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Kessler Scholars Program

Kessler Scholars group 2023-2024

About the Kessler Scholars Program

The Kessler Scholars Program was founded at the University of Michigan by the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation to support first-generation college students. Through the efforts of the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, the Kessler Scholars Program has expanded to 15 new universities, including the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). The leading first-generation support model combines financial resources, cohort-based engagement, and individualized guidance to provide first-generation students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and beyond.  

Kessler Scholars at Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh Kessler Scholars Program provides four years of holistic academic, financial, and social support to exceptional students who are among the first in their family to attend college, helping them achieve their dreams. As a high-touch cohort model, the asset-based program will provide students with a welcoming, close-knit community at Pitt. Alongside professional staff and a network of campus community partners, scholars will be prepared for lives of impact through educational experiences tailored to their specific goals and needs.  

Kessler Scholars will: 

  • Receive at least a $2000 scholarship. Additional funding will be provided to cover the remaining financial need after financial aid is determined through FAFSA (including federal and state grants, University scholarships, work-study dollars, and/or federal loans) has been considered.
  • Attend the Provost Academy, a summer bridge experience
  • Access individualized academic coaching from Kessler Scholars staff
  • Enroll in an exclusive, 1-credit Kessler Scholar seminar class 
  • Participate in the Academic Success Academy Workshop Series   
  • Enjoy cohort-based programming and events  
  • Connect with faculty, staff, alumni, and peers  

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply to become a Kessler Scholar at Pitt?

Students must be an admitted Pitt first-time, first-year student to apply to the Kessler Scholars Program.

Only first-year students who are enrolled in the following colleges are eligible: Dietrich School of Art & Sciences, Swanson School of Engineering, College of Business Administration, School of Nursing, School of Computing and Information, or School of Public Health.

Students must be a first-generation college student (you are the first person in your immediate family to attend college).

Selected students must undergo an interview process and will be selected based on interest in the program, high school accomplishments, and leadership potential.

How do I apply to become a Kessler Scholar at Pitt? 

Students invited to apply received an email from the Student Success Team. First, complete the quick interest questionnaire.  Then, the team will review your response and outstanding candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview via email.