Radcliff Camera, Oxford

The Rhodes and
Marshall Scholarships

The qualifications


By their own admission, the Rhodes Trust and the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission are seeking similar candidates.  At one time, a Rhodes Scholar was regarded as more outgoing, well rounded and athletic, whereas a Marshall scholar was considered more focused on academics.  Now they almost mirror one another.  Wanting to improve its academic standing within the Oxford community, Rhodes House has in recent years placed more emphasis on academic success, and the notorious athletic qualification has paled into relative insignificance.  Marshall is also looking for outgoing young people to serve as good ambassadors to the United Kingdom, not pure scholars who will never leave the quietude of the library or laboratory.

In the broadest terms, they are looking for young leaders in their fields or in their communities -- people who can connect theory to practice, emotion to reason, individual to group.  They want involved people who exhibit a restless curiosity and a rigorous compassion for others.  In their interviews, candidates are commonly asked, "What is your greatest accomplishment?"  The selectors want to know if that accomplishment includes a dimension of outreach, whether it be serving the greater scientific community or improving the circumstances of the less advantaged.

Rhodes Scholarships

Specific qualifications

The Rhodes Scholarship is available to U.S. students under 24 years of age by October 1 of the year of application and who will have received a bachelors degree prior to October 1 of the year they will begin to attend Oxford. (If you are not a U.S. citizen, check with me because the Rhodes is by no means limited to the United States.  Americans in fact make up a minority of Rhodents.)

General qualifications

In the words of the Rhodes memorandum:

Proven intellectual and academic achievement of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they 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.

The following elaborates upon the above statement and originates from the American secretary of the Rhodes Trust (and from a few personal reflections):

Marshall Scholarships

Specific qualifications and structure of the selection process

The Marshall Scholarship is available to U.S. graduating seniors and postgraduates, usually with a post-freshman minimum GPA of 3.7.

General qualifications

In the words of the Marshall rules:

In appointing Scholars the selectors will look for distinction of intellect and character as evidenced both by their scholastic attainments and by their other activities.  Preference will be given to candidates who combine high academic ability with the capacity to play an active part in the life of the United Kingdom university to which they go, and to those who display a potential to make a significant contribution to their own society.  Selectors will also look for strong motivation and seriousness of purpose, including the presentation of a specific and realistic academic program. In sum, academic merit, leadership potential and ambassadorial potential are equally weighted criteria, and the Marshall website on these three criteria provides ample detail of each. (I strongly recommend reading this description of criteria when applying for ANY scholarship as it's a good list of questions you ought to ponder.)

The following elaborates upon the above statement and originates from Marshall conferences and personal discussions with Marshall selectors:

You might also want to check out the "Marshall Partnership Scholarships" to forge connections with particular schools. (These are not made in addition to the forty Marshall scholarships funded annually, but they can direct the judges' attention to particular programs and institutions.)

The Gates and Mitchell Scholarships

The Gates scholarship for postgraduate work at Cambridge (any discipline) seeks candidates who are 1.) a good fit for Cambridge, 2.) academically strong, 3.) potential leaders to "take others with them" and 4.) committed to the greater good, whereas the Mitchell scholarship for postgraduate work in Ireland/Northern Ireland (any discipline but one year only) similarly desires applicants who are 1.) academically strong, 2.) potential leaders and 3.) commited to public service and community. For the specific eligibility requirements, please see their respective websites.



Wadham College Chapel, Oxford

Postcard of Wadham College (Founded 1613)


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