Selection Criteria


Must be a current, first-year undergraduate at NC State University. All majors are encouraged to apply. (Please list your current  major on the application. If you are planning to change you may note that in one of the brief answers or essays.)


Academic Excellence, Intellectual Curiosity and Creativity

A consistently strong academic record at NC State (3.25 or better GPA) is required for application and retention in the program. Rigor of coursework is considered. High school transcripts are not a factor in selection . . . originality of thought, creativity and spark are.


Excellence of Character

Our community values an open mind, respect for difference, a strong moral sense and willingness to stand up for the less advantaged and the greater good, a sustainable environmental ethic, humility and a sense of humor.


Leadership Experience and Potential

Applicants should have exceptional character and a history of participation/involvement in school or community activities and a goal of personal growth, particularly in the area of leadership development. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to understand and apply concepts of leadership and ethics, to be willing to examine their own lives critically and the situations in which they are involved. Demonstrate respect for diversity and commitment to leadership from a global perspective.


Orientation toward Community and Service

Applicants should have an awareness of themselves as members of broader communities, upon which they depend and simultaneously help to shape. Applicants should exhibit an active commitment to stewardship and a desire to address community issues through participation and service.


Commitment to Physical Challenge and Personal Growth

Applicants must have a desire to participate actively in developing themselves as leaders by seeking out new experiences, gaining new skills, and making a commitment to ongoing self-discovery and personal development. Through the Wilderness Program, students are encouraged to undertake physical and personal challenges outside their comfort zone. It’s important to note that the program does not expect Fellows to meet any sort of baseline in terms of physical activity.


Commitment to the Program

Applicants must demonstrate a strong awareness and commitment to the program’s expectations and be able to articulate how they will:

  • Benefit from participation in this leadership development program
  • Contribute to The Caldwell Fellows learning community
  • Enhance the university and broader community.

Important Dates

Application Opens

October 30, 2017

Application Deadline

January 18, 2018

Notification of Finalists

February 5, 2018

Selection Day Interviews

February 17, 2018 8am-4pm

New Fellows Orientation

Sunday, February 25 5-7pm tentative

(Location TBD)

New Fellows Retreat

March 2018 (overnight) TBA

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility requirements to be a Caldwell Fellow?

See Above


I am a first year student, but I already have sophomore or junior standing, may I still apply?

This is a common question as many of our applicants come to NC State with advanced standing hours from accelerated programs in high school. We do not consider whether by name you are a ‘freshman’ or other designation . . . as long as you are in your first year at NC State.


What are the requirements to maintain my fellowship?

    • Maintaining a total grade point average of 3.25.
    • Participation in annual class retreats, beginning with the freshman retreat.
    • Enrollment in and successful completion of the Caldwell Leadership seminar in the fall of the sophomore year and participation in a service-learning team in the Raleigh community as part of the class
    • Annual correspondence with your endower.
    • Demonstrated commitment to endeavors of the Caldwell Fellows community through attendance at Caldwell dinner seminars, and support of Caldwell service, leadership, and community initiatives
    • Maintaining high character


Is it necessary to attend a Caldwell Fellowship information session to apply?

Attending an information session is not required. Information sessions are provided for students to have as much in-depth knowledge as possible about the program – its opportunities and expectations.


If I apply early, will it increase my chances?

No. All application reviews will begin at the same time, after the application deadline.


What happens to my application after it is submitted?

The review process for applicants is as follows:

      1. Each student’s application file is reviewed and scored by three reviewers, working independently. More than 100 alumni and faculty serve as our reviewers. Staff members oversee the process; they do not serve as reviewers.
      2. The compilation of folder review scores and feedback from the group interview session will determine the selection of 60 finalists who will advance to interview day in February.
      3. Program alumni and campus faculty conduct finalist interviews on a single day in mid to late February. Each finalist is interviewed and individually scored on our selection criteria by seven interviewers. For one interview session, finalists present a prepared stipend proposal to a panel of reviewers. (Guidelines for preparing the stipend proposal will be provided to finalists when they are notified of their finalist status.).
      4. The compilation of scores from finalist interviews determines the final twenty-five students who are named the new class of Caldwell Fellows.

