Westin Scholars Award at IST

About the Award

The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) annually gives a Westin Scholar Award to an undergraduate student in the College of IST. The goal of the award is to encourage students to pursue careers in privacy and data protection. The award is named after Alan Westin, a foundational scholar in the study of privacy and data protection.

A committee of IST faculty selects the recipient from applicants and sends their contact information to IAPP, which gives the recipient a $1K cash prize and other benefits. For more information about benefits and IAPP's role, see this page on IAPP's website.


To be eligible, an applicant:

  1. must be an undergraduate majoring in one of the degree programs in the College of IST (students with multiple majors may apply if one of their majors is in the College of IST)
  2. must not be a prior Westin Scholar at Penn State or any other institution
  3. must be considering a career in privacy and data protection
Applicants from prior years' competitions whose applications were declined are welcome to reapply. There are no specific requirements to revise your application, though the committee recommends that you update it.

Application Materials

Two application documents:

  1. a curriculum vitae or resume, in PDF format
  2. an application statement (see below), in PDF format
The committee cannot provide feedback on the contents of these documents.

Instructions for the Application Statement

Write one page about the importance of privacy in our society, and how you will promote privacy and data protection in your career.

Formatting requirements:

  1. One page, A4 or letter-sized
  2. One-inch margins
  3. 11pt font, single spaced

If citations and references are necessary for your statement (you must decide this on your own), use MLA format and include references on a second page as part of the same PDF.

These are the only formatting requirements.

How to Apply

Send an email to westinscholars _at_ ist.psu.edu with your application documents attached. This email address is for receiving application documents only. Questions sent to it will not be answered, and no confirmation of delivery will be provided.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to send final versions of their documents the first time they submit them, but updates prior to the deadline are permitted if necessary. Simply send another email with new copies of both application documents attached, even if you changed just one.

Selection Criteria

The selection committee will focus on the following criteria:

  1. Likelihood of a productive career in privacy and data protection: Is the applicant on a trajectory to be well-prepared for this career path? Does the applicant demonstrate thoughtful interest in this career path?
  2. Argument for the importance of privacy in our society: Does the argument demonstrate sound reasoning? Does the argument connect with realistic concerns or problems?

Submission Window and Award Notification

Applications will be accepted starting on September 1, 2022. The 2022 deadline is November 1 at 11:59pm US Eastern Time. No late applications will be considered.

The recipient will be notified approximately three weeks after applications are due. Due to the anticipated volume of applications, candidates whose applications are declined will not be notified.


If you have a question that these instructions do not answer (check carefully), contact Dr. Shomir Wilson at shomir _at_ psu.edu. Note that Dr. Wilson will not accept applications sent to this address.