Spectrum - Frequently Asked Questions

Applications for all ALA Scholarships are accepted through a centralized online application site known as the "ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse" which is managed by the Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR). Scholarship applications are accepted annually from September 1 to March 1 for awards announced in June that provide funding for the following Fall semester. Please see the additional FAQ about the ALA Scholarship Program and contact scholarships@ala.org with questions about the online application system. 

Spectrum - Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Spectrum Scholarship?

The Spectrum Scholarship provides a one time, non-renewable $5,000 scholarship awarded in two installments in September and January. The Spectrum Scholarship also affords recipients the opportunity to attend the Spectrum Leadership Institute the summer following the first year of study. Considered a highlight of the Spectrum Scholarship experience, the Spectrum Leadership Institute offers professional development, networking, and mentoring opportunities. Valued at over $1,500 the Institute package includes travel, lodging, meals and complimentary registration for the ALA Annual Conference the year after selection.

Q. How many Spectrum Scholarships are awarded?

Spectrum awards as many annual scholarships as possible dependent on funding, typically 60 scholarships per year.

Q. Who is eligible to apply for a Spectrum Scholarship?

Students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern/North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander planning to attend an ALA-accredited graduate program in library and information science or an AASL-recognized School Library Media program are invited to apply.

Q. Do I have to be a U.S. Citizen to apply for a Spectrum Scholarship?

No, but you must be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. or Canada.

Q. I am not a resident of the United States or Canada; does the ALA provide any scholarships for non-U.S./Canadian citizens or permanent residents?

The LITA Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship. Visit the ALA Scholarship website (www.ala.org/scholarships) for links to more information on this scholarship.

Q. Do members of the American Library Association receive special consideration for ALA Scholarships?

No.  You do not need to be a member of ALA to apply for our scholarships. In fact, many of our scholarships provide recipients with complimentary membership as part of the award benefits.

Q. Do I need to have applied to library school to submit an application for Spectrum?

No. Many Spectrum applicants are in the process of submitting applications to library schools at the time of their scholarship application. Even if you have not begun applications to library school, it is strongly recommended that you submit a scholarship application so that you do not miss our scholarship funding cycle or risk accumulating too many credits to apply in future years.

Q. Do I need to be accepted into a graduate program to apply for Spectrum?

No. You do not need to have been formally accepted into a graduate program in library and information science to apply or to be awarded a scholarship. While we encourage Spectrum recipients to have selected and confirmed acceptance to a graduate program by June 30th, scholarship recipients have until the date of their first scholarship installment (September) to enroll in their graduate program.

Q. If I have already started library school, am I still eligible to apply for Spectrum?

Yes. Applicants must be able to meet the requirement to maintain a minimum course load of two classes per semester (the Fall and Winter/Spring semesters following the award notification) during their scholarship year and should not anticipate graduating prior to the May following their award notification.

Q. Do I need to be a full-time student as a Spectrum Scholarship recipient?

No, Spectrum recipients are required to take a minimum of two classes for credit in the two semesters they receive scholarship payments. Courses may be for 1 credit.

Q. I am looking to obtain an undergraduate degree in library and information science; does the ALA provide any scholarships toward undergraduate work?

No. At this time, the American Library Association does not offer any scholarships for undergraduate work and there is no agency that accredits undergraduate or associates programs in library and information science.

Q. I am working toward my Ph.D. in library and information science, am I eligible for a Spectrum Scholarship?

Not at this time. Periodically through grants Spectrum has supported cohorts of doctoral students. At present, the Century Scholarship is currently the only scholarship from the American Library Association that can be used toward a Ph.D. program. Visit www.ala.org/scholarships for a link to more information on the Century scholarship for students with disabilities.

Q. Where can I find more information on the Spectrum Scholarship Program?

Visit www.ala.org/spectrum. Please contact the Office for Diversity at 1.800.545.2433 ext. 5048 with additional inquiries, or email spectrum@ala.org.

Q. How do I apply for a Spectrum Scholarship?

Applications for the Spectrum Scholarship, and all scholarships from the American Library Association must be submitted on the online application form. The link to the online application form can be found at www.ala.org/scholarships.

Q. When is the deadline to apply for a Spectrum Scholarship?

A completed application, including all online portions and mailed transcript(s), must be received by March 1st.

Q. What will I need to do before beginning an online application?

You are encouraged to read the eligibility requirements and scholarship information for each scholarship you’re interested in before beginning your online application. You will be asked to create a login the first time you access the online application form. Your login will consist of an email address and password. This login will allow you to access and complete your online application over time. Applicants are encouraged to begin the online application process as early as possible so that they may review the application components. After you have completed all required portions, the option to “Submit Application” will appear at the bottom of your online application form. You must hit the Submit Application option before March 1st for your application to be considered. While the login allows you plenty of opportunity to review and edit your application overtime, please be sure that you have completed your application to your satisfaction before hitting submit.

Q. What items are required for a complete application?

A completed application consists of 1) submitted online application form, 2) personal statement (included in online application form), 3) three (3) professional references submitted on the online form, 4) an official transcript from the institution where you completed the bachelor’s degree and an official transcript for any coursework toward your MLIS mailed to the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse.

Q. Do I need to submit a personal statement? If so, what should be included in it?

Applicants will be asked to include a personal statement as part of the online application. If you are applying for more than one scholarship from the American Library Association, you may be asked to submit more than one personal statement and you will be alerted during the online application process as to what statements are required to complete your application. Applicants for Spectrum Scholarships will be prompted to provide a personal statement of 5000 characters or less answering the following questions: Please describe how you have fostered inclusiveness in the organizations or institutions in which you participate (1 paragraph). Why do you wish to pursue a career in library and information science (1-2 paragraphs)? Describe how your selection as a Spectrum Scholar and participation in the Spectrum Leadership Institute would improve your contributions to diverse communities of library users (1-2 paragraphs).

Q. Do I need to submit any references?

Three (3) completed online reference forms are required. Once you begin the application process, you will be prompted to enter the names and emails of three references. Once submitted, each reference will receive an email with a personal link to complete an online reference form in support of your application. Professional references are individuals (excluding family) that are well acquainted with your educational background, intellectual abilities, professional experience, and personal character. They will be expected to complete the reference form online. Be sure to alert your references to look for the link to the online reference form and remind them to complete their online reference in advance of the deadline. An application will not be considered complete unless all three references are submitted by March 1st.

Q. Do I need to submit any transcripts?

An official transcript is required from the bachelor’s degree-granting institution. If you have already begun your MLIS program, you must also submit an official transcript from this institution. Only one copy of the transcript is required, regardless of the number of ALA scholarships you apply for. Transcripts for other master's level work are not required but may be submitted for consideration. All transcripts must be received by March 1st. They should be placed in sealed envelopes and mailed to: The ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611.

Q. How will I know my application is complete?

Applicants can track the status of their application online after submitting the online portions of their application (application, personal statement and references). Additionally they may contact scholarships@ala.org to confirm the application has been properly received. Applicants are encouraged to mail the required transcript into the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse well in advance (please note the deadline is for receipt of the transcript, not postmarking) of the March 1st deadline. If you are mailing a transcript express mail close to the deadline date, registered mail is highly recommended so that you have proof of receipt. Due to the heavy of volume of mail the last two weeks of February, the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse is unable to verify transcript receipt during these dates.

Q. Can I apply for more than one scholarship at a time?

Yes. The online application was designed to allow applicants to apply for multiple scholarships at once. Please review the ALA Scholarship Program website (www.ala.org/scholarships) thoroughly and explore the links to the various scholarships available from the American Library Association before beginning your online application. Once you have begun your online application you will be asked to select which scholarships for which you’d like to be considered. We encourage Spectrum applicants to also apply, at minimum, for the ALA General Scholarships and strongly encourage you to apply for any scholarship whose eligibility requirements you meet.

Q. Who should I contact with additional questions?

Please feel free to contact the Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services at 1.800.545.2433 ext. 5048 or spectrum@ala.org with any questions you may have before, during or after undertaking the application process! We look forward to your application.