Gates Cambridge Scholarships, University of Cambridge, UK

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Gates Cambridge Scholarships, University of Cambridge, UK

A Gates Cambridge Scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge.
Core components

  • the University Composition Fee and College fees at the appropriate rate*
  • a maintenance allowance for a single student (£13, 300 for 12 months at the 2012-13 rate; pro rata for courses shorter than 12 months)
  • one economy single airfare at both the beginning and end of the course

Discretionary components
The Trust also considers applications for several types of additional funding on a discretionary basis:

  • Family allowance – up to £7,775 for a first child and up to £1,200 for a second child. No funding is provided for a partner.
  • Conference attendance – up to £500 a year if you are presenting.
  • Fieldwork – you may apply to keep up to your normal maintenance allowance while on fieldwork as part of your PhD.
  • Some fourth year funding for PhD Scholars may be provided – but the termly maintenance allowance reduces per term for up to a year**
  • Hardship funding – if there are unforeseen difficulties

*The University Composition Fee varies for different types of students; applicants should see the Graduate Studies Prospectus for full details about precise amounts. Where a student from the European Union has been successful in gaining a fees award from public authorities they must accept this and the Trust will not pay these fees.
** The PhD at Cambridge is a three-year degree and Gates Cambridge Scholars should take on a research project that they and their Supervisor think can be completed within three years. However, if there are unforeseen circumstances which mean you need further funding during all or part of your fourth year, the Trust will consider an application on a discretionary basis. But you should not rely on receiving any fourth year funding when you start your PhD.
Receiving a salary or substantial other scholarship
If you are receiving a salary from an employer or have another substantial scholarship, the Trust reserves the right to reduce or not pay the standard maintenance allowance.
You can apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship if you are:

  • a citizen of any country outside the United Kingdom.
  • applying to pursue one of the following full-time residential courses of study: PhD (three year research-only degree); MSc or MLitt (two year research-only degree); or a one year postgraduate course (e.g. MPhil, LLM, MASt, Diploma, MBA etc.)
  • already a student at Cambridge and want to apply for a new postgraduate course. For example, if you are studying for an MPhil you can apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to do a PhD. However, if you have already started a course, you cannot apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to fund the rest of it.
  • already a Gates Cambridge Scholar and want to apply for a second Scholarship. You must apply by the second, international deadline and go through the same process of departmental ranking, shortlisting and interviewing as all other candidates.

Courses which are not eligible for Gates Cambridge Scholarships:

  • BA (undergraduate)
  • BA affiliated (a second BA)
  • MBBChir Clinical Studies
  • Part-time degrees
  • Non-degree courses
  • Courses at universities other than Cambridge

Ideal candidate
There is no one template for a Gates Cambridge Scholar: each Scholar is different and brings something unique to the programme. But The Trust is looking for four key criteria.
A good fit with Cambridge
You should be able to persuade the Trust that your qualifications and aspirations accord with what Cambridge has to offer in its postgraduate programme. It is important that you can make a convincing argument for doing a particular postgraduate degree at Cambridge.
It is therefore important that you fully research your proposed degree using the Graduate Studies Prospectus and the website of the department to which you are applying.
Academic excellence
Successful applicants must be able to demonstrate a clear ability to lead. 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 to the success of the programme.
Leadership potential
Successful applicants must be able to demonstrate a clear ability to lead. 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 to the success of the programme.
A commitment to improving the lives of others
A defining characteristic of the Gates Cambridge Scholarships is the commitment of our Scholars to working for the greater good. Although broadly interpreted, this concept is nonetheless fundamental and sets this programme apart from others of its kind.
Personal statement
Each applicant must provide a Personal Statement. It gives you the opportunity to explain why you have the qualities to become a Gates Cambridge Scholar:
The Personal Statement is used by the Gates Cambridge Shortlisting Committees to distinguish between candidates who have been highly ranked by departments on academic grounds. It helps the Committees identify those candidates who, as well as being academically outstanding, possess a capacity for leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others. Note that this is the only part of the application form where you are asked about your ‘fit’ with Gates Cambridge.
The question
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.
Key points to consider
You should also bear in mind that the attributes described above are broadly interpreted, and are dependent on the experiences of each applicant, so there is no magic formula for the Personal Statement. But some key points to consider are:

  • While there are a no hard and fast rules about what you should put into your Personal Statement, make sure that whatever does go in hits a Gates Cambridge ‘button’
  • Keep it focused and stick to 500 words maximum – it’s all we need, and being concise is a useful skill
  • Provide examples to back up your statements and avoid generalisations
  • It should not be a copy or re-hash of a personal statement for another scholarship, since the criteria may not be quite the same
  • Be realistic and concise – avoid exaggerating or labouring a point
  • Show that you have really researched the course you are applying for and clearly link it to your future plans
  • Review the short biographies of Gates Cambridge Scholars to get an idea of the types of people who have been successful in obtaining a Scholarship
  • Ask an advisor and/or someone else to review your statement to ensure it reads well and is free of error and be sure to tell them what the Gates Cambridge criteria are
  • Do a final check for spelling and grammