Gates-Cambridge Scholarship

History   |   Description   |   Eligibility   |    How to   |   Application   |   Checklist

History and Purpose

The Gates Scholarship programme was established in 2000 by a donation of 210 million US dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge, the largest ever single donation to a UK university. Gates Cambridge Scholarships are highly competitive full-cost scholarships that are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The programme aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

Gates Cambridge alumni are pursuing further study or employment across many sectors of society. Despite the relative youth of the programme, Gates Cambridge Alumni are increasingly taking on leadership roles and applying their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of others across the globe.

Description of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship funds one to three years of graduate study at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Applicants may pursue a PhD (three year research-only degree); one-year post-graduate course (MPhil, LLM, MASt, Diploma, MBA, etc.) or a two-year research-only degree (MSc or MLitt). They must be admitted to one of the degrees at Cambridge through the university’s normal application procedure. Support includes fees, maintenance allowance and additional funding on a discretionary basis.

Eligibility Requirements & Rules for Nomination
Applicants must be/have:
  • US or International students; seniors or alumnae with no age limit
  • able to meet all conditions for admission specified by the university (English language proficiency; GRE if required by the department; academic excellence)
  • 3.7 GPA (Gates stipulates the equivalent of a 2i honors degree)
  • leadership potential - evidence of leadership can be expressed in a multitude of ways but the capacity of Gates Cambridge Scholars to 'take others with them' is central.
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others – show evidence of working for the greater good.
  • a good fit between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and the programme at Cambridge
  • Nomination by the College is not required for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship
How to apply

Candidates apply directly to the University of Cambridge (GRADSAF application), checking an option to apply also to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Through the online application, they are able to upload documents pertinent to the Gates Scholarship.  There is no MHC campus process for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Students may apply directly without the involvement of the campus fellowships advisor, but are strongly advised to solicit her feedback and guidance along with that of faculty. Students interested in applying should contact the National Fellowships Advisor during the spring semester/summer prior to the fall application deadline.

Application components
  • A completed GRADSAF online application (opening 13 months before start date of program). Application includes biographical data; educational, work, and award history; college choice; names of referees; summary of proposed research or course of study; non-academic activities; summary of career goals; scholarship choices; Gates personal statement. All accompanying documents are uploaded into the online application.
  • A Research Proposal – if required for programme
  • A Personal Statement – answering this prompt: Describe - in not more than 500 words - how your interests and achievements, both academic and extra-curricular, demonstrate a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others. Please also set out why you think there is a good fit between your professional aspiration and the graduate programme at Cambridge for which you are applying.
  • Three recommendations – two must be from faculty and are for the Cambridge University application; the third is a personal reference for the scholarship application. The personal reference should be equipped to answer the following question: Please give your assessment of the applicant’s suitability for a Gates Scholarship, which is awarded on the following criteria: intellectual ability, leadership capacity, a commitment to improving the lives of others, and a good fit between the abilities and aspirations of the applicant and what the University of Cambridge can offer in its graduate programme. You should not ask friends or family to write this letter; rather, you should ask someone of appropriate standing who is fit to comment on the above.
  • Official Transcripts – from all undergraduate study sources, including abroad
  • Any other written work required for proposed course of study including examples of written work
  • GRE scores (for some departments)
  • Possibly Resume/CV (depending on requirements of department)
Campus Process and Checklist
Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
  • Read Gates Cambridge website;  explore programs at Cambridge; discuss courses of study with faculty; check eligibility & requirements for program choice
  • Meet with National Fellowships Advisor and potential recommenders to discuss candidacy
  • Solicit recommendations from two faculty members and one personal reference (who may also be a faculty member
  • Prepare to take the GRE if required by course of study at Cambridge; will need to complete by end of summer
  • Order transcripts from all college study; you will upload these to the GRADSAF site
  • Send essays and resume to National Fellowships Advisor for review and feedback.  
Sept 1 GRADSAF Application opens; begin application
By Oct 9             U.S. Citizens submit application; referees will receive email to upload recommendation letters within two weeks.  Departmental ranking occurs between Oct-Dec. Shortlisted applicants are contacted for interviews in mid-December; Interviews in person or via Skype Jan 27 & 28;  Contact National Fellowships Advisor for interview practice.  Awards announced early February.
By Dec 3 or Jan 7, 2020
International Students submit application; referees will be emailed to upload recommendation letters within two weeks. Departmental ranking occurs between Dec-Feb. Shortlisted applicants are contacted for interviews in early March; interviews in person or by Skype Mar 28 & 29.  Contact National Fellowships Advisor for interview practice.  Awards are announced late March.