Rhodes Scholarships

About the Rhodes Scholarships
Basic Eligibility and Selection Criteria
Campus Endorsement Process
Application Components for Campus Endorsement
Application Timeline
Applicant Resources
Apply for Rhodes Scholarship USC Endorsement
USC Recipients
AHF Advising


University Endorsement Required

About the Rhodes Scholarships

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and one of the most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. It is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford. Each year 32 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. Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.  Rhodes also awards scholarships to non-US citizens.  See Rhodes constituencies (and countries).

Basic Eligibility

At the time of application, an applicant for the US Rhodes competition must be:

  • a citizen of the United States OR a lawful permanent resident of the United States OR a U.S. resident with DACA status on April 15 in the year of application.
  • eligible to apply through one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or one of the U.S. territories: either in the state or territory where the applicant was legally resident on April 15 in the year of application, or where the applicant will have received at least two years of college training and a bachelor’s degree before October 1 in the year following election.
  • Upon 1 October in the year in which you are applying, you must meet either of the below criteria:
    • You must be at least 18 and have not reached your 24th birthday (i.e. you must have been born after 01 October 1996 and on or before 1 October 2002).
    • OR (for older candidates who completed their first undergraduate degree later than usual)
      You must have not reached your 27th birthday (i.e. have been born after 01 October 1993) AND you have met or will meet the requirements for completion of your first degree on or after 1 October of the prior calendar year (i.e. on or after 1 October 2019)*

Selection Criteria

Committees of Selection will have regard to those qualities which Cecil Rhodes expressly listed (below) in order to define the type of Scholar he desired. Proven intellectual and academic achievement of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but applicants 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.

  • Literary and scholastic achievements: GPA and difficulty of coursework are the standard places to demonstrate academic achievement.  The Rhodes Trust has adopted a 3.7 minimum GPA requirement to be eligible to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship and the average GPA of recipients is 3.9.  Academic merit is also be demonstrated through excellent recommendations from people who know the candidate and can make informed comparisons with many other students. Recommendations, should provide specific and well-documented details about the selection criteria outlined by Rhodes. The Committee is looking for proof that an applicant would not only be accepted into the graduate program they intend to pursue at Oxford, but thrive within it.
  • Energy to use one’s talents to the full: Showing passion and vigor to pursue goals despite setbacks can demonstrate this characteristic. A scholar-athlete may model this within the competition arena while a musician might show it through a long term commitment to fine-tuning their craft.
  • Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship: Concern for others can be reflected in countless ways aside from direct hands-on charitable work. Reference padding, with sudden and extensive charitable activity in one’s junior year for example, is usually transparent to committees. One can be a great contributor to mankind without having spent hundreds of hours (or even any) while in college doing volunteer work.
  • Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings: Formal leadership positions, such as elected office in student government or another organization, are one way to demonstrate leadership. The committee also values leadership in less formal roles, such as expanding on research in your field, organizing community action efforts, or lobbying for legislation or policy changes.

Campus Endorsement Process

Campus endorsement is a competitive process and not guaranteed. Students seeking USC endorsement must submit certain application components by the campus endorsement deadline (biographical info, statements, grade report, and four letters of recommendation).  Candidates will be notified whether they have been invited to a campus endorsement interview.

The campus deadline to apply for Marshall, Mitchell and/or Rhodes Scholarship endorsement for the 2022-2023(4) grant year is June 1, 2021.

Additional Guidelines
Applicants are evaluated by a committee panel of USC faculty. The panel has endorsed students from a wide range of majors, career goals and leadership experiences. While there is no standard portfolio for a successful candidate, the faculty committee looks for demonstration of the Marshall selection criteria in candidates. The Selectors will also look for adequate preparation for the proposed course of study, particularly in the upper-level course work and real strength in the major field. Preference will be given to candidates who combine high academic ability with the capacity to play an active part in the life of the United Kingdom university to which they go, and to those who display a potential to make a significant contribution to their own society.

