Rhodes Scholar Requirements

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Rhodes Scholar Requirements

When Cecil Rhodes, a British statesman, died in 1902, he left a will that instituted the Rhodes Scholarship to his Alma Mater, the University of Oxford. There are 80 Rhodes Scholarships available each year and these are open to students from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe for post graduate study at the University of Oxford. Of the 80, students from the United States account for 30 seats offered.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest extant sources of financial aid and include all educational fees and costs required at Oxford as well as a maintenance allowance for term-time, living-expenses during vacations and costs of travel to and from Oxford.

In the US, decentralized Regional Selection Committees are set up and they choose 32 scholars each year from all 50 states. The Committees award scholarships to those students who will complete their undergraduate studies by their Rhodes studies are to begin in the October of the following year. All subjects and streams are accepted.

Basically, the four Rhodes Scholar requirements are:

  1. brilliance in academics
  2. a liking for sports and some amount of success in playing a sport (this shows the applicant will have enough energy to fulfill his or her potential)
  3. the qualities of courage, truth, unselfishness, kindness and responsibility and a keen interest in protecting and helping the weak and underprivileged
  4. a strong sense of right and wrong in conjunction with the ability and desire to take a leadership role in public duties

In other words, a Rhodes Scholarship is given to a person rather than a proposed course of study. The official brochure says that the Rhodes Scholar should show “the qualities of mind and qualities of person which in combination offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades to come” and adds that the scholarship is an “investment in individuals rather than a project proposal.”

In order to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship you must:

  • be between 18 and 24
  • be a citizen of the countries mentioned above
  • show proof or convince your Regional Selection Committee that you meet the standards mentioned above
  • send your academic transcripts
  • write a brief personal statement
  • suggest names and contact details of people who would write letters of recommendation for you
  • appear for a personal interview at your own cost

One Final Note:

Being offered a Rhodes Scholarship does not automatically make you an Oxford student. Colleges affiliated to the University of Oxford have complete freedom to make their own decisions with regard to admissions. Your scholarship is formally confirmed only after you have been accepted into a college or department at the University. Most times, you must send in two samples of your recent written work of about 2000 words each if you want to study for a graduate degree in departments other than mathematics and the sciences.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of the eligibility requirements, I wish you luck in your quest to become a Rhodes Scholar!


  1. The official brochure of the Rhodes Scholarship can be found at: https://www.rhodesscholar.org/get/11/2010_final_brochure_7_6_10.pdf
  2. The official website of the Rhodes Scholarship in the US is https://www.rhodesscholar.org/