VC University Scholarship

Before applying for the Venture Forward Scholarship, please read the following instructions carefully to learn:

  • Whether you are eligible for the scholarship.
  • The application requirements and deadlines.
  • How to make your application the strongest it can be.

About VC University

Launched in 2019, VC University is a joint educational initiative operated by NVCA, Venture Forward, and Berkeley Law Executive Education.

This certificate program is the definitive introductory online course on venture finance. Through lectures, interactive assessments and quizzes, virtual office hours, interviews with leading venture capitalists, and monthly webinars, participants will learn the nuts and bolts of venture finance, and earn a certificate of completion.

VC University Audience

The VC University course is open to anyone interested in emerging company finance, including angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, attorneys, etc. The course is not limited to college students or any specific age group. (The scholarship has additional criteria, outlined below.)

Program Dates

VC University is designed to be completed in 10 weeks, but participants have 5 months from the program start to complete the course and earn their certificate.

  • Cohort 15 will begin on February 5, 2024, and will conclude on July 8, 2024.
  • Cohort 16 will begin on June 3, 2024, and will conclude on November 4, 2024.

(Additional scholarship program dates are outlined below.)

Program Cost

Tuition for VC University is $1500. Venture Forward is proud to offer a limited number of full and partial scholarships for qualified candidates.

Venture Forward Scholarship

Since VC University began in 2019, Venture Forward has awarded full scholarships to at least 10% of each cohort.

The VC University scholarship program supports aspiring and early-career VCs from underrepresented backgrounds.

Scholarship recipients receive:

  • Covered course tuition to VC University
  • Access to supplemental office hours
  • Access to a dedicated 3-month mentorship program
  • Public recognition for their accomplishment

The scholarship program offers two tracks:

  • General Track: For aspiring VCs in non-life science sectors (sector-agnostic)
  • Life Science Scholarship (LSS): For aspiring life science VC investors

The application process is the same for both tracks, and recipients will receive access to the exact same benefits and opportunities. More details about the scholarship benefits and tracks below.

Thanks to the financial support of our sponsors, Venture Forward has been able to expand the number of full scholarships awarded, and offer partial scholarships as well. (Full and partial scholarships are awarded through the same application process.)

Since 2019, Venture Forward has awarded 460+ full scholarships and 305+ partial scholarships across 14 sold-out cohorts.

 

*If you are interested in supporting Venture Forward’s scholarship or mentorship efforts, please email Maryam Haque at [email protected].

 

Annual Scholarship Sponsors

June 2023 Scholarship Sponsor logos

 

Office Hours & Mentorship

Recipients of the full scholarship receive access to dedicated office hours, as well as a curated 3-month mentorship program. (These benefits are not offered to partial scholarship recipients at this time.)

The scholarship office hours will begin once the general course office hours conclude. The scholarship office hours will be hosted by VC professionals, and will provide scholarship recipients with opportunities to engage with industry leaders and experts in an intimate, small-group setting.

Our highly-reviewed mentorship program builds upon the technical education offered by VC University, by fostering industry relationships and real-world applications of the course concepts.

Shortly after the course begins, scholarship recipients who want to participate in the mentorship program will fill out a sign-up form. Venture Forward will use the information provided on those forms to pair each scholarship recipient with two VC mentors.

The mentorship program begins 2 months after the course starts, to give participants time to complete the course first.

Mentees meet with each of their mentors, once a month for the 3-month program, during which the mentors will provide professional advice and guidance. Venture Forward will provide resources and guidance to facilitate the meetings.

Public Recognition

Venture Forward proudly recognizes the accomplishments and participation of the talented early-career VCs who are awarded a full scholarship. Meet the past scholarship recipients:

Scholarship Tracks

The scholarship program offers two tracks:

  • General Track: For aspiring VCs in non-life science sectors (sector-agnostic)
  • Life Science Scholarship (LSS): For aspiring life science VC investors

The application process is the same for both tracks, and recipients will receive access to the exact same benefits and opportunities.

The difference is that LSS recipients will receive more life sciences-targeted course modules, resources, and mentorship – support that will better enable you to pursue a career in this specific sector.

For purposes of the LSS track, we define an interest in life sciences investing as focusing on one or more of these areas:

  • Biotechnology (e.g., therapeutics, diagnostics, etc.)
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical devices
  • Genetics
  • Healthcare delivery services (e.g., telemedicine, digital health, etc.)

Experience in the underlying technical areas that are driving transformation in these areas, such as data science and engineering might also be considered relevant, depending on the specifics.

Scholarship Criteria

Please review the evaluation criteria carefully to determine whether you qualify as a candidate for the VC University Scholarship:

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants:

  • Must reside in the United States
  • Must be pursuing a career as a VC investor, or intend to do so in the near-term future
  • Must intend to remain and invest within the United States (at least somewhat)
  • Cannot have previously participated in a VC University program
  • Cannot be employed by a scholarship sponsor
  • Must submit an application by the deadline (see Timeline section for dates)

No exceptions will be made to the eligibility requirements.

Evaluation Criteria

This scholarship is intended to support candidates who:

  • Are imminently pursuing careers as VC investors.
  • Are underrepresented in venture capital (e.g. by race/ethnicity, gender, orientation, geography, veteran status, or any other characteristic).
  • Would significantly benefit from a structured introduction and exploration of technical VC concepts and the industry landscape.
  • Are committed to driving a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future for the industry of venture capital.
  • Can demonstrate that they would be active, engaged program participants.  
  • Would otherwise find it difficult to participate due to the cost.