Application Components for Campus Endorsement

To apply for the Rhodes Scholarship at the national level, you must receive campus endorsement first.  USC’s Marshall, Mitchell and Rhodes campus endorsement is the same application.  Candidates only need to submit one application to be considered for multiple awards.  A complete campus application requires the following:

  • Complete online application: includes basic biographical and academic data
  • A 750-word motivation statement (also called a personal statement): Your motivation statement is the heart of your application and should provide the reader with a clear sense of what you care about and why, what major problems or issues motivate your work both inside and outside the classroom, and why you need to pursue your chosen degree programs in light of your future vocational aims. It should give the reader a sense of what motivates you (not exclusively the motivation of your research) and a sense of ways in which you are moving toward making a substantive difference in your field, your local, national and international communities.
  • Describe one specific example of leadership (350 words): Candidates should describe a specific example in which they responded to a need for leadership․ The example must evidence the following characteristics: a) it delivered a real and concrete outcome, or evidence of demonstrable advancement; b) it showed strength of purpose and aligned with candidates broader academic and professional plan; c) the solution was innovative and showed creativity and problem solving; and, d) exhibits self-awareness – that the candidate understands their own style of leadership and how to motivate others․ The objective is to help the committee understand the candidate’s leadership conviction and drive, style and potential rather than provide a list of achievements․ Should show delivery results and that you actually changed something.
  • Describe a recent, particularly satisfying public service activity (350 words): Candidates should describe a recent, particularly satisfying public service activity. Or, if you have focused your efforts on research, please describe a particularly satisfying broader impact experience you have had (either in your research or in public science education, tutoring, etc.).
  • Ambassadorial Potential (350 words): Candidates should discuss how work in their field of study (including their own research) can enhance the USA-UK and/or Ireland relationship.  They should further explain what they might do to contribute to improved relations in this area now and following the scholarship.
  • List the 3 most significant courses you have taken in preparation for your proposed graduate study and future career (150 words).
  • Describe the top-choice graduate program in the UK, Ireland or at Oxford, if you receive a Marshall, Mitchell or Rhodes scholarship (250 words).
  • Describe the problem or needs of society (domestic or global) you want to address once you have finished your formal graduate training (350 words).
  • What do you hope to do and what position/role do you hope to have upon completing your studies in the UK or Ireland? (3-5 year post-scholarship plan; 150 words).
  • What do you hope to do and what position/role do you hope to have 7-10 years later? (150 words)
  • Additional information (250 words): is there anything else you would like the nomination committee to know about you that is not reflected elsewhere in your application (other essays, motivation statement or CV)?
  • A comprehensive resume or curriculum vitae (CV) detailing honors, awards, research, leadership/service, and other co- and extra-curricular activities you have pursued since starting College. Do not include high-school experiences.
  • Unofficial transcripts. (OASIS course plan)
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation: your letters of recommendation will be requested and uploaded via the campus application portal. Two of your three letters should be academic-focused letters from teaching faculty and/or research mentors; if you are involved in significant co- or extra-curricular activities or post-graduate activities, including employment, a third letter focused on your leadership/service/professional life is acceptable. All of your letters must be in-depth letters from individuals who know you well.

For the Mitchell and Rhodes campus application you will be asked for the names of one additional recommender (Mitchell) and five additional recommenders (Rhodes). (The Marshall Scholarship requires a total of 3 letters; the Mitchell Scholarship requires a total of 4 letters; the US Rhodes Scholarship requires 8 letters of recommendation.)

Note: Your academic letters should be obtained from faculty.  They do not have to be tenured, but should know you in a teaching or research capacity. You should not request letters from graduate students, post-docs, career or academic advisors; leadership/public service letters should not come from “famous” or high-ranking individuals who do not know you well. Please have your letters sent on letterhead, signed, and addressed  to the “UK-Ireland Scholarship USC Campus Selection Committee”.

Application Timeline

USC Campus Endorsement Application (same for Churchill, Marshall and Mitchell Scholarship campus endorsement)

  • June 1, 2021 by 11:59pm: Campus Endorsement application deadline  
  • Mid-June: Campus Endorsement Interview for competitive applicants

Rhodes Scholarship National Application 

  • Early July: Rhodes Scholarship application opens
  • First Wednesday of October: Rhodes national deadline 11:59pm U.S. EST
  • Friday and Saturday preceding the Thanksgiving holiday: District receptions and interviews. District Secretaries will notify candidates regarding interview status at differing intervals, but in all cases no later than two weeks prior to the interviews.  Election announcements are made at the conclusion of the Saturday interviews.

Applicant Resources

Before you apply, complete an extensive review of the Rhodes Scholarship website and Rhodes House website with special attention to the following pages:

Apply for Rhodes Scholarship USC Endorsement

Begin a Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes Scholarship Campus Endorsement Application

USC Recipients

AHF Advising

2021 Information Sessions

Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes Scholarship Overview & Campus Endorsement Process 

Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes Scholarship Essay Overview Video Recording
Special Guest: 2018 USC Marshall Scholar Jamie Kwong

Marshall Scholarship Personal Statement Essay Example (password protected – please email AHF)

Advisement Period: April-May

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