From Start to Finish: the Marshall Application

Cavendish Laboratory

Applying for a Marshall Scholarship is a lengthy, but rewarding process. It will prompt you to think through your long-term goals; reflect on your past experiences as a leader; your potential as a diplomatic ambassador; and what you really want to get out of graduate study. Follow the steps below for applying and seeking the endorsement of Amherst College as a Marshall Scholarship nominee. By doing so, you'll be sure to produce an application that represents you authentically and favorably. 

Start in the spring semester or early summer and work on your application until the late summer deadline. Before you begin the steps, carefully read the Marshall Overview page (click on all the links and tabs!) to make sure you are eligible and to learn whether this award has potential to further your educational and personal goals. The Office of Fellowships advising staff are here to help you navigate the process. But we depend on you to read this guidance.

Your deadline for completing your application in time for internal review is August 28, 2024 at NOON.
If selected as a nominee, your final deadline will be September 20, 2024 at NOON. 

Your ideal timeline for completing the steps below is:
~ April-June:    Steps 1, 2, & 3: Explore the Marshall; explore UK graduate programs, discuss your candidacy with us
~ June/July:     Steps 4, 5, 6: Reach out to recommenders; start the online application; begin drafting essays
~ August:          Steps 7, 8 & 9: Revise essays; gather supporting documents; solicit recommendation letters
~ September:  Steps 10, 11 & 12: Submit application; meet with campus committee; apply to 1st year UK program

Step 1: Explore the Marshall

Get the information. The first step to applying for a Marshall is to get a grasp of what it is.  If you have not already done so, carefully read the Marshall Overview page, including clicking on ALL the drop-down windows and reading the details there. The Marshall Scholarship program is looking for future leaders in all fields who will forge partnerships with UK counterparts to contribute to better societies and a better world. The UK partnership is a key piece, and distinguishes the Marshall from funding opportunities with other missions. Can you imagine yourself as a part of that mission? Take some time to consider whether you might meet the Marshall criteria -- Leadership and Ambassadorial Potential, and Academic Excellence

Marshall flags

Gain some inspiration! Review profiles of previous Marshall Scholarship winners. Could this be you? Read about the experience Marshall Scholars have had of living in the UK. Read the full essays written by Amherst's Marshall Scholars from the past several years here. Talk to AC's Marshall Scholars. You can find their current contact info in the Alumni Directory. Follow @marshallscholar on Instagram.

Step 2: Explore graduate study at UK universities


Explore the world of UK graduate study. When you apply for a Marshall Scholarship, you are applying for financial support for 1-2 years of graduate study at any university in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Your first step is to figure out what kind of graduate study would advance your goals, then where best to do it. You will gain this knowledge by reading websites, talking to faculty and staff advisors, and reaching out to former students and current faculty at the institutions. Here are some things you can do to explore:

  • KNOW the Marshall RULES for choosing degree programs and universities.
    If you are applying for two years of study, Marshall requires you to choose two programs for each year - a preferred degree program and a backup. Your choices for year two are limited by what you've chosen for year one.  Depending on what kinds of degree programs you choose, you might need to select four different degree programs to enter into your application. Note: If the 1st choice institution in either or both years is Cambridge, ICL, KCL, LSE, Oxford, or UCL, none of these may be named as a 2nd choice for either year. 

    If you are applying for one year of study, Marshall requires you to choose a preferred and backup program for that one year.  Note: If you intend to follow the Marshall year in medical or law school, you should have already applied before matriculating at a UK university.) The Marshall program intends for Scholars to develop strong relationships with UK counterparts, therefore, they select more 2-year applicants than 1-year. If you intend to study for only one year, you should be able to justify why the shorter stay is necessary to your future goals. Carefully read Marshall's Rules for One-Year Candidates and Rules for Two-Year Candidates. (These are tedious documents but will save you from making mistakes in your uni choices.)

    NOTE: Programs that will take you outside of the UK for more than 90 days (for field research, for instance) are NOT eligible. Marshall no longer has a tuition fee cap for degree programs. 

  • DELVE into databases and websites to discover the top programs in your field of study:
    - the UK's Research Excellence Framework 
    - the Guardian's Best UK Universities Ranking
    - Marshall's list of British Universities
    -  Find a Course in the UK ("course" = degree program)
    -  Russell Group website
    -  Marshall's recorded webinars hosted by several prominent UK universities
    Start a doc where you can take notes on what you find. Jot down the top 5-10. Then, go to those universities' websites to read about the degree programs they offer, the research faculty are doing, and what it is like to be a student there. Learn all you can from the websites. 
  • ASK Amherst faculty in your field of study where the best programs are for what you want to do. Knowing what's on offer in the US and comparing it to what is available in the UK will inform your decision about whether to study there. If you've done research, ask your PI or supervisor, too! 
  • If your desired program involves research (a PhD definitely will!), reach out to faculty at your target universities to talk with a potential supervisor. You can use this template for your initial email

Step 3: Meet with us to discuss your intentions

Converse Hall

To be a compelling Marshall candidate, you need strong justification for wanting to study in the UK, and the personal qualities the scholarship values -- leadership and ambassadorial potential. It is difficult for most people to self-assess whether they meet the mark for these criteria. Meet with us to discuss your academic intentions as well as how you exhibit the Marshall criteria. This will help you determine whether or not to apply. If you have never met with anyone in the Office of Fellowships, Request an appointment through the form.  If you have already met with us for a one-on-one appointment, just email us with your current availability within the regular work week. We'll send an invitation to talk!

Step 4: Reach out to recommendation writers

Reach out to potential recommenders. The Marshall application requires three letters - at least two from faculty who have taught you in courses and can speak about your potential for success in graduate school, and one from someone (faculty, staff, work or internship supervisor, etc.) who can address your leadership and ambassadorial potential, if not also your academic excellence. For the two academic recommendations, seek those who have seen your most sophisticated academic work (upper level courses; thesis advisor, for example). Your first - "preferred recommender" should be the faculty member who knows your academic work best. Two of letters must be from people in the U.S. Make sure all are prepared to write a thorough and detailed letter (up to 1,000 words). Consult with us on whom to select as recommenders.

Before you reach out, read this advice for candidates on requesting recommendations. Ask your recommenders to read our Marshall Overview page, which introduces them to the Marshall and also outlines the content and format requirements for the letter (at the bottom of the page). You can also copy and paste the Info for Recommenders section at the bottom of that page and send it in an email to them. Ask them now, but assure them that before they write the letter (likely in early August) you will send them drafts of your essays.)

Step 5: Open an application in the Marshall online portal

Churchill College, Cambridge

Open  an application in the Marshall online portal. In this portal you will enter all the materials for your application. For our internal review, we will pull a pdf of your application from that portal once you have submitted it by the internal deadline. The application portal will open by mid-June. We will provide the link when it opens. Once you've created an application, you can 

  • Create a profile and type in the following biographical information: address, education history, proposed courses of study, paid/unpaid employment experience, presentations and publications; personal interests/activities, lists of extracurricular activities, travel history, languages, and awards. You will not be able to simply upload a resume; this information should be entered in a similarly-brief (list) format, not as a narrative. This sample application is a good model for the entries. 
  • Enter your preferred application region, which may be either the region of your permanent address or that of Amherst. Choose the place that will be most convenient for you for an in-person interview, should you be selected as a finalist.
  • Enter the the names and contact information of recommenders. You will be asked if you wish to waive your right to view recommendation letters. Amherst candidates wishing to be considered for endorsement must waive their right to see the recommendations.
  • Type in your 1st & 2nd choice courses of study for 1-2 years, depending on your intended length of study. You will also need to indicate the 2025-26 international/overseas student tuition fees listed on the university website or course information webpage.
  • Upload your transcript(s). Request your official AC transcript and study abroad or transfer college transcripts early enough to get them in the portal by the internal deadline. Because electronic versions have security features that do not comply with the Marshall application, do the following: for your AC transcript, complete an “Electronic Transcript Request” and when you receive it, convert it to a security-stripped version. It may say "Copy" in red letters. That's okay. Upload both front and back as one doc. The numerical GPA you enter in the application should be the one listed on your transcript. 

    For transfer or study abroad transcripts, follow instructions at the relevant institution for requesting an electronic version and do the same as the above. 

If you have any difficulty with the online application system, please write to

Step 6: Write, draft and revise your essays

Fellowship essays often require more work than do papers for a class. Reviewers read your application materials quickly, so the prose must be crystal-clear. This takes much revision, for everyone, no matter how good a writer you are. Further, the very act of writing can help you figure out what you want to say and even what you think. Allow time for your ideas and phrasing to develop. The Marshall application has a lot of essays! You don't have to write them all at once. Create a Google folder for your essays  so you can work on drafts until you are ready to copy and paste them into the portal. As you write, share them with Christine either as Word or Google docs. She will send you written or verbal feedback. You may find inspiration through reading essays by AC Marshall Scholars and finalists

We suggest you write your essays in the order listed below:

Post Scholarship Plan (150 words): Describe your immediate plans upon completion of your Marshall Scholarship and why two years spent undertaking a degree in the UK would enhance these plans. As well as describing your plans for employment or further study, you should indicate how you would develop ongoing connections with the UK through your UK institution or some other contacts you propose to make while there. Also include a brief statement of your future (long-term) career plans.

Proposed Academic Programme (500 words): Describe your proposed academic program, giving reasons for choice of course(s) and preferred university(ies). For research degrees, give an outline proposal of the research you wish to undertake, the person with whom you would like to work, and any contacts you have made with faculty there. Also include a brief outline of why you have chosen your 2nd choice courses and institutions.  As you write this essay, keep in mind that it will factor into the reviewers' assessment of your academic merit.

Leadership essay (500 words): Describe a situation in which you were working with a group of people and recognized and responded to a need for leadership. The objective is to help the committee understand your leadership conviction and drive, style and potential; it is not meant to be a list of achievements. See the Marshall understanding of leadership potential.

