University of Illinois

Churchill Scholarship

Churchill scholarship logo


One year of graduate study leading to a degree (generally a Master's) in engineering, mathematics, and/or the sciences at Cambridge University, England. Seniors and graduate students are eligible to apply. Must complete GRE general test by November. Must be under the age of 26 and a U.S. citizen.

Who they are looking for:

The Churchill Scholarship enables outstanding American students to pursue graduate work in engineering, mathematics, or the physical or natural sciences at Churchill College, Cambridge University. The Scholarships also provide the opportunity to experience life in England, to forge friendships with British students and those from many other lands who are enrolled at Cambridge, to see something of Britain and lands beyond, to see the United States from a new perspective, and to gain personal insights about oneself that come from living abroad and adjusting to new challenges. Students who are introverted, shy, lacking in confidence, or rigid, however bright, may not prosper in the Cambridge environment. The Churchill Foundation is looking for intellectual leaders as demonstrated by the academic record, evidence of independent research, the all-important letters of recommendation, and intellectual passion. The Foundation also seeks individuals who admirably will represent our country at Cambridge by their intellectual endeavors and by their participation in the life of the University of Cambridge. Past Churchill Scholars report meeting these goals.

The official criteria for the selection of Churchill Scholars include the following: (1) Achievement in academic work as indicated by course grades and scores on the GRE; (2) Capacity for original, creative work as shown by special recognition and letters of reference; (3) Ability to contribute to the advancement of knowledge; and (4) Outstanding personal qualities as demonstrated by leadership, activities, and social engagement. While only 14 scholarships nationwide are provided each year, the University of Illinois has had more recipients (20) than any other public institution. Read more about recent Illinois Churchill Scholars.

Early Review:

Students are encouraged to submit drafts of their Cambridge and Churchill Scholarship applications to the National and International Scholarships Program well in advance of the campus deadline in order to receive feedback from the program's directors. We are willing to work with students through numerous revisions. Submit the application via email to

REQUIRED Churchill Campus Deadline: October 9, 2014

Churchill scholarship applications are submitted in two parts. A student needs to apply to both Cambridge University and the Churchill Scholarship separately. By October 9, a complete Churchill Scholarship application must be submitted to the National and International Scholarships Program in order to be considered for University of Illinois endorsement (a requirement to move forward in the competition). Based on your submittal (and in special circumstances an interview), a Churchill Scholarship Campus Review Committee will determine your endorsement. The University will endorse those candidates the Committee feels have the potential to be Churchill Scholars; up to two applicants may receive this endorsement. The National and International Scholarships Program also may offer some feedback on the Churchill portion of your application, based on comments from Committee members.

Required information:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. Official transcripts from all colleges attended.
  3. At least 4 academic Letters of Recommendation (two of which presumably will be from the same letter writers who wrote your Cambridge recommendation for your Cambridge University application). However, each of the four letters must be written specifically for the Churchill Scholarship and accompanied by a cover sheet that the applicant has signed (the letter writers may not just use a copy of the letter they provided for admission to Cambridge).
  4. A complete Churchill Scholarship Application (including printed application form, personal statement, proposed program of study essay, listing of awards, and research experiences). Do not electronically submit your application until after the endorsement decision.
  5. A copy of your GRE report for the general test (Churchill Foundation code #3922). MCAT scores may be substituted for the GRE.
  6. A copy of any correspondence with a potential laboratory supervisor at Cambridge.

Applicants should provide referees with the official Churchill reference cover sheet. The letters of recommendation should be specifically tailored toward your application as a Churchill Scholar. All materials (including letters) must be submitted to the National and International Scholarships Program. Students may either hand deliver the transcripts and recommendation letters in signed, sealed envelopes, or they may be submitted to the National and International Scholarships Program directly by the registrar/referee. While letters are submitted on campus, they should be written to the attention of the "Committee of Selection." If letter writers wish to include the address, it is:

The Churchill Scholarship Program
U.S. Student Programs
Institute of International Education
809 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017-3580

REQUIRED Final Cambridge Submittal Deadline Received October 15, 2014:

Please note that your online Cambridge application will automatically be deleted if you don't make any changes in a two week period, so log in periodically to keep it active! Also, your reference letters are due online within 14 days after your submission (your submission triggers the request e-mail to your referees). Thus, these letters can arrive after October 15. Note that some programs at Cambridge also require test scores, additional essays, or even an earlier deadline-- make sure to check your Cambridge department specifics! Please note that you must check Churchill College as your first choice on the Cambridge application. Also, in section B(3), you should indicate that you are applying for a Churchill Scholarship through the Winston Churchill Foundation, indicate one year for tenure, indicate March for the date, and indicate 22,000-26,000 pounds as the value of the scholarship. The National and International Scholarships Program requires a copy of your Cambridge application prior to submission. Letters should be written to the attention of the "Board of Graduate Studies". If your letter writer wishes to include the address, it is:

The Secretary
Board of Graduate Studies
4 Mill Lane
Cambridge CB2 1RZ
United Kingdom

Endorsed Applicant Deadline: November 10, 2014 at 12:00 Noon

Those students who have been endorsed need to submit their final Churchill application packet to the National and International Scholarships Program by 12:00 noon on November 10. At this time, you will need to include a signed, original Churchill Foundation application form, both submitted online and in hard copy, all original transcripts, and an original Churchill reference cover sheet and letter from each of your four referees (if updated letters were requested). You also will need to include any updated correspondence with your potential laboratory supervisor at Cambridge. Finally, ensure that your GRE scores are submitted directly to the Winston Churchill Foundation (code #3922). MCAT scores may be substituted for the GRE.

The Final Stages:

The National and International Scholarships Program electronically submits an official University Endorsement Letter along with your complete application materials (including reference letters) to the Churchill Foundation. We also mail your official transcripts. The national Churchill Foundation Scholarship Screening Committee, comprised of former Churchill Scholars, evaluates the applications and very selectively endorses those considered most qualified for a scholarship. Those students who make the short list will be invited for a phone interview in January with the Director of the Foundation. Then, the Cambridge Board of Graduate Studies and the appropriate department at Cambridge review the applications of nationally endorsed candidates, consider the availability of appropriate supervision and laboratory space, and decide who are eligible for admission to the University. Based on this information, the Winston Churchill Foundation makes final decisions on Churchill Scholarship winners and announces them by April 15 (though in recent years, this was completed by March 1).

General Application Tips:

The Churchill Committee will not review your Cambridge application. Thus, treat the Churchill application as a stand-alone document (hence the need for separate letters of recommendation and transcripts).

The Churchill Foundation has carefully outlined the required format of a Churchill application and supplemental materials. Make sure you follow their explicit guidelines!

Personal Statement: This is the most important part of the application and is meant to be extremely academic in nature. Demonstrate what you are all about and why Cambridge will be good for you. Prove that study at Cambridge is better than enrolling at an institution in the U.S. at this point in your career. Illustrate the amount of energy you have put into research and that you have a serious focus and intensity in one area of study. Delineate the progression of your research. For more advice, see the personal reflections of an Illinois recipient who has served on the national panel.

Recommendation Letters:

Advice for Writing Letters of Recommendation

Churchill Website and Application:

For official information on the Churchill Scholarship (which supersedes any information provided here), please go to: