Rhodes Scholarship*

Initial Bowdoin Deadline: August 28, 2018 (noon)
Campus Interview: August 31, 2018
Final Bowdoin Deadline: October 3, 2018 (noon)
Web site: www.rhodesscholar.org
Campus Contact: Cindy Stocks, Director of Student Fellowships and Research

*Information derived from www.rhodesscholar.org

Description. The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international educational fellowships, were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902, and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. American Rhodes Scholars are selected through a decentralized process by which regional selection committees choose 32 Scholars each year representing the fifty states. Applicants from more than 300 American colleges and universities have been selected as Rhodes Scholars.
Extraordinary intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals. Accordingly, applications are sought from talented students without restriction as to their field of academic specialization or career plans although the proposed course of study must be available at Oxford, and the applicant’s undergraduate program must provide a sufficient basis for study in the proposed field.

Benefits. All educational costs, such as matriculation, tuition, laboratory and certain other fees, are paid on the Scholar’s behalf by the Rhodes Trustees. Each Scholar receives in addition a maintenance allowance adequate to meet necessary expenses for term-time and vacations. The Rhodes Trustees cover the necessary costs of travel to and from Oxford. Election to the Scholarship is normally for two or three years, depending upon the degree program pursued by the Scholar. A Scholarship, including required University and college fees and a stipend for living expenses, may be renewed, at the complete discretion of the Rhodes Trustees, for a third year for those pursuing a doctoral degree and whose progress is deemed satisfactory. In some instances a fourth year may also be supported.


  • The candidate must be a United States citizen, aged 18 or over but not yet 24 on October 1 in the year of application.
  • Applicants must have achieved academic standing sufficiently advanced to assure completion of a bachelor’s degree before entering Oxford the following October in the event of election to a Scholarship.
  • Scholars are required to be full-time students at Oxford for the duration of their degree program.
  • Proven intellectual and academic achievement of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they will also be required to show integrity of character, interest in and respect for their fellow beings, the ability to lead, and the energy to use their talents to the fullest.
  • Applicants should be aware that the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs is involved with the campus review process.  Students with serious social or academic violations, such as those that are included as part of their permanent record at Bowdoin, are advised to consult with the Director of Student Fellowships and Research early in the process.  Students may also consult with their dean for guidance.

Bowdoin’s Internal Selection Process. Students are encouraged to read Info for British Scholarships: Applying to the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge Scholarships for tips on putting together a competitive application. By the “Initial Bowdoin Deadline” (see above), applicants must submit the materials listed below to the Office of Student Fellowships and Research.

  • Three letters of recommendation and the names of other recommenders who will write on your behalf should you receive the Committee’s endorsement. Recommenders can either email letters directly to Gina Pappas (gpappas@bowdoin.edu) or give them to the student in a sealed envelope, in which case the student is responsible for delivering the unopened letter to the office of Student Fellowships and Research by the "Initial Bowdoin Deadline".  Applicants should be aware that if they receive Bowdoin’s endorsement, they will need to submit between five and eight letters.

The items listed above can either be hand-delivered to Gina Pappas in 110 Moulton Union or e-mailed as PDFs to gpappas@bowdoin.edu.

The Committee will review these materials, and those students who are deemed competitive will be scheduled for a campus interview. Based on the submitted materials and the interview, the Committee will decide which applicant(s) will receive Bowdoin’s endorsement.

Please be reminded that Bowdoin’s Honor Code applies to the fellowship application process.

Materials for Final Application. If you receive Bowdoin’s endorsement, it is your responsibility to continue revising and collecting your material and to remind people writing your recommendations of the relevant deadlines. Although Rhodes applications may be submitted as late as the Rhodes Deadline, Bowdoin’s endorsed candidates are expected to submit the following by the “Final Bowdoin Deadline:”

Electronically submit a complete Rhodes Scholarship online application, which includes:

  • Personal Information and Registration of Referees and Institutional Endorser (pages 1 – 6). Applicants register no fewer than five and not more than eight referees, and one institutional endorsement. The registration enables referees and institutional endorsers to submit the respective documents online. At least four of these must be written by persons from whom the applicant has received undergraduate or graduate instruction. Applicants must indicate which of the referees are providing academic instruction, and which are providing a non-academic (or character) reference by using the “Type of Reference” drop-down list on the form.
  • Birth Certificate/Evidence of Age/Passport (pages 7). Documents should be uploaded.
  • Personal Statement/Essay (page 8). Applicants must provide a short personal statement (essay) describing their academic and other interests. This statement should describe the specific area of proposed study and the applicant’s reasons for wishing to study at Oxford, and it must conclude with the following signed statement: “I certify that this essay is my own work.” This personal essay must not exceed 1,000 words in length (approximately four double-spaced pages) and should be written in as simple and direct a manner as possible. It should be set in a typeface no smaller than 10 points. Selection Committees will place special emphasis on this personal essay. (For tips on writing a Rhodes personal statement, see former Rhodes Scholar Mira Dibs advice presented at the 2009 National Association of Fellowship Advisors' conference. The Office of Student Fellowships and Research can also provide you with a copy of Willy Oppenheim's (Class of 2009) successful essay.)
  • Evidence of Academic Record/Transcript (pages 9 and 10). If an applicant has attended more than one college or university, a transcript for each must be provided. Documents should be uploaded.
  • Test Results (page 11)
  • List of Principal Activities (page 12). Applicants must provide a succinct list of principal activities and honors in college (including prizes, scholarships, offices held, athletic record, extracurricular interest, and substantial activities). This list must not exceed two pages in length, and should be set in a typeface no smaller than 10 points. Document should be uploaded.
  • Photograph (page 13). Applicants must provide a digital or scanned photograph. This should be a head and shoulders photograph, color or black and white, of good quality and of sufficient resolution to be printed at passport size.
  • Other Documents (page 14)
  • Supporting Documents checklist (page 15)

Provide the Office of Student Fellowships and Research with one complete printout of your application.

Please be reminded that Bowdoin’s Honor Code applies to the fellowship application process.

Willy Oppenheim

William J. Oppenheim III '09 
A Phi Beta Kappa Scholar with a self-designed major (anthropology, religion, and education) and a teaching minor, Willy’s accomplishments are numerous. They include founding the Omprakash Foundation and Bowdoin’s Global Citizen Grant program and receiving two Bowdoin fellowships, the Dunlap Prize, the President’s Award, and two national poetry prizes. Since graduating from Bowdoin, Willy has dedicated himself to building the Omprakash network and serving as a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. He will further pursue his interest in global education as a Rhodes Scholar by earning a master of science in comparative and international education at the University of Oxford. (Read more)

For a comprehensive list of Bowdoin fellowship winners, click here.