How to Complete a Rhodes Scholarship Application

Before you begin working on your Rhodes Scholarship application, carefully read all of the information in our Rhodes Overview page. The steps below outline the process for applying when you are coming from the U.S. or Canada (countries requiring endorsement with deadlines in the fall). Those applying through other countries will have to prepare the same essays and meet the same selection criteria, but other requirements will differ.

Follow the steps below and you'll be sure to produce an application that represents you authentically and favorably. Start in the spring semester and work on these steps throughout the summer. Be ready to submit by the internal deadline of September 1, 2023 at NOON. 

Step 1: Explore graduate study at Oxford

When you apply for a Rhodes Scholarship, you are applying for support to pursue 2-3 years of study at Oxford. Your graduate study plan may take the form of two 1-yr master’s degrees, a 2-yr master’s, a doctorate, or a second B.A. So you have some research to do and choices to make. Don't make the mistake of choosing a "course" (degree program) that is not covered by this scholarship! 

There are "taught" courses and "research" courses offered at different graduate levels (master's or doctoral). Take these measures to explore program options:

1. Read Oxford's Introducing our Courses, clicking on the tabs at the top to learn what distinguishes a taught MPhil from an MSt, for instance.

2. Read Rhodes' Conditions of Tenure document to find out what is and isn't supported by the scholarship.

3. Explore the A-Z of courses database to see what Oxford has to offer in your field. You might find this Choice of Oxford Course video helpful. 

4. Consult the REF 2021 UK Universities Ranked by Subject to see if other universities have better programs for your purposes. It may suprise you to learn that, while Oxford is one of the most renowned univerisities in the world, it is not necessarily tops in every field. Even if you still choose Oxford, knowing what else is out there will help you explain why you've chosen Oxford anyway.  

5. Consult with faculty in your major and the field you hope to study in graduate school. Faculty are the best advisors on what course of study you are well-prepared for and what would be the best place for you to do it. If you start this exploration in the spring, you'll have the best chance of talking with faculty.

Once you've explored Oxford and ensured that graduate study there is a good choice for you, you're ready for Step 2!

Step 2: Meet with us to discuss your candidacy

Reflect and consider your candidacy with us! Now that you've made sure that Oxford is a good fit, you need to know whether Rhodes is, too. We hope you've already read the basic eligibility requirements on our Rhodes Overview page and that you meet them. You should also read (even thought it's very long and detailed!) the Rhodes Information for Candidates. You probably need help determining if you meet the "squishier" criteria - leadership and character. Request an appointment here to have a conversation with Christine Overstreet about it. We'll discuss your sense of personal mission (how you intend to "stand up for the world,"), activities you've been involved in and ways you have demonstrated leadership, and who your supporters (recommenders) might be. 
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

Solicit recommendation letters from 5-8 supporters. For U.S. applicants, Rhodes requires a minimum of 5 letters and allows a maximum of 8. (Most applicants have 8.) At least four of your referees must be academics who can comment on your scholarly achievements and on how they think you would fare at Oxford. All academic references should be from professors from whom you have received undergraduate or graduate instruction. The fifth may be an additional academic reference or be a character/leadership reference like the remaining three referees. These writers should be able to attest to your personal character and may be work supervisors, college staff, members coaches, community leaders, or former teachers if the leadership they witnessed is ongoing. A good referee is one who knows you well, rather than a well-known person who only knows you superficially. Do not ask relatives, close contemporaries or personal friends to be referees. Ask your recommenders to read our Rhodes Overview, which contains information for recommenders at the bottom. (Note that non-US Rhodes applications may require fewer recommendation letters.)

When should you do the asking? Ask the writers early in the summer, alerting them that the deadline is in late August. This will ensure that if they will be on vacation at that time, they can plan ahead to submit the letter early. Assure them that, while you are asking them now, you'll send them materials, such as your essays and resume, about 3-4 weeks before their letter is due. Alert them that they should send their letters in pdf form, via email, to Christine Overstreet, at Got your recommenders all set? On to step 4!