May I miss all or part of Interview Day if selected as a Caldwell Fellow finalist? I have a pre-scheduled activity for that same weekend.

No. The full interview day is required. Interviews cannot be arranged for another time.

May I miss all or part of the freshman retreat if selected as a Caldwell Fellow? I have a pre-scheduled activity for that same weekend.

The Caldwell Fellows receive about 300 applications on average every year and select 25-26, which is approximately 10% of the applicant pool. The selection committee looks for students who want to maximize the opportunities offered by the program. Aside from the weekly commitment of the sophomores seminar, program events average one a month. We approach with understanding when a Fellow has a compelling reason to miss an event, otherwise it is expected that Caldwell Fellows give high priority to program events.
The freshman retreat is a foundational activity that welcomes you into the program and introduces you to your cohort of Caldwells. Missing all or part of the retreat is strongly discouraged and delays your introduction into the program community. Since the point is moot unless you are selected for interviews in February, we wait to discuss such situations until that time.

Must I be on campus the Fall semester of my sophomore year if selected?

Yes, it is an expectation that you will be on campus and you must take the ECD 296H (001) Caldwell Fellows Seminar: Foundations in Self-Development.

From whom should I request my two recommendations?

Your recommenders should be persons who can best speak to your character and to your fit for the Caldwell Fellows program. Thus, a person who knows you well is more significant than the lofty title of a person who may know you less well. One of these recommenders must be an NC State employee.


Can an NC State club or group adviser count as my NC State faculty/staff recommender?

Your NC State recommender should be someone with whom you have developed enough of a relationship to allow them to speak knowledgeably about your qualifications and fit for the program. This person could be a faculty or staff member. A club or group adviser, or a graduate student TA all qualify. A fellow undergraduate student or family member would not be an appropriate choice for a reference.


May I submit more than two letters of recommendation?

No. Only two letters of recommendation per applicant will be reviewed.


Should I submit my high school transcript or other extra materials in my application packet?

Only the requested information will be reviewed. The academic standard for Caldwell Fellow consideration is strictly the common ground of first semester academics at NC State. Thus, the student who may have had a less than stellar high school career or had limited enrichment programs in high school but who has achieved excellence and shown involvement at NC State is just as competitive as the student who performed very well in high school and / or had the advantage of vast high school enrichment experiences.


May I apply if I began my first year last spring instead of the fall semester?

Certainly. You are still considered a first year student.


May I apply if I am an international student?

Absolutely. The Caldwell Fellows are a highly diverse community and we welcome students of all backgrounds, nationality, ethnicity and orientation. A respect for diversity and openness to learning from other points of view is one of the hallmarks of the Caldwell Fellows community.


May I apply if I already have another NC State scholarship?

Anyone is eligible to apply who meets the named criteria of the program. Caldwell selection is based on a student’s fit to the program ideals and their commitment to participation in the full menu of seminars, retreats, and experiential learning events of the Caldwell community. Preference is given, however, to students who do not already have the funding and programming opportunities of one of NC State’s scholarship programs. If a student is selected whose tuition is already fully funded from another NC State scholarship source, then that student may be part of the Caldwell Fellows program but may not receive tuition or enrichment funds. Careful scrutiny is given in the selection process to why the applicant desires the additional opportunities and expectations of the Caldwell Fellowship. Students with a high level of commitments already set for their undergraduate plan should carefully consider whether they can meet the expectations of the Caldwell Fellowship; our reviewers will be asking these same questions.


How many applicants do you receive a year?

Typically, about 300.


How many students make it to the interview process?



Do you have many students do both the Caldwell and the Leadership In Action program under CSLEPS?

A few each year. All of our applicants are typically deeply engaged people and are involved in a wide range of campus endeavors.


How much is the scholarship received with the Caldwell?

Currently, the amount is $6000 annually and these funds are distributed between tuition $4200 and experiential learning, $1800.