In the program’s first year of operation, over 3,000 students from 135 countries have applied to be Schwarzman Scholars, the program announced last Tuesday.
The program, founded by Stephen Schwarzman ’69 in 2013, offers 100 students full funding to pursue a one-year Master’s degree in either public policy, economics and business or international studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, the Schwarzman Scholars program is intended to equip future leaders with an understanding of China’s history, culture and economy to foster greater collaboration among China and other nations. In 2016, selected students will enroll at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, a residential college similar to those at Yale that is being constructed specially for the program.
“We are thrilled by the outpouring of interest in this important, groundbreaking program,” Schwarzman said in a statement. “The sheer number of interested candidates for our first class speaks to the highly unique attributes of the program and the international reputation of Tsinghua University under President Dr. Qiu Yong’s leadership.”
Prospective Schwarzman Scholars will go through a multistep selection process before the first successful candidates are notified on Nov. 25. According to an Oct. 13 press release by Schwarzman Scholars, a team of readers from around the world will evaluate the initial round of applicants based on factors like leadership potential and personal characteristics, along with academic success. The readers will narrow this pool down to 300 students, who will each go before a panel of interviewers that includes CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, nonprofit executives and journalists.
The approximate makeup of the student body will be 45 percent American students, 20 percent Chinese students and 35 percent students from the rest of the world, according to the Schwarzman Scholars website.
Paula Chirhart, a spokeswoman for Schwarzman Scholars and senior vice president of global public affairs for the investment banking firm the Blackstone Group — which Schwarzman co-founded in 1985 — said the number of applications exceeded the organization’s expectations.
However, Kate Dailinger, director for national fellowships at the Yale Center for International and Professional Experience, said although she could not predict exact applicant figures since most students applied directly to the program rather than going through the CIPE, she was not surprised at the high level of interest in the program. Dailinger cited the strength of Yale’s East Asian Studies and East Asian languages programs, as well as the Light Fellowship, as reasons why many students are fluent in Chinese and may be interested in going to China.
“Yale students are always looking for interesting opportunities,” Dailinger said. “The fact that Schwarzman visited campus last spring and talked about the program … certainly helped.”
Schwarzman’s name has been especially well-known on campus since he donated $150 million to Yale in May to transform Commons into a state-of-the-art student center.
Unlike programs like the Marshall Scholarship that are only awarded to Americans citizens, the Schwarzman scholarship is available to applicants of all nationalities, and candidates can be graduating seniors, recent college graduates or graduate students.
In the coming years, Schwarzman Scholars is set to expand to accommodate 200 students.