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.
At the time of application, an applicant 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.
- 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).
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
- 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
Campus Endorsement Process
Campus endorsement is a competitive process and not guaranteed. Students seeking USC nomination must submit certain application components by the campus endorsement deadline (biographical info, grade report, personal statement and at least four letters of recommendation). Candidates will be notified whether they have been invited to a campus endorsement interview.
The campus deadline to apply for Churchill, Marshall, Mitchell and/or Rhodes Scholarship endorsement for the 2020-2021 grant year is April 1, 2019.
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, there are some general evaluation guidelines that the faculty committee typically follows:
- Academic Achievement: 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.
- Interest in and respect for their fellow beings: 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.
- Ability to lead: 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.
You must receive campus endorsement from the university in order to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship. For endorsed candidates, a complete Rhodes application includes the following components:
- proof of citizenship or lawful permanent resident status
- a certified transcript (or transcripts)
- a list of principal activities
- a clear, printable head and shoulders photograph (preferably high resolution)
- the endorsement of the applicant’s college or university
- five, but not more than eight, letters of recommendation. At least four of these letters must be persons from whom the applicant has received undergraduate or graduate instruction, and at least one letter (the fifth) must speak to the applicant’s character.
- A personal statement of no more than 1,000 words. The personal statement is your chance to tell your story in your own voice: Who are you? What matters to you? What are you hoping to do in the world? Your academic transcript, your curriculum vitae and your reference letters will provide the substantive detail of your commitments and accomplishments, but this essay gives you the opportunity to cast the overarching narrative for the selection committee. You can find further guidance on the personal statement on the ‘Application Overview’ page.
- Please ensure that your personal statement:
i. Addresses your general interests and activities. What inspires you? What are your passions?
ii. Discusses your aims and priorities and the contributions you have made and hope to make to the world and/or your local community.
iii. Tells us your reasons for wishing to study at the University of Oxford, which course / courses you would wish to pursue and why.
iv. Demonstrates that you are able to meet the entry and application requirements of the specific course you have chosen.
v. If you wish to undertake a DPhil, you should provide a brief outline of your proposed research area, how it contributes to your future career plans, and list one or more researchers with whom you would like to work in Oxford.
- Please ensure that your personal statement:
USC Campus Endorsement Application (same for Churchill, Marshall and Mitchell Scholarship campus endorsement)
- Early April: Campus Endorsement application deadline
- Mid-April: Campus Endorsement interview for competitive applicants
- Late April: Interviewed candidates are notified of the University’s nomination decision
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.
- Rhodes Scholarship website and Rhodes House website: Interested applicants must complete an extensive review of these websites with special attention to the following pages in advance of submitting their application:
- USC Recipient Essays Visit STU 300, Monday – Friday between 9 AM – 5 PM, to review successful USC Rhodes Scholar essays. No appointment needed.
- 2017: Oscar De Los Santos and Jung Kian Ng
- 2008: Reed Doucette
- 1995: Desmond Koh
- 1990: Tara M. Silvestri
- 1989: Holly C. Wyatt
- 1975: Patrick C. Haden
- 1966: James O’Toole
- 1938: Gerald Brown and J.F. Goley
- 1913: Frank Swain
Open Advising: January – March
Request an Appointment