Rhodes Scholarship

About the Program

The Rhodes Scholarships owe their origin to the remarkable vision expressed in the Will of Cecil J. Rhodes, British colonial pioneer and statesman who died on March 26, 1902. He dreamed of improving the world through the diffusion of leaders motivated to serve their contemporaries, trained in the contemplative life of the mind, and broadened by their acquaintance with one another and by their exposure to cultures different from their own.

Mr. Rhodes hoped that his plan of bringing able students from throughout the English-speaking world to study at the university where he took his degree in 1881 would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace.

Dedicated alumnus though he was, he was not moved merely by sentimental loyalty to establish the Scholarships at Oxford. Mr. Rhodes believed that, in addition to its eminence in the world of learning, Oxford University-with its emphasis on individualized instruction and on the community life provided by residential colleges-offered an environment highly congenial to personal and intellectual development.

Cecil J. Rhodes envisioned Rhodes Scholars as leaders, motivated to serve their contemporaries, trained in the contemplative life of the mind, broadened by their acquaintance with one another and by their exposure to cultures different from their own.

His will contains four standards by which prospective Rhodes scholars should be judged:

  1. literary and scholastic attainments;
  2. fondness for and success in sports;
  3. truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindness, unselfishness and fellowship;
  4. moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.

Intellectual excellence is obviously required, but not in isolation from other qualities. Rhodes sought Scholars who were more than mere bookworms; he wanted their intellectual talents to be combined with concern for others. Thus the Selection Committee assigns the highest importance to this blend of character with intellect.

A good Rhodes candidate is truly exceptional in one or more dimensions, has a relatively broad range of knowledge, outgoing presence, the ability to interview well, ambition for public service, and a good understanding of the complexities and ambiguities of issues confronting society. Athletic prowess is no longer a criterion, but good health is.

Rhodes scholarships are investments in people. Applications are sought from talented students without restriction as to their field of academic specialization or career plans. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and cannot have reached their 24th birthday by October 1 of the year in which they apply for a Rhodes Scholarship.

Thirty-two Scholars are selected each year from the United States; they are appointed for two years of study in the University of Oxford, with the possibility of renewal for a third year. All educational costs are paid, and the Scholar receives in addition a maintenance allowance to meet necessary expenses for term-time and vacations.

Outstanding University of Puget Sound seniors or recent graduates are invited to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship. Rhodes Scholarships finance young Americans of exceptional ability to study at the University of Oxford in England for a graduate degree in any discipline.

Application Procedures

After downloading an application from the Rhodes website, persons interested in applying for the Rhodes Scholarship are advised to file a Letter of Intent with the Fellowships Office by the Spring Campus Deadline of May 1 and begin preparing their applications well in advance of the Fall Campus Deadline of September 5, 2017. Applicants are expected to work diligently on their applications over the course of the summer. Several drafts of the applications and proposed programs of study will be required.

Gaining an institutional endorsement, which is required, and gathering some of the documents requested (an academic transcript, a photocopy of the birth certificate, individual photos) may take some time. Most particularly, applicants should give careful thought to the preparation of a thousand-word essay in which they set out in their own words their interests and aspirations, and their detailed reasons for wishing to study the specific areas of proposed academic work at Oxford. It should produce a picture of the student as a person, a student, a potential scholarship winner; it should grab the reader's interest and make him or her want to meet the student for an interview.

Applicants for the Rhodes Scholar Program must participate in an internal competition, which begins in the spring of the junior year. The university's endorsement must be written before the applications can be forwarded to the Rhodes Scholarship State Secretary by the October deadline. Students cannot obtain that endorsement unless they work closely with the Fellowships Office. The Graduate Fellowships Advisory (GFAC) will review applications for university nominations and hold a series of mock interviews for applicants who become finalists in the Rhodes Scholarship competition.


The first deadline to be met is the Spring Campus Deadline of May 1. At that time, the Letter of Intent, a draft of the application and all materials must be turned it to the Fellowships Office.

For more information, contact the Fellowships Office (Howarth 114J), 253.879.3329, or visit the American Rhodes Scholars website.