Marshall Scholarship

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

History and Purpose

Founded by a 1953 Act of Parliament, and named in honour of US Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan and express the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts for economic assistance following World War II.

Marshall Scholarships are mainly funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and are overseen by the Marshall Commission. The Secretariat is provided by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. In the US the selection process is managed by the regional Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and in Washington DC by the British Embassy.

By providing these scholarships, the Marshall Commission intends to develop future U.S. leaders with a lasting understanding of British societywho will strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments, and their institutions. Through their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programmes, Scholars will enhance their intellectual and personal growth, contributing to their ultimate success.

Description of Marshall Scholarships

Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for one or two one-year degrees or one two-year degree in the United Kingdom. Up to forty Scholars are selected each year. The Two Year Marshall Scholarship is tenable for two academic years (i.e. 22 months), but an extension may be granted on a limited basis for strong academic reasons, subject to the availability of funds. Funding includes university fees, cost of living expenses, annual book and thesis grants, research and daily travel grants, and fares to and from the United States. Any subject of study is welcomed except pursuit of professional degrees and some other restrictions, outlined in the Rules for Candidates.

Eligibility requirements & Rules for Nomination

Applicants must be/have:

  • Seniors who will have obtained a bachelor’s degree before the time of the grant, or alumnae, up to two years from their date of graduation from college (no age restrictions)
  • U.S. citizens (those in the process of applying for citizenship are not eligible)
  • Academic merit evidenced by a GPA of at least 3.7 with a rigorous course selection; awards, research
  • Demonstrated leadership and ambassadorial potential
Nominations are unlimited, but endorsement is at the discretion of the Committee on Fellowships.

How to apply

All applicants (seniors and alumnae) must apply through a campus process, facilitated by the National Fellowships Advisor. In the spring prior to application, interested students should attend an information session; read the Guide to Graduate Study in the UK; thoroughly read the guidelines and FAQ’s on the Marshall website; and discuss candidacy and UK program options with the National Fellowships Advisor in person or (if abroad) via Skype. Applicants will receive further guidance and instruction throughout the summer on preparing their applications. In early fall, they will be interviewed by the Committee on Fellowships, chaired by the Dean of Studies, and endorsement decisions will be made. The National Fellowships Advisor will submit the revised application and letter for endorsed candidates to Marshall by the deadline. Marshall undertakes responsibility to place selected Scholars in their chosen universities, but candidates who intend to enroll whether or not they win a Marshall should apply separately. Note that campus deadlines for submission of materials are  earlier than the Marshall Scholarship application deadline.

Application components (essays are imported into the online application form)

  • completed online application form where candidates enter biographical data; educational background; proposed programme(s) of study; employment (paid and unpaid); names of recommenders; personal information (non-academic activities); language/travel experience; awards; applicants apply in regions and may choose either the region of their permanent address or that in which they are currently studying (selection option becomes available once application is completed)
  • Personal Statement (1,000 words or less) describing candidate’s intellectual development, other interests and pursuits
  • An Academic Proposal (500 words or less) in which candidates describe their proposed academicprogramme, giving reasons for choice of course and preferred university. For research degrees, candidate should give an outline proposal of the research they wish to undertake and with whom they would like to work; candidates should also include a brief outline of why they have chosen their second choice courses and institutions
  • An Ambassadorial Potential Essay (500 words or less) describing what "the USA-UK special relationship” means and how the candidate might strengthen these ties in their field of study and through extra-curricular activities, while in the UK and upon return to the US
  • A Leadership Essay (500 words or less) describing a situation in which the candidate recognized and responded to a need for leadership; when answering this question, please consider the Commission's criteria on leadership potential:
  • Post-Scholarship Plan (300 words or less) - describing immediate plans upon completion of Marshall Scholarship and why two years spent in the UK would enhance these plans. As well as describing plans for employment or further study, candidate should indicate how they will develop ongoing connections with the UK, through the UK institution or other contacts made while in the UK. Please also include a brief statement of future (longer-term) career plans.
  • Four recommendations – at least two must be from faculty. At least three must be from the United States. The first recommender entered -- the “Preferred Recommender” -- must have supervised your education (thesis/academic advisor). The fourth recommender should discuss candidate's leadership and ambassadorial potential and need not be written by a faculty member. When the applicant enters the names of her recommenders in the online application, an email is sent with instructions on cutting and pasting letters into the online form. MHC candidates must waive their right to see each recommendation letter to be considered for endorsement.
  • Official Transcripts – from all undergraduate study sources, including abroad; have these sent directly to the National Fellowships Advisor; the Senior Administrative Assistant, Marianne Taylor will send candidates pdfs of front and back of all transcripts; candidates must upload them to site; Marianne will send originals via U.S.P.S. to Marshall Regional Committee
Note: Students applying for a Marshall Scholarship are strongly encouraged to also apply for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant for one year master’s degree at a university in the UK.

Recommendation Letters

Marshall seeks the following in recommendation letters: Please comment on the candidate's general fitness for the course proposed and the suitability of the university chosen. Confidential observations, negative as well as positive, on the candidate's general character as well as academic standing and ability will be of great value to the selection authorities in their task of deciding which candidates should be summoned to the Regional Centre for interview. The Selectors look for candidates who have the potential to excel as scholars, as leaders and as contributors to improved UK-US understanding. Assessment will be based on academic merit, leadership potential and ambassadorial potential. They will also look for adequate preparation for the proposed course of study, particularly in the upper-level course work and real strength in the major field. Applicants will be required to present a cogent argument as to why their studies and proposed career would be best served by spending two years at a British university or one year if they are applying for the one year Marshall Scholarship. Preference will be given to candidates who combine high academic ability with the capacity to play an active part in the life of the United Kingdom university to which they go, and to those who display a potential to make a significant contribution to their own societyRead more about MHC recommendation letters for national fellowships.

Format and submission: Letters of recommendation for the Marshall Scholarship  (1,000 word limit) are cut and pasted into an online system by the recommender, who will receive an email invitation from Marshall once the applicant enters the recommenders’ contact information into her application (in early August). MHC Recommenders are asked to enter the letter by August 29th. The MHC Fellowships Advisor will be able to collect letters from the Marshall system.  If a candidate is selected by the Marshall Commission, the recommender will be sent a second e-mail with a pdf of his/her letter attached.  Marshall will ask the recommender to print the letter on institutional letterhead and to mail it to the address provided.

Campus Process and Checklist

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

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Spring semester Attend UK Fellowships & Graduate School info session/abroad students Skype with National Fellowships Advisor; meet individually with National Fellowships Advisor to discuss eligibility; discuss with National Fellowships Advisor and faculty advisors degree programs in UK; the fit between your goals and study there; criteria of the Marshall Scholarship and your experiences/achievements/academic work
June Confirm with National Fellowships Advisor intention to apply; begin Marshall/Embark online application (opens in May/June)
June/July Continue conversations with National Fellowships Advisor on UK programs, the Marshall, and you; solicit four recommendation letters (due in August)
June/July Order original transcripts for all undergraduate study – have sent to National Fellowships Advisor
June/early July Send National Fellowships Advisor your Proposed Academic Program, Post Scholarship Plan, and Leadership essays for feedback
By July 20 Send National Fellowships Advisor your Revised essays and Personal Statement for feedback
By Aug 1 Send National Fellowships Advisor your revised Personal Statement and Ambassadorial essays for feedback
August 10 Send essays to your recommenders (Academic Program & Personal Statement); Enter recommenders' names in online application (you MUST waive the right to see the letter in order to be endorsed at MHC); ask recommenders to submit by August 29
August 31 Initial application DEADLINE: Recommendations must be imported into the Marshall site or sent to National Fellowships Advisor; pdfs of transcripts, and essays, must be imported into online application and all other sections completed; applicants hit submit (online application will then go directly to National Fellowships Advisor; a pdf can be generated by candidate at any stage of the process); National Fellowships Advisor will distribute materials to Committee on Fellowships
Sept 16-18 Committee on Fellowships interviews Marshall candidates; endorsement decisions are made and candidates notified
Sept 18 National Fellowships Advisor returns application to candidates; Nominees make further revisions to application based on Committee feedback
SEPT 25 FINAL DEADLINE: Final version of recommendations uploaded to site; Nominee re-submits revised application
By Sept 30 National Fellowships Advisor submits application online with endorsement letter and mails original transcripts for candidates to their respective regions
Mid-November Marshall invites/declines applicants to interview; interviews conducted on these dates
Late November Awards announced