Rhodes Scholarship Overview


Jeremy Thomas 21 History and Purpose: The Rhodes Trust was established in 1903 to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes, an English-born South African businessman, mining magnate, and politician (1853-1902). The Trust provides scholarships in partnership with 2nd c. founder John McCall MacBain and other benefactors. Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for potential for leadership in their chosen fields. The Rhodes aims to gather and develop exceptional people from all over the world to study and commune at Oxford. It seeks those who are impatient with the way things are, have the courage to act, and are ready to "stand up for the world."

Award description: The U.S. Rhodes Scholarship fully funds (fees, stipend, and travel) 2-3 years of graduate study in any field at the University of Oxford in the UK. You may pursue two 1-yr master’s degrees, a 2-yr master’s, a doctorate, or a second B.A. At least two years of study and residence at Oxford are required as programming such as the character, service & leadership retreats, speaker events, internships, skills workshops, and many scholar voluntary associations assume a 2-yr tenure. (You will see in the profiles of Rhodes winners that one year degrees are listed because the second year of study is not shown.) Videos about choosing a course of study at Oxford, the application, and the finalist interview are on the Rhodes Trust's Application Overview page. Details about the U.S. Rhodes are available on the (separate) Office of the American Secretary Rhodes website. If you hope to attend Oxford whether or not you win the Rhodes, you must apply separately to Oxford. If you plan to attend only if you win the Rhodes, you will proceed with the Oxford application immediately after notification. Rhodes awards 32 American scholarships per year; award numbers vary for other countries.

What is it like to be a Rhodes Scholar? Watch this video of a conversation with Rhodes Scholars (including AC's Jeremy Thomas '21, pictured above) and US Rhodes Assistant Secretaries. 

Funding details: Tuition, fees, living allowance, and travel expenses to and from Oxford are made in direct payment to the college at Oxford and to the scholar.

For the U.S. competition and for Canada, you must at the time of application submission have/be at least 18 but not yet 24 (older undergraduates who are obtaining their first B.A. must not have reached their age 27 and must have finished college on or after Oct 1st of the prior calendar year); a U.S. citizen, permanent resident (as long as you maintain and expect to maintain legal status as a lawful permanent resident), or DACA status (with confirmation documents); high academic achievement (GPA of 3.7 is required; 3.8 or above is common) with rigorous course selection and recognition in the major. Reapplication: if unsuccessful in your first application, you may apply only once more within the U.S., though (if eligible) the application may be in a different U.S. state.
For competitions in other countries, the age requirements and deadlines vary, but other qualifications are the same. To find the rules for your country, select your country or region on this page, and find the Information for Candidates pdf.

Criteria for selection: Scholars will possess literary and scholastic attainments; have energy to use their talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for/success in sports or service involvement; demonstrate truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, and unselfishness; show moral force of character with instincts to lead and to take an interest in their fellow beings.

Endorsement Rules

  • US: 32 young Americans are selected as Rhodes Scholars through a decentralized process representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These candidates must be endorsed by their undergraduate institutions. The Rhodes US deadline is Oct. 6, 2021 11:59pm ET: the internal AC deadline is August 27, 2021, 12 noon ET.
  • Global: 2 scholars are selected from countries throughout the world that do not have a designated Rhodes Scholarship (see the full list here of countries that do have a designated Rhodes). These candidates must be endorsed by their undergraduate institutions. The Rhodes Global deadline is Aug. 2, 2021; the internal AC deadline is July 12, 2021. Amherst may endorse up to three candidates. Interested candidates should contact the director of fellowships at least a month before the internal deadline. 
  • International: Scholarships are available to applicants from the countries listed here.  If from one of these countries, you apply to the Rhodes Trust following the guidelines of your country and are interviewed in your country. Age restrictions and deadlines vary for these countries. Generally, no endorsement from your college is required, but for Canada, you will need a letter of endorsement. Regardless of endorsement needs, we invite you seek support and guidance from the Office of Fellowships. 

Visit the Rhodes website for more information on which scholarship is appropriate for you.

