The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Student Eligibility

All seniors who will graduate between January and June of 2020 and who scored exceptionally well on either the SAT or the ACT college admission tests during the two-year window that begins in September 2017 and runs through October 2019, are automatically considered for participation. The U.S. Department of Education looks at test records in each state and the top 20 male examinees and top 20 female examinees are used to identify the automatic candidates in each state.

In addition, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra may nominate up to ten additional male and ten female Idaho candidates based on their outstanding scholarship, but who have not been automatically selected. Students who have not been notified by the Presidential Scholars program of their eligibility, and who would like to be considered for a nomination by Superintendent Ybarra should:

The five documents (essay, self-assessment, transcripts, recommendation and contact information) should be sent as separate PDFs, but in a single e-mail, to: The deadline to apply for this year’s consideration is November 1, 2019.

Superintendent Ybarra also can nominate up to five students based on their accomplishments in career and technical education fields. Those students should submit the same materials listed above but should note in the self-assessment they are seeking the CTE nomination. The self-assessment may wish to address some of the criteria listed in the Criteria for Candidate Identification and Nomination document of the U.S. Presidential Scholars program.

Additional Resources

The arts component of the Presidential Scholars program requires participation in the YoungArts™ program and utilizes a separate selection process. There are no superintendent nominations.

Contact the YoungArts™ program for more information.

For more details on the U.S. Presidential Scholars program, go to the U.S. Department of Education website.