For two decades, St. Mary’s College has provided special educational opportunities to students with exceptional academic potential. Competitive with elite and expensive private colleges in the quality of students it enrolls and in the standard of excellence it maintains, the Nitze Scholars Program offers an alternative approach that is enriching and challenging.
The Nitze Scholars Program was named in 1998 for Paul H. Nitze, the former ambassador, secretary of the Navy, and adviser to presidents, whose career exemplified leadership and public service. The program is designed to provide exceptional opportunities for students who have demonstrated their commitment to the liberal arts and sciences through their outstanding academic success and their commitment to improving society, especially through leadership and service.
By combining academic excellence with a leadership and service orientation, the Nitze Scholars Program aims to develop in students an understanding of leadership and leaders, especially those individuals who can inspire others. The program offers an approach to the study of the liberal arts and sciences that is challenging, enriching, and flexible. It endorses the same goals as the Core Curriculum, with its emphasis on fostering skills of analysis, synthesis, integration, and communication. However, because it assumes that its students have already mastered some of the basic knowledge and learning strategies required in college-level coursework, it focuses on integration across the disciplines, and on using the knowledge and strategies of the scholar for a greater good. The program therefore expects students, with the help of careful advice and guidance, to design a program of study that achieves the breadth of the liberal arts mission. It recognizes that different students come to the College with different strengths, and it provides a program that is a blend of stipulated seminars and foundational courses with substantial freedom to assume a shape that conforms to each student’s individual profile.
Nitze Scholars Program participants design elements of their own core curriculum to be an enriching and challenging means of attaining a liberal arts education of high quality, and combining academic rigor and scholarship with an understanding of the importance of leadership and service. These students benefit from such special features of the program as more flexibility in curricular choices, individualized advising by the Scholars Program director or assistant director, instruction in special seminars that emphasize leadership and service and develop skills of oral and written communication, unique opportunities for the study of foreign culture through an international trip in the second year of participation in the program, and the creative challenge of designing and maintaining a leadership and service portfolio. In addition, students in the Nitze Scholars Program participate in special extracurricular activities, such as receptions, field trips, and honors conferences and seminars featuring Paul H. Nitze Fellows. The Nitze Fellows are leaders in national and international service whose skills, reputation, and practice of leadership qualify them for appointment to the time-honored task of mentoring young scholars.
The small, selective Nitze Scholars Program enrolls only fifteen students from each entering class. Those students admitted as first-time students will be invited to join the program based on the strength of the credentials in their application to St. Mary’s College. High school academic performance (generally a grade-point average of 3.5 or better), excellent SAT scores (re-centered 1350 or higher), breadth of experience in curricular and extracurricular programs, and demonstrated interest in leadership and service will be assessed, as will a required essay. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate experience will be considered as well. Students may also apply to the program after they have matriculated at St. Mary’s College. Their acceptance will be based on both their academic performance and interest in the leadership and service orientation of the program. Current St. Mary’s College students should consult the Scholars Program director for details.
The Nitze Scholars Program is administered by the Scholars Program director, assistant director, a committee of faculty members, and student representatives elected by the Nitze Scholars.
The mission of the DeSousa-Brent Scholars Program is to cultivate the academic talent and leadership potential of students who are traditionally underrepresented at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. By identifying and supporting students of diverse backgrounds, the select program hopes to develop a community of learners who will guide the College’s efforts to increase the understanding of diversity.
The DeSousa-Brent Scholars Program was named in 2008 for Matthias DeSousa and Margaret Brent, two important figures in the early history of Maryland at St. Mary’s City. Matthias DeSousa was the first Black man to have a vote as a landowner in the colony of Maryland. He began his time in Maryland as an indentured servant but eventually was released from his servitude to become a landowner and served in the legislative assembly. Margaret Brent broke sex role barriers and social expectations for women of her time by becoming a landowner with her sister. She was trained as a lawyer and is known as the first suffragette even though she was denied the right to vote. Both DeSousa and Brent provide examples of leaders who moved themselves and their society forward despite social expectations. The DeSousa-Brent Scholars enter the St. Mary’s College community with that same sense of possibility for creating social change through leadership.
Students invited for participation in the program are identified by their past success as high school leaders and their membership in underrepresented groups as defined by ethnicity, income, geography, and first-generation status. Participants self-select into the program upon receiving an invitation. Other interested students who request to participate are considered as space permits with preference provided to international students, students with disabilities, and students who participated in high school programs that have historically partnered with the College.
The DeSousa-Brent Scholars Program supports the Core Curriculum experience of the participants by providing opportunities to extend the intentional development of the fundamental liberal arts skills that include critical thinking, information literacy, written expression, and oral expression.
Teacher certification in early childhood with elementary certification, elementary grades 1-6, secondary, or K-12 certification in art, music or theater is available through the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. Students complete their four-year degree while minoring in educational studies and then, following graduation, may be admitted to the MAT, a year-long, full-time, intensive program leading both to eligibility for certification and the master’s degree.