How to Complete a Marshall Scholarship Application

Before you begin working on your Marshall Scholarship application, carefully read this Marshall Overview page (click on all the links and tabs!) to determine your eligibility and learn whether this award will further your educational and personal goals. Follow the steps below for applying and seeking the endorsement of Amherst College. By carefully attending to these instructions, 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 throughout the summer. Be ready to submit it by internal deadline of September 1, 2023, at NOON. Cole Graber-Mitchell '22, Marshall Scholar

What to do and when to do it

Step 1: 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, including in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Your first step is to figure out what kind of graduate study would advance your goals, and where best to do it. If you're like most college students, you come to this not knowing much about graduate school, never mind graduate school in the UK. You will need to gather this knowledge by reading websites, talking to faculty and staff advisors, and thinking hard about all of it! Here are some things you can do to get to know the landscape:

  • Delve into the UK's Research Excellence Framework to discover which universities are ranked most highly in your field of study, generally. Jot down the top five. 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. Marshall offers a list of British universities here and a database to "Find a Course in the UK" ("course" = degree program).  You might also consult the Russell Group website. The Marshall program also offers these recorded webinars hosted by several prominent UK universities
  • Ask 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! 
  • Check to make sure your choices follow the rules. When you apply for a Marshall, you have to make two choices for each year of study - a 1st and 2nd choice for each year of study. What you choose for year 2 is limited by what you've chosen for year 1. 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. Marshall also has a tuition fee cap of £40,000 for courses. Make sure your course (degree program) does not exceed this amount. 
    Carefully read Marshall's Rules for One-Year Candidates and Rules for Two-Year Candidates
  • If your desired program involves research (a PhD definitely will!), reach out to faculty at the university/ies you've chosen to have a conversation with a potential supervisor. You can use this template for your initial email.

    If you have begun exploring graduate study and UK programs, you're ready for Step 2!

Step 2: Meet with us to discuss your candidacy

Talk with us about your candidacy!

 Since you've read the Marshall Overview page already (you have, right?), you've made sure you meet the basic eligibility requirements. If you've begun Step 1, you believe that graduate study in the UK is aligned with your academic goals. Now you need to figure out whether you meet the Marshall criteria -- Leadership and Ambassadorial Potential, and Academic Excellence. We can help! 
Request an appointment here so we can discuss your candidacy, potential recommenders, and how we work together on your essays.

Once you've had this conversation and have been approved to apply, you can move to Step 3!

Step 3: 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 faculty in the U.S. Make sure all are prepared to write a thorough and detailed letter (up to 1,000 words). 

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.) 

Got your recommenders all set? On to step 4!

Step 4: Open an application in the Marshall online portal

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 2024-25 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 enter Christine ( as the recipient. Christine will convert the file to a workable format and send it to you to upload to your application. 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 have it sent to Christine as above. She will then send it to you for upload.

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

    While you are drafting and saving your work in the online application, move on to the next steps!

    Step 5: 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 it snot meant to be a list of achievements. See the Marshall understanding of leadership potential.

    Ambassadorial Potential essay (500 words): Explain why you want to undertake your studies in the UK, and in what particular ways you think that you will benefit personally and professionally from the experience. Discuss how work in your field of study (including your own research) can enhance the USA-UK relationship. Further, explain what you might do to contribute to improved relations in this area now and following the 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.

    Once the content of your essays is pretty firm, you can move on to the next step!

    Step 6: 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 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.

    On to Step 7!

    Step 7: Submit your application in the online portal

    Wow! You made it this far. Good for you! By noon on September 1, 2023, 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 8: Apply to your yr 1 degree program & for other funding

    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. You should, 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.

    On to Step 9!

    Step 9: Await the Endorsement Decision

    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 Christine to discuss other options and receive support (we care about you!). 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 in the year following 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 August XXX 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. 

    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

    Eric Myers, Associate Director of Fellowships
    213 Converse Hall

    Physical address: 100 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002

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