Deadline: For U.S. competition, application essay and activities to CURF by September 12. Recommendations and finalized application online: October 3, 2012; deadlines for other country competitions are generally earlier.
Rhodes Scholarships are given for a one, two or three-year period of study at Oxford University. There are 32 scholarships given each year to US citizens, and these are distributed according to a system of geographical districts.
The Rhodes Scholarship competition is also open to citizens of the following countries: Canada, South Africa, Australia, India, Germany, Zambia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Commonwealth Caribbean and Jamaica, Kenya, Bermuda, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uganda, and Hong Kong. Not all of these countries’ Rhodes committees are willing to accept applicants who live permanently or attend school outside of their country while others are. Most applications are due earlier than for the US competition.
The scholarship pays all tuition and fees, in addition to a personal allowance. Information about courses of study at Oxford is available at
Eligibility and Qualifications
- The candidate should demonstrate wide-ranging academic excellence. This excellence should be reflected in his or her overall academic record and in other ways. The candidate should show qualities of moral leadership and social purpose and should exhibit outstanding and attractive potential outside the classroom as well as within it.
- The candidate should have the physical vigor that enables Rhodes Scholars to make an effective contribution to the world around them. Rhodes desired that his Scholars be intellectually, morally, and physically capable of leadership in any field. Traditionally this was defined as participation in varsity sports. It is no longer so construed.
The US Rhodes web site includes a section of frequently-asked questions including “Should I Apply” which is very helpful, particularly in removing potential applicants’ misconceptions. In short, applicants who are eligible by age and citizenship who have done well as undergraduates, have significant reasons for studying in a specific program at Oxford and who have the respect of sufficient potential recommenders should apply.
Application Procedures and Selection Criteria
Candidates need to be endorsed by the Penn Rhodes Committee. The formal application is entirely electronic and requires:
- A personal statement, not exceeding 1000 words, of general activities and intellectual interests and a proposed course of study at Oxford.
- No fewer than five and no more than eight letters of reference. These letters should cover the applicant’s various strengths from various angles. Four must be academic (from course or research experience.)
- Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.
- A factual list of principal activities and honors while in college.
- Proof of age and citizenship.
The US Rhodes competition is a regional competition. Applicants from Penn may apply through their home state or through Pennsylvania (by virtue of living here to attend school.) Most are better served by applying through their home region. The decision of which region to apply through must be made in consultation with Cheryl Shipman.
Those wishing to participate in the Penn Rhodes process must submit a draft of their personal statement and lists of recommenders and activities to CURF by September 12, 2012 to allow time for the endorsement letters.
Applicants are responsible for assuring that their final applications, including transcripts, are submitted to Regional Committees by October 3, 2012.
Successful applicants will be invited to Rhodes interviews which are held on November 16 and 17, 2012. CURF will hold practice interviews for those who are invited to final interviews. The Rhodes Scholars are informed of their status at the end of the final interview. Rhodes House then takes responsibility for completing the Rhodes Scholars’ acceptance at the appropriate faculty in Oxford. Therefore no separate Oxford application is required — except for applicants applying for other fellowships.
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