A Sterling Scholar is a high school senior who is publicly recognized and awarded for the pursuit of excellence in scholarship, leadership, and citizenship in the State of Utah. A potential Sterling Scholar presents an all-encompassing portfolio on their work in a specific category and is interviewed by judges in the category’s field at various times. Sterling Scholars are awarded at the high school, semi-final and finals levels. At the awards ceremony, finalists in 14 categories - Agriculture Science, Business and Marketing, Computer Technology, Dance, English, Family and Consumer Sciences, World Languages, General Scholarship, Mathematics, Music, Science, Social Science, Speech and Drama, Skilled and Technical Science Education, and Visual Arts - are announced and then an overall Sterling Scholar winner is also announced.
The Deseret News and KSL Broadcast Group developed the program especially to focus attention on outstanding seniors in order to recognize them publicly as well as award cash scholarships and tuition waivers from participating institutions. The Sterling Scholar Awards Program seeks to commend and encourage excellence among all nominees. All nominees are judged equally on the basis of scholastic achievement, without regard to religion, sex, political preference, or national origin.