Rhodes Scholarships

Award Information

Visit the Rhodes scholarship website.

“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.


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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Thinking and Planning Ahead

Are you a potential Rhodes Scholar? Learn more about this nationally competitive, distinguished scholarship and the processes involved in applying for it. You should:

  1. Carefully determine your eligibility for this scholarship. Familiarize yourself with the Rhodes Scholarship website. Be sure to review the FAQs on the website to answer any specific questions you may have.
  2. Maintain a good GPA, particularly in your major.
  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, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are three examples of excellent, relatively unbiased news sources.
  5. Schedule a meeting with the director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program. Send an email to DistinguishedScholarships@wsu.edu.

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Application Process:
Multiple Steps with Deadlines over Several Months

Applying for a Rhodes Scholarship is a process. Throughout, you will gain valuable insights into your interests, strengths, and goals, and more clearly envision how you will represent WSU and the U.S. in meeting the objectives of the scholarship.

  • Step One: Gather key materials.

    Deadline: March 11

    Well in advance of this date, you must prepare by studying online information about the Rhodes Scholarship and your related accomplishments, and have been in close contact with the director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program. No later than this date, you must schedule a meeting with the director to discuss and submit your:

    1. Draft of a personal essay that explains why the Rhodes is the distinguished scholarship that you seek, and are qualified for, this year. As you draft this essay, consider the four criteria by which prospective Rhodes Scholars are selected:
      1. Demonstrated devotion to service, moral character, and leadership. In Cecil Rhodes’ own words, “Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.” These characteristics are developed over your entire time at WSU. Note that meaningful involvement in a few activities is better than a long list of activities.
      2. 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.
      3. An academic plan that will demonstrate exceptional “literary and scholastic achievements.”
      4. Carefully examine your activities and how they display “truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship.”
    2. Describe your proposed academic programme, giving reasons for your desire to study at Oxford.
    3. Prepare a finalized list of six-to-eight (6-8) recommenders (i.e., people who will each write a letter of recommendation for your Rhodes Scholarship application).
    4. Update your résumé or academic vita.
  • Step Two: Meet with Director to review submitted materials.

    Deadline: late March

    1. Contact the director of Distinguished Scholarships program to arrange a meeting.
  • Step Three: Meet with selection committee.

    Deadline: early April

    1. Application materials will be reviewed by the Distinguished Scholarships Selection Committee. NOTE: WSU will only nominate students who are chosen by the reviewers to represent WSU. You will be notified in mid-April whether you will be put forward as a university-nominated applicant for a Rhodes Scholarship.
  • Step Four: Finalize letters of recommendation.

    Deadline for receipt: May 31

    No later than this date, you must make any necessary arrangements for the director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program to receive:

    1. Final versions of six-to-eight (6-8) letters of recommendation supporting your scholarship application; each recommender may mail or email their document directly to the program director. Ultimately, five minimum, but no more than eight letters of recommendation will be submitted on your behalf. At least four of these must be from persons whom you have received undergraduate or graduate instruction, and at least one letter (the fifth) must speak to your character.

    Letters of recommendation can be submitted by email to DistinguishedScholarships@wsu.edu or turned in by mail or in person at:

    Director, Distinguished Scholarships
    Smith Center (CUE) 519
    Washington State University
    Pullman, WA 99164-4519

  • Step Five: Have your transcripts sent.

    Deadline for receipt: May 31

    Not later than this date, you must make any necessary arrangements so that the director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program will receive:

    1. One (1) official transcript from every college/university where you have received academic credit; the institution(s) must mail or email the document directly to the program director.
  • Step Six: Draft your personal statement.

    When: April-July

    1. During these months, you, as a nominee, will prepare your personal statement. This statement should describe your specific area of proposed study and your reasons for wishing to study at Oxford. The work must be entirely your own and will conclude with the following statement: “I attest that this personal statement is my own work and is wholly truthful. Neither it nor any earlier draft has been edited by anyone other than me, nor has anyone else reviewed it to provide me with suggestions to improve it. I understand that any such editing or review would disqualify my application.”

    Additional information about the personal statement can be found on the Rhodes Scholarship website.

  • Step Seven: WSU endorsement.

    When: early August

    Each WSU student who has been chosen by the Distinguished Scholarships Selection Committee to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship must meet with the Distinguished Scholarships Endorsement Committee. The director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program will arrange for you to:

    1. Meet in person with members of the Distinguished Scholarships Endorsement Committee, who then prepare the institutional endorsement letter nominating you as an applicant from WSU.
  • Step Eight: Submit your application.

    When: mid-September (i.e. 7-10 days prior to that year’s Rhodes Scholarship deadline)

    To complete final application tasks, you must:

    1. Complete the Rhodes Scholarship online application by uploading your final statement and carefully filling in all fields.

    You must also make any necessary arrangements for the director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program to receive:

    1. Your recent portrait. It must be no larger than two inches wide by three inches tall (2×3) and that is high resolution (no less than 300 dpi). The director will help you arrange for such a photo if you do not have an acceptable one.

    The director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarship Program will:

    1. Confirm with your recommenders that they have completed their letters and submitted them online directly to the Rhodes organization.
    2. Submit to Rhodes your WSU endorsement letter as well as university transcripts.
  • Step Nine: Notify director.

    When: upon announcement of Rhodes Scholarship interviews and, later on, awardees

    When you receive notification whether you are being interviewed for a Rhodes Scholarship (or, later on, that you have been awarded), you should:

    1. Notify the director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program. This allows the director to determine any next steps to be taken.

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Past WSU Recipients

Prior Cougar recipients of the Rhodes Scholarships have included:

YearFirst (& Middle) NameLast NameTopicOxford College Studied AtFinalist?
View Nife Shola-Dare's news release
Oluwanifemi "Nife"Shola-DareNeuroscienceFinalist
View Ryan Summer's news release
Ryan MatthewSummersComputer EngineeringFinalist
1984Jeffrey R.FranksPolitical Science, EconomicsFinalist
1956RussellMcCormmachPhysicsChrist Church
1955RichardThompsonUniversity College
1949RobertClowerLettersBrasenose College
1948PaulCravenTrinity College
1947CharlesJespenBrasenose College
1939BirdsallCarleLincoln College
1934EugeneMcClaskeyExeter College
1930EarlPritchardHistoryOriel College
1916JohnBinnsBrasenose College
1907ShirlBlalockJurisprudenceChrist Church

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