Nitze Alumni: Where are they now?

Lisa in the Peace Corps in Kenya

The world finds Nitze Scholars in a wide range of walks of life. Cookie cutters have their the kitchen.

The Nitze Experience

JaVon and Emily learning how things work in Senegal

The Paul H. Nitze Program offers:

  • three special seminars for each student
  • cultural outings to DC/Baltimore paid for by the program
  • special meetings with high-profile campus visitors
  • an international study tour paid for by the program
  • a stipend of $3000 per year for participants


  1. How is the name of the program pronounced?
  2. Who should consider joining this program?
  3. What does the program offer?
  4. What are the obligations of the participating students?
  5. Are the 3 Nitze courses extra work for students?
  6. Can Nitze Scholars play varsity athletics, participate in music groups, and be in theater productions?
  7. What is the selection process?

How is the name of the program pronounced?

Okay, first things first.  The surname of Paul H. Nitze is pronounced NIT-zah.  As Ambassador Nitze himself used to explain it, it's said like "KNITS a" scarf. This is not the Nietzsche Scholars Program; those looking for such program are advised to look elsewhere--presumably starting with the nearest mountaintop.

Who should consider joining this program?

All students, regardless of their intended majors, who are excelling academically and who are willing to reflect on the philosophical, social, and ethical aspects of their specific fields of study should consider participation. The program attracts students with a passionate commitment to the communal enterprise of learning and a desire to extend their quest for knowledge into a commitment to the public good.  The Nitze Scholars Program is not a major and attracts students from every major, including double-majors.  The NSP also attracts students who play sports, are in plays, and who perform music.  The NSP aims to add value to the college experience, not to hijack it.

What does the Paul H. Nitze Scholars Program offer to participants?

Students accepted into the program will receive a scholarship of $3000 during each year of study in the program.  (Students are eligible for up to eight semesters of merit scholarship, and must achieve a 3.0 GPA in each semester in order to be eligible for St. Mary's merit scholarships.  Students who on independent grounds receive full tuition waivers from St. Mary’s due to, for example, an employment benefit from a family member, are not eligible for additional scholarship support, but are otherwise full participants in the Nitze Scholars Program.) 
Students are also eligible to participate, for no extra charge, in a one-to-two week international study tour (with only some meal costs paid by the student).

Nitze Scholars in a given year take a sequence of three seminars together, culminating in the study tour.

First Year
First Semester   All Nitze Scholars enroll in a Leadership Seminar, which also serves as the introduction to the program. Although its topic varies from year to year depending on the professor who teaches it, the underlying concerns remain the same. Students study how people create worldviews to make sense of their experiences and to gain control of their lives, and how these worldviews are modified and replaced by others. They investigate how leaders arise, how they interact with their communities, and how forms of leadership differ in different times, cultures, and disciplines of study.

Second Semester  The leadership seminar is followed in the second semester by a two-credit Leadership Tutorial.  This tutorial, led by the Director or Assistant Director of the Scholars Program, is organized around various projects, like developing a Leadership Engagement Project (wherein students, alone or in groups, plan and execute some project in which they take a leading role), or the Alumni or Trustee project (wherein students interview Nitze alumni or members of SMCM's Board of Trustees about some aspect of leadership, like what their experience has been of the intersection of gender and leadership).

Second Year
Fall or spring semester   Nitze Scholars take a seminar about leadership in an international context, which culminates with a one-to-two week study tour, paid for by the NSP (except for some meal costs).  Students will use the insights and skills they acquired in the Leadership Seminar to study political, social, or environmental issues in a particular region of the world. The professor who teaches the seminar will focus on the relationship between that region and the US, invite comparisons, and encourage students to discuss local issues from a global perspective.

After the second year in the NSP, as students are focusing on advanced courses in their majors and many of them studying abroad for a semester (St. Mary's has a variety of programs abroad, for students with different tastes and majors), the Nitze Scholars still participate in a number of special activities on and off campus.  On-campus opportunities include special meals with visiting speakers, as well as events of a more social nature.  (An example of this latter type is the annual Bonfire of the Inanities, held each fall, in which each Nitze Scholar brings to a bonfire some item or image of an item which that student finds to be inane, describes to others what he or she finds to be inane about it, and then burns it.)  Off-campus outings include trips to D.C. and Baltimore to see plays and visit museums.

What are the obligations of participating students to the Paul H. Nitze Scholars Program?

In addition to participating in the two seminars and the tutorial, students develop a portfolio in which the student reflects on his or her education, on his or her philosophy of leadership and service, and on how that philosophy is exemplified (or not) by the student's leadership and service activities.

Like all St. Mary's students, Nitze Scholars are encouraged to participate in leadership and service activities on or off campus. Their participation can take many different forms, from involvement in student government to participation in the artistic life on campus, from writing for the college newspaper to tutoring children in local schools. In addition, Nitze Scholars are expected to use what they have learned in their seminars, tutorials, and through their study tour abroad to reflect on their leadership and service activities, to put them in context and to develop a leadership/service philosophy. Under the guidance of the director or assistant director of the Program, students will work on a portfolio that they present to the Nitze Scholars Committee during their final semester at St. Mary's and that will be evaluated by the members of the committee. I n evaluating a portfolio, the committee will consider (1) a student's documented ability to work both independently and collaboratively towards the common good, (2) the demonstrated depth of reflection, and (3) the quality of its articulation in a coherent leadership/service philosophy.

Are the 3 Nitze courses extra work for students?

The two seminars both satisfy already existing college requirements, so only the 2-credit (half-semester, in the second semester) leadership tutorial is extra work.

Can Nitze Scholars play varsity athletics, participate in music groups, and be in theater productions?

Not all in the same semester!
But seriously, yes--serious engagement with any one of these co-curricular activities is not only compatible with the Nitze program, but is encouraged.  That is, there are plenty of Nitze Scholars each year who play varsity sports (and even more who play club and intramural sports), plenty who play in the orchestra, jazz band, or the like; who sing in choir, chamber singers, or one of the a capella groups; or who are involved with various theater or dance productions.
Little known fact: 100% of Nitze Scholars can play the oboe!
(Just not very well.)

What is the selection process?

The NSP is a dual-entry program, which means that some students are accepted each year during the time they are applying to St. Mary's (about a dozen each year), and some are accepted each year in their second semester at St. Mary's, to begin the program in their second year at St. Mary's.  (The requirements of the program can be completed in three years.)

The Nitze Scholarship and the Nitze study tour are available to all Nitze Scholars regardless of how they entered the program.

The selection process for those who are in the midst of applying to St. Mary's begins in mid-January, with the Office of Admissions screening all applications for students with records of outstanding academic and co-curricular achievement. The strongest applications are forwarded to the Nitze Scholars Committee, which winnows the list to about 100-120 who are invited to apply.  Letters of invitation go out in the latter half of January, with the application deadline in late February.  Each applicant has an interview, either in person or by telephone.  Acceptance decisions are made in March, with notifications going out by the end of that month.

The selection process for those who are in their second semester at St. Mary's begins in March with nominations sent from faculty members to the Nitze Scholars Committee, and with academic records from the first semester provided to the committee by the Office of the Registrar.  E-mailed invitations to apply go out to about 70 students just prior to spring break, with the application deadline in early April.  Interviews are conducted later that month.  Acceptance decisions are made in early May, before final examinations begin.

Although most applicants (from both groups: incoming to St. Mary's and in their second semester at St. Mary's) are not accepted into the program, those who are denied acceptance as incoming students will have a second chance to be invited to apply (namely, in their second semester), in which case no information from the first application is used in acceptance decisions.