Rhodes Scholarships

About the Rhodes Scholarships
Scholarship Details and Eligibility
Campus Endorsement Process
Letters of Reference
Campus Interview Process
USC Rhodes Scholars
AHF Advising

About the Rhodes Scholarships

photo of Cecil RhodesPer the Rhodes Scholarship website: 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.

For more information, visit the Rhodes Scholarship website here.

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 https://i1.wp.com/media.npr.org/assets/img/2014/01/29/oxforduniversity-b8526cc2eaa59e398abe1e1f5a4df29ccc6a9640-s6-c30.jpg?resize=343%2C257&ssl=1program 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.

For the first time in 2018, the Rhodes Trust will offer two Global Scholarships for any applicant from around the world who fit the Rhodes eligibility criteria who receives an endorsement from his/her university and is not otherwise eligible to apply in an existing jurisdiction. More information to come. Rhodes will also reinstate the Rhodes Scholarship for Singapore and opening a new Scholarship for East Africa (Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi).

Minimum Eligibility

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 23 years of age, and not yet 24 on October 1 in the year of the 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

For the 2018 competition, DACA students are able to apply for the U.S. Rhodes Scholarships. Appropriate documentation regarding status (an approval I-797 letter confirming DACA status and a U.S. Employment Authorization Card displaying valid dates) as well as meeting all other U.S. eligibility requirements is required.

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. Review our UK Graduate School Resources page. 
  5. Learn more about the application process from USC’s 2017 Rhodes & Schwarzman Scholars.
  6. Request letters of recommendation from your referees.
  7. Meet with an Academic Honors and Fellowships advisor to discuss the application process and interest in applying.
  8. 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.
  9. Submit the UK Scholarships Campus Endorsement Application, including at least four letters of reference, by Monday, April 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm (PST). 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 four letters of reference by the USC Campus Endorsement deadline and are encouraged to submit more by this deadline whenever possible.

Once you have provided the contact information for your referees, an email from the automated system will be sent to them inviting them to upload a letter.

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

Read more about USC’s 2017 Rhodes Scholars.

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