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 the feedback and guidance of the fellowships advisor and faculty. Students interested in applying should contact Christine Overstreet during the spring semester 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 recommendationstwo 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 (depending on requirements of department)
  • Possibly Resume/CV (depending on requirements of department)
Campus Process and Checklist

Please note that for all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Spring Attend Information Session/Read Gates Cambridge website.  Explore programs at Cambridge; discuss courses of study with faculty; check your eligibility for program choice.  Check to see if program requires research proposal or writing sample.  Meet with Christine Overstreet to discuss candidacy for the Gates Scholarship.
 June Confirm with Christine intention to apply.  Discuss candidacy with potential recommenders - 2 faculty and 1 personal reference.
Summer months 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 Christine for review and feedback.  Read the Guide for Completing the Online Application on the University of Cambridge website.
Early September GRADSAF Application opens; begin application, remembering to update frequently - every week - so as not to lose data.
By Oct. 14th                U.S. Citizens submit application; referees will receive email to upload recommendation letters within two weeks.  Shortlisted applicants are contacted for interviews in mid-December; interviews can be in person or by Skype.  Contact Christine for mock interview.  Awards are announced very soon after interviews.
By Dec. 2nd
International Students submit application; referees will be emailed to upload recommendation letters within two weeks.  Shortlisted applicants are contacted for interviews in early March; interviews can be in person or by Skype.  Contact Christine for mock interview.  Awards are announced very soon after interviews.