- About the Rhodes Scholarships
- Scholarship Details and Eligibility
- Campus Endorsement Process
- Letters of Reference
- Campus Interview Process
- USC Rhodes Scholars
About the Rhodes Scholarships
Per the Rhodes Scholarship website: The Rhodes Scholarships were established after the death of Cecil Rhodes, who dreamed of improving the world through the diffusion of leaders motivated to serve their contemporaries, trained in the contemplative life of the mind, and broadened by their acquaintance with one another and by their exposure to cultures different from their own. Mr. Rhodes hoped that his plan of bringing able students from throughout the English-speaking world and beyond to study at Oxford University would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace.
Mr. Rhodes’ will contained four criteria by which prospective Rhodes Scholars are to be selected:
- literary and scholastic achievements;
- energy to use one’s talents to the full;
- 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.
Proven intellectual and academic quality of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants. Beyond academic distinction, however, candidates will also be required to show integrity of character, interest in and respect for their fellow beings, the ability to lead, and the energy to use their talents to the full. Applicants should be able to demonstrate the vigor which will enable Rhodes Scholars to make an effective contribution to the world around them. Each year, 32 scholars from the United States are among more than 95 Rhodes Scholars worldwide who take up degree courses at Oxford University. The first U.S. Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.
Scholarship Details and Eligibility
The scholarship period is normally for two or three years but may be held for one year only, depending upon the degree program pursued by the scholar. The Scholarship includes tuition and a stipend toward a doctorate, master’s or second bachelor’s degrees.
Scholarships are awarded in a national competition with state and regional interviews. Each Fall, thirty-two American Rhodes Scholars are selected through one of 16 districts representing the fifty states.
There is no limit to the number of candidates USC may endorse; however, only those candidates with exceptional academic and personal qualities will be supported.
At the time of application, an applicant must:
- be a citizen of the United States, or
- be a lawful permanent resident of the United States prior to and including at least 5 years of the application deadline.
- be at least 18 but not yet 24 years of age (i.e., the applicant must still be 23 on October 1 in the year of application).
- be sufficiently advanced academically to assure completion of a bachelor’s degree before October 1 in the year following election.
- have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.70 (though the average recipient GPA is above 3.90)
- receive USC endorsement
Campus Endorsement Process
Competitive applicants seeking USC Endorsement will:
1. Research the Rhodes Scholarship website and thoroughly review the Information on Oxford and Rhodes Scholarship and Frequently Asked Questions. The questions in the FAQ are divided into four sections:
- Is Oxford The Right Place For Me To Study?
- What Is Life Like At Oxford?
- What Does The Application Process Involve?
- What Are My Chances?
2. Review the USA Memorandum of Regulations which provides guidance for the application process, including general regulations, conditions of eligibility, the basis of selection, the method of selection, a Rhodes Scholar’s standing at Oxford, and the courses that are open to Rhodes Scholars.
3. Review the USA Notes of Guidance which contains important information for applicants with regard to the application form, supplementary materials, institutional endorsement and letters of reference, and how to submit an application.
4. Research graduate programs at Oxford and identify faculty in relevant research areas of interest. A useful tool is the UK Research Excellence Framework, a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The website offers a searchable online database and an initial analysis of REF impact case studies are available.
5. Utilize the UK Scholarships Timeline to develop a strong application over several months.
6. Learn more about the application process from USC’s 2017 Rhodes & Schwarzman Scholars.
7. Request letters of recommendation from your referees.
8. Meet with an Academic Honors and Fellowships advisor to discuss the application process and interest in applying.
9. Prepare application materials including a response to the following personal statement prompt:
In 1,000 words or less describe your academic and other interests. Describe the specific area of proposed study and your reasons for wishing to study at Oxford. This statement should be written in a simple and direct manner and in no smaller than 10 point font.
10. Submit a complete Rhodes Scholarship Campus Endorsement Application, including at least five letters of recommendation, by Monday April 3, 2017 at 5pm. All applications will be reviewed; however, only competitive applicants will be invited to a campus endorsement interview.
Letters of Reference
Rhodes requires at least five letters of reference and accepts as many as eight. Most applicants will submit at least seven letters. Per the Rhodes website, at least four must be from persons whom the applicant has received undergraduate or graduate instruction, and at least one must speak to the applicants character. Applicants are required to submit at least five letters of reference by the USC Campus Endorsement deadline and are encouraged to submit more by this deadline whenever possible.
Applicants will register each referee in the Rhodes Scholarship Campus Endorsement Application system, entering their name, email address, title, department, and the type of letter. Once entered, referees will immediately receive an email with a unique link for submission from the system with instructions for electronically submitting the letter. Applicants should notify referees prior to entering their information in the application form.
Letters should be addressed directly to the Rhodes Scholarship Committee of Selection and submitted on formal letterhead. The average length of letters is two pages.
USA Institutional Endorsement Guidance provides additional guidance for referees about the criteria guiding the Rhodes’ Committees of Selection.
Campus Interview Process
After an initial screening, competitive applicants will be invited to interview before a USC faculty panel. Once interviewed, impressive applicants will be supported with University Endorsement. Applicants must receive University Endorsement to apply for the national competition.
Questions asked during the campus interview often reference application materials and asses an applicant’s knowledge of their proposed field(s) of study, proposed graduate program(s) of study, and interest in Oxford. Other questions may be related to knowledge of topics outside of the application process such as national or global affairs or an applicant’s non-academic interests.
Reading American and British publications such as The Economist or The Guardian is an important step in the application process. Applicants can access a free copy of these publications through USC Libraries.
USC Rhodes Scholars
- 1913: Frank Swain
- 1938: Gerald Brown and J.F. Goley
- 1966: James O’Toole
- 1975: Patrick C. Haden
- 1989: Holly C. Wyatt
- 1990: Tara M. Silvestri
- 1995: Desmond Koh
- 2008: Reed Doucette
- 2017: Oscar De Los Santos and Jung Kian Ng
USC AHF Advisor
Erica Lovano McCann