The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest (first awarded in 1902) and perhaps most prestigious international scholarship programme, enabling outstanding young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford.
- Application to the U.S. or Global Rhodes constituencies require mandatory participation in the Trailblazer’s 10 (Spring/Summer) advising process, under the guidance of an SOP Primary Advisor.
- Campus Endorsement is required for applicants to the U.S. and Global Rhodes constituencies only.
- Endorsement is not available for applicants from the following Rhodes constituencies: Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, East Africa, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Jamaica and the Commonwealth Caribbean, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Southern Africa, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, United Arab Emirates, West Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. A constituency is a country, a group of countries, and/or territories, and/or states for the purposes of administering scholarships. The list of Rhodes constituencies and the countries they cover (where relevant) can be found here.
One of the founding aims of the Scholarship was to identify young leaders from around the world who, through the pursuit of education together at Oxford, would forge bonds of mutual understanding and fellowship for the betterment of mankind. Although the language is old-fashioned, this remains one of the founding aims of the Scholarship: to select outstanding young people, with the potential to lead, who will make an impact for good in the world in later life.
The Scholarship is not just a financial bursary, it is a life-changing opportunity for exceptional young people with the potential to make a difference for good in the world. Rhodes Scholars are people who have a vision of how the world could be better as well as the energy to make a difference – whatever their sphere of interest. Rhodes alumni have distinguished themselves in every field — see Scholar Stories and the ways in which Scholars are standing up for the world.
The fellowship of Rhodes Scholars, worldwide and across generations, is active and over 7,000 strong. Rhodes Scholars therefore enter a life-long fellowship with ongoing opportunities to connect with current and Senior Scholars and, beyond that, a warm and engaging community among Scholars typically develop enduring friendships. The Rhodes Scholarship opens up opportunities for Scholars before, after, and during their time in Oxford.
Each year, 32 young students from the United States are selected as Rhodes Scholars through a decentralized process representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.
Fields of Study
The Rhodes Scholarship places no limitations on your undergraduate major or field of study.
Rhodes Scholars may read for any full-time postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford, subject to the few Rhodes requirements outlined below. The Rhodes Scholarship is for not less than two years.
Permitted degrees/degree combinations:
- A BA with Senior Status (i.e. done over two years, rather than the normal three).
- A one-year taught Master’s course (MSc, MSt, BCL), followed in the second year by another one-year taught Master’s course.
- A one-year taught Master’s course (MSc, MSt, BCL).
- A two-year MPhil or BPhil (or BCL/MPhil).
- A two-year MSc by research (or MLitt).
- A three-year DPhil.
In certain cases, at the discretion of the Academic Committee of the Rhodes Trust and the Rhodes Trustees, Scholars may apply for a third year of Scholarship to complete the DPhil. Notes on who may apply for a third year, as well as ineligible programs of study, are available under Conditions of Tenure on the Rhodes website.
To be eligible for SOP advising services on a Rhodes application, an undergraduate student (or recent undergraduate alumni) must:
- be a junior (intending to graduate in the next academic year), a graduating senior (intending to graduate in the current academic year) or a recent undergraduate degree recipient from UCI within the past 12 months*;
- have earned, and continue to maintain, a G.P.A. of at least 3.7;
- intend to begin enrollment in a graduate program exactly two Fall terms in the future (not in the upcoming Fall term of the calendar year of application).
The Rhodes Scholarship constituencies determine age limits. Undergraduates aged 18 to 23 who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or DACA recipients may apply through the U.S. Rhodes constituency. Applicants up to age 26 who have graduated from their first undergraduate degree within the most recent academic year may be eligible for an exception to the age limit. Please review detailed eligibility information in the Information for Candidates document.
U.S. applicants must seek endorsement (nomination) from the campus through the Scholarship Opportunities Program.
For eligibility details for other Rhodes constituencies (non-U.S. citizens), please see the Information For Candidates document for your country’s constituency.
The Rhodes Scholarship covers
- Oxford University (and College) fees;
- an annual stipend (in 2019-20, £15,900 per annum/£1,325 per month) from which Scholars pay all living expenses, including accommodation. Please note – this is not sufficient to cover partners or dependants.
- the fee for a Tier 4 study visa and the associated International Health Surcharge (IHS), which enables international students to access the UK’s National Health Service;
- two economy class flights – to and from the UK – for the beginning and end of studies in Oxford;
- a settling-in allowance (£225 in 2019-20), upon arrival in Oxford.
A number of research grants are also available to Rhodes Scholars, on application, which enable Scholars to, for example, attend international conferences or conduct additional fieldwork.
As Selection Committees select on the basis not only of intellect, but also of character, leadership, and commitment to service, the Scholar Programme in Oxford aims to build on these Rhodes Scholar qualities, with the first and second-year retreats, workshops, and conferences, in addition to social and discussion events, hosted at Rhodes House.
Recent Recipients and Finalists
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. 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.
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.”
The Rhodes Scholarship is highly competitive. In the 2016 U.S. constituency competition, 882 endorsed applications were reviewed for 32 scholarships.
Rhodes Selection Committees are looking for young people of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service.
The four criteria which governed the selection of Rhodes Scholars in 1902 are still the guiding criteria for the selection of Rhodes Scholars today:
- literary and scholastic attainments (academic excellence)
- energy to use one’s talents to the full (as demonstrated by mastery in areas such as sports, music, debate, dance, theatre, and artistic pursuits, particularly where teamwork is involved)
- truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness, and fellowship
- moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.
Besides exceeding the 3.7 G.P.A. requirement, SOP recommends curating a record of original and significant accomplishment in your discipline (such as presentations, publications, exhibits, or performances), as well as a record of significant leadership achievement in campus or off-campus organizations, before applying to the Rhodes Scholarship. Most recent recipients of similar awards, like the Marshall Scholarship, participated in the Campuswide Honors Collegium and/or the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and were also competitive for invitation to School-based Honors Programs.