Apply for Spectrum

Thank you for your interest in a Spectrum Scholarship. The American Library Association accepts applications for all of its scholarships annually from September 1 to March 1 for the following academic year. Visit the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse to begin an application


To be eligible for a Spectrum Scholarship, you should:

  • be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. or Canada
  • identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern/North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
  • attend an ALA-accredited graduate program in library and information studies or an AASL-recognized School Library Media Program
  • be enrolled in an accredited program and begin no later than September 1st or Fall Semester
  • have full or part-time status
  • plan to maintain a minimum course load of two classes per semester while receiving your scholarship funds

Applying for ALA Scholarships

Applications for the Spectrum Scholarships are accepted through the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse which allows applicants to apply to multiple scholarships offered through the American Library Association. Applications for all ALA Scholarships are accepted annually from September to March 1. To submit an application for a Spectrum Scholarship, the following items are required:

  • Completed online application (which includes a personal statement).
  • Three professional references (only references on the official online form will be accepted). You will be prompted to indicate your professional references within the online application.
  • Official academic transcripts from the institution where you received your bachelor’s degree. If you are currently enrolled in an MLIS program or an AASL-recognized School Library Media Program, you will need to send a transcript from your current institution, as well. Only official (sealed) copies will be accepted. ​

The ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse (50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611) must receive the completed online application, personal statement, three references, and transcripts by March 1st to be considered. Recipients will be contacted by phone after June 1st. All other applicants will be notified by email after July 1st.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please review our Spectrum FAQ for more information to assist you as you review eligibility and prepare an application. Interested in hearing from alumni of the program? Watch our pre-recorded informational webinars with application tips and alumni reflections:

About the Scholarship

Spectrum Scholars share in the prestige and opportunities that become available when they are selected. Each scholar receives $5,000 from ALA to combat the rising cost of graduate education as well as $1,500 to attend the Spectrum Leadership Institute held during the ALA Annual Conference. In addition to financial support, recipients benefit from peer mentoring and a large alumni network. Critical for long-term impact, the program offers continuing education and professional development opportunities foundational to obtaining leadership positions within the profession.

​Spectrum Scholars receive a number of benefits in addition to their scholarship funds, these include:

  • Complimentary one-year student membership to ALA (includes a one-year subscription to American Libraries).
  • Free student admission to ALA Annual Conference during the scholarship year.
  • Free attendance to the Spectrum Leadership Institute: a 3-day institute that highlights cross-cultural models of leadership and features national library and community leaders.
  • Complimentary memberships to  ALA divisions and participating Round Tables and Affiliates during the scholarship year.
  • Formal and informal mentoring opportunities. 
  • Opportunities for matching scholarships from participating library schools and other regional library associations. 
  • Access to colleagues via an electronic discussion list, and various private and open online communities.
  • Posted information on job/internship/residency opportunities all over the country and in different types of libraries.
  • Networking with other Spectrum Scholars and library leaders.
  • Participation in a national library diversity initiative and the recognition merited by this distinction.
  • Invitations to present at forums, conferences, and institutes.
  • Opportunities to apply for travel grants to regional institutes and conferences.