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WSU Undergraduate Education Distinguished Scholarships Program

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The Rhodes Scholarships

Award Information

“My desire being that the students who shall be elected to the Scholarships shall not be merely bookworms… regard shall be had to [their intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service].”

The Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes. W.T. Stead, ed. London: William Clowes Ltd., 1902. 37.

Table of Contents:
EligibilityIntent to ApplyPreparationApplication ProcessPast Recipients


The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. As explained further by the website of the American Rhodes Scholarships, 32 young Americans are selected as Rhodes Scholars each year based on outstanding scholarly achievements, character, leadership potential, and commitment to others and to the common good. Full financial support for Rhodes Scholars to pursue a degree or degrees at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom is provided by the Rhodes Trust, a British charity established to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes.


NOTE: WSU will select students for endorsement through WSU review processes. Students will be notified in early September if selected for endorsement.

For eligibility requirements, please see the Rhodes Scholarships webpage. In general, students should:

  • Be U.S. citizens.
  • Be a senior undergraduate or less than 24 years old at the time of application.

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Intent to Apply

To take full advantage of the support offered by the Distinguished Scholarships program, students planning to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship through WSU are strongly encouraged to:

  • Complete a draft of a personal essay explaining why the Rhodes is the scholarship you wish to apply for this year.
  • Supply a current CV or résumé.

Submit these materials on or before March 11. All forms and essay should be forwarded to:

By mail or in person: By e-mail:
Director, Distinguished Scholarships
Smith Center (CUE) 519
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-4519

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It is never too early to start thinking about a Rhodes Scholarship. Students are encouraged to begin preparation as soon as they arrive on campus.

  1. Carefully determine your eligibility for this scholarship. Familiarize yourself with the Rhodes Scholarship website.
    1. Review the FAQs on the website to answer any specific questions you may have.
    2. Print a copy of the required application materials (available online).
  2. Schedule a meeting with the Director of the Distinguished Scholarships program and develop a plan for building an application driven by the accomplishments necessary to make it successful (see #6–8 below).
  3. Develop relationships with faculty and other individuals who you anticipate might be one of your eight recommenders. (See tips for writing references—it will help you understand what to look for in seeking a good recommender.)
  4. Get in the habit of keeping up with the news. The New York Times is one excellent source.
  5. Carefully examine your activities and how you make a difference in the world. Meaningful involvement in a few activities is better than a long list of activities. One of the criteria Rhodes Scholars are judged on is demonstrated devotion to service, moral character, and leadership, and to “take an interest in one’s fellow beings”. These characteristics are developed over your entire time at WSU.
  6. Consider involvement in athletics or other demonstration of “energy to use one’s talents to the full”. Varsity sports is not a requirement, but your activities should provide evidence of the physical vigor that will allow a lasting contribution to the world.
  7. Create an academic plan that will demonstrate exceptional “literary and scholastic achievements”.
  8. Evaluate why you want to study at Oxford.

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Application Process

  1. Complete the application no later than March 11. Applications should be mailed, dropped off, or emailed as an attachment (see our Contact Us page). Include:
    1. Personal essay.
    2. Essay regarding choice of UK institution.
    3. CV or résumé.
    4. 6–8 letters of recommendation mailed in a sealed envelope. (Tips for writing references)
    5. Transcripts from every college/university where you have received credit.
  2. Applications will be evaluated by the Washington State University Distinguished Scholarships Selection Committee. The committee will determine which applicants will be invited for an interview.
  3. Applicants who are invited to an interview will schedule an interview with the Distinguished Scholarships Endorsement Committee. Following the interview, the applicant will be informed as to whether their application will be endorsed by WSU.
  4. Applicants who are selected for endorsement by WSU may complete the online application.
    1. Finalize changes to your personal essay.
    2. Complete the online application. Carefully fill in all required fields!
    3. Confirm that your referees have completed the online review process.
    4. Proofread your work thoroughly.
    5. Submit your recent photograph to the Distinguished Scholarships office.
  5. The online application should be completed by September 15.
  6. The Distinguished Scholarships program will provide the following:
    1. Endorsement letter through the Office of the President.
    2. Final submission of the online application.
    3. Mailing of the required documentation to the British Consulate before the national deadline.

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Past WSU Recipients

Prior Cougar recipients of the Rhodes Scholarships have included:

1956: Russell McCormmach
1955: Richard Thompson
1949: Robert Clower
1948: Paul Craven
1947: Charles Jepsen
1939: Carle Birdsall
1934: Eugene McClaskey
1930: Earl Pritchard
1916: John Binns
1907: Shirl Blalock

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