Rhodes Scholarships are awarded for a one, two, or three-year period of study at Oxford University. There are 32 scholarships given each year to US citizens, which are distributed according to a system of geographical districts that vary slightly from year to year to ensure an equal number of candidates from each district.
The Rhodes Scholarship pays all tuition and fees, in addition to a personal allowance for living expenses. Information about courses of study at Oxford is available at http://www.ox.ac.uk. The Rhodes House takes responsibility for completing each scholarship recipient’s acceptance to the appropriate course of study at Oxford. Candidates who receive a Rhodes Scholarship are not required to submit a separate application to Oxford, but candidates who wish to be considered for other fellowships and financial aid from Oxford should apply directly to Oxford.
Rhodes candidates should also consider applying for the Marshall Scholarship and the Thouron Award.
- ALL CANDIDATES: Notify CURF of your intent to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship as soon as possible by completing the REQUEST FOR UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA ENDORSEMENT FORM. Candidates are required to attend a Fellowships 101 Information Session, and then schedule an appointment with Dr. Wallace Genser to discuss the application process.
CANDIDATES SHOULD INDICATE THEIR INTENT TO APPLY FOR ENDORSEMENT FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP NO LATER THAN MARCH 31, 2015. Candidates who submit a Request for Endorsement by March 31 will be assigned a Fellowship Advisor who will help the candidate clarify goals, values, and purposes, assist with application details, and draft the letter of endorsement on behalf of the University. Beginning in 2014, to conform with new rules of the Rhodes Scholarship Fellowship Advisors will not comment on drafts of Rhodes or Mitchell Scholarship essays.
Candidates who submit a request for endorsement form between April 1 and June 30 are not guaranteed a Fellowship Advisor, but will be considered for endorsement.
Candidates requesting endorsement after June 30 must contact CURF to petition to be considered for University of Pennsylvania endorsement.
All candidates (who must be endorsed by the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S.) must submit their finalized application and ensure that their recommendations are submitted online to the Rhodes website of the country to which they are applying.
- US CANDIDATES: The internal University of Pennsylvania deadline for receiving all required application materials (including recommendation letters) is 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26 (the first day of fall classes).
For US candidates the deadline to submit applications to the Rhodes Trust is 11:59 PM US Eastern Standard Time on the first Wednesday of October.
NON-US CANDIDATES: Contact CURF to discuss the deadline by which you should submit materials to CURF. Rhodes countries set their own deadlines for final submission.
REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS AND SELECTION CRITERIA
Rhodes applicants must be U.S. citizens if applying through the US.
Students may also apply as citizens of a Rhodes-eligible country (see list of these countries below).
Age requirements vary by country -- consult your country's individual Rhodes page.
Cecil Rhodes' will outlines four criteria to be used in the election of Scholars:
- Literary and scholastic attainments
- 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
Candidates who meet age and citizenship eligibility requirements (which vary by country) should consider applying. Successful candidates should be able to demonstrate in their application that they:
- Have excelled academically
- Possess the qualities listed above, based on a demonstrable record of past activities
- Have significant reasons for studying in a specific program at Oxford
- Have the respect of sufficient potential recommenders who know them well enough to write strong letters on their behalf
The most successful candidates have also demonstrated initiative and commitment to larger issues such as service, research, and engagement in efforts to serve humanity both on and beyond their campus. Candidates should demonstrate wide-ranging academic excellence, which should be reflected in the candidate’s overall academic record. The candidate should show qualities of moral leadership and social purpose, and should also exhibit outstanding achievement and potential for future success within the classroom, through engagement on their campus, and beyond the confines of university life.
Rhodes candidates do not need to be athletes, though candidates should have the physical vigor that enables Rhodes Scholars to make an effective contribution to the world around them. Athletic achievement can serve as an example of the energy and leadership Cecil Rhodes sought in scholars, but is not required.
The US Rhodes web site includes a set of Frequently Asked Questions entitled “Should I Apply," which is extremely helpful, particularly in removing potential candidates’ misconceptions.
CANDIDATES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR REVIEWING AND UNDERSTANDING ALL REQUIREMENTS AND REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO THE SCHOLARSHIP DESCRIBED ON THE SITE OF THE RHODES COUNTRY TO WHICH THEY ARE APPLYING.
Candidate materials are reviewed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Faculty Review Committee for the Rhodes Scholarship, comprised of Penn faculty who have been awarded prestigious scholarships and are actively engaged in promoting Penn’s academic mission.
The Faculty Review Committee will review applications and select candidates to interview for consideration for Penn endorsement. Candidates selected for endorsement must then apply directly through the Rhodes website of the country through which they are applying.
The US Rhodes competition is a regional competition. US candidates from Penn may apply through their home state or through Pennsylvania (by virtue of living in Pennsylvania to attend school). Most candidates are better served by applying through their home state and region. Candidates make the final decision of which region to apply through, but should consult with Dr. Wallace Genser before making this decision.
The Rhodes Scholarship is also open to citizens of the following Rhodes-eligible countries: Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica and Commonwealth Caribbean, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Africa (including South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, and Swaziland), Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In 2015, one Falcon Scholar from the United Arab Emirates was also selected. Beginning in Fall 2015 all Rhodes countries are willing to accept candidates who attend a university outside of their country (although this fact may not yet be noted on each country’s Rhodes site). Application deadlines vary by country and can be found by following the country-specific links at http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/about/rhodes-countries.
Candidates must complete and electronically submit the Internal Penn Rhodes Application form, including a single pdf with application materials in the following order:
- A personal statement, not exceeding 1000 words, of general activities and intellectual interests and a proposed course of study at Oxford. The statement cannot have been edited by anyone but the applicant.
- Curriculum Vitae / Resume or list of principal activities and honors since the candidate started college (no more than two pages)
- For US candidates, no fewer than five and no more than eight letters of recommendation. At least four letters must be persons from whom you have received undergraduate or graduate instruction, and at least one letter must speak to your character. Letters should be specific regarding the candidate’s strengths and taken together should demonstrate the depth and breadth of your candidacy. (Candidates from other Rhodes countries may have slightly different recommendation letter requirements, and should consult the Rhodes site of their home country)
- Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended (For the internal Penn Rhodes Application, candidates should print a pdf of their transcript from Penn InTouch. Candidates who are endorsed by the University of Pennsylvania will be provided with an Official Penn Transcript that they must submit with their final application. If candidates attended other post-secondary institutions they should obtain Official Transcripts from each of those institutions and submit them with their Rhodes application.)
- Passport-size photograph
- Proof of age and citizenship
CANDIDATE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION:
As soon as candidates have arranged for letters of recommendation, they should fill out the Recommendation Request Form for each recommender, and for each program to which they are applying (e.g., Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, etc.).
INFORMATION FOR RECOMMENDERS:
In order to compose the most effective recommendation possible, fellowship recommenders are urged to review the information and suggestions CURF has developed. In addition, your letter should describe what you have observed of the candidate that illustrates the traits and abilities that will lead to academic, personal, and professional success. Specific examples of work the candidate has performed and behaviors that you have observed are crucial to successful letters.
Recommenders are required to upload a separate letter for each fellowship for which the candidate is applying. While it is not generally necessary to tailor a letter specifically for each fellowship, it is extremely important to refer to the correct fellowship, degree program, and school in each letter (e.g., “I write to recommend [Student Name] for the Rhodes Scholarship to obtain an M.Sc. in Global Health Science at Oxford”).
Finalists will be invited to interview by their US district or respective Rhodes country. CURF will hold practice interviews for finalists. The Rhodes Scholars are informed of their status at the end of the final interview.