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Rhodes Scholarship: Everything You Need to Know
The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious international scholarships in the world. Rhodes Scholars receive full financial support to pursue a postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford. The scholarship has an impressive track record of creating opportunities for exceptional students, and is particularly suitable for those who wish to pursue public service. If you think you have what it takes to become a Rhodes scholar, here’s everything you need to know.
What is the Rhodes Scholarship?
Since its founding in 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship has supported students from around the world to attend the University of Oxford in England. Every year, 32 American Rhodes scholars are selected, while award numbers vary for other countries. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, living expenses, health care coverage, and flights to and from the U.K. for two to three years at Oxford. The total amount varies, but can reach approximately $250,000. Scholars can earn a second bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree in any field at Oxford.
Why should I pursue the Rhodes Scholarship?
Becoming a Rhodes Scholar and getting the chance to study at the University of Oxford is the opportunity of a lifetime. Oxford is a world-class institution renowned for its leading research efforts, excellent learning facilities, and contributions to society. Not to mention, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top universities. Oxford offers over 350 graduate courses across four academic divisions, including the humanities, medical sciences, social sciences, and the mathematical, physical, and life sciences.
Change the world!
While attending Oxford is an incredible educational experience, Rhodes is more than just an academic scholarship. It’s an opportunity to pursue passion projects and change the world for the better. One of the tenets of the program is commitment to service, meaning that students dedicate their time to worthwhile causes. Rhodes scholars take on important projects that range from addressing rural poverty in South Africa to improving the field of disaster medicine. In the process, students expand their worldview, connect with people from across the globe, and become leaders and innovators.
Applying for the Rhodes Scholarship
Thousands of students from around the world apply for the Rhodes Scholarship every year. The selection process is very competitive, with the global acceptance rate standing at 0.7%. The application is available each year starting in early July and the deadline is the first Wednesday of October each year (October 6, 2021). Students interested in applying should visit this page.
Age requirements and deadlines vary between countries, but criteria for selection remains the same. Find the rules for your particular country or region on the Rhodes Scholarship website. The following eligibility requirements apply to U.S. applicants:
- Be at least 18, but not yet 24 at the time of application submission
- Have completed an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.70 or higher
- Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or DACA recipient
Criteria for Selection
The guiding criteria for selection have remained the same since the Rhodes Scholarship was first awarded in 1902. The organization bases its selections not only on the basis of intellect, but also of character, leadership, and commitment to service. Here’s what selection committees are looking for in applicants:
- 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
In recent years, scholars have increasingly been selected from diverse backgrounds and institutions. The organization has expanded eligibility requirements to include legal permanent residents and DACA recipients. Additionally, the 2020 class of U.S. Rhodes scholars included 22 students of color and nine first-generation Americans.
The best time to apply is during a student’s junior year of college. The application for the Rhodes Scholarship includes the following requirements:
- An endorsement letter from your institution’s president or dean
- An official transcript
- A full CV
- Five to eight letters of reference
- A personal statement of no more than 1,000 words
After applying, candidates go through a series of interviews and then winners are announced in November. Keep in mind that students who apply for Rhodes still have to apply to the university separately.
Takeaways for Rhodes Scholarship hopefuls
The competition for the Rhodes Scholarship is fierce, and the application process is rigorous and time-consuming. If you have an excellent academic record, strong extracurriculars, and are passionate about creating change in the world, you have a chance of winning. For the best chances possible, you should focus on putting together an academic and extracurricular record that demonstrates your passions and motivation. In completing your application, you’ll want strong and varied letters of recommendation, a memorable personal statement, and impressive interviews. Becoming a Rhodes scholar is a phenomenal achievement, and you shouldn’t let the rigorous application process stand in your way.
Other resources for Rhodes Scholarship hopefuls
If you are looking into post-graduate opportunities, we have a host of resources available to help guide you through the process. Check out our guide on funding your graduate school education to start off. We’ve also got resources to help you get into grad school if you had a low GPA in undergrad. Additionally, you can check out our guides to graduate assistantships, filling out the FAFSA for grad school, and deferring your student loans while in grad school. Good luck and don’t forget to check back if you have any more questions!