Social Science Scholars

Leadership Development Program

The Social Science Scholars Program was created in 2011 to recognize and challenge outstanding majors in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

Social Science Scholars are chosen through a highly competitive process and participate in a leadership seminar during the spring semester of their junior year. The seminar prepares students for internships as well as for research and service projects that are undertaken during the following summer semester.

Watch this short message from Director John Mayo and recent scholars sharing their experiences in the program.

Social Science Scholars receive funding up to $5,000 for approved travel and other expenses related to their internships or projects. The latter may be conducted in the U.S. or abroad. During their senior year, the scholars report on their leadership projects, attend seminars and symposia, and work with mentors to prepare for graduate school as well as other postgraduate opportunities.

The deadline to apply to be a 2023 Social Science Scholar is Monday, October 5, by 5 p.m.


  • Receive funding up to $5,000 for approved travel and other expenses related to your internships or projects (conducted in the U.S. or abroad). 
  • Develop leadership skills while engaging in your summer opportunities (internships or projects), selecting projects that are meaningful to you. 
  • Prepare to engage in your internships or projects with support and guidance from faculty, students in your cohort and alumni of the program. 
  • Create lasting relationships with the dean, faculty, staff and the Social Science Scholars’ deep alumni base who are now in similar career fields who are always mentoring and recruiting. 
  • Gain experience with public speaking and community engagement by presenting your fellowship, internship, or project findings to the FSU Community during the Social Science Scholars Program Symposium in the fall following your summer project. 


  • Fall 1: Apply 
    • Applications open in September and are due by November each year.  
    • The selected cohort is notified by the end of fall.
  • Spring: Leadership Seminar 
    • Selected students participate in a leadership seminar learning theory, conflict resolution, and how to engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Students enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with faculty and other students in their cohort.   
  • Summer: Leadership Development Opportunity 
    • Engage in your internship/fellowship or project 
  • Fall 2: Reflection Seminar & Present at the Social Science Scholars Program Symposium 
    • Participate in a reflection seminar with your cohort. 
    • Meet a couple of times through the semester, prepare a report, and then present it at the Social Science Scholars Program symposium to share your experiences with current FSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the program. 

Application Process & Selection Criteria

  • Applicants for the 2023 Social Science Scholars Program must have completed their liberal studies requirements and been accepted as a major in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy by September 2022, as that is when applications for the 2023 cohort will open..  
  • Students must also have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher.  
  • Engagement in service, research and work activities, both on or off campus, is weighted heavily in the selection process. 

History & Alumni

The Social Science Scholars Program builds upon the college’s long history of graduating men and women who have gone on to distinguished careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Among them are:

  • Reuben Askew (Public Administration, 1951), governor of Florida (1971-79)
  • Lynda Keever (Political Science, 1969), publisher of Florida Trend Magazine (retired)
  • Tomas Culligan (Political Science, 1973, Public Administration, 1977), CEO of Raytheon International, Inc. (retired)
  • Joyce Godwin (Political Science, 1965), leader of multiple non-profit organizations
  • Eric Reading (International Affairs, 1993), VP for International Affairs, Abt Associates
  • James Kassaga Arinaitwe, (Public Health, 2011), CEO & Co-founder, Teach for Uganda

More recent graduates of the college have been recognized for their outstanding academic achievement and leadership. They include:

  • Cara Castellana (Economics, 2006), Truman Scholar at the University of Chicago
  • Garrett Johnson (Political Science and English, 2006), Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University
  • Joe O’Shea (Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and Philosophy, 2009), Rhodes Scholars at Oxford University

Their example, and a desire to offer more opportunities for students to achieve at such high levels, inspired the creation of the Social Science Scholars Program.

Since its creation 2011, the Social Science Scholars Program has continued to produce students recognized for their scholarship and service. Among them are:

  • Rosalia Contreras (International Affairs & Women’s Studies, 2013), received a Fulbright Assistantship to teach English in Spain
  • Caitlin Strawder (Political Science, 2013) received a Fulbright Assistantship to teach English in Colombia
  • Tara Catanach (International Affairs, 2014), Jacqueline Rojas (Political Science & International Affairs, 2014) and Paige Dabney (International Affairs, 2014) received Boren Scholarships for intensive language study in Tanzania, Mozambique and the Republic of Georgia, respectively
  • Mackenzie Teek (Sociology, 2017) and Sebastian Mejia (Latin American Studies & International Affairs, 2019) received Fulbright Fellowships for research in Brazil

For more information contact John Mayo (, 850-644-4321, or Tom Taylor (, 850-933-9444.