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Cornell University

Rhodes Scholarship

Cornell endorsement is required.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. Each year 32 young students from the U.S. are selected as Rhodes Scholars. The Rhodes Scholarship funds two years of graduate study at Oxford University in most fields (excluding professional degree programs such as law and medicine).

Read carefully the Rhodes website for further information.

Important Dates

August 13Deadline: Application due to the Fellowship Coordinator. See Application Process.
September 5-13Endorsement committee interviews
September 28Deadline: FINAL SUBMISSION of applications for approval to Fellowship Coordinator.
TBA late SeptemberFoundation deadline for receipt of application material.
NovemberPractice interviews for applicants invited to Rhodes district committee interview.


Upon entry to Oxford the candidate must either be under 25 years of age, or up to a maximum age of 28 if they have completed their first undergraduate degree within the last two years.  The Rhodes Trust also offers scholarships to citizens of over 22 designated Rhodes constituencies (countries), as well as the Global Rhodes Scholarship. Age limits vary, depending on the constituency, from 18 to 24.  Applicants must have earned a Bachelor's degree before embarking on the Scholarship. Citizens of eligible countries apply through their own countries or, in some cases, through the U.S. competition if they study in the U.S.

Selection Criteria

Students interested in applying for the Rhodes must speak with the Fellowship Coordinator in 103 Barnes, preferably several months before the campus deadline in August.

Applicants first submit their materials to a campus committee for review in August. The Cornell Endorsement Committee interviews all applicants and chooses nominees to the national competition, which is conducted in 16 regions. Applications must be processed and endorsed through the CCS fellowships office to be eligible. Endorsement decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

Selection decisions on campus and in the Rhodes districts are based on the criteria below.

  • Academic record. While the Rhodes Trust does not require a minimum GPA, an extremely strong academic record is required. The average GPA of Rhodes Scholars is about 3.9. Students should excel in their chosen field, be widely read, and demonstrate intellectual flexibility. 
  • List of Activities and Honors. This list should show sustained commitment to serving others, leadership and initiative, and extracurricular interests. Athletic activity is not required but is considered an asset in the competition. 
  • Personal Statement. Three new prompts for the statement, whist allowing candidates a free-text box of  750 words. The prompts aim to rebalance away from a singular focus on the "heroic self" by asking applicants to speak in the three voices of "self/others/world".  This is intentionally in sync with the leadership development framework that informs the Character, Service, and Leadership program for Rhodes Scholars-in-residence, which asks scholars to reflect and engage across three interrelated spheres of "self, others, and world". Both you and the Fellowship Coordinator will be asked to attest that you have received no assistance in writing the statement. 
  • Five letters of recommendation are requested; up to eight are permitted. It is advised that you seek seven or eight letters if possible. Four must be from professors who have taught you at the undergraduate level. Choose your recommenders carefully and in consultation with the Fellowship Coordinator. Each letter should offer a piece of information about your candidacy, which is unavailable from other recommenders. Do not choose someone who does not know you well but has a "big name." 
  • Students face a panel of experts from a variety of fields. Interviewers may ask questions related to the student's field, pose philosophical dilemmas, ask questions related to current events, etc. Students should be prepared for a broad-ranging interview, and should fully expect to be asked questions to which they do not know the answers. Information on the interview process is available from the Fellowship Coordinator.

Application Process


Applications from students and alumni must be processed and endorsed through the CCS fellowships office to be eligible for the competition at the regional and/or national level. Endorsement decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

You must contact the Fellowship Coordinator, to begin the application process. You will submit the materials below electronically to the Fellowship Coordinator by the August deadline. The Fellowship Coordinator will forward your application materials to the Cornell Endorsement Committee.

  • Application form.
  • List of principal activities and honors as described on the Rhodes Scholarship website.
  • Personal statement as described on the Rhodes Scholarship website.*
  • Original, official transcript(s) of all college work.
  • Institutional endorsement form. Fill out the shaded box with the requested information. This form must be typed.
  • At least five, no more than eight letters of recommendation. All letters are due to the Fellowship Coordinator by the August deadline. You should ask for recommendations at least four weeks before the due date. Have a conversation with your potential recommenders so they understand the scholarship's selection criteria and have enough information about your candidacy to write a detailed, evaluative letter. Recommenders should NOT submit their letters on line to the district committee until after the Cornell endorsement committee's decisions are made in September. It is your responsibility to inform your recommenders of the Cornell endorsement committee's decision (Note: This is different from the Marshall letter submission process).

*Applicants are not permitted to receive any feedback on the personal statement from any source. See the Rhodes Website for details and talk with the Fellowship Coordinator if you have questions or concerns.

Fellowship Coordinator
103 Barnes Hall