Gates Cambridge Scholarship Overview

Carlos Gonzalez '14 History & Purpose: The Gates Scholarship programme was established in 2000 by a donation of 210 million US dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge, the largest ever single donation to a UK university. Gates Cambridge Scholarships are highly competitive full-cost scholarships awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The programme aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. Gates Cambridge alumni are pursuing further study or employment across many sectors of society. Despite the relative youth of the programme, Gates Cambridge alumni are increasingly taking on leadership roles and applying their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of others across the globe.

Award description & Funding details: The Gates funds one to three years of graduate study at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Applicants may pursue a PhD (three year research-only degree); one-year post-graduate course (MPhil, LLM, MASt, Diploma, MBA, etc.) or a two-year research-only degree (MSc or MLitt). Covered costs include the University Composition Fee; a maintenance allowance; one economy single airfare at the beginning and end of the course; inbound visa costs and associated NHS surcharge costs, and some discretionary costs.

Eligibility:  All citizens outside of the UK are eligible (but U.S. and International candidates are considered in separate rounds). Seniors or alumni at any age may apply.  All fields in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences are welcome. Candidates must be pursuing one of the following full-time residential courses of study: PhD (three year research-only degree); MSc or MLitt (two year research-only degree), one year postgraduate course (e.g., MPhil, LLM, MASt, Diploma, MBA, etc.). See courses that do not qualify here. The ideal candidate will be academically outstanding, possess demonstrated leadership potential, show a commitment to improving the lives of others, and be a good academic fit with Cambridge and the selected program. Note that as of 2019, Gates will select approximately 2/3 PhD candidates. Those applying for taught Masters should pay special attention to explaining why this is the optimal course for them.

How to Apply

Application is made directly through the University of Cambridge application process. This application opens in early September. In the application, candidates indicate their interest in being funded by the Gates Cambridge Trust (and also have opportunity to indicate interest in other funding sources.) There is no internal nomination/endorsement process through Amherst College, but both senior and alumni applicants are welcome to seek guidance, essay feedback, and interview coaching from the Director of Fellowships. Applicants should seek support well before the deadline, since fall is extremely busy in the Office of Fellowships. Applicants should investigate the deadlines and requirements for their chosen programs, learn about choosing a college within the university, and take any exams required for entrance well before the deadline. 

Application components: In addition to the usual components of the University of Cambridge application (biographical information, resume/cv, transcript(s), possibly a research proposal or writing sample, and two academic recommendations), to apply for the Gates, candidates must prepare a Personal Statement, and seek a Personal Reference.

Personal Statement prompt:  In approximately 500 words (no more than 3000 characters), please explain why you are applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how you meet the four main criteria. The four main criteria are academic excellence, leadership potential, a commitment to improving the lives of others, and a good academic fit with Cambridge.

Research Proposal (PhD applicants only): PhD applicants must also submit a research proposal as part of their application, even if the department does not require it as part of the application. If you are pursuing a degree other than the PhD, no research proposal is required as part of the Gates application. 

Personal Reference: This should be from someone of appropriate standing who is able to answer the following prompt with authority and who understands what type of person Gates Cambridge is looking for and how competitive the Scholarship is: Please give your assessment of the applicant’s suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. These are awarded on the following criteria: intellectual ability, leadership capacity, a commitment to improving the lives of others, and a good fit between the abilities and aspirations of the applicant and what the University of Cambridge can offer in its graduate programme.

Deadlines: see specific dates and timeline
US citizens living in the US application deadline: October 9th, 2020 (2021-22 deadlines TBD), regardless of course to which you are applying
All other candidates including US citizens living outside the US: deadline is based on your course deadline and will be early December 3rd, 2020 or January 7th 2020 (2021-22 deadlines TBD)

Gates Foundation website
Cambridge Graduate Admissions

Amherst College Gates Cambridge winners and finalists: Noah Isserman '07, Katherine Robinson '08, Tovah Ackerman '09, Clare Howard '10; Terrence Cullen '13; Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra '14 (pictured above)

Applicants considering applying for Gates Cambridge should also consider applying to Amherst College Fellowships. One of the Amherst College Fellowships, the Evan Carroll Commager Fellowship, supports graduate study at Cambridge University "with preference to seniors and to those applying to Peterhouse, St. John's, Trinity, or Downing College." Awardees must have financial need. 

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