Step 4: Polish and flesh out your résumé

Your Rhodes résumé/CV may be up to two pages long (no smaller than 10 pt). Unlike a résumé for a job which, as the Loeb Center will tell you, should typically be only one page, this resume should list pretty much everything you do. It should include academic qualifications (your major(s), thesis topic (if applicable), academic prizes or scholarships from college (not high school); positions of leadership; employment; involvement in student, voluntary, community or political activities; and any cultural, musical, or sporting accomplishments. Do not include a photo. Applicants should seek advice from the director of dellowships on the contents but take advantage of the Loeb Center's excellent guidance including tips on wording and format. Your CV should be wholly accurate and a fair representation of your achievements. You should anticipate that details will be checked for embellishments and inaccuracies. Material misrepresentation will result in disqualification of an application or, where appropriate, the rescinding of a scholarship. Examples of misrepresentation include exaggeration of roles/accomplishments/ participation/biography; embellished publication lists; inflation of GPA/grades. You should now be able to find your numeric GPA in Workday. 
You may be still working on the résumé as you move along to Step 5.

Step 5: Draft your Academic Statement of Study

Draft your Academic Statement of Study and send it to Christine for review. (350 words, Times New Roman, no smaller than 10pt): When you apply to the Rhodes, you do not have to apply concurrently to the program at Oxford. However, if you are selected as a Rhodes Scholar, you will need to submit an Oxford application very quickly. Researching and writing this statement will help you prepare for that and will show the Rhodes reviewers that you are ready to thrive academically in one of the most competitive graduate environments in the world. If you are listing two 1-yr courses in your essay, focus on the first but indicate your intentions for the second year. Carefully read the Oxford graduate admissions pages. Once you have drafted this short essay, send it as a Word doc to Christine for review (permitted under Rhodes' rules). 

The academic statement of study should, in a factual and concise manner:

  1. Explain your reasons for wishing to study at the University of Oxford, what your chosen course(s) of study is (are), and how this fits in your academic trajectory. Further, you may wish to explain how you hope to be stretched academically at the University of Oxford, or any academic support you imagine might be helpful.
  2. Demonstrate that you are able to at a minimum to meet or exceed the specific entry and other academic requirements of the course(s) you have. Tell us how you are prepared for the course(s) academically and otherwise.
  • If you wish to undertake a DPhil, provide a brief outline of your proposed research area, how it contributes to your future career plans, and list both the department in which you propose to undertake your research and one or more researchers with whom you would like to work in Oxford.

DPhil candidates

 A number of Oxford departments recommend that applicants make contact with potential research supervisor(s) before submitting an application to Oxford. Advice on contacting potential supervisors in advance of your application is course-specific and you should follow the guidance found on the individual prospectus pages, most often on the How to Apply tab.

Master’s candidates: Oxford faculty members are typically not able to correspond with applicants but you can try.

Note: It is a requirement of admission to all post-graduate, and some other courses, to submit samples of written work to the University of Oxford. The regulations concerning this can be found Oxford graduate admission pages. Some courses also require successful completion of the GRE. These materials will only be required of you if you are selected as a Rhodes Scholar and the Trust is presenting your application to Oxford. However, you should prepare all of these materials ahead of time so that you can swiftly submit them if needed. 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.


Step 6: Discuss and write your personal statement

Discuss and write your Personal Statement
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: The Rhodes Trust has important guidelines for you regarding feedback and sources for your personal statement, including everything from advice from your fellowships advisor, professors, family, and friends to the use of AI. Read it here before you begin!

Prompt and format guidelines: (1,000 words, Times New Roman, no small than 10pt):
Your academic transcript and academic statement of study, your curriculum vitae, and your reference letters will provide the substantive detail of your commitments and accomplishments, whereas the personal statement gives you the opportunity to cast an overarching narrative for the selection committee. The personal statement is your chance to tell your story in your own voice: Who are you?

In your personal statement of up to 1000 words, you are asked to address each of the following prompts by weaving them into the narrative of your statement (the word allocation across the three is up to you):
1. Tell us how you overcame a challenge in your life. Which Rhodes Scholar character qualities did you draw from? What did you learn from the experience?
2. What would you like to learn from and contribute to the Rhodes community in Oxford?
3. From your place in the world, how will you use your energy and talents to address humanity’s pressing challenges? 
Every statement is individual; there is no single, “right” model. Selectors are looking for an original portrait of you as a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship.  
See further (really helpful!) guidance on answering these questions in section 5.h. on Information for Candidates.

Step 7: Gather supporting documents

Gather your transcript(s), photo, and proof of citizenship documents for upload to the application portal(s). (Only the transcripts will be uploaded to the AC Submittable portal.)

