The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and, since that time, the program has honored over 8,000 outstanding high school seniors. The mission of the program is to recognize and honor outstanding high school seniors, and thereby encourage high attainment among all students.

Per the original Executive Order establishing the program, students are selected based on outstanding scholarship. For most of the program’s existence, nominees have been invited to apply for recognition based upon SAT or ACT scores. As the program has grown, candidates have been invited to apply in other ways as well. Beginning in 1979, outstanding students who demonstrated ability and accomplishment in the visual and performing arts or creative writing were added to the program. Since 2013, Chief State School Officers have been invited to nominate candidates from their states for the General component of the program. The program is also partnering with several recognition organizations that each nominate candidates for the General component of the program. And, beginning in 2016, outstanding students who demonstrate excellence in CTE were included for recognition.

Student Eligibility

All seniors who will graduate between January and August of 2024 and who scored exceptionally well on either the SAT or the ACT college admission tests during the two-year window that begins in September 2021 and runs through October 2023, 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 Critchfield may nominate up to ten additional male and 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 Critchfield should submit the items below.

Career and Technical Nomination

Superintendent Critchfield 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.

The U.S. Presidential Scholar Award form is now closed. The form will be available for 2025 candidates in fall of 2024.

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.