Churchill Scholarship Overview

Churchill Scholar Jamie Tucker-Foltz, photo by Maria Stenzel History & Purpose:
Established in 1959, the Winston Churchill Foundation was founded by American friends of Churchill, who wanted to fulfill his wish of always having young American graduate students at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. The Foundation’s Scholarship Program (begun in 1963) offers American citizens of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in engineering, mathematics, or the sciences at Cambridge. One of the newer colleges at the University of Cambridge, Churchill College was built as the national and Commonwealth tribute to Sir Winston, who in the years after the Second World War presciently recognized the growing importance of science and technology for prosperity and security. The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States is a not-for-profit organization classified as a public charity and is supported by gifts and grants from alumni, friends, and corporations. Read about Nobel Prize winners and other notables who have been Churchill Scholars.

Award Description:  The Scholarship is tenable from nine to twelve months, in accordance with the chosen academic program at Cambridge. There are two different degree courses available to applicants for the Churchill Scholarship: the MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and MASt (Master of Advanced Study). The standard MPhil is a research degree, a program that entails full-time research in a lab, and culminates in a thesis and a viva (an oral examination). The MASt is a taught degree course comprising lectures and written examinations. Some MPhil courses involve a mixture of taught courses and a research paper, and most MASt courses provide the opportunity to write a research paper. You should check each department’s website for a full description of each course. See this list of Programs of Study eligible for the Scholarship. Fifteen Churchill Scholarships are awarded annually. The Churchill provides an opportunity for independent research (often leading to publications) that Churchill Scholars will not find again until well into their PhD programs; to form friendships with future colleagues from around the world; and to enjoy an environment that is well-balanced between academic work, social life, and extracurriculars. Benefits of the Churchill Scholarship are listed below and described in this short and inspiring video featuring Churchill Scholars.

  • students are able to conduct independent research (with no other academic obligations at all) at one of the best-resourced universities in the world
  • Cambridge labs tend to treat Master’s students as equals, rather than as junior members of a research group.
  • Most students call their Cambridge year the best of their lives, for the intellectual growth, opportunity to explore new things both inside and outside the lab, and for finding a work-life balance that they did not have before.
  • Typically, students will publish at least one first author paper from their year of research in Cambridge. Churchill also has a fund to send them to conferences, and most will present their work to an international audience.
  • Many students continue to collaborate with their Cambridge lab after their return to the US.
  • Churchill College is the only Cambridge College that focuses on STEM subjects, and therefore has one of the highest concentrations of great scientists from around the world that students will have as housemates, dining companions, and friends.
  • Churchill Scholars also enjoy two days of science policy seminars, including a trip into Parliament and key government ministries )

Funding Details: The Churchill Scholarship is worth around $60,000, depending on the exchange rate. It covers all University and College fees (currently about $40,000). In addition, Churchill Scholars receive a living allowance, which in 2018-19 is £11,083 if enrolled in a nine-month program, £13,477 if enrolled in an eleven-month program, and £14,777 if enrolled in a full-year program. They receive an allowance of up to $1,500 for travel to and from the United Kingdom, as well as reimbursement of applications fees for a UK visa and health surcharge (currently over $500). The Foundation also offers the possibility of a Special Research Grant of up to $2,000. This grant may cover travel for presentations at international conferences, short stays at another university or institute for special research, and other activities.

Eligibility: An applicant must be a citizen of the United States, either native born or naturalized, and must be a senior who is enrolled in one of the participating institutions or a student who has graduated from one of those within the past 12 months. Upon taking up the Churchill Scholarship, a Churchill Scholar must hold a bachelor's degree or an equivalent, and may not have attained a doctorate. Applicants must apply directly to the University of Cambridge for their desired program by October 10th in order to be considered for the Churchill.

Selection Criteria: Outstanding academic achievement, especially in the major, as indicated by course grades. The Foundation does not require a minimum GPA, but recent Churchill Scholars have had a GPA of at least 3.7 and usually have 3.9 or above. Proven talent in research and a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics by pursuing original, creative work at an advanced level as demonstrated by awards, prizes, research, and letters of recommendation. Applicants in the sciences and engineering will demonstrate extensive laboratory experience, internships, or other related work, while applicants in mathematics will show substantial independent work or other projects. The Churchill does not require "well-roundedness" or leadership and service, but many Scholars "display a bewildering array of talents and activities outside of academic pursuits."

How to Apply 

Seniors and alumni must apply to the University of Cambridge by October 10th and apply for the Churchill through the Amherst campus process, which includes receiving essay feedback and guidance from the Director of Fellowships; completing the online Churchill application, and requesting that recommendation letters be sent to the Office of Fellowships by the internal deadline of October 11, 2019.. After applications are initially submitted, the Health Professions Committee comprising several STEM faculty members will review each application and decided whom to endorse. (There is no internal interview.) Endorsed candidates will revise application materials as advised and submit their final application in the Churchill online application portal by October 26th. The Director of Fellowships will upload the recommendation letters ande endorsement letter, and submit the application to the Foundation by their deadline. Endorsements: Amherst may endorse two candidates for the Churchill.

Application materials: The Churchill Application requires the applicant to enter biographical and resume information in an online application, write two essays, provide transcripts from all undergraduate study, request four letters of recommendation, and include correspondence with a lab (for research-only degrees). Application components and instructions are provided in detail on the Churchill Application page.

For Recommenders

Content: The candidate should provide you with a signed copy of this Churchill Scholarship Recommendation form, waiving their right to read your recommendation. The second page provides clear guidance on what the Foundation seeks to know about this applicant. Please clearly address the four questions posed in the Recommendation instructions. Note that letters for this highly prestigious and competitive scholarship are typically a page and a half to two pages in length. If you feel you cannot provide much detail about the candidate's qualifications, kindly decline to write the letter. The candidate should provide you with their Proposed Program essay, their Personal Statement, and their resume before you write.

Format and submission: Please send your letter, signed and on letterhead and addressed to the Churchill Scholarship Selection Committee, along with the first page of the recommendation form, in hard copy OR via email attachment to the Office of Fellowships by October 11, 2018, so that the Health Professions Committee can review it along with the applicant's own materials. Your letter provides information critical to their endorsement decision. If a candidate is selected for endorsement by the College, the Office of Fellowships will submit your letter to the Foundation along with the nominee's application.

Churchill Scholarship website 

Application to the University of Cambridge: October 10th
Churchill application internal deadline: October 11, 2018 (noon)

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall, 413-542-2536,
Carter McClintock, Fellowships Specialist
213 Converse Hall, 413-542-5079,                          
Mailing address: Office of Fellowships, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002; Fax: 413-542-8555

AC Churchill Winners and Finalists: Amherst's most recent Churchill Scholars are Christopher Finch '14 in plant sciences, and Jamie Tucker-Foltz '19 in Advanced Computer Science. Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, Economics, was a Churchill Scholar.