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:

  • 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 upon acceptance of the award 
  • 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 (225 N Michigan Ave, Suite 1300 Chicago, IL 60601) must receive the completed online application, personal statement, three references, and transcripts by March 1st to be considered. Recipients will be contacted by email before July 1st. All other applicants who were not selected for any ALA scholarship 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 Spectrum 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.

About the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program

In 2021, the American Library Association received an IMLS grant to fund the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship. 

In partnership with the University of South Carolina, the University of Maryland, the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and Emporia, the American Library Association seeks to recruit a cohort of 8-10 racially and ethnically diverse doctoral students focused on advancing racial equity and social justice in library and information science curricula.

The fellowship will develop future LIS faculty committed to fostering racial equity through teaching and research while also building capacity and cooperation amongst partnering LIS degree programs to expand social justice curricula and increase support for doctoral students and faculty in the field who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. In addition to meeting financial needs, fellowship students will attend a two-day conference and be part of a professional cohort.

An informational webinar for prospective students was presented on November 3, 2023 and materials from that session can be found below. 

Recording Slides [.pdf]

Recording - Information Session (.mp4)

Please note that the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program is only available when additional funding, such as the IMLS grant, allows. The Doctoral Program will be announced when it becomes available in future years.