Gates Cambridge


This scholarship is for 1 to 4 years of study leading to a graduate degree at Cambridge University, England. Seniors, graduate or professional students, and graduates are eligible to apply. U.S. and non-U.S. citizens are eligible. All applicants must apply directly to Cambridge and fill out the supplemental portion of the application to the Cambridge Trusts to be considered for the award.


Rhodes/Marshall/Gates Writing Workshops:

Thursday, May 2, 2024 from 3:00-4:00 p.m. in room 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building

Friday, May 10, 2024 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.  Register ONLINE


Matt Grobis shares his experience in applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

What They're Looking For

The trustees are required to award scholarships on the basis of a person's intellectual ability, leadership capacity, and desire to use his or her knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to his or her communities and applying his or her talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others.

In selecting Gates Cambridge Scholars, the Trust looks for students of exceptional academic achievement and scholarly promise for whom advanced study at Cambridge would be particularly appropriate. The Trust expects a good match to be made between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and what Cambridge has to offer. Successful applicants will have the ability to make a significant contribution to their discipline while in Cambridge, with a strong aptitude for research, analysis, and a creative approach to defining and solving problems. The University of Illinois has had nine students selected as Gates Cambridge Scholars since 2000. Read more about Illinois Gates Scholars.

Getting Started

Students are encouraged to submit drafts of their Gates Scholarship applications well in advance of the campus deadline in order to receive feedback from us. Attach your Cambridge application and essays in an email, along with a few potential meeting times no earlier than 2 business days after your submission to receive feedback.. We are willing to work with students through numerous revisions. 

Priority Deadline

September 5, 2024 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)

Unlike other prestigious scholarship schemas, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship does not formally require a university endorsement process. An applicant may choose to independently submit application materials to Cambridge and the Gates Scholarship. However, if you are interested in obtaining feedback on your Gates Cambridge Scholarship application from a campus committee, then you need to submit materials by this deadline. University faculty and staff who are familiar with the Gates Cambridge Scholarship will review materials received by this date. If materials are submitted late, only the National and International Scholarships program will be able to provide feedback.

Required information includes:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. Three letters of recommendation particular to the student's Gates Cambridge application, two of which are part of the Cambridge application and a third that serves as a personal reference. Letters should be sent as attachments directly to us at Do not enter your recommendation writer's email addresses on the Cambridge application until after receiving any feedback from our office, as letter writers will not be able to modify their online submittals. 
  3. A complete Cambridge University application for admission (including a writing sample if required, but no photos). Note that admission requirements vary by department, but in all cases, we will need a CV/resume for Gates consideration, and that PhD candidates are also required to submit a research proposal. The online application is not available until September 3. Please submit a PDF of your online form. To help you prepare, the writing prompts generally include:
  • Summary details of a research proposal or reason for applying for course (One page, single spaced)

  • Additional information in support of your application (about 12 lines of text)

  • Career goals and future aspirations (about 10 lines of text)

  • In no more than 500 words please explain why you are applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how you meet the four main criteria.

  • CV/resume

Final Submittal Deadline

October 11, 2023

Gates Cambridge scholarship applications are a part of the general Cambridge application. The applicant is responsible for submitting his or her application to Cambridge. Please note that your online application will automatically be deleted if you don't make any changes in a 2-week period, so log in periodically to keep it active! Also, your reference letters are also due on this date. Your entering their email addresses triggers the request email to your referees. Letters should be written to the attention of the "Board of Graduate Studies." If your letter writers wish to include the address, it is:

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

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! We would appreciate a copy of all materials (including letters) prior to submission. Please make sure to save and print a copy of your Cambridge application prior to submitting as well.

The Final Stages

Individual departments at Cambridge nominate their top students based on academics. Then four different Gates review committees (biological sciences, physical sciences, arts, and social sciences) will short-list candidates to be called for a national interview in January. We will coordinate mock interviews for those students called to an interview. The final selection is generally publicly announced within a week of the Gates Cambridge interview.

General Application Tips

Visit our Canvas page for additional tips and samples of winning applications.

The Gates reviewers will read your entire Cambridge application, so do not repeat yourself in the materials. Write "N/A" throughout the application for items that are not applicable.

The GRE is rarely required for admission to Cambridge, but some courses, such as religious studies and economics, may require it—look at your individual department.

International students who have a Green Card should apply through the U.S. If a student is in the U.S. only for education, then he or she should apply through his or her home country. In that case, the international student must also apply for an ORS award.

When writing your personal statement, remember that the scholarship is not for "rounding out" education. Solid applications demonstrate that a student plans to contribute to, and not just receive from, Cambridge. A Gates Scholar will change the world by good research, analysis, and proposing solutions. The foundation desires students who expect to contribute creative solutions to problems in all areas, not just academics. Student must be extremely self-motivated, be intellectually curious, and know they have much to learn. An applicant should show that Cambridge is the best place to pursue his or her studies. The Gates should be more of an incentive to achieve than a reward for past accomplishments.

The personal references writing your letters of recommendation should know something about your service or leadership activities; they should not solely be a family friend in most cases. However, it is not necessary that this letter be academic. Read our advice on writing letters of recommendation.

Gates Website & Application

For official information on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship (which supersedes any information provided here) and access to application materials, please visit their website.