Public Interest Law Center

Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholarships

RTK Faculty Director Nancy Morawetz with quote

The Root-Tilden-Kern Program is the nation’s premier public service scholarship. Established in 1951, the scholarship has an impressive history; and scholarship alumni are some of the most powerful public service attorneys at work today. The program covers full tuition, without regard to financial need, for three years of law school for outstanding students who promise to pursue public service. 

Each year 20 scholars are selected based on three criteria: commitment to public service, academic excellence, and potential for leadership. In addition to full tuition, scholars participate in a program that nurtures future public service leaders by providing unique educational, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

The program defines public service broadly: encompassing policy and legal positions with government, non-profit organizations, academia, social entrepreneurship, community development, and law firms whose primary mission is serving the public interest.

We strive to ensure that each class of Root-Tilden-Kern Scholars is diverse in terms of race, sex, class, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, educational background, prior work experience, geographic origins, and socio-economic background. We seeking an applicant pool that includes systematically disadvantaged and underrepresented students, including Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, undocumented people, first-generation college graduates, veterans, people with previous criminal convictions or open criminal cases, and people who were raised in low-income and working-class households. The program believes that diversity is critical to fostering a strong public interest profession.

Within the Root-Tilden-Kern Program, there are several special named scholarships focusing on specific issues. Students receiving those scholarships participate in all Root-Tilden-Kern activities and are chosen in the same selection process: 

For more information please review the program descriptionhow to apply, and the selection process. After reading that information, you may want to review the answers to these frequently asked questions