Writing a Recommendation for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship

The Scholarship supports study at Cambridge in any field. Citizens of every country except the UK are eligible. While no set number of fellowships is reserved for any country, about 40 are awarded to U.S. citizens each year. Unlike the Rhodes or Marshall Scholarship process, application for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship is filed at the same time as application for admission to a degree program at the University.

The applicant should give you a copy of his or her draft personal statement and other relevant materials, and should sit down with you to discuss his or her objectives in seeking a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. This Scholarship does not require College nomination or endorsement, but applicants are encouraged to go through the same advising process as Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell applicants.

Criteria for the Scholarship:

Strong applicants have demonstrated academic and intellectual achievement, and show promise of bringing “...new vision and commitment to improving the life circumstances of citizens in their respective countries.”

  • Exceptional achievement in academic studies
  • Evidence of potential to make a significant contribution to chosen profession
  • Potential to assert leadership in addressing global problems relating to learning, technology, health, social equity (Gates Foundation priorities).

The University admission and Scholarship selection process requires two different kinds of letters: two references for admission to the academic program, and a separate recommendation for the Scholarship. It is desirable, though not required, for the Scholarship recommendation to be written by someone different from the academic recommenders. The academic department does not see the Scholarship recommendation, however the Scholarship selection committee does have access to the academic recommendations. Both types of letters should emphasize the suitability of study in the selected degree program at Cambridge. The academic recommendations for University admission are graduate school recommendations, focusing on the applicant’s academic achievement and suitability to undertake the proposed course of study. The recommendation for the Scholarship should present a broader picture of the candidate, including leadership potential, social commitment, and “any other factors relevant to the application. Leadership potential and a commitment to help society will be as important factors as outstanding academic merit in identifying and shortlisting the best candidates” [excerpt from instructions on the Scholarship application].

For more information about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship: http://www.gatescambridge.org