Cornell University

Rhodes Scholarship

Cornell endorsement is required.

Campus Deadline: August 12, 2020

Special note: Change to personal statement attestation: Each Rhodes Scholarship applicant must attest in writing that his or her personal statement is wholly truthful and has not been reviewed by anyone (including but not limited to scholarship advisors, faculty members, former and current Rhodes scholars, interviewers, writing center staff, family members, friends, and on-line services).  In its institutional endorsement Cornell University must likewise attest to this. Cornell takes this responsibility seriously and will endorse only those applications it is confident meet that criterion.


The Rhodes Scholarship funds two years of graduate study at Oxford University in most fields (excluding professional degree programs such as law and medicine).


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.


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: This essay of no more than 1,000 words should give the committee a clear sense of who you are, how your interests have developed, and how and why study at Oxford and the Rhodes Scholarship fit into your future plans. Applicants must know which degree program they plan to pursue at Oxford and be able to explain how it will advance them toward their long-term goals. Both you and the Fellowship Coordinator will be asked to attest that you have received no assistance in writing the statement.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Five letters 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."
  • Interview: 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. Mock interviews and preparation workshops are held during the fall.

Read carefully the Rhodes Trust site for further information.


Beth Fiori, Fellowship Coordinator
103 Barnes Hall