Leadership Scholarships

Tommy G. Thompson Leadership Scholarship

Instructions & Guidance for Applications

Please check with your campus scholarship office for the application period for the 2024–2025 Leadership Awards. All campus application periods close by early December 2024.

Description of Award

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership offers scholarships to undergraduate students at each of the University of Wisconsin System’s four-year campuses. Scholarships are intended for undergraduates who have shown public leadership in their lives in a way that reflects the general legacy of Governor Tommy G. Thompson. Governor Thompson was a broad thinker who offered common sense solutions to tackle big problems through teamwork and an unending zeal to make our state a better place. We seek high quality applicants who reflect Tommy’s spirit, have demonstrated leadership during their time in college, and will continue to lead in the future.


Fifteen scholarships of $3,000 are awarded to students of the thirteen University of Wisconsin System campuses per academic year. Each campus will receive one scholarship award, provided all application submission requirements are met. The Center will provide funding to the System universities who will distribute the awards through their local Financial Aid Offices as part of financial aid packages.

If an awarded student does not carry any financial obligations to the University equivalent to the size of the award, the campuses customarily provide a check to the awarded student of the difference to cover future education/living expenses.

Eligibility Criteria/Conditions 

To be eligible for this award, a student must:

  • Be enrolled as a full-time student at a four-year University of Wisconsin System campus at the time of application and at the time s/he receives the award;
  • Be in good academic standing at the time of application;
  • Be a degree-seeking student at the time of application and at the time s/he receives the award;
  • Have not received the Tommy G. Thompson Scholarship in a prior year. (The scholarships are one-time, non-renewable, and non-transferable);
  • Submit his or her cumulative undergraduate GPA from the undergraduate campus from which he or she is applying (This means that students without a cumulative GPA [e.g., freshmen] are ineligible); and
  • Agree to attend one Thompson Center event during the year of scholarship.

Additionally, to be eligible for this award, a student must:

  • Submit a personal statement/biographical sketch that is no more than 450 words. (The personal statement/biographical sketch may be posted on the Thompson Center website and used in press releases if the candidate is selected for a scholarship.) The biographical sketch must include:
  • The candidate’s definition or understanding of leadership;
  • A discussion of how the candidate demonstrated leadership during his or her time on campus;
  • The candidate’s aspirations; and
  • An explanation of the ways in which the candidate’s leadership reflects Governor Thompson’s spirit and legacy of bringing people together to develop common sense solutions.

The candidate may wish to include within this statement a brief description of any relevant volunteering, internships, or employment s/he has undertaken that reflect a spirit of leadership.

  • Provide a copy of his or her up-to-date academic transcript, which thereby grants permission to the review panel(s) to consider it as part of the scholarship application. The student may include a brief appendix that summarizes any classes that relate to leadership or the personal statement/biographical sketch.

Application Review & Award Process

Each of the thirteen four-year University of Wisconsin System campuses will conduct its own initial review of candidate applications and will nominate three applicants as finalists to the Tommy G. Thompson Center.

Each campus will provide a copy of standardized application materials for their three finalists via e-mail. The Center will select one scholarship recipient from each of the thirteen four-year University of Wisconsin System campuses. In the event that a university does not submit three finalists, the Center will select additional recipients from the remaining pool of other campuses’ finalists.

Each System university will post a solicitation for the Thompson Leadership Scholarship applications approximately September 1-October 1 (consistent with that university’s standard scholarship practice). Each university will close its solicitation period by December 1 and will send three finalists’ application materials to the Thompson Center no later than December 15. (If sent via mail, materials must be postmarked by December 15 or earlier.) The Thompson Center will award scholarships as soon as practicable following receipt of finalists from each campus.

Deadline for Applications

Exact formatting, deadline, and submissions process for applications are determined by your home campus’s scholarship/financial aid office. Please visit your UW System Campus Scholarship Website to apply:

UW-Eau Claire: https://www.uwec.edu/admissions/scholarships/

UW-Green Bay: https://www.uwgb.edu/scholarships/

UW-La Crosse: https://www.uwlax.edu/scholarships/

UW-Madison: https://financialaid.wisc.edu/types-of-aid/scholarships/

UW-Milwaukee: https://uwm.edu/onestop/finances/types-of-financial-aid/scholarships/

UW-Oshkosh: https://uwosh.edu/financialaid/types-of-aid/scholarships/available/

UW-Platteville: https://www.uwplatt.edu/scholarships

UW-Parkside: https://www.uwp.edu/apply/payingforschool/scholarships.cfm

UW-River Falls: https://www.uwrf.edu/FinancialAid/TypesOfAid/UWRFScholarships.cfm

UW-Stevens Point: https://www.uwsp.edu/finaid/Pages/default.aspx


UW-Superior: https://www.uwsuper.edu/paying-for-college/scholarships/

UW-Whitewater: https://www.uww.edu/scholarships

Permission/Confidentiality Waiver

To be considered, each applicant grants permission to their campus to share application, transcripts, eligibility and other relevant information with the applicant’s UW System Campus Review Panel and the UW-Madison Tommy G. Thompson Center Review Panel & Board for purposes of selection of finalists and scholarship awards, respectively.