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 Startup@BerkeleyLaw at the UC Berkeley, School of Law.
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
VC University is open to anyone interested in emerging company finance, including angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, attorneys, etc. The course is NOT limited to college students / any specific age group. (The scholarship has additional criteria, outlined below.)
Cohort 13 of VC University will begin on June 1, 2023, and close on October 31, 2023. The program is designed to be completed in 10 weeks, but participants have 5 months to complete the program and earn their certificate of completion.
The following course, Cohort 14, will begin on September 1, 2023
Tuition for VC University is $1500. Venture Forward is proud to offer a limited number of full and partial scholarships to cover the cost of tuition for qualified candidates.
Venture Forward Scholarship
The Venture Forward scholarship supports aspiring and early-career VCs from underrepresented backgrounds
Successful applicants will 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 Life Science Scholarship (LSS) track of the scholarship program provides focused support for recipients who are pursuing careers in life science investing (more details on the program benefits below).
From the program’s inception, Venture Forward has awarded full scholarships to at least 10% of each cohort. Thanks to the financial support of our donors, we’ve been able to expand the number of full scholarships awarded, and offer additional partial scholarships. (Full and partial scholarships are awarded through the same application.)
Since 2019, VC University has served 2,600+ participants across 12 cohorts, while Venture Forward has awarded 380+ full scholarships and 270+ partial scholarships.
Annual Scholarship Sponsors
Office Hours & Mentorship
Recipients of the full Venture Forward scholarship receive access to special office hours, as well as a dedicated mentorship program. (These components are not offered to partial scholarship recipients at this time.)
The mentorship program begins eight weeks after the course starts, to give participants time to work on the course first. Shortly after the course begins, Venture Forward will collect intake forms from the scholarship recipients, and then pair each mentee with two VC mentors based on the responses. Mentees meet with both mentors once a month for the 3-month program, during which the mentors will provide professional advice and guidance. This highly-reviewed mentorship program builds upon the technical education offered by VC University by fostering industry relationships and deeper professional expertise.
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:
- Cohort 12 (Feb. 2023)
- Cohort 11 (Sept. 2022)
- Cohort 10 (June 2022)
- Cohort 9 (Feb. 2022)
- Cohort 8 (Sept. 2021)
Life Science Scholarship (LSS) Track
For candidates specifically pursuing careers as life science investors, Venture Forward has recently added a new Life Science Scholarship (LSS) track to the scholarship (made possible by the generous support of Foresite Capital, GV, Johnson & Johnson Innovation | JJDC, Longitude Capital, Omega Funds, and Sofinnova Investments).
The LSS track offers the same opportunities as the (sector-agnostic) General Track of the scholarship, but LSS recipients receive more life sciences-targeted course modules, resources, and mentorship – support that will better enable them to pursue investing careers in this specific sector.
For purposes of the LSS Track of VC University, we define an interest in life sciences investing as focusing on one or more of these areas:
- Biotechnology (e.g., therapeutics, diagnostics, etc.)
- Medical devices
- 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.
The scholarship application and participation process are the exact same, regardless of track.
*If you are interested in supporting Venture Forward’s scholarship or mentorship efforts, please email Maryam Haque at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please review the evaluation criteria carefully to determine whether you qualify as a candidate for the Venture Forward Scholarship to VC University:
To be considered eligible, applicants MUST meet the following criteria. Without exception, applicants must:
- Currently reside in the United States.
- Specifically intend to pursue a career in VC.
- Specifically intend to pursue a VC career in, and focused on, the United States.
- Submit a complete application by the deadline (see Timeline section below).
- Cannot have previously completed an online VC University or VC University LIVE course.
The strongest applications are those that clearly communicate that they meet the following evaluation criteria. This scholarship is intended to support candidates who:
- Are part of a demographic group that is historically underrepresented in venture capital (e.g. by race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geography, veteran status, etc.)
- Are committed to expanding opportunity for others who are historically underrepresented and underestimated.
- Would significantly benefit from a structured introduction and exploration of technical VC concepts and the industry landscape.
- Would otherwise be unable to participate due to the cost.
- Complete the application in a deliberate, thoughtful manner.
- For the LSS Track: Specifically intend to pursue a career as a life science VC, and have attained relevant educational/professional experience (e.g. life science-focused academic training).
In addition to the eligibility and evaluation criteria, here are some further things to consider:
- Career Goals: While we understand that many people would meaningfully benefit from participating in VC University, the scholarship is for candidates who specifically intend to pursue careers in venture capital, in the United States. If you do not specifically intend to pursue a career in VC, or you intend to pursue an internationally-focused career in VC, you will not be awarded a scholarship.
- Financial Need: This scholarship is intended for students who would otherwise be prohibited from participating by the cost. If you’re already working for a VC firm or a related company, 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 Applications: 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; scholarship applicants are evaluated solely on the strength of the information provided on the application. Please do not send any additional communications beyond the application, as they will not be considered.
Cohort 13 (June 2023):
- March 14: Scholarship application opens
- March 24: Deadline to apply for a scholarship
- April 14: Scholarship recipients notified and response requested
- April 17: General Registration opens
- June 1: Cohort 12 of VC University ONLINE begins
- June 30: Mentorship Program Eligibility Checkpoint
- August: Mentorship Program begins for scholarship class
- August 1: Scholarship Office Hours begin
The scholarship application for Cohort 13 opens on Tuesday, March 14.
The deadline to apply is by 11:59 pm PT, Friday, March 24.
The application takes no more than 30 minutes. It has 4 main sections:
- Personal Information – Contact Info, Location, etc.
- Professional Information – Current role, professional goals, etc.
- Short-Answer Questions – 3-4 Short-answer questions, listed below.
- Demographic Information – Gender, race/ethnicity, financial need, etc.
There is also a very short optional section for those interested in the LSS track that asks about life science career goals, relevant experience, etc.
The short-answer section includes 3 mandatory short-answer questions, and 3 optional questions. These questions should be answered in 100 words or fewer:
- What are your 1-5 year career goals? 5-10 years?
- How would participating in VC University support your professional goals?
- How do you plan to support underrepresented investors and founders throughout your career?
The optional questions include:
- If you’re transitioning to a career in VC (or plan to), please briefly explain why, and why now.
- Do you participate in any community-building / volunteer / mentorship / public service activities?
- Please describe your existing domain expertise, relevant experience, or skills related to investing (if any).
The optional questions are good opportunities to demonstrate ways you’ve acted to support marginalized communities, or for those who aren’t yet working in/around venture capital, to show ways you’re engaging with the startup and VC community. They also offer space for additional detail about your VC interests that aren’t sufficiently reflected by the rest of your application or on your LinkedIn.
The strongest applications are those that effectively demonstrate that you meet the scholarship criteria, and that answer the questions clearly and concisely. Keep your answers focused and specific. Avoid going on tangents, or giving answers that are vague or overly broad.
Candidates will see a confirmation page once the application has been successfully submitted. There will not be a follow-up confirmation email.