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About the Kenan Scholars Program

We provide a world-class, transformative scholarship experience for exceptional students who are committed to learning and working at the intersection of business, academia, policy, government and the nonprofit sector at home or abroad.


Each year, 25 sophomores are selected as Kenan Scholars for their superior scholarship and genuine interest in putting the private sector to work for the public good. Scholars are introduced to the critical role that business plays in identifying and providing sustainable solutions to contemporary, complex issues, and learn the interdisciplinary competencies of leadership, research and cross-sector collaboration essential for their future business success.

  • Mentoring by academic thought leaders, industry executives, entrepreneurs, government policymakers, civic leaders, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School alumni and Kenan Scholars program staff
  • Individual guidance from a dedicated program advisor
  • Exclusive luncheon roundtables, field trips, alternative break experiences, mentor panels and skill-building trainings
  • Access to the resources of the Kenan Institute and its affiliated centers, such as invitation-only conferences and forums
  • Financial support for experiential learning
  • Local and/or global post-sophomore and post-junior year internships
  • An original senior-year research project under the guidance of a Kenan-Flagler faculty advisor

Please consult our annual reviews for more information about the program:
2019-2020 Annual Review
2020-2021 Annual Review
2021-2022 Annual Review


The Kenan Institute requires all Kenan Scholars pursue valuable summer experiences. The institute will provide financial support, a professional network and placement assistance for opportunities that are well-aligned with the mission of the Kenan Scholars Program. Scholars participate in two specific types of internships:

  • Public sector or NGO (sophomore year summer)
  • Private sector (junior year summer)

Kenan Scholars also have the option of pursuing their own business ventures in place of one of these internships as an opportunity to further their entrepreneurial skills and pursuits.

To deepen and broaden the Kenan Scholars’ research experience, a faculty-led research project is an essential component of the Kenan Scholars Program. During senior year, Kenan Scholars are elligible to enroll in Kenan Scholars Research Seminar or the Kenan-Flagler Honors Thesis course. Guided by faculty advisors, the scholars will gain a rich understanding of what can be learned from business research and how it can make a difference in the real world.

The Community Building Fund encourages scholars to undertake activities that foster active engagement in the Kenan Scholars program. The fund provides scholars access to resources for activities intended to build community. Use of these funds enables scholars to share hobbies, interests and passions with one another. Funds can be used to host pizza nights, take a faculty member out for lunch, participate in community service projects or engage in other activities that create connections and cultivate friendships.

Interested scholars must submit an application to the Kenan Scholars Advisor for approval.

The Kenan Scholars Exploratory Fund allows scholars to pursue meaningful opportunities outside of their academic curriculum. Each scholar can apply for grants totaling $2,000 during their tenure in the program. The fund supports professional development experiences such as workshops, conferences, research and the pursuit of innovative ideas.

Interested Kenan Scholars must submit an application to the Kenan Scholars Advisor in advanced of the proposed expenditure. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, considering the Kenan Scholar applicant’s background, experience and career trajectory. Scholars can apply to the fund anytime throughout the year, and can submit individual or group applications. A condition of the support is to provide a short presentation and written summary of the experience suitable for sharing publicly.

The Kenan Scholars Board of Mentors is a select group of business leaders, near-peers, policymakers and UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty who provide professional guidance to the Kenan Scholars in one-on-one and group sessions. Each junior class of scholars is assigned its own board that participates in moderated panel discussions and networking. Scholars are also assisted in reaching out to mentors for individual professional guidance.

The Kenan Scholars Board of Mentors commit to serving for one year with the opportunity to engage with scholars through their senior year.

More information on the Kenan Scholars Board of Mentors can be found here.

Kenan Scholars have a dedicated advisor who supports their personal and professional development. Scholars participate in one-on-one advising appointments with their Kenan Scholars advisor to connect with campus and community resources, secure internship and research opportunities and develop goals that align with their values and interests. Advisors empower scholars to make informed decisions and meaningfully reflect on their experiences within the program.

More information can be found in the Kenan Scholars Advising Syllabus.

In addition to attending many exclusive, invitation-only events at the Kenan Institute, the Kenan Scholars also have access to the growing list of Kenan Scholars Program alumni. Alumni from the Kenan Institute Leadership Fellows and Kenan Scholars Program already number more than 100 people around the globe.


All UNC students who are interested in becoming a Kenan Scholar must also apply for selection in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Undergraduate Business Program. The program is open to students in their sophomore year. The application period is July 1 to Wednesday, September 1 at 9 p.m. EST. 

Application Process Meet Our Scholars 2021-2022 Annual Review

The Kenan Scholars program provides a world-class, transformative scholarship experience for exceptional students who are committed to learning and working at the intersection of business, academia, policy, government and the nonprofit sector at home or abroad.
Each year, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise distinguishes a small group of incoming undergraduate and MBA students as Kenan Scholars. Students are selected for their superior scholarship and genuine interest in putting the private sector to work for the public good. Scholars supplement classroom learning with internships, field trips, research experiences, networking and mentoring. They engage with prominent leaders in business, academia, policy and government to gain real-world experiences that advance their problem-solving and leadership abilities. The Kenan Scholars Program enhances the Carolina experience and prepares students to succeed in a diverse world and interconnected global economy. Learn more: kenaninstitute.unc.edu/scholars