Nomination Process

Nomination Process

The Wells Scholars Program uses a nomination rather than an application process for the selection of Scholars. This applies to incoming freshmen and current IU Bloomington undergraduates. For specific instructions, please visit our Domestic, International, or Internal nomination process pages.

There is no one strict model of an award recipient: however, past successful nominees have typically:

  • Shown exceptional qualities of character and leadership
  • Been significantly involved in extracurricular activities
  • Demonstrated a concern for their community
  • Excelled in terms of class rank, GPA, and/or (optional*) standardized test scores
  • Expressed interest in joining a community of scholarly individuals with diverse interests beyond a pre-professional track

Put simply, following the ideals of Herman B Wells, we’re not interested in students who see a brilliant career as their primary goal. We are looking for Scholars who want to contribute and make an impact on their community, the nation, and the world. They will encounter like-minded Scholars in our program and will forge lifelong friendships. If you have any questions about the suitability of a candidate you are considering for a nomination, feel free to reach out to Wells Scholars Program Director Professor Christoph Irmscher at

*The Wells Scholars Program follows the same test-optional policy as the Office of Admissions. Your completed file will be reviewed whether or not you choose to submit scores. However, unlike the Office of Admissions, the Wells Scholars Program cannot accept changes after the November 1 deadline.

Letters of recommendation

We appreciate the time you're taking to offer us additional information on the student who has been nominated! Letters of recommendation are one of the most important elements of a nomination file. Here are a few suggestions, based on years of reviewing hundreds of files each fall.

First, and perhaps most important, try to avoid summarizing a student's resume or report card or the essay the student has just submitted. Please give us a sense of them as a person, by telling a story, recalling a conversation you had, or describing an outstanding thing the student did for you, the community, or maybe even the world.

Secondly, stereotypical phrases such as "well-rounded," "an asset," "an investment worth making" do not help our faculty reviewers get a sense of the nominee as a person, and they are likely to make your letter sound like many others we get. Hyperbole can be dangerous, unless it is backed up by facts or comes across as heartfelt (e.g. "of all the students I have taught in my thirty years of high school biology, she is the one I will remember most fondly, because.....").

Third, although we know this is really hard given the many demands on your time, try to make your letter a substantial one. Letters that are on the short side might suggest to our faculty committee that the student's accomplishments didn't warrant the effort implied by a longer, more substantive letter of recommendation.

Finally, once again, please be assured that we deeply value the work you're doing on behalf of our future Scholars!

Please contact our office with any questions or concerns: