Churchill Scholarship Overview

Jamie Tucker-Foltz 2018

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. Sixteen 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)

What is it like to be a Churchill Scholar? Watch this video featuring a panel conversation with the foundation executive director Michael Morse and three scholars from SLACs including AC's Jamie Tucker Foltz '19. The foundation also offers this informative, short and inspiring video featuring Churchill Scholars.

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 and specifically Churchill College for their desired program by October 12, 2022 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, Churchill College by the October 12, 2022 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 uploaded to the online portal, all by the AC internal deadline of October 12, 2022.  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 re-submit their final application in the Churchill online application portal by October 26th. The Director of Fellowships will upload an endorsement letter and submit the application to the Foundation by the national 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 described on the Churchill Application page.

For Recommenders

Content and format:  Please address the candidate' academic achievements; proven talent in research, and outstanding personal qualities. (The candidate should provide you their proposed program essay, personal statement, and resume.) Your readers will be academic scientists in a variety of fields. If you feel you cannot provide much detail about the candidate's qualifications, kindly decline to write the letter. Letters for this highly prestigious and competitive scholarship are typically 1-1/2 - 2 pages long. They should be presented on department/research facility letterhead.

Submission: In response to an email from the Churchill Foundation, please upload a pdf of your letter to their online portal by AC's internal deadline of October 12, 2022. Letters are requested early because they play an important role in college endorsement decisions. No further action will be needed after the internal endorsement decision is made. 

Churchill Scholarship website 

Application to the University of Cambridge: October 12, 2022

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall, 413-542-2536,   
Eric Myers, Associate Director, Fellowships            
Mailing address: Office of Fellowships, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002

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.