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Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

In the spring of 1748, a brave 16-year-old Virginian set forth on an adventure beyond the western mountains. Equipped with little more than his compass and quill pen, the young surveyor George Washington gained an education on that journey that would last him a lifetime.

At Washington College, we believe, in the spirit of our founding patron, that the best education is one combining the life of the mind with the personal growth gained by experience, travel – and perhaps even adventure.

The Quill & Compass Scholarships are for students interested in exploring history, political science, and American studies here at one of the most historic colleges in the nation. Recipients will have opportunities to sail the Chesapeake Bay on an 18th-century schooner, learn the arts of leadership as practiced by the great figures of American history, participate in research trips to the Library of Congress, and walk in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers. You will be able to study in small seminars with leading scholars, conduct original research under the one-on-one guidance of a faculty mentor, or hear firsthand tales of Civil Rights-era politics from a famous U.S. senator.

The scholarship’s name symbolizes our distinctive approach to studying the past. The quill pen represents Washington College’s famed excellence in teaching writing, and particularly the literary craft of history. The compass represents the many opportunities we offer our students to explore the world beyond the college gates – especially our surrounding region of the Chesapeake Bay, one of America’s richest historic areas.

All admitted applicants who intend to major or minor in History, Political Science or American Studies are encouraged to apply. The Quill & Compass program currently offers $6,000 scholarships ($1,500 annually for four years), along with unique opportunities to participate in travel and other special activities free of charge.  The scholarships themselves are awarded to three members of each incoming freshman class, but other aspects of the program are open to outstanding students across many fields.

Submit your application for the scholarship online here.


Applications for the 2018-2019 academic year are due March 1, 2018.  For assistance with the application process, please contact
the Admissions Office: Jonathan Webb (800-422-1782, ext. 7700, jwebb2@washcoll.edu).

The Quill and Compass Scholarships at Washington College are made possible through the generosity of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter I, and other supporters and friends.