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 Christine Overstreet . In the spring prior to application, interested students should attend a UK Fellowships & Graduate School 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 Christine 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. Christine will submit the revised application and the endorsement letter to Marshall by the deadline. Marshall undertakes responsibility to place selected Scholars in their chosen universities. Note that campus deadlines for submission of materials are much earlier than the Marshall Scholarship application deadline.

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

  • completed online application form where candidate enters biographical data; educational background; proposed programme(s) of study; employment and practical experience; names of recommenders; personal information (non-academic activities); statement of future career aims; language/travel experience; awards
  • Personal Statement (1,000 words or less) describing candidate’s academic interests and other pursuits
  • Proposed Academic Programme (500 words or less) giving reasons for candidate’s choice of course and preferred university
  • An Ambassadorial Potential Essay (500 words or less) in which candidate addresses what the USA-UK “special relationship” is and how she might strengthen these ties through her field and other activities
  • Post-Scholarship Plan & Future Career Aims Essays (500 words or less) for one-year programme only
  • Four recommendations – at least two must be from faculty. At least three must be from the United States. Recommendations are ranked in order of preference. The first “Preferred Recommender” must have supervised your education (thesis/academic advisor)
  • Official Transcripts – from all undergraduate study sources, including abroad; have these sent directly to Christine who will send them via U.S.P.S. to Marshall Regional Committee
  • The online application form becomes available in late spring. When the applicant enters the names of her recommenders, an email is sent with instructions on cutting and pasting their letters into the online form. 
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 25th.  The MHC Fellowships Advisor will be able to collect your letter from the Marshall system.  If a candidate is selected as a Marshall Scholar, 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 Christine; meet individually with Christine to discuss eligibility; discuss with Christine 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
By June 1 Confirm with Christine intention to apply
May-June Continue advising conversations with Christine on UK programs, the Marshall, and you; solicit four recommendation letters (will not be submitted until August)
June Order original transcripts for all undergraduate study – have sent to Christine
By July 14th Send Christine your Proposed Academic Program essay for feedback; if one-year program applicant, include Post-Scholarship Plan and Future Career Aims essays
 By July 21st Send Christine your Revised Academic Program essay and Personal Statement for feedback
 By July 28th Send Christine your Revised Academic Program, Personal Statement, and Ambassadorial essays for feedback
August 8th Send your essays to your recommenders (Academic Program & Personal Statement); ask recommenders to cut and paste their letters to Marshall site by August 25th
August 25th Recommendations must be imported into the Marshall site; essays must be imported into online application and all other sections completed - submit (online application will then go directly to Christine); Christine will distribute materials to Committee on Fellowships
Week of 9/8-9/12 Committee on Fellowships interviews Marshall candidates; endorsement decisions are made and candidates notified
 Week of 9/14-9/20 Nominees make further revisions to application based on Committee feedback
Wed 9/24 Nominee submits revised application; Christine reviews
By Oct 1st Christine submits application with endorsement letter and mails transcript to Marshall regional committees
 Mid-November Marshall invites/declines applicants to interview
Late November Awards announced