U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts

Since 1982, YoungArts has been the sole nominating agency for U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students in the arts. 

U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts exhibit artwork and perform at the Kennedy Center

About the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson in order to recognize and honor the nation’s top graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was expanded to include students who demonstrated talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. The program was expanded again in 2015 to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. 

Scholars are selected annually by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, based on academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities and writing ability. Every year, thousands of candidates qualify for the program based on outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition programs or YoungArts.

Becoming a U.S. Presidential Scholar In the Arts

The first step to becoming a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts is to apply to YoungArts’ national arts competition. Award winners who attend National YoungArts Week are considered for nomination by their respective discipline-specific panelists based on their artistic achievement and participation in the program. Candidates must: 

  • Meet the eligibility requirements and academic standards set by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.
  • Graduate between January and August of the year they’re being considered
    If an award winner attends National YoungArts Week but is not yet set to graduate, they become eligible for candidacy in their graduation year and will receive instructions from YoungArts. 
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale 
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States 

Once nominated, artists must further apply directly to the program once they receive their invitation through the U.S. Department of Education and adhere to all application requirements to be considered. 

For more information on the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, eligibility requirements and the application process, visit https://www.ed.gov/psp. 

Past U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts