

    Requirements for Eligibility

    How important are grades?

    Grades are less important than community service and leadership records, but they are still significant. Nominees should generally be in the top quarter of their class and have at least a 3.0 GPA.

    How does the Udall Foundation define Native American?

    For the purposes of the Scholarship Program, a Native American or Alaska Native is any individual who is:

    • A member of an Indian tribe or band, as membership is defined by the tribe or band, including any tribe or band terminated since 1940 and any tribe recognized by the state in which the tribe or band resides;
    • A descendant in first or second degree of a member of an Indian tribe or band, as membership is defined by the tribe or band, who can demonstrate affiliation with the tribal community according to criteria set by the Foundation;
    • Considered by the Secretary of the Interior to be an Indian for any purpose;
    • An Eskimo, Aleut, or other Alaska Native;
    • A permanent U.S. resident who is a member of the First Nations of Canada.

    What kind of documentation do I need to provide to prove tribal enrollment or descendancy?

    Applicants must submit copies of relevant enrollment forms, cards or descent documentation such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood. Applicants who are members of the First Nations of Canada must submit proof of U.S. permanent residency. Applicants who cannot demonstrate tribal enrollment and do not have a CDIB may obtain a letter from a tribal leader indicating descent from a member of a tribe or band and involvement in the tribal community, and submit copies of a mother or father’s birth certificate showing tribal affiliation.

    What is a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood?

    A Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood (CDIB) is an official document that certifies a person possesses a specific degree of Indian blood of a federally recognized Indian tribe. The CDIB is issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs; however, verification and enrollment requirements vary from tribe to tribe.

    I am not an enrolled tribal member. Am I eligible for the scholarship?

    That depends. If you do not have an enrollment card, you should contact your tribe for information on how to apply for tribal enrollment. Be aware that the application process can take from two months to up to several years. If you are not currently on your tribal roll, and do not have a CDIB, you may instead obtain a letter from a tribal leader indicating your involvement in your tribal community and your descent from a member of the tribe or band; and submit copies of a mother or father’s birth certificate showing tribal affiliation. The Udall Foundation will review the letter to determine if it provides sufficient proof of eligibility to meet our criteria.

    My tribe does not have federal recognition. Am I eligible to apply?

    Yes, applicants from state-recognized tribes are eligible for the scholarship.

    I am Native Hawaiian. Am I eligible to apply?

    No, at this time Native Hawaiians are not eligible. The Foundation may revisit this issue in the future.

    I’m technically a senior, but I intend another full year of study. Am I eligible to apply this year?

    Yes. If you will be enrolled full-time the year following your application for the Udall Scholarship, you are eligible to apply, unless you have already applied for the scholarship during both your sophomore and junior years.

    I’m technically a junior, but I have enough credits to graduate in December of my senior year. Would I still eligible to apply?

    No. Scholars must be enrolled full time during the year following their award.

    I’m a first-year student, but I have enough credits for sophomore status at my college/university. Am I eligible to apply?

    No. You must be in at least your second year of study to apply for the scholarship.

    I intend to take a year off from my studies to hike the Appalachian Trail / follow the wildebeest migration. Can I defer the scholarship until the following year?

    No, the Udall Scholarship cannot be deferred. Scholars must be enrolled full time the year following their award or decline the scholarship.

    Are students in five-year non-Baccalaureate Master's programs eligible to apply?

    Yes. Applicants in five-year non-Baccalaureate Master’s programs may apply for the scholarship in their 2nd and 3rd years of study. Applicants who are in their fourth year of study are not eligible.

    Are students who are pursuing a second undergraduate degree eligible?

    Applicants who have returned to school for a 2nd undergraduate degree are eligible if:

    • They are returning after an absence of at least 2 years;
    • Their first undergraduate degree was in a field unrelated to the environment, tribal public policy, or health care;
    • They have not previously been awarded a Udall Scholarship or Honorable Mention.

    Advice on the Application

    I applied for the Udall my sophomore year, but did not receive a scholarship. How can I improve my chances of winning?

