Students invited to apply to free WashU Rural Scholars Academy

Program strengthens academic and leadership skills, demystifies college application process

Washington University has launched the Heartland Initiative, which aims to recruit and support students from rural communities. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Washington University in St. Louis invites talented high school sophomores from rural communities in Missouri and southern Illinois to apply to the WashU Rural Scholars Academy, a free summer program that will strengthen academic and leadership skills, demystify the college application process and introduce students to Washington University, a global leader in teaching and research, as well as to the St. Louis region, home to world-class museums, parks and attractions. 

The program runs July 16-22 and includes tuition, housing, meals, materials and excursions. Travel grants to St. Louis are available. 

Students may apply online from Nov. 1 through March 1 by submitting a high school transcript, short essay and a reference. 

The WashU Rural Scholars Academy is part of the university’s Heartland Initiative, which aims to recruit and support students from rural communities in Missouri and southern Illinois. This fall, two admissions officers are visiting 90 rural high schools and attending numerous college fairs to share more about the university and how it prepares students to succeed in fields ranging from medicine to business to architecture. 

“The WashU Rural Scholars Academy will be a great way to meet other rural students, discover what it’s like to live and learn on a college campus and explore all that St. Louis has to offer,” said Washington University admissions officer Dacoda Scarlett, himself a graduate of a rural high school outside of Springfield, Mo. “WashU has a lot to offer rural students. And I know they have a lot to offer us.” 


Academy scholars will live in university residence halls, participate in academic programs with faculty, learn more about the college application process and visit St. Louis attractions. The week concludes with lunch for scholars and their families with Washington University Chancellor Andrew D. Martin.  

The WashU Rural Scholars Academy is one way Washington University is striving to support talented students from all backgrounds. This month, the university unveiled Make Way, an initiative to expand financial support and resources for all students. In 2021, Washington University announced a $1 billion investment in financial aid. And in 2019, the university launched the WashU Pledge, which provides a free education to accepted undergraduate students from Missouri and southern Illinois who are Pell Grant-eligible or from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less. The WashU Pledge covers the full cost of a WashU education, including tuition, room, board and fees.

Ranked as one of the top universities in the nation, Washington University is a selective private research university on 169 leafy acres in St. Louis. The school boasts a 7:1 student-faculty ratio, approximately 100 majors and more than 400 student clubs. The university’s 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students hail from every state and about 100 countries.