The Burke Scholarship Program

More than a scholarship

The Burke Scholarship program, supported by the Burke Foundation, is a four-year program for full-time undergraduate students who have a passion for social justice and a commitment to serve others. This full-tuition scholarship is awarded annually to 10 academically talented Wisconsin high school seniors who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to their community through service, leadership and social justice and aspire to pursue careers that benefit the public good. Beyond the tremendous scholarship award, students are provided support and mentorship, attend social justice seminars and retreats, grow strong relationships with peers and community partners, and enhance their college experience through weekly community service. Burke Scholars receive more than a scholarship. They are given a tremendous gift to which they respond in creative, sustained and meaningful ways — as undergraduate students and then as responsible, active citizens. In doing so, they reflect the best elements of Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit tradition.

The Program Experience

Wisconsin high school seniors are invited to apply for the Burke Scholarship program after they are accepted to Marquette University. The application process includes a phone and on-campus interview in early spring. The winners are invited to campus in May to celebrate their award and are inaugurated into the program. Burke Scholars will experience the following during their four years at Marquette University:

  • Annual Burke Summer Retreat (takes place the week before classes begin)
  • 8-10 hours of service per week (150 hours per semester) at a local community organization, church, nonprofit or governmental organization as a direct way to experience social justice issues in our city, with guidance and support from the Burke Scholarship director 
  • Weekly first-year cohort meetings, helping to build relationships and provide academic support
  • Bi-monthly evening seminars with the entire group of 40 scholars, focusing on social justice and community issues in Milwaukee and beyond
  • Peer mentorship groups, reflections and social activities to build lasting relationships
  • Burke End of Year Celebration (Sunday before finals week, families always invited)

All of these activities serve to form, inform and ultimately transform the Burke Scholars individually and as a scholarship community. By actively developing leaders who engage the greater Milwaukee community during their time at Marquette and beyond through service and social justice work, the Burke Scholars Program positively addresses some of Milwaukee’s most pressing issues while serving as a conduit for the Scholars to establish genuine relationships with community members and nonprofit agency staff. Therefore, the Burke Scholars integrate energy, perspective and classroom knowledge with service to foster a community-engaged education at Marquette University.

Learn more about the Burke Scholars program celebrating 25 years