University of Illinois

Rhodes Scholarship


One to three years of study leading to a degree at Oxford University, England. Seniors, graduate/professional students, and graduates are eligible to apply. Must be a U.S. citizen under the age of 24.

Who they are looking for:

Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. Mr. Rhodes' will contains four criteria by which prospective Rhodes Scholars are to be selected: (1) literary and scholastic attainments; (2) energy to use one's talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports; (3) truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; and (4) moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.

"Priority" Deadline: June 2, 2014

Students are encouraged to submit a priority application for the Rhodes Scholarship. The priority deadline is June 2 for students wishing to begin study in the U.K. in 2015-16. University faculty and staff who are familiar with the Rhodes Scholarship will review materials received by this date, while only The National and International Scholarships Program 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. 5-8 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. One Choice of University Statement

In addition to the transcripts, personal statement, and résumé, it is in your best interest to submit at least five letters of recommendation (between five and eight letters are ultimately required) and a "Choice of University Statement" outlining your choice of coursework and/or proposed research at 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 Rhodes 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 nomination. The University will endorse those candidates the Committee feels have the potential to be Rhodes 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 may also 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. 5-8 Letters of Recommendation addressing specifically your qualifications as a Rhodes Scholar. At least four of the letters must be from those you have done academic work with at the university level. Do not register your letter writers online until after you have received endorsement! Instead, have letters sent directly to the National and International Scholarships Program.
  4. A complete Rhodes Scholarship application printed from the online site (including the 1,000-word personal statement and the list of activities and honors, but no photos or copies of your birth certificate).

Endorsed Applicant Deadline: October 1, 2014

Those candidates who have been endorsed need to upload all required documents (with any revisions) to the online Rhodes application site and submit it to the appropriate district committee. You will need to include all original transcripts, a copy of your birth certificate or passport, and a passport-size photo. Once you have been endorsed by Illinois, you will then be asked to you register your letter of recommendation writers on your online application. The letters of recommendation should be specifically tailored toward your application as a Rhodes Scholar and must be received online by this date as well. The National and International Scholarships Program would appreciate a copy of all materials (including letters) prior to submission. Letters should be written to the attention of the "Committee of Selection."

The Final Stages:

The National and International Scholarships Program also submits an official University Endorsement Letter online to the district selection panel where you submitted your application and referees submitted their letters. Short listed candidates will be called for a district interview in November. The final selection will be announced immediately after the interview. The National and International Scholarships Program will coordinate mock interviews for those students called to an interview.

General Application Tips:

Personal Statement: Demonstrate what you are all about and why Oxford will be good for you. Show that your mind is engaged -- that you have something extra and have done some thinking and reflecting. Essays should almost be able to be published as editorials. They should weave together your life story seamlessly. However, do not come off as naïve. Show proof of liveliness and be provocative. Remember, the scholarship selection committee is looking for character, leadership, vigor, concern for others, and a potential to make a remarkable difference in the world with a bias for "save the world" candidates. Demonstrate that you are an initiator and a doer.

Recommendation Letters: At least four of the letters need to be written by people from whom you have received undergraduate or graduate instruction.

Advice for Writing Letters of Recommendation

Rhodes Website and Application:

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