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The John J Sweeney Scholarship

Be part of the next generation of peacebuilders

The John J Sweeney Scholarship for 2018/19 academic year is now open for applications.

Deadline for receipt of completed applications is midnight (GMT) on 6 August 2018

Apply now

Download the application form.


The John J Sweeney Scholarship is based at the world-renowned International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University, and supports students enrolled to study full-time on the MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies , based on the Jordanstown campus (Belfast).

The Scholarship has a value of $20,000 and must be used towards the Scholar’s tuition fees. Any balance remaining may be used to purchase study materials/equipment, support course-related activities and/or in support of the Scholar’s living expenses and travel costs.

This scholarship is generously supported by funds raised by the AFL-CIO, the American Labor community, business and civic organisations, and individuals.

This special scholarship is named in honour of AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J. Sweeney, the son of Irish immigrants, who dedicated his life to advancing the well-being of working people, making outstanding contributions to working people both in the US and internationally which will live on for years to come.

Criteria and Eligibility

The Scholarship will be open to all US citizens who:

  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or above;
  • Have been offered a full-time place on the MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies and have made a firm commitment to Ulster University during the admissions phase.
  • Are a US union member; or
  • Have a familial connection to a US union member (mother, father, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent); or
  • Can provide a reference letter from a union sponsor.

How to Apply

Full details on the Application requirements are included in the Scholarship Application Form, available to download here.

Applicants must ensure that all sections of the application form are completed and all additional requirements attached to the application. These include:

  • scanned copy of original degree certificate
  • where applicable, reference letter from a Union sponsor
  • 500-750 word personal statement
  • two reference letters
  • a scanned copy of their US passport


Completed applications and relevant attachments for the John J. Sweeney Scholarship must be submitted by email to INCORE by midnight (GMT time) 6 August 2018 to Sinead Grant - Queries on the scholarship can also be sent to this address.

For queries on the MSc in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies Programme, contact the Course Director, Ms Gráinne Kelly (

Further information

This scholarship is supported by funds raised by the AFL-CIO and the American Labor community, business and civic organizations, and individuals.

At an event on 30th July 2014 at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, Ulster University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Hugh McKenna presented AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J. Sweeney with the distinction of the INCORE Global Peace and Social Justice Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the well-being of working people and the cause of peace in Northern Ireland. The INCORE Global Peace and Social Justice Award has been established to recognize those individuals who have already made a significant contribution to peace and social justice, thus acting as role models and inspiration for future generations

John J. Sweeney, the son of Irish immigrants, dedicated his life to advancing the well-being of working people. As a young man elected to President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32B, John led the merger of Local 32B-J, which became the largest property workers union in America. During his fifteen year tenure as president of SEIU, it became the fastest growing union in America and the first union since the early 1970s to have more than a million members. He continued to serve working people during his fourteen years as the President of the AFL-CIO and for the past five years as Chairman of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. 

The John J Sweeney Scholarship sits within the INCORE Peace Initiative, steered by the recently established. John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace.

Further information on the AFL-CIO

Ulster University presents the INCORE Global Peace and Social Justice to AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J Sweeney, Washington, July 2014. L-R: Professor Brandon Hamber, Director of INCORE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Hugh McKenna, AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J Sweeney, Eddie Friel, Director of Development and Alumni Relations
Ulster University

Previous John J Sweeney Scholars

Jennifer Johnson

After growing up in South Bend, Indiana, Jennifer enlisted into the United States Navy as a boiler technician on board the USS Samuel Gompers in California, and then on board the USS Simon Lake in Italy. Upon honorable fulfillment of a 4 year enlistment, Jennifer returned to Indiana to receive a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Indiana University South Bend through the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. An internship with the Systems Department in the United States Federal Court in the Northern District of Indiana led to full-time employment with the Clerk's Office where she held the positions of Case Administrator, Operations Manager (Southern District of Indiana), and Courtroom Deputy. In 2015, Jennifer left the Court to continue her education with the Ulster University in the MSc Applied Peace and Conflict Resolution program.

Andrew Ulasich

Andrew is a Minnesota native whose nomadic tendencies have taken him to dozens of countries. He lived and worked among vulnerable populations in Kathmandu before joining an international food relief organization based in Minneapolis. With his partner, he spent 18 months traveling, listening to stories and engaging communities immersed in conflict and violence. As they listened to Syrian refugees, Ukrainian relief workers, Israeli activists and Palestinian peacemakers, visited Auschwitz and Budapest’s House of Terror, learned of violence in India and Pakistan’s history and met with survivors of human trafficking, Andrew was struck by the choices people make amidst crisis: some violently betray friends and neighbors, while others courageously reach out across enemy lines. To understand how the latter is cultivated in a complex world, Andrew enrolled in the MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies at Ulster University, and is incredibly grateful to the AFL-CIO for making his studies possible through the John J. Sweeney scholarship