For the LSS Track:

  • All the criteria listed above.
  • Intent to pursue a career as a life science VC investor
  • Have attained relevant educational/professional experience (e.g. life science-focused academic degrees).

The strongest applications are those that clearly demonstrate how they meet these criteria.

 

Additional Considerations

In addition to the eligibility and evaluation criteria listed above, here are some additional details to consider:

  • Timeline of Career Goals: This scholarship is meant to support candidates who are actively pursuing a career as VC investors, or who will be doing so in the very near-term. If your VC career goals are many years down the road, you will not be a good fit for the scholarship at this time.
  • Domestic Focus: This scholarship is meant to support candidates who  live in the United States, intend to stay in the U.S. and intend to invest (at least somewhat). If you currently live abroad, intend to move abroad, or intend to pursue an internationally-focused career in VC, you will not be a good fit for this scholarship.
  • Financial Need: This scholarship is intended to support candidates who would otherwise be prohibited from participation by the cost. If you’re able to, we strongly encourage you to ask your employer to subsidize the cost of tuition as a professional development investment. If this is a possibility for you, please pursue this route before applying for a scholarship. Feel free to use this template to help draft your request.
  • Previous Applicants: If you previously applied but were not awarded a scholarship, you are strongly encouraged to reapply, provided you carefully review the criteria first. Sometimes, stellar candidates require several attempts to craft a strong and compelling application. There’s no penalty for reapplying!
  • Additional Outreach: We do not accept recommendations or supplemental outreach as part of our consideration process. Candidates are evaluated solely on the strength of their application. Please do not send any additional communications beyond the application, as they will not be considered.

Scholarship Timeline

Cohort 15 (Feb. 2024)

  • Nov. 6: Scholarship application opens
  • Nov. 17: Deadline to apply for a scholarship
  • Dec. 15: Scholarship recipients notified and response requested
  • Dec. 18: General registration opens
  • Feb. 5: Cohort 15 of VC University begins
  • Feb.5 – 9: Sign-up window for the mentorship program
  • Mar. 1: Cohort 15 mentorship program eligibility checkpoint
  • March. 22: Course progress check #2 (for mentorship program participants) 
  • March. 27: Mentee Orientation
  • April. 1: Mentorship program launches
  • April: Month 1 of the mentorship program
  • April: Cohort 15 mentorship program begins
  • April: Scholarship Office Hours begin
  • May 1: Course progress check #3 (for mentorship program participants)
  • May: Month 2 of the mentorship program
  • June: Month 3 of the mentorship program
  • July 8: Cohort 15 concludes

Cohort 16 (June 2024)

  • March 11: Scholarship application opens
  • March 22: Deadline to apply for a scholarship
  • April 12: Scholarship recipients notified and response requested
  • April 15: General registration opens
  • June 3: Cohort 16 of VC University begins
  • June 28: Cohort 16 mentorship program eligibility checkpoint
  • August: Cohort 16 mentorship program begins 
  • August: Scholarship Office Hours begin

Apply

Cohort 16 (June 2024)

  • The scholarship application for Cohort 16 will open on Monday, March 11, 2024.
  • The deadline to apply is Friday, March 22, 2024.

 

The Application

The application takes 30-45 minutes. It has 4 main sections:

  • Personal Information – Contact details, etc.
  • Professional Information – Current role, professional goals, etc.
  • Short-Answer Questions –  4-6 questions (listed below)
  • Demographic Information – Gender, race/ethnicity, financial need, etc.

There is also a very short optional section that asks about interest and eligibility for the LSS track.

The short-answer section includes 4 mandatory short-answer questions, and 2 optional questions. These questions should be answered in 100 words or fewer:

  • Why is VC investing the best career path for you?
  • What would you get from participating in VC University that you haven’t been able to get elsewhere?
  • If you had your own pool of VC capital, what would you be investing in right now, and why?
  • Why do you believe it’s important to work towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive VC ecosystem?

The optional questions include:

  • If you are transitioning to a career as a VC investor, why, and why now?
  • What steps have you already taken towards pursuing a career as a VC?

The optional questions provide a good opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to a career as a VC, and if you aren’t yet working in/around venture capital, to show ways that you’re engaging with the startup and VC community.

The strongest applications are those that effectively demonstrate that you meet the scholarship criteria, and that you’ll be an active, engaged program participants. The strongest answers are those that address the questions clearly and concisely. Keep your answers focused, and provide specific details or examples. Avoid going on tangents, or giving answers that are vague or overly broad.

Use of ChatGPT: The strongest applications are those that clearly reflect an authentic representation of the candidate.

We want to understand who you are, and we want to see honest responses, written in your own words – not polished, generic answers generated by ChatGPT. While we don’t expressly prohibit the use of ChatGPT or other AI assistants, we strongly discourage it.

While it may feel like you’re drafting stronger answers with ChatGPT’s assistance, it will not improve your application unless you put a great deal of effort into making sure your answers are personalized and true to your own experience and perspective.

If you do choose to use ChatGPT on your application, we ask that you disclose that.