Rhodes Scholarship

UCI (Big 10 Pre-Application) Advising Deadline:

April 6, 2020 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time (U.S. & all other countries of citizenship) for Fall 2021 admissions

Access the Big 10 Pre-Application between late February – early April annually to begin the optional advising process.

For Reference Only: 2019 Application Process Overview


The Rhodes Scholarships representative is coming to campus on Thursday, March 12, 2020! If interested, please visit Events to sign-up.


A scholarship for two years’ study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, with the possibility of a third year if pursuing a doctoral program. This scholarship is funded by a trust established by Cecil Rhodes and seeks students who exemplify academic excellence, an attitude of service, and “the moral force of character and instincts to lead” and to “play an influential part in the betterment of society.”

Undergraduates aged 18 to 23 who are U.S. citizens OR permanent residents attending college in the U.S. or U.S. territories (who have been permanent residents for the 5 years prior to and including the final deadline of application) may apply through the U.S. Rhodes constituency. U.S. applicants must seek endorsement (nomination) from the campus through the Scholarship Opportunities Program.

Begin the process during the spring before your final year on campus by submitting a Big 10 Pre-Application. Current seniors or recent UCI alumni may also apply. You must finish your bachelor’s degree before enrollment. However, you do NOT need to have earned a bachelor’s degree by the time you apply.

Candidates should have outstanding records in academics, leadership, and community service, as well as sustained and energetic participation in other activities, such as athletics or artistic pursuits. Recent recipients have had exceptional academic achievement with a 3.9+ GPA and demonstrate strong preparation for the proposed course of study at Oxford. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate professional competence and dedication to the field of study through leadership or mentoring roles in academic or service organizations, publications or performances, and/or significant work experience/internships related to the major. Candidates must also have sufficiently strong relationships with at least four academic mentors (instructors or research supervisors) and at least one mentor who can attest to the applicant’s strengths in service activities and leadership potential, in their letters of recommendation.

Please note that external scholarship agencies will consider all of your credit-bearing coursework from any college or institution as part of the review process (including CSU, community colleges, private colleges or other UC campuses/Extension programs, and including units earned while in high school). Grades from other colleges will be included in calculation of your overall GPA for eligibility purposes.

Citizens of Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Jamaica & the Commonwealth Caribbean, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Southern Africa, Syria/Jordan/Lebanon/Palestine, United Arab Emirates, West Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are eligible to apply in their own constituencies. Citizens of other countries not previously eligible for Rhodes may compete for two NEW “Global” scholarshipsIf time permits, SOP staff will consider advising enrolled UCI undergraduates for international Rhodes Scholarships.

Selection Procedure
For U.S. students, working with SOP advisors is mandatory, as campus nomination is required. To begin the SOP advising process, juniors, graduating seniors, and alumni within 1 year of graduation complete a Big 10 Pre-Application. In April and May, SOP staff review Pre-Applications and meet with potential applicants to discuss their candidacy and subsequent steps. For detailed information about each stage of the application process — including the roles of campus endorsement and evaluation — please view the Application Process Overview.

After completing the Pre-App and meeting with SOP staff to discuss your candidacy, you will work on the formal application. Your supporting documents, including five to eight faculty letters of recommendation, will be due this summer. Please note that Rhodes forbids others from editing or providing suggestions to improve your personal statement. You may not receive feedback on your Rhodes essay from any person, including SOP staff, your faculty, writing tutors, etc. The Rhodes Trust requires that applicants and campus endorsers attest that essays are written without assistance.

The official selection criteria are “(1) literary and scholastic attainments; (2) energy to develop one’s talents to the full, as demonstrated in sports, debate, music, dance, etc.; (3) caring for others: truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; (4) moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.”

Final applications that have earned UCI endorsement will be forwarded to the Rhodes Trust for regional-level consideration. Rhodes invites finalists to participate in a two-day selection process at the regional level. Finalists attend a cocktail reception the evening before being interviewed by a panel. Rhodes typically announces its winners at the conclusion of the second day, once all regional finalists have completed their interviews.

Recent Recipients

In 2010, Megan Braun became UC Irvine’s first Rhodes Scholar. Braun, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and minored in philosophy, studied international relations at Oxford University.

“Today’s Rhodes Scholars include Presidents and Prime Ministers, but also medical researchers, social workers, teachers and activists.” Whatever the intended career path, recipients typically have outstanding academic and extracurricular records, are leaders in their university and (possibly) larger communities, show an inclination to serve others, and have a taste for sports, the arts, or other extracurricular activities that demonstrate passion, talent and capacity for teamwork.

One Rhodes official describes successful candidates as having the potential “to make things happen, to become public leaders 20 years from now.” They should be “a little scrappy,” with “some evidence of selflessness.” They may or may not have brilliant academic records but will certainly have solid ones, enough to suggest that they “could do the work at Oxford” while having sufficient time to make connections with peers and participate in Rhodes’ unique leadership development program, which “seeks to equip Scholars with the practical skills and tools to craft a life of purpose, meaning and balance.”

Includes all university tuition and lab fees, travel to and from Oxford, and a monthly maintenance allowance sufficient to cover room and board, books, and other basic expenses.

The Rhodes Scholarship is a highly competitive and highly prestigious award, as well as the oldest scholarship of its kind, with a global network of talented and engaged alumni. It is generally regarded, along with the Marshall Scholarship, as one of the two most prestigious post-baccalaureate scholarships an American university student can receive. Famous Rhodes Scholars include astronomer and inventor Edwin Hubble, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, television news host Rachel Maddow, physician and author Siddhartha Mukherjee, and social entrepreneur Roxanne Joyal.

For More Information
Please consult the Rhodes Trust website and the U.S. Rhodes Scholarship website.

Access the Big 10 Pre-Application between late February – early April annually to begin the application process.

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

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