This scholarship provides two to three years of study leading to a degree at Oxford University, England. Seniors, graduate or professional students, and graduates are eligible to apply. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident under the age of 24. Students from a select few other countries may apply through their separate home country competition.
What They're 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:
- literary and scholastic attainments,
- energy to use one's talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports,
- truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship, and
- moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.
Students are encouraged to contact the National and International Scholarships Program upon deciding to submit a Rhodes Scholarship application. We will then provide some step-by step advice to assist with your application materials. Please note that, per Rhodes Scholarship requirements, you may not receive feedback on your Rhodes personal statement from anyone.
Required Campus Deadline
August 22, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)
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, including grade reports that we will provide, 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 the non-personal statement portions of your application, based on comments from Committee members.
Required information includes:
- A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
- Five to eight 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.
- 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
September 30, 2017
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 a copy of your birth certificate or passport, a passport-size photo, and official transcripts from all colleges (including community colleges where you may have only taken 1 course and study abroad transcripts, unless both the grades and credits of all courses appear on your Illinois transcripts). Once you have been endorsed by Illinois, you will then be asked to 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 applying through the Chicago region may or may be asked to conduct a 30-minute Skype interview in late October. All finalists 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
Within your 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.
At least four of your letters of recommendation need to be written by people from whom you have received undergraduate or graduate instruction. Read our advice on writing letters of recommendation.
Rhodes Website & Application
For official information on the Rhodes Scholarship (which supersedes any information provided here), please visit their website.