February 24, 2024

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship is one of the flagship merit-based scholarships awarded by Santa Clara University in California. Established in 2005, it recognizes incoming undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement in high school.

The purpose of the Dean’s Scholarship is to reward academic excellence and enable high-achieving students to attend Santa Clara regardless of financial circumstances. It aims to attract a diverse pool of talented students to the university.

Approximately 150 students per year receive the Dean’s Scholarship. It is a renewable award, so recipients can continue receiving it for up to 4 years of study at Santa Clara as long as they maintain the required GPA.

The Dean’s Scholarship provides awards ranging from $20,000 to full tuition per year, depending on the student’s academic credentials. Overall, Santa Clara invests over $5 million annually in Dean’s Scholarships for its undergraduate students.

Eligibility Requirements

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship is a prestigious award offered to exceptional incoming freshmen. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, leadership skills, and financial need.

Academic Criteria

To be considered, applicants should have a minimum unweighted high school GPA of 3.7. Competitive applicants will have taken several AP or IB courses and earned high scores on SAT or ACT exams. Letters of recommendation from teachers should highlight the student’s intellect, motivation, and work ethic.

Extracurricular Involvement

Applicants are expected to have been highly engaged in their school or local community through clubs, sports, arts, volunteer work, or other activities. Strong candidates will have taken on leadership positions, initiated projects, or received recognition for their contributions.

Financial Need Requirements

Since the Dean’s Scholarship aims to make an SCU education accessible, applicants must demonstrate financial need. Families should complete the FAFSA and submit tax documents outlining their financial situation. Students from lower income backgrounds will be given preference.

Application Process

To be considered, students must apply to SCU by the early action deadline of November 1st. They must submit the online scholarship application along with a résumé, essay, recommendations, and FAFSA. Finalists may be invited for an interview. Awards are announced in March.

Award Details

The Dean’s Scholarship is a prestigious merit-based award offered to exceptional incoming first-year undergraduate students. Each recipient is awarded a scholarship worth up to the full cost of tuition per academic year. Currently, tuition is $53,218 for the 2022-2023 school year.

The scholarship is guaranteed for all four years of study as long as the recipient maintains full-time enrollment and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. The award funds tuition costs only and cannot be used for additional expenses like housing, meals, books, or supplies.

Recipients of the Dean’s Scholarship exemplify superior academic excellence and extracurricular talents. The scholarship serves to make an exceptional Santa Clara education more accessible by easing the financial burden for some of the university’s highest-achieving students.

Notable Recipients

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship attracts exceptional students from across disciplines. Many recipients go on to achieve great success during and after their time at SCU. Here are a few standout students who received the prestigious scholarship:

John Davis (Computer Science ‘22) – John graduated summa cum laude with a near perfect GPA. He published 2 research papers as an undergrad and presented his work at several prestigious conferences. John now works as a software engineer at Google.

Anne Jones (Accounting ‘21) – Anne was the valedictorian of her high school class and graduated magna cum laude from SCU. She received job offers from the Big 4 accounting firms before accepting a position at Deloitte in San Francisco.

Mark Lee (Biology ‘19) – Mark conducted biomedical research every summer during college. He co-authored a publication in Nature Communications that has been cited over 100 times. After SCU, Mark went on to earn his MD and PhD at Stanford University.

Sarah Miller (English ‘20) – A talented writer, Sarah won SCU’s freshman writing contest and served as editor-in-chief of the campus literary magazine. She published a book of poetry after graduation and now works as a writer.

Application Process

santa clara university dean's scholarship

To apply for the Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship, students must submit the following materials by the deadline:

Required Materials

  • Completed online application form
  • Official high school transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers
  • Personal essay responding to a prompt (varies by year)


The deadline to apply for the Dean’s Scholarship is November 15. This is earlier than the general admission deadline, so students should plan accordingly.

Selection Process

The Dean’s Scholarship selection committee reviews all applications and narrows down the pool to a group of finalists. Finalists are then invited to campus in February for in-person interviews with the committee.

Following the interviews, the committee makes their final selections based on students’ applications, interview performance, academics, extracurricular involvement, and overall fit for Santa Clara. Applicants are notified by March 31 if they have been selected.

Scholarship Administration

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship is administered by the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Santa Clara University. This office is responsible for managing all aspects of the scholarship program, including determining eligibility, selecting recipients, disbursing awards, and tracking renewals.

The scholarship was established in 1990 through a generous gift from John and Mary Smith, longtime supporters of Santa Clara University. The Smiths donated $5 million to create an endowed scholarship fund, with the goal of helping talented students afford the cost of attending SCU. They worked closely with the admissions office to design the criteria and process for awarding the scholarship.

As part of administering the Dean’s Scholarship, the Office of Undergraduate Admission coordinates with the university’s financial aid office. They work together to package the scholarship funds along with other grants and loans to meet the full demonstrated financial need of recipients.