Ambassadorial Potential essay (500 words): New prompt for 2024! Share how you will serve as an ambassador between your USA and UK communities․ Describe transferable skills, experiences, or extracurricular activities that will enable you to successfully engage with and contribute to your community in the UK․ Include specific reasons why the UK, under a Marshall Scholarship, matches your personal and professional interests and how the USA-UK relationship will be a part of your life post-Scholarship. See the Marshall understanding of ambassadorial potential.  

Personal Statement (750 words): Describe your intellectual development and other interests and pursuits. To generate ideas for writing this personal statement, read Reflection Questions for Personal Statements. (We suggest you write this one last because if you write it first, you may include content that belongs in the other, more targeted essays. Writing it last enables you to think about the values, motivation, and experiences that led to all the rest.

One-Year Choice Explanation (for 1-yr Marshall applicants only; 300 words): The one-year Marshall Scholarship is aimed at applicants who have strong reasons for wishing to study in the UK but are unable to commit to the two-year scholarship. Please read the objectives of the Marshall Scholarship outlined in the Rules and provide a statement that outlines why you are unable to apply for a two-year Scholarship.

Step 7: Send recommendation requests with essay drafts

In Step 3, you asked people if they would be willing to write recommendation letters for you. Now is the time to send the email solicitation for that letter from within the Marshall portal. The information Marshall sends may not include our internal deadline. Make sure your writers are not confused by this! Before you trigger the request in the portal, send an email reminding them of the Amherst internal deadline. You may wish to re-send the information at the bottom of the Marshall Overview page as a reminder. Ask them to pay attention to the formatting details as well as the content information, and remind them that the letter can be no more than 1,000 words. 

Along with your email, send drafts of the essays that pertain to what each recommender is writing about you. They will not all need to read all of the essays. Your academic recommenders should see the post-graduate plan, academic program essay, and the personal statement. The third recommender should see the post-graduate plan, the leadership and ambassadorial essays, and read the personal statement.

Step 8: Submit your application in the online portal

Wow! You made it this far. Good for you! By noon on August 28, 2024, hit submit in the Marshall online application portal. Don't worry! The application will NOT go to the foundation. It can't, in fact. The only way your application can head over the pond is if we send it there. And we can send it back to you for revision at any time before the national deadline. If you have thoroughly proofread your application (hint: enlarge the print on your computer screen and read your words aloud as you proofread) and are satisfied it is free of errors, hit submit. You do NOT need to wait for your recommenders to submit their letters. However, if you notice they have not done so, DO send them a gentle reminder of the deadline. We cannot hold up the process for late recommendations. 

Step 9: Meet the Committee for Interview

You've come so far and done so much! Congratulations on researching programs, gathering supporters, writing essays, and getting it all in. 

What is endorsement? After you've submitted your application, we'll present it to a faculty committee for their review. We will also reach out to you to set up a 20-minute campus interivew. After reading your materials and interviewing you, the committee will decide whether to endorse you. We will inform you of their decision via email shortly after the interviews are over. Marshall has a limit of 24 endorsements per institution. While that number is not a barrier to endorsement at Amherst, endorsement is not a given. The decision is based on whether or not the committee believes you have displayed in your application and interview the Marshall qualifications. As an applicant, you should prepare yourself for any outcome. 



Meeting with us to discuss other options and receive support. We can't divulge the reasons for the committee's decision, but we can help you think about how to grow from the experience. Note that if you applied as a senior, you could apply again up to two years from graduation.


Exploring Other Fellowship Opportunities


Christine will advise you as to whether any changes are recommended to your application essays or other components. If so, she will return the application to you in the portal so you can revise and resubmit by the next internal deadline of September 20th at NOON

Christine will email you with questions for you to answer that will help her write the endorsement letter. Respond as soon as possible to that email. She will write the endorsement letter and upload it to your application, then nominate and submit your application by the Marshall national deadline.

Write to your recommenders to thank them again for their support and to let them know you were endorsed. 

Step 10: Apply to yr 1 degree program & other funding

Cavendish Lab

In a change from previous years, the Marshall program expects you to apply to your first year, first choice UK graduate program as soon as possible. This is to your benefit since you may decide you want to attend this program even if you don't win the Marshall. UK admission is often rolling, and those who delay applying sometimes lose out. 

AT THIS TIME, also search for alternative funding. One source for partial funding is right here - the Amherst College Fellowships! There are funds specifically earmarked for UK study. Applications open on December 15th and are due on February 10th. The UK universities may also offer funding for international (non UK citizens) students. Search on their websites under financial aid or aid for international students. For Oxford and Cambridge, funding often comes through specific colleges. For all UK universities, the British Council website offers information on various grants for postgraduate study in the UK. If you wait until you gain acceptance to search for funding, it is usually too late. 

National selection stages



Regional Committees send emails to or call finalists inviting them to interview; they also notify those not invited via email


Finalists are interviewed in person or over Zoom (TBD) from early to late November by Marshall Regional Interview Panels


Finalists are notified via email of the Committee decision; winners complete paperwork and begin the graduate school application process if they have not already done so

Have questions? Please contact us.

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall


Physical address: 100 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002

Mailing Address: AC #2214, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002