How to apply

US Rhodes: Whether applying as a senior or alum, you must meet with the director of fellowships at least a month before the internal deadline to discuss your candidacy and receive application guidance; submit all materials and request that recommendations be submitted by the internal deadline (above). At this stage, you will submit your materials through the AC Student and Postgraduate Application portal. You will then be interviewed by the faculty Committee on Student Fellowships, who will decide whether to endorse you as a Rhodes nominee. Endorsed candidates will complete an Embark online application through the Rhodes Trust website, and recommenders must submit their letters there by the Rhodes deadline. (You may simultaneously begin Rhodes portal application before the endorsement decision, but will only be able to submit it if you are endorsed.) See Application Timelines. Endorsement: There is no limit on endorsements to the U.S. Rhodes; limit of three to the Global Rhodes.

Global Rhodes: Please upload your application materials to the Student and Postgraduate Application portal as above for US Rhodes, and enter your recommenders' names there by July 12, 2021. There will be no interview with the Committee, howevery our materials will be reviewed by committee members for the endorsement decision.

Application components: The Rhodes US application includes a personal statement, resume, identification materials, some biographical questions, and 5-8 recommendation letters. All components are described in detail on the Rhodes Application page.

For Recommenders

Content: Please read the description in  Rhodes' Guide for U.S. Referees but note internal AC deadline below. Recommenders for the Global or Rhodes from other countries should read the referee guide for that country/region. (On this page, select the country, then scroll down to the pdf titled Information for Referees.) Also, please see these Suggestions for Writing Recommendations for National Fellowships

Format and submission:
 Rhodes letters should be no more than 2 single-spaced pages, minimum 10 pt type, on letterhead, signed, addressed to the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, and uploaded as pdfs. For the initial campus deadline (for U.S. Rhodes) of August 27, 2021, please upload your letters to the AC Student and Postgraduate Application Portal so that the campus Committee on Student Fellowships may review it along with the applicant's materials before their interview. Your letter is critical to the endorsement decision. You will receive an emailed request from the portal in early August (for US or Canada Rhodes) or early July (for Global Rhodes) with a link and upload instructions. Please do not upload locked/secured letters. They make the entire application inaccessible to reviewers. If the applicant is nominated by the college, you will also receive an email from the Rhodes Embark Online Application asking you to upload your letter to that portal by the national deadline. Before you upload your letter, Rhodes will ask you to:
- indicate the applicant’s relative academic standing in comparison with other students on the same course (major) at the same institution (answer choices, Top 1%, Top 3%, etc.)
- specify the basis for the above ranking, and
- say how many students in total are in the applicant’s year group on their programme of study, i.e. how many students is the candidate being compared with?
These questions are based on the continued effort to globalize the Rhodes application process and promote consistency between constituencies. The answers may also provide additional guidance during the Oxford application process, should the applicant go on to win the scholarship. Rhodes advises academic letter writers to answer the questions to the best of their knowledge. If the answers are difficult to ascertain, they recommend choosing the “Not Applicable” option that is presented, or writing it in the space provided. Either way, the district committees will fully review each letter of recommendation for every eligible applicant.

U.S. Rhodes website: http://www.rhodesscholar.org/
Rhodes Trust website (with info about other countries): http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/about/rhodes-countries

Amherst College Rhodes Winners

Amherst has had 21 US Rhodes Scholars and three Rhodes from other countries. Our recent winners include Jeremy Thomas '21 (U.S.); Daniel Altschuler '04 (U.S. in 2006); Itai Muzhingi '18 (Zimbabwe in 2019); and Sebabatso Manoeli ’11 (South Africa in 2012). Recent finalists include Harith Khawaja '19, Dakota Foster '18, Olivia Truax ’16, Donna Leet ’15, Lilia Kilburn ’12, Sarah Schear ’12, and Samia Hesni ’11.

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall, 413-542-2536, coverstreet@amherst.edu 
Eric Myers, Associate Director, Fellowships
Mail: Office of Fellowships, Amherst College, 212/213 Converse Hall, Amherst, MA 01002