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Mission of the Opportunity Scholars Program

The Opportunity Scholars Program, supported by enthusiastic and visionary donors from the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, is a program unlike any others in the area. The University of Missouri—St. Louis, a hometown, public university becomes the college of choice for top-performing, underserved, diverse students who later will contribute directly to the local community and economy. In addition to the academic opportunities provided by UMSL, a research university, the recipients of this full-ride scholarship are invited and encouraged to become students of the Pierre Laclede Honors College. Along with the challenging academic programs available to these students at UMSL and the Honors College, students receive full funding for tuition, residential life facilities and meals, books and incidental expenses, additional faculty mentors and advisors, peer mentors, special social opportunities, free personal computers, and independent study and/or internship opportunities. Students live and learn in a close-knit cohort and engage in academic, service and social activities that further develop their individual potentials. This unique program challenges each student and prepares all OSP students for engaging careers and various graduate school programs. All of this is accomplished through the generosity of the St. Louis area’s donors and the efforts and devotion of UMSL’s faculty and staff.

The Creation of the Opportunity Scholars Program

In 2011, the Opportunity Scholars Program began and focused on academically gifted, first-generation college students and/or students who were under-represented in their areas of study, with preference given to the STEM disciplines. Each academic year interested candidates are encouraged to apply by their high school teachers, guidance counselors and recruitment specialists from UMSL and the Pierre Laclede Honors College.

Process for Becoming an Opportunity Scholar

Students are graduates from high schools in the metropolitan area* and meet two of the following three criteria: rank in the top 10% of their high school class, have earned a 3.5 cumulative high school GPA or higher, and have a composite score of 26 or higher on the ACT. Students must also demonstrate leadership through extracurricular activities and/or community service. Once a student has completed the application for the program by the December due date, the applications are reviewed by a group of faculty and staff members. Approximately 40% of the applicants are invited to interviews, depending on the number of applications. From that group, three to five students are selected each year based on the above criteria, the student’s writing and the interview process. This program is a four-year program as long as the student maintains a 3.2 or higher GPA; most OSP students exceed the minimum GPA throughout their education at UMSL. It should be noted that students who are not selected for this scholarship program are contacted by UMSL and Honors College recruitment specialists to explain other UMSL and Honors College opportunities available to them.

* Missouri Counties: Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, St. Charles,St. Francois, St. Louis, St. Louis City, Warren, and Washington. Illinois Counties: Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair.