Life As A Sondheim

Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars gain an interdisciplinary understanding of human behavior and of social, economic, and political institutions through courses, speakers, research, service-learning and internships. Students earn at least one major in the their desired discipline, and many have double majors. They learn about American and world societies, develop a deep understanding of public policy, and acquire analytical and expressive skills to apply to current policy issues and roles in public service.

Scholar Cohorts

Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars enjoy active friendships with like-minded, involved students. Each Scholar enters the program as part of a small cohort of peers, about 15 other new Scholars. They bond with their cohort members through participation in shared first year classes and social activities. New scholars are mentored by upperclassmen, which incorporates freshmen into the UMBC community for both academics and extracurriculars.

As serious scholars, they do more than earn good grades–they search for knowledge because doing so fascinates them.  But as members of an exceptionally diverse university that is supported by the state’s citizens, they also help lead an institution which makes major contributions to Baltimore, Maryland and beyond.


Sondheim Scholars on a field trip in Baltimore.

Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars participate in activities together throughout the academic year. The year kicks off with a picnic where incoming scholars get to know one another and connect with the other cohorts of scholars. Each semester we go on field trips to attend artistic performances in Baltimore, usually plays with themes relevant to our work in improving society and participate in panel discussions with policy experts throughout Maryland. All Sondheim Scholars contribute to an annual day of service, participate in at least one semester of service-learning in the community, complete an internship and at the end of the academic year attend an annual event where we recognize our graduating seniors.




Photo of student standing with research presentation at URCAD campus event.
Sondheim Scholar, Wayne Heavener, presents research at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD) held each spring at UMBC. Students have the opportunity to present research, gain experience through internships and service-learning.


Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars receive intensive advising and mentoring. Each student is treated as an individual who has unique strengths and needs. Dr. Ian G. Anson, Interim Director, and Associate Director, Jessica Cook, are always available for advising Scholars. Both have been recognized at UMBC and at the UMD system level for their commitment to student support and mentoring.

With faculty and staff assistance, Scholars are accepted at high-quality, professional graduate and law schools, compete successfully for prestigious awards, such as the Truman Scholarship, and are linked to excellent first jobs in public service fields.