The Gates Cambridge Scholarship

UCI (Big 10 Pre-Application) Optional 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

SOP offers optional advising for this award. If you missed the SOP deadline, please apply directly to Cambridge.


The Gates Cambridge Scholarships are available for graduate study at the University of Cambridge. The purpose of the Gates Cambridge Scholars program, administered by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is to create a network of future leaders from around the world who will bring new vision and commitment to improving the life circumstances of citizens in their respective countries. It is anticipated that Gates Cambridge Scholars will become leaders in helping to address global problems related to health, equity, technology, and learning.


Applicants from every country of the world except the U.K. are eligible to apply. Begin the process during the spring before your final year on campus by submitting a 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.

All applicants should:

  • Gain admission to the University of Cambridge and to a constituent College in due course;
  • Be able to meet the conditions set by the University for admission (academic qualifications, evidence of proficiency in English, etc.)

Gates Cambridge Scholarships are awarded only to students who gain admission to the University through the University’s regular procedures. Approximately 100 Gates Cambridge Scholarships will be granted every year, with approximately 40% of the awards going to students from the United States.

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.

The scholarship does not stipulate a minimum GPA. However, recent winners have had exceptional academic achievement. Applicants should have at least a 3.7 GPA and must 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.

Consult the Gates Cambridge Eligibility Checker for a quick check on your eligibility.

UCI graduate students: contact the Graduate Resource Center for advising.

Application Process
As campus nomination is not required for this award, working with SOP advisors is optional but encouraged. To receive SOP advising services and support for the application process, the first step in applying is to complete a Pre-Application, accessible each year throughout March. In April and May, SOP staff review Pre-Applications and meet with students 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-Application and meeting with SOP staff to discuss your candidacy, you will work on the formal application. Your supporting documents, including letters of recommendation will be due this summer.

The application includes a graduate application form; an approximately 500-word Gates Cambridge Statement essay explaining why you are applying for the scholarship; a research proposal (Ph.D. applicants only); 2 academic letters of recommendation for graduate admission and an additional third letter, the Gates Cambridge Reference, commenting on your fit with the scholarship and fulfillment of Gates selection criteria.

Gates selection criteria include, 1) outstanding intellectual ability; 2) strong rationale for course choice; 3) a commitment to improving the lives of others; and 4) leadership potential.

US citizens living in the United States apply in Round 1, with an application deadline in early October; all other applicants are a part of Round 2, with application deadlines dependent on your course.

Please note that the Gates is changing the application so that students should apply through their normal country of residence. (For example: If you are a Guatemalan national but go to school in the US, you would apply in the US round)

Degrees Funded

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship funds full-time residential courses of study at Cambridge such as Ph.D., MSc/MLitt, and certain one-year postgraduate courses. Gates does not fund any undergraduate degrees, part-time degrees, or non-degree courses, nor will it fund MBA, MFin, PGCE, MBBChir Clinical Studies, MD, or Graduate Course in Medicine degrees. See this page for further details.

Recent Recipients and Selection Procedures
The Trust seeks outstanding students for whom study at Cambridge is appropriate. Students must illustrate their ability to make a significant contribution to their field of study through research or teaching or other creative means. Each year, Gates intends for 2/3 of its incoming scholars to be Ph.D. candidates and the remaining 1/3 to be Masters candidates.

Gates Cambridge uses a three-stage selection process consisting of 1) a departmental ranking in which academic departments at Cambridge score and nominate eligible applicants; 2) a shortlisting process where nominated candidates are divided into broad subject areas and sent to Shortlisting Committees for further review, and; 3) a 20-25-minute in-person or Skype interview with all shortlisted candidates.

Gates finalists in the first selection round (US Citizens living in the USA only) will be notified of their status by early February; all other applicants will be notified in round 2 by late March.

UCI has had three Gates Cambridge Scholarship winners: Mukul Kumar (2007), Cleo Tung (2010), and Leandra Jackson (2018).

For the 2020 award, 80 scholarships will be given to students from around the world.

Scholarships cover University and College fees, a maintenance allowance (£17,500 for 12 months at the 2020-21 rate) and one economy single airfare at both the beginning and the end of the course.

Additional funding for academic development, family allowance, fieldwork, and other select circumstances is available on a discretionary basis.

Candidates who win must secure an offer of admission from the Board of Graduate Studies.

Further information may be obtained from the British Council in Washington D.C.: (122) 333-8467.

World Wide Web
Further information and applications are available at the Gates Cambridge 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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