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brief history

The Rhodes Scholarships were created by the will of Cecil John Rhodes and are managed by the Rhodes Trust. Rhodes, who died in 1902, was a British businessman, mining magnate and politician who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. While Rhodes outlined his vision for the Trust and Scholarship Foundation in his will, The Trust has adapted its mission accordingly in the more than 100 years since its founding. Three subsequent Acts of the British Parliament have changed the nature of the scholarships to alter the geographic basis on which they are awarded and to allow women to apply for all of the scholarships. In 2003, to celebrate the centennial of the Rhodes Scholarships and to continue the Foundation's commitment to Africa and to leadership development throughout the continent, the Rhodes Trust joined in the creation of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, with the intent to further their mission of using history to challenge the status quo.

Today, the Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and one of the most prestigious international scholarship programs, offering scholarships in more than 20 designated Rhodes constituencies. Of the scholarships awarded each year, 32 are assigned annually to recipients in the United States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.  

Overview

The Rhodes Scholarship enables outstanding young people from around the world the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford. Rhodes Scholars are students who have a vision for how the world could be improved and the energy to implement changes that will have a positive impact. Scholars are chosen on the basis of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service. Students awarded a scholarship study for two years toward one of several permitted degrees or degree combinations, with a discretionary third year possible in some degree combinations. In addition to their experience at Oxford, Rhodes Scholars are also eligible to apply for a number of research grants which would allow them to attend international conferences or conduct additional field work, among other pursuits.

Award stipend and benefits

A Rhodes Scholarship covers all university and college fees, the university application fee and economy-class airfare to Oxford at the start of a recipient's program and to the United States at the conclusion of the program. Additionally, each Scholar receives a living stipend equivalent to approximately $17,000 each year for the duration of their program. Award recipients cannot accept other awards in conjunction with a Rhodes Scholarship without prior consultation with the Registrar of the Rhodes Trust in Oxford.

Program and eligibility requirements

Candidates must have completed or will complete an undergraduate degree from a college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher by June or July of their program year. Some Oxford departments may establish a separate GPA requirement (usually 3.8) for the pursuit of certain degrees. Intellectual distinction is the most important criterion for applicants, but other considerations, including letters of reference, interviews and qualities such as character, demonstrated leadership and commitment to service, are also crucial. Other program and eligibility requirements include:

  • Candidates must be at least 19 years of age and no older than 24 years of age on Oct. 1 of the year in which they apply for the scholarship.
  • Candidates must be U.S. citizens or have lawful permanent residency status. Applicants who have been granted deferred action according to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act and have currently active status are eligible to apply provided that they meet all other criteria. Candidates are advised that the Rhodes Trust makes no representations and offers no support regarding any matters of legal uncertainty.
  • Candidates apply to the Rhodes Scholarship based on the constituency (country) of which they are a citizen or lawful permanent resident. Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria for only one Rhodes constituency should apply for a scholarship in that jurisdiction. Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria in two or more constituencies should apply for a multi-jurisdictional scholarship. Candidates who do not meet the eligibility criteria for any existing Rhodes scholarship nor have sustained connections to two or more constituencies should apply for a global scholarship. For more information about existing constituencies and eligibility criteria, visit the Rhodes Trust's website.
  • In addition to their application form, candidates must also submit their passport for proof of their age and nationality; an official transcript from the college at which they are studying or have studied; an endorsement from the applicant's college or university; a full curriculum vitae (CV) detailing their academic achievements, prizes and scholarships they have received, extracurricular activities, and volunteer or community service activities; a color headshot of the applicant (included separately from the CV); a personal statement of up to 1,000 words; and between five and eight references.  
  • At least four of a candidate's references should be from academic personnel who have taught the applicant in their undergraduate or postgraduate career and can attest to the applicant's academic successes, as well as to the applicant's ability to do well at Oxford. At least one reference should be able to attest to a candidate's extracurricular and leadership experience and to the candidate's character. Candidates will indicate their references on their application and provide their email addresses; references will then receive an auto-generated email request once the candidate submits their applications. Candidates should typically not solicit or submit references from personal friends, relatives or peers.
  • Candidates who are lawful permanent residents of the U.S. but not yet citizens must upload proof of their lawful permanent residency.
  • Candidates who meet the DACA eligibility criteria outlined in a previous bullet must submit information relevant to their active DACA status.
  • Candidates who receive interviews will be notified as soon as possible. Candidates are required to cover the cost of attending the interview. Interviews must be conducted in person during the specified period.
  • Married individuals may apply for a Rhodes Scholarship. Spouses of Rhodes Scholars are welcome at Rhodes House in Oxford and are invited to attend Rhodes Scholarship events, but applicants are advised that the stipend awarded is sufficient for only one person and the Rhodes Trust assumes no financial responsibility for spouses.

Application instructions

The application for the Rhodes Scholarship opens in early July and closes on the first Wednesday in October. All additional materials, including letters of reference and institutional endorsements, must also be submitted by this date. Interviews and district receptions will be conducted on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Thanksgiving holiday. Scholarship recipients will be announced following the conclusion of the Saturday interviews. Scholars arrive at Oxford for their stay in late September of the year following their selection.

University contact information

Interested students should contact Kent State University's Rhodes Scholarship advisor Frank Congin at fcongin@kent.edu with any questions.  

Please check back in the future for Kent State's internal deadline process schedule.