The Application Process

The McDonnell Academy accepts applications beginning October through January of the forthcoming academic year.

The McDonnell Academy online application requires that the following information be submitted. It is highly recommended that you apply using a current version of Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.  All information must be provided in English. (McDonnell Academy Sample Application).

  • Complete your profile

The McDonnell Academy application requests general biographic and demographic information such as your contact details and country of citizenship.

  • Academic history

Provide details about your previous academic degrees, such as the partner university you graduated from (international students only) and the degree(s) you hold.

  • Personal essay

One of the goals of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy is to create a global network of leaders who have a desire to address scientific and societal issues. Therefore, we wish to recruit individuals who would like to develop leadership skills and a knowledge base that extends beyond what is required in traditional graduate and professional studies.

With this in mind, in 1,000 words or less, please explain:

  • Why would you like to be selected as a McDonnell Scholar?
  • How will being a McDonnell Scholar benefit your professional career and your country?
  • How will you contribute to the goals of the McDonnell Academy?

Essays must be uploaded to your application in .pdf format.

  • Video introduction

We would like to get to know you better by receiving a video addressing your views on BOTH of the following questions:

  1. What is the biggest global challenge facing our world today and why?
  2. Outside your field of study, what are you passionate about and why?

Please do not worry about the production aspects of the video, however please adhere to the following guidelines:

           • Your face should be in full view of the camera.
           • Your response should be audible.
           • Your video should be a minimum of one to two minutes in length.

You will be required to upload a URL to your application; video files such as .mp4, .mov, .wmv are not accepted.  It is recommended that applicants use the video recording software of their choice and upload the file to an online video sharing service such as YouTube or Vimeo.

  • Recommendation letter

You are required to select one individual to write a letter of recommendation for you.  This individual should be a current or past instructor, academic advisor, employment manager, or professional mentor who is able to speak to your leadership skills, character, and potential.  We will also review your departmental recommendation letters included in your graduate program application (in consultation with the academic department). For that reason, please select an individual who has NOT previously submitted a letter of recommendation for your academic program application.  The application will request the individual’s name, organization, and professional email address.  Because your recommender will be contacted directly by the McDonnell Academy to request their letter, we strongly suggest you discuss the recommendation letter in advance with him/her before submitting contact information in the online application. Recommenders will not be contacted until your application is submitted. Upon submission, your recommender will be sent a letter of recommendation request email which includes a link to upload the recommendation letter. The letter of recommendation must be submitted within 14 days from receipt of the letter of recommendation request email.

Changing Application Information & Application Status

Details such as your address and phone contact can be updated in your profile at any time.  Your academic history, personal essay, video introduction and recommender contact information can be changed at any time before your application is submitted. After submission, the application data cannot be changed.

After you have begun the online application process, you can check the status of your application on your applicant dashboard.  The dashboard provides the status of the different sections in your application (as you complete them prior to submission), and the status of your application after you have completed all sections and submitted the application.  Until your application has been submitted, your application status will be “Incomplete”.  This will change to “Pending” after you have submitted the application.  As applications are reviewed, other status updates will appear to indicate where your application is in the process.

Important Note: Your application is NOT fully complete without the letter of recommendation, which must be uploaded to your application by the recommender within 14 days from receipt of the letter of recommendation request email. If the recommender information requires any changes after your application has been submitted, contact  Your applicant dashboard will display the status of the recommender’s letter.  If a recommender does not submit a letter of recommendation by the February 14th deadline, the link they were provided to upload your letter will automatically expire.  McDonnell Academy Admissions does not send notifications or reminders to the applicant or recommender in this regard.  It is the responsibility of the applicant and recommender to ensure the letter is uploaded prior to the recommendation letter due date.