The Opportunity Scholars Program and its sister St. Louis 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 the full-ride OSP scholarship and the recipients of the $8,000 St. Louis Scholars scholarship are members of the Pierre Laclede Honors College.
OSP 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.
St. Louis Scholars receive an $8,000 scholarship and admissions to the Honors College along with many of the same academic and social benefits as OSP scholars. Together OSP and St. Louis Scholars form a scholars’ community at UMSL and at the Honors College that offers these students an excellent personal and individualized education that is more than affordable.
The Creation of the Opportunity Scholars Program and the new St. Louis Scholars.
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. In 2021, we added the St. Louis Scholars to our Scholars programs. Each academic year interested candidates are encouraged to apply by their high school teachers, guidance counselors, 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 due date, the applications are reviewed by a group of faculty and staff members. Up to twenty-five applicants are named St. Louis Scholars and are invited to interviews. St. Louis Scholars are guaranteed an $8,000 merit scholarship from UMSL as well as admission into the Honors College. From the group of St. Louis Scholars, five students are selected as OSP Scholars based on the criteria above as well as the student’s writing samples and the interview process. Both St. Louis and Opportunity Scholars are four year programs for first-time college students. Students must maintain a 3.2 or higher GPA; most OSP students exceed the minimum GPA throughout their education at UMSL.