  • Request your official AC transcript and study abroad or transfer college transcripts early enough to get them in the online application portal by the internal deadline. Do not use password-protected versions. The numerical GPA you enter in the application should be calculated with your AC grades only.
  • Locate your birth certificate or passport in anticipation of uploading to the Rhodes application portal. 
  • Procure a head and shoulders photograph in jpg format - a clear, high resolution photo no larger than 2.5 megabytes (may require resizing). Your photo will not be available to reviewers until after candidates have been shortlisted for interview and so will not appear in the PDF summary of your completed application. If you are selected for the scholarship, your uploaded photograph will be used on the Rhodes Trust Scholar biographies webpage and may also be used for press release purposes unless or until you provide an alternative photograph.

    Got these docs ready for upload? On to Step 8!

Step 8: Submit the internal Google form application

Complete the Rhodes Internal Application Google Form. This form will allow you to submit most of your Rhodes Application materials (we won't need the passport photo or citizenship documents) in anticipation of our internal review, known as the endorsement process. There will be questions to answer, places to upload materials, and instructions for entering the names and contact information of your recommenders. 

  • Answer any questions you find in the portal.
  • Enter recommender information and write to them separately to ask them to send their letters to Christine via email by September 1st at noon. 
  • Enter your essays and upload any non-AC transcripts.
  • Proofread everything you've written for the application - essays, short answers, etc.
  • Monitor your recommendations and as we get close to the deadline, send gentle reminders.

Submit your internal application no later than September 1, 2023 at NOON. (Rec letters have a separate mechanism. Do not wait for recommenders to upload their letters.)

Done that? On to Step 9!

Step 9: Join us for an interview - the endorsement process

You've come so far and done so much! Congratulations on researching programs, gathering supporters, writing essays, and getting it all in. After you've submitted your application, we'll present it to the Faculty Committee on Student Fellowships to review. They will read your application carefully, but they also want to meet you! We will invite you to a 20-minute interview, either in person or over Zoom, with at least three members of this committee plus the fellowships office staff.

What is the interview like and what is its purpose?  The interview is friendly. The faculty want to learn more about you. They will likely ask for more detail about your academic interests and professional goals, as well as about some of your leadership activities. They may ask questions about what you hope to change in the world based on what they know about the issues involved. We'll send you more info about this before the interview.

The purpose of the interview is to add to what they've already learned about you from the written application. They want to get a sense of you as a person, assess your ability to articulate your goals and intentions, and see how you interact with others. These observations along with your written materials, academic record, and recommendation letters, will all factor into the endorsement decision. 

What is endorsement? After your interview, the faculty will discuss whether or not to endorse you as an AC applicant for the Rhodes. The decision is made based on how you measure up, in their view, to the Rhodes criteria, both academically and personally. There is no limit on the number of applicants that the college may endorse. However, endorsement is not guaranteed. As an applicant, you should prepare yourself for any outcome. Shortly after the interview, you will receive an email from Christine letting you know about the decision.


We get it. Not being endorsed is disappointing. But it is not a marker of your overall worth or even your potential for winning another kind of award! Sometimes students apply for several fellowships before winning one. Almost all applicants say that the application process made them understand themselves and their goals better, and that's a win! This isn't the end of your journey with fellowships (unless you want it to be). Consider:

Exploring Other Fellowship Opportunities

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. 


If you have not already done so, quickly register for a Rhodes Embark online application so you can upload your  materials and enter the names of your recommenders, including the name of the endorser: Amherst College President Michael A. Elliott, but use the email address: Choose "Endorsement" as the referee type. Trigger the email to be sent immediately. The director of fellowships will upload the endorsement letter in time.

In the same portal, enter your recommenders' names and contact information and trigger those requests. (Write to them separately beforehand to tell them the good news about your endorsement, thank them, and remind them that the letters need to be on institutional letterhead and signed. You can copy and paste the instructions from the bottom of our Rhodes Overview page for details on the letter format and questions they will be asked in the Rhodes portal.)

Make any revisions you see fit to make to your personal statement (we will not send you feedback on that), the academic essay (we will send feedback on that), and your resume/CV, and upload them along with the other materials you have prepared. 

Submit your application by September 27th, 2023.

What happens next? National Selection Stages

The Rhodes selection process moves rather quickly! You'll know before the Thanksgiving break whether or not you have won the fellowship.



National Deadline (11:59 PM ET; you snooze, you lose)


Applications are reviewed by selection committees within each district (found on page 9 of the Information for Candidates) and applicants are invited via email to interview; if you are invited to interview, we conduct practice interviews with you

11 & 12

District receptions and interviews will be conducted over Zoom for the 2023 competition; typically held in person in the district to which you applied; Notification announced to all present immediately following the interviews

by NOV 15

Notify all of your supporters of the outcome and thank them for their support!

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