  • Ask your faculty representative for a detailed critique of your application. Your faculty representative may also contact the Foundation to request feedback on your application (we will provide feedback to FacReps, but not to individual applicants).
  • Ask yourself: Does your commitment to the environment, tribal policy or health care shine through in every answer? What are you doing now that demonstrates that commitment? What problems or issues do you hope to find solutions to? How will your educational goals and career plans help you address these issues?
  • Spend some time reading about Mo or Stewart Udall’s life and legislative achievements. The essay is an essential component of the application. Be sure to integrate your analysis of a significant speech, legislative act, book, or public policy statement by Congressman Morris K. Udall or Secretary of Interior Stewart L. Udall with its impact on your studies or career goals.
  • Revise, revise, revise.

  • Can you give me any advice on the essay?

    Neither a personal essay nor a policy proposal, the Udall Scholarship essay falls somewhere in between. The best essays demonstrate a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of Morris Udall or Stewart Udall's environmental or tribal policy legacy, and clearly relate their chosen topic to the nominee's interests and career goals.

    A good essay will do more than summarize a Udall speech or legislative act. Your analysis should demonstrate that you are well informed about past and/or present environmental or Native American issues, and familiar with Morris Udall or Stewart Udall’s legacy. By relating your analysis to your career goals, you engage with the text of the speech or the intent and/or impact of the legislation.

    How does the Foundation define public or community service?

    The Foundation defines public or community service as:

    • Work for government at any level, paid or volunteer;
    • Education
    • Work for non-profit or public interest groups, paid or volunteer;
    • Preservation and/or restoration of natural and cultural resources;
    • Health care, paid or volunteer;
    • Volunteering for campus community.

    I haven't yet been involved in formal research. How should I approach the question on research (D3)?

    Many students who haven't undertaken formal, scientific research have conducted research projects for campus initiatives and community organizations; an example would be researching alternatives to Styrofoam take away containers and conducting surveys to determine which alternatives would be appropriate for your campus community.

    You need only answer the question "if applicable." Readers do not penalize applicants who leave the question blank.

    I've been involved with many campus initiatives, but I like to think of myself as a team player. How important is leadership?

    Leadership is an important quality in a Udall Scholar. The selection committee looks for applicants who:

    • Bring people together by inspiring and motivating others to act, or by mediating opposing factions or groups to bring about consensus;
    • Identify problems or needs and propose and implement solutions;
    • Take initiative by looking for and creating opportunities.
    • The committee also evaluates whether applicants are likely to have a significant impact in their chosen career field.

    What is the Scholar Orientation?

    The Udall Scholars Orientation weekend is a mandatory 4-day event that takes place each August in Tucson, Arizona. All new and repeat Scholars must attend. Travel from the Scholar's home or school, lodging and meals will be provided by the Foundation.

    The Orientation brings Udall Scholars, alumni, faculty representatives, and Foundation staff together to network, share ideas, hear from distinguished environmental and Native American leaders, and see, first hand, what it means to be a part of the Udall legacy.

    I’ve arranged to do an environmental internship this summer in Ecuador/the Galapagos/Tanzania, and I don’t think I’ll be back in time for the Scholar Orientation. Can I opt out of the weekend? Could I write a paper instead of attending? Attend next year?

    No, no, and no. The Scholar Orientation Weekend is an integral part of becoming a Udall Scholar; all new and repeat Scholars must attend. If you are awarded the scholarship and cannot attend the Orientation, the scholarship will be revoked and awarded to a Udall Honorable Mention.

    Nuts and Bolts

    My school doesn’t have a faculty representative. What should I do?

    If there is no faculty representative listed for your institution, we recommend you contact your President’s office and request that someone be appointed. If the President’s office on your campus does not appoint a faculty representative, you can discuss your aspirations about the scholarship with a professor, the dean of your academic college, or a faculty advisor. If you are still having trouble finding a faculty representative, please contact Paula Randler at the Foundation.

    How do I determine my state of legal residence?

    Typically, your state of legal residence is the state in which you are registered to vote. Your school address is not usually your legal residence unless you have a permanent address in that city (and are not there simply for the purpose of attending university).

    Do I have to submit official transcripts from all institutions I’ve attended?

    You should submit transcripts from your current institution, transfer institutions, and any institutions where you took summer courses for college credit. If your transcript lists transfer credits, but no grades, we require transcripts from the transferring institution.

    You do not need to submit transcripts for:

  • College courses taken during high school;
  • Summer courses that were not for college credit;
  • Courses for which you did not receive credit at your current institution;
  • College courses taken more than 10 years ago.