The selection process takes place during the late in the fall and early in the spring semesters and consists of four stages: nomination, application, group interview, and individual interview. Prior to starting the selection process, applicants are strongly encouraged to review the “About Us” section of the website to learn more about the Blackburn Institute’s vision, mission, and values. Below are the process deadlines and information for the 2019-20 academic year.

Nomination: October 1, 2019 (8:00am CST) – January 15, 2020 (11:59pm CST)

Students may self-nominate or be nominated by a member of the university’s faculty or staff, Blackburn Fellows (alumni), Students, or Advisory Board members using this nomination form. We seek students who:

  • demonstrate interest and leadership relating to public policy;
  • indicate strong interest in exploring issues facing the state of Alabama;
  • demonstrate their ability to contribute progressive leadership on issues;
  • demonstrate a clear concept of local, state or national issues; and
  • have at least one full year remaining as a student (undergraduate or graduate) at the University of Alabama.

Nominees receive notification of their nomination for potential selection into The University of Alabama’s Blackburn Institute via e-mail. Nominees are also invited to a New Member Interest Session, where they learn more about the Institute and the selection process, as well as meet current Blackburn students and have a chance to ask questions.

Application: January 16 (12:01am CST) – 27 (11:59pm CST), 2020

In mid- to late-January, nominated students who are interested in the institute will then complete an application consisting of one essay question. Essays are evaluated anonymously by a panel of Blackburn Fellows, Advisory Board members, Students, and campus staff members.

Group Interview: February 11 – 13, 2020

All applicants participate in a small-group interview with other applicants in mid-February. The panel of observers for the group interviews will typically consist of two Blackburn students, plus one additional member of the Blackburn community (staff, Fellow, or Advisory Board member).

Individual Interview: February 20 – 22, 2020

A combined score from both the application essay and group interview performance is used to determine the students selected for individual interviews. Selected students will be notified by e-mail and then hold a personal interview in late-February with a review panel of advisory board members, staff, students, and fellows.


Required Events and Activities

Students accepted into the Blackburn Institute as part of the 2020 class will be required to attend the following events.

  • Sunday, March 1, 2020 (8:00-10:0pm) – New Student Orientation and Social
  • Friday, March 27 (depart from campus at 3:00pm) to Saturday, March 28, 2020 (conclude on campus at 8:00pm) – D. Ray Pate New Student Retreat
  • Monday, April 13, 2020 (depart from campus at 4:30pm, return to campus at 10:00pm) – Annual Networking Dinner sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company Foundation (Birmingham, AL)
  • Friday, August 27 (5:00pm) to Saturday, August 28, 2020 (10:00pm) – Annual Symposium
  • Sunday, September 27, 2020 (8:00-10:00pm) – Pre-Trip Preparation Meeting
  • Wednesday, October 28 (depart campus at 12:00pm) to Saturday, October 31, 2020 (return to campus at 11:00pm) – Burt Jones Travel Experience
  • Sunday, November 8, 2020 (8:00-10:00pm) – Post-Trip Debriefing
  • Monday, November 16, 2020 (5:00-6:30pm) – Daniel Community Scholars Poster Presentations and Reception
  • Wednesday, January 6, 2021 (8:00-10:00pm) – Pre-Trip Preparation Meeting
  • Thursday, January 14 (depart campus at 2:00pm) – Friday, January 15, 2021 (return to campus at 11:00pm) – Protective Life Government Experience
  • Sunday, January 24, 2021 (8:00-10:00pm) – Post-Trip Debriefing

Additionally, selected students commit to the following program activities:

  • Two advising meetings each semester, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, with Blackburn Institute staff members;
  • Group work necessary to research and plan (Fall 2020), and implement (Spring 2021) a class civic engagement project; and
  • Monthly small-group meeting on a Monday-Thursday evening (September, October, and November 2020 and February 2021).