University of Illinois

Marshall Scholarship




Marshall Scholar Josie Chambers shares her experience in applying for the scholarship.


One to three years of study leading to a degree at any British university. Seniors, graduate/professional students, and graduates are eligible to apply within two years of their undergraduate graduation. Must be a U.S. citizen with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.7.

Who they are looking for:

Candidates are evaluated on academic achievement, leadership potential, social commitment, and communication skills. 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 and achievements. Preference will be given to candidates 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. Succinctly, Marshall Scholars are deep thinkers who are prepared for leadership in multiple sectors and get things done. Read more about recent Illinois Marshall Scholars.

"Priority" Deadline: June 2, 2014

Students are encouraged to submit a priority application for the Marshall Scholarship. The priority deadline is June 3 for students wishing to begin study in the U.K. in 2015-16. University faculty and staff who are familiar with the Marshall Scholarship will review materials received by this date, while only the National and International Scholarships Program directors will review materials submitted after this date. In either case, we will provide feedback on your application and are willing to work with you through the summer on subsequent revisions. No endorsement decisions will be made based on priority applications.

Please submit the following requested information to the National and International Scholarships Program (with the exception of the Choice of University Statements, one set may be submitted covering multiple scholarships) at or 807 South Wright Street, Fifth Floor, MC-317:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy)
  2. Transcripts from all colleges attended (photocopies acceptable)
  3. 4-5 Letters of Recommendation (drafts acceptable)
  4. Résumé
  5. Personal Statement of 1,000 words (Personal Statement should be in 12 point font and double spaced)
  6. Two Choice of University Statements

In addition to the generic transcripts, personal statement, and resume, it is in your best interest to submit at least four letters of recommendation (the number ultimately required) and two "Choice of University Statements." The Marshall asks for both a first and second choice institution and at least one of those choices can not be Cambridge, the London School of Economics, or Oxford.

Further information about priority deadline requirements

REQUIRED Campus Deadline: August 26, 2014 at 12:00 noon

Whether or not you turned in a priority application, a complete Marshall 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 an interview, a University of Illinois Scholarships Selection Committee will determine your endorsement. The University will endorse those candidates the Committee feels have the potential to be Marshall Scholars; up to a handful of applicants will receive this endorsement (there is no limit on the number of endorsements, but the committee is quite judicious). The National and International Scholarships Program also may offer some feedback on your application, based on comments from Committee members.

          Required information:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (if not submitted since June-- either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. Transcripts from all colleges attended (photocopies acceptable-- one set may be submitted covering multiple scholarships).
  3. 4 Letters of Recommendation (submitted on-line through the Marshall website and particular to the student's Marshall application -- note that applicants must enter the recommender information and hit the "Send Request" button at least two weeks in advance of the deadline to give your letter writers time to submit their letters electronically). Letters should be written to the attention of the "Marshall Scholarship Selection Committee" and may not exceed 1,000 words. As with the rest of the application, bold or italicized text will not transfer through. In addition, it is best to enter hard returns between paragraphs, as tabs do not work when printing out the letter.
  4. A complete Marshall Scholarship application (including personal statement, reasons for wishing to study in the UK, and proposed academic program) submitted electronically. You will be able to make changes to your application once you are endorsed.

Endorsed Applicant Deadline: September 26, 2013 at 12:00 noon

The Marshall Scholarship requires applications and letters of recommendation to be submitted electronically. Those students who have been endorsed need to electronically submit any final revisions by this date. Hardcopies of all original transcripts and any supplementary materials (portfolios) for students in the arts (with your Marshall-issued ID number on each) must be submitted to the National and International Scholarships Program by this date as well.

If any changes were requested, recommendation writers will need to resubmit their letters, specifically tailored toward your application as a Marshall Scholar, electronically by this deadline.

The Final Stages:

The National and International Scholarships Program electronically submits your complete Marshall Application (after you electronically submit it to us) along with an official University Endorsement Letter and snail-mails your transcript(s) (which you mark with your Marshall online ID code) and 5 copies and portfolio (for fine arts applicants) to a regional selection panel. Short listed candidates will be called for an interview in November. Those who are called to interview will be asked to scan and attach a photograph to their application, print the application, and sign it before bringing it to the interview. Finalists will also be asked to provide a brief biographical sketch to be used for promotional purposes if named a Marshall Scholar. Candidates must also bring with them a completed medical form along with evidence of your date of birth and U.S. citizenship (e.g. a birth certificate or passport), and marriage certificate, if married. The National and International Scholarships Program will coordinate mock interviews for those students called to an interview. The final selection will be announced shortly after the Marshall interview.

General Application Tips:

To be eligible, an applicant must have graduated from their undergraduate institution within two academic years of applying (after April 2012 for applications submitted in fall 2014). The Selection Committee prefers awarding scholarships to help develop expertise, rather than for a person to broaden themselves before deciding to specialize.

Personal Statement: What makes the applicant tick? Provide evidence of your research and address how U.K. study will help your future. Why is it important to pursue the degrees in the U.K.? Address how your past got you interested in what you are doing. Discuss medical or other conditions -- be honest and up-front, gutsy. The statement should show the texture of the candidate. The U.K. sees the Marshall Scholarship as an investment; how will you provide future benefits? How are you an ambassador? They want students to be advocates for U.K. policies in the U.S.

Your "Proposed Academic Programme" statement should be written about ¾ in regards to your first choice institution and ¼ about your second choice institution. Your second 1-yr MA (if choosing two) is less important as many students change these after arriving. You may choose two different universities for the scholarship (1 yr. at each). Identifying the program or person you would like to work with is important. It helps to have been in contact with professors at whatever school you are applying to go to, especially for scientists. Focus your statement on how you fit into the program(s) rather than just the general details of the program(s).

Recommendation letters: At least two of the letters should be from academics in your field, one who is the "preferred recommender." The letters should try to humanize the candidate -- it is often best if one letter is nonacademic. Ideally, senior faculty would write letters of no more than 2 pages per recommendation, as there is a 1,000-word limit. Any applicant who has studied previously in the U.K. should strongly consider obtaining one of their letters of recommendation from a U.K. faculty member.

Advice for Writing Letters of Recommendation

Marshall Website and Application:

For official information on the Marshall Scholarship (which supersedes any information provided here) and access to the online application, please go to: