Pre-App Information

Big 10 Scholarships Pre-Application Overview

Welcome to the Big 10 Pre-Application – the first step for juniors, graduating seniors, and recent alumni (within 1 year of graduation) who seek campus support for ten prestigious merit scholarships!

SOP’s comprehensive Big 10 advising process includes:

Five international awards requiring campus endorsement (nomination):

Five national and international graduate scholarships not requiring campus endorsement (nomination):

All Big 10 scholarships support  graduate study or going abroad after graduation, but each scholarship is unique. Please read the specific scholarship description(s) before completing the Pre-Application. This will answer many of your questions and provide specifics, including eligibility guidelines and the purpose and selection criteria for each award.

UCI Deadlines

Please submit the online Pre-Application by Monday, APRIL 8, 2019 at 12 NOON. No late applications will be accepted. Big 10 advising occurs from April to September, throughout spring and summer quarters.

Exceptions: If you are a citizen of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau and applying for Schwarzman Scholars, please submit your Pre-Application by Monday, MARCH 11, 2019 at 12 NOON. Big 10 advising for your scholarship occurs from March to May.


Only the following UCI undergraduate class years are eligible to submit Big 10 Pre-Applications by April 8, 2019 at NOON:

Submit your Pre-Application this year if you plan to begin graduate school enrollment (or special projects abroad) in Fall 2020. If you have other timelines or goals, then please do not submit this Pre-Application; book a personalized advising appointment instead.

Pre-Applicant FAQs

  1. What items will I need to fill out my Pre-Application?

Please see a sample Pre-Application here to help you prepare.

These scholarships are goal-focused. Before applying, please explore and reflect on your professional and graduate study interests, utilizing Career Center resources and services.

You will also need:

* Tips for preparing these items are available under Handouts.

  1. How do I know if I might be a competitive Big 10 applicant?

Based on our history of winners and finalists, we recommend that UCI Big 10 applicants have a GPA of 3.5+ for Fulbright or NSF applications and 3.7+ for all other awards. We also encourage you to gain 1+ years of extracurricular experience relevant to your graduate study and professional goals (such as leadership or mentoring roles in academic or service organizations, research or creative projects resulting in publications or presentations, and/or work or internships).

  1. This seems like a big step. Should I submit a Pre-Application?  What if my essay isn’t perfect? What happens next?

Your Pre-Application is intended to start a conversation with SOP staff about your goals and interests as they relate to the Big 10 scholarship offerings. You do not need to be sure of which scholarships fit you; we are not expecting complete and perfected essays at this stage of the process. Shortly after submitting your Pre-Application, you will meet with an advisor to discuss options and goals, commit to a specific application and strategy, and confirm your list of recommenders before we send out letter requests.

  1. Why are campus deadlines so early?

SOP internal deadlines are coordinated approximately 3 to 6 months in advance of the external agency deadlines so that our primary advising staff has sufficient time to support you, alongside many other UCI applicants, for these popular awards. Our personalized support includes advising meetings, detailed written feedback on multiple drafts of your scholarship application, guidance and feedback for your recommendation letter writers, and facilitation of endorsement committee meetings with faculty and Deans.

  1. What happens if I miss the Pre-Application deadline?

The Big 10 Pre-Application deadline is firm, but it is not your only option for graduate study funding. You may submit a Pre-Application next year if you remain eligible, or you may apply now, on your own, to the 5 scholarships that do not require campus endorsement: Gates Cambridge, Knight-Hennessy Scholars, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Schwarzman Scholars program, and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

In addition, graduating seniors and recent alumni may apply on their own to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or the Mitchell Scholarship. International students from certain Rhodes constituencies may also apply on their own. Our website’s “Other Opportunities” page lists additional merit-based scholarship and internship programs that do not require endorsement.

Finally, most graduate programs also have internal funding opportunities that you can pursue on your own, such as departmental fellowships, research and teaching assistantships (in your academic department as well as other departments), and need-based aid programs.

  1. The Big 10 process sounds like a lot of work. How much effort should I expect to put into this?

Previous applicants have said that the workload for each scholarship application is similar to a 4-unit class. This means that applying to two scholarship programs would feel like taking two 4-unit courses.

  1. May I still apply if I will be out-of-town, abroad, or working/volunteering off-campus during the Big 10 application process?

If you can commit to maintaining consistent internet access, communicating regularly with SOP staff, and meeting all SOP deadlines throughout Spring and Summer, then you can complete the application process from any location.

  1. Do the Big 10 scholarships have age or citizenship restrictions?

Three awards have age limits: Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Rhodes Scholarship, and Schwarzman Scholars program.

Six awards have citizenship and/or residency restrictions: Churchill Scholarship, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Marshall Scholarship, Mitchell Scholarship, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

  1. I’m in my 2nd year and considered a junior by units, but will be graduating in 4 years total. Do I apply for Big 10 awards now?

No, the scholarships are timed according to your graduation date rather than unit completion, so for the purposes of these awards, you are considered a sophomore (i.e., with two years remaining until graduation). You will be eligible to submit a Big 10 Pre-Application one year before graduating. In the meantime, please consider applying for other SOP-supported scholarships with Pre-Applications due in Fall Quarter.

  1. I’m a UCI graduate student (or will be one next fall). How do I apply?

Since our program serves undergraduates and recent alumni only, please apply through the UCI Graduate Resource Center, located within UCI’s Graduate Division.

  1. I will enroll in graduate study at another university next fall. How do I apply?

Since your new campus will have jurisdiction to advise and endorse you, you must research your new fellowship advisor’s contact information and deadlines. Resources for finding your new fellowship advisor include:

12. Why are UCI alumni from earlier class years ineligible for SOP services?

SOP advisors are specialists within the Division of Undergraduate Education. We cultivate deep expertise to support and evaluate undergraduate student success, including key partnerships with campus resources for enrolled undergraduate students. Alumni with 1 or more years of professional experience off-campus will be better served by developing an individualized application strategy that makes use of mentors and resources in their own professional networks.

  1. I’m still not sure if I am eligible to apply for the Big 10 due to X special circumstance.

If you are unsure about your eligibility or have questions, please come to our drop-in hours, book an advising appointment, or contact before the UCI Pre-Application deadline (Monday, April 8, 2019, at NOON) to ensure that we receive your accurate Pre-Application.

We have a handout addressing special circumstances, such as early graduation and potential candidates with previous baccalaureate degrees. The handout can be found here.

Technical FAQs

  1. Why is the Pre-Application timing out while I work on it?

Please note that your session will time out after 60 minutes of inactivity. We recommend that you prepare your responses ahead of time, and then copy and paste them into the live form.

  1. If I save my Pre-Application but forget to submit, will SOP staff review my Pre-Application?

No. You must press the Submit Pre-Application button in order for SOP staff to receive it.

  1. I’m having other technical problems. How do I get help?

Please email screenshots and details about your computer/tablet/phone, browser software, etc. to to help our technology staff diagnose the issue. 

For more information, contact the Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP) at 824-0189. We are located in the Center for Excellence in Writing & Communication, on the first floor of Science Library (Building 520).

SOP is able to advise competitive undergraduate candidates at UC Irvine only.