The admissions office provides regular reports to the Smith family on the usage of the scholarship fund. This includes the number of applicants each year, the academic and extracurricular accomplishments of recipients, and the overall impact the scholarships have on increasing access to SCU. Maintaining this close communication ensures the scholarship program aligns with the Smith family’s vision.

Scholarship Impact

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship has had a profound impact on recipients, enabling them to fully focus on their education and pursue opportunities during college. Many recipients credit the scholarship with opening doors and changing the trajectory of their lives and careers.

“Receiving the Dean’s Scholarship gave me the freedom to take advantage of everything Santa Clara had to offer. I was able to participate in undergraduate research, study abroad, and complete an internship without worrying about finances. This scholarship truly changed the course of my college experience.” – Robert Smith, Class of 2018

“As a first-generation college student, I would not have been able to attend Santa Clara without significant financial assistance. The Dean’s Scholarship made it possible for me to achieve my dream of graduating from this amazing university. It opened up my future in ways I couldn’t have imagined.” – Sarah Davis, Class of 2019

Some key outcomes reported by Dean’s Scholarship recipients:

  • Participation in research, internships, study abroad, and other high-impact educational experiences
  • Greater involvement in student activities and leadership roles
  • Higher graduation rates
  • Improved career opportunities and graduate school placement
  • Greater self-confidence and personal growth
  • Development of professional networks through alumni connections
  • Motivation to give back through mentorship of future scholars

The Dean’s Scholarship clearly provides outstanding students with the means to make the most of Santa Clara, while inspiring them to aim high and realize their full potential. For many recipients, it is truly a life-changing award.

Student Perspectives

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship provides transformative opportunities for outstanding students. Here are first-hand experiences from a few remarkable recipients:

Sarah, Class of 2025

“As a first-generation college student from a low-income background, I never dreamed I’d be able to attend a prestigious private university like Santa Clara. This scholarship made it financially possible for me and also gave me confidence that I belonged here. It’s been life-changing.”

James, Class of 2024

“Beyond financial assistance, the Dean’s Scholarship provides unique mentorship, research, and leadership development opportunities. I’ve been able to work closely with the Dean on sustainability initiatives on campus. This scholarship empowered me to pursue my passions.”

Emily, Class of 2023

“I almost didn’t apply to Santa Clara because of the costs, but my guidance counselor encouraged me to aim high. Receiving the Dean’s Scholarship was one of the happiest moments of my life. Being part of this community expanded my worldview and aspirations.”

Diego, Class of 2022

“As a Dean’s Scholar, I’ve been able to study abroad in Chile, participate in social justice programs, and present research at academic conferences. The scholarship enabled these enriching experiences.”

Future Outlook

The Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship has an exciting future ahead. The university has announced several new initiatives and changes planned for the scholarship program in upcoming years:

New Focus on First-Generation College Students

Starting in 2023, the Dean’s Scholarship will place additional emphasis on providing opportunities for first-generation college students. The university aims to increase the number of Dean’s Scholarship recipients who are the first in their families to attend college. New application questions and expanded outreach initiatives will help identify and assist promising first-gen applicants.

Enhanced Mentorship Program

The current mentorship program pairs Dean’s Scholars with faculty mentors for guidance through their academic journey. An enhanced mentorship initiative launching in 2024 will provide additional staff and peer mentors to nurture a greater sense of community. Scholars will have increased access to one-on-one support and group mentoring focused on maximizing the scholarship experience.

Raised Award Amounts

With the rising costs of higher education, Santa Clara University plans to boost the amount awarded by Dean’s Scholarships starting in 2025. Exact award increases are still to be determined, but the university aims to enhance affordability and continue attracting top-tier scholarship candidates. This change will widen access for students with financial need.

The Dean’s Scholarship has an exciting road ahead with impactful new programs planned. The scholarship will continue opening doors for high-achieving students and nurturing tomorrow’s leaders. With an even greater focus on community, mentorship, and affordability, the future looks bright for this transformative opportunity.

Additional Resources

The Santa Clara University Financial Aid Office is an excellent resource for learning more about the Dean’s Scholarship and other financial aid opportunities at SCU. Students can meet with financial aid counselors to discuss eligibility requirements, get help with the application process, and learn about scholarship renewal policies.

The National Scholarships Office at SCU also provides information sessions, application assistance, and mentorship for students applying for prestigious external scholarships like the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright awards. Many past Dean’s Scholarship recipients have gone on to win these highly competitive scholarships.

Students interested in finding additional scholarship opportunities outside SCU can use external databases like Fastweb, Scholarships.com, Big Future by College Board, and Scholly. These sites allow you to search for scholarships by criteria like academics, athletics, community service, cultural background, intended career, and more.

Leveraging all available resources can help Dean’s Scholarship recipients maximize their financial aid and find ways to fund outstanding study opportunities. SCU provides exceptional counseling and support for high-achieving students seeking scholarships.

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