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.
- 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.
Specific eligibility requirements differ by country:
- US citizens, see the "Information for candidates" link on the Rhodes Trust - Office of the American Secretary website for complete details.
- Citizens of other countries, see the specifics for your country by going to the Rhodes Trust website and clicking on the "Check your Eligibility and Apply" link under the "Scholarship" tab.
Interested students are required to complete an intent to submit application in the spring preceding the fall in which they hope to apply. Members of the Student Fellowships Committee will review the applications and briefly interview each candidate. Based on each candidate’s preliminary application and interview, the Student Fellowships Committee will either endorse, conditionally endorse, or not endorse each applicant.
Endorsed: The candidate has received the College’s endorsement and does not need to be interviewed by the Student Fellowships Committee again.
Conditionally Endorsed: The Student Fellowships Committee invites the candidate to continue to work on their application over the summer and be re-interviewed by the Committee at the end of August or early September, at which point the Committee will make a final decision about endorsing the candidate.
Not Endorsed: The Student Fellowships Committee determines that the candidate is not yet ready to apply.
Students will be required to provide information about themselves (e.g., class year, citizenship, etc.) and whether they have any Honor Code violations. Applicants will also be required to indicate which fellowship(s) they are interested in applying to and upload the following three documents:
- Unofficial Academic History from Polaris
- Resume (PDF format)
- Personal essays, which should be submitted as a single PDF addressing the following five prompts. Please label each prompt and put your name in the header.
- Please describe why you are interested in applying for this particular fellowship(s) (500 words). The primary purpose of these fellowships is not to offer financial aid to students in need but rather to create a community of scholars who will fulfill and carry out a mission particular to each national fellowship. But another way, each fellowship is looking for students who possess intellectual merit, a history of exercising leadership, and a "something else" that is particular to the mission of that fellowship (e.g., Marshall's "something else" is ambassadorial qualities and Schwarzman's "something else" is a reason for wanting to better understand China). Briefly explain why you believe you possess the "something else" that is particular to the fellowship(s) to which you intend to apply and how your affiliation with the particular fellowship(s) will enable you to better achieve your aspirations.
- Proposed Academic Program (600 words). Describe the graduate degree you propose to undertake during your fellowship(s) and at what institution(s). Please follow the guidelines provided by the fellowship(s) to which you intend to apply. For example, if applying to Marshall, please provide two, two-year plans. Describe why this is the appropriate course of study for you (e.g., are there particular faculty you want to work with, are there particular research centers at this institution that you would like to engage with, etc.). If your proposed academic program requires a thesis, outline what you might focus on. Have you been in touch with anyone at these universities?
- Connection to Your Future (300 words). How will the graduate degree(s) you have identified build on what you have done to date and prepare you for your future professional goals?
- Leadership (500 words). All the national fellowships that support graduate study value leadership. Please describe a time when you exercised leadership, regardless of whether you were in a position of authority. What changed because of your actions? What impact did your efforts have on others? Please be as specific as possible.
- Engagement (300 words). If you are awarded a fellowship, in what ways will you engage with your local community and/or new institution(s)?
- Recommendations. Who would you ask for letters of recommendation? If you are applying for the Rhodes, please list eight names, including titles and brief descriptions of how you know each individual. If you are applying for any of the other fellowship(s) please list four recommenders, including at least one that could speak to your leadership qualities.
In the intent to submit application, you will also be asked to identify one Bowdoin faculty mentor. The application will automatically generate an email to that individual, asking them to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf. Please make sure you have already discussed this recommendation with your mentor before you complete your intent to submit application.
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. US citizens see the "Information for candidates" link on the Rhodes Trust - Office of the American Secretary website for complete details. Citizens of other countries, see the specifics for your country by going to the Rhodes Trust website and clicking on the "Check your Eligibility and Apply" link under the "Scholarship" tab.
- Personal Statement of no more than 750 words
- Academic Statment of Study of no more than 350 words
- List of Principal Activities
- Unofficial academic history from Polaris
- Signed and witnessed "Permission Form and Waiver"
- Three letters of recommendation and the names of other recommenders who will write on your behalf should you receive the Committee’s endorsement. Recommenders should email letters directly to Gina Pappas (email@example.com) 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 about should be saved as PDFs and submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.)
- 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)
An electronic copy of your completed application should be e-mailed to Gina Pappas (email@example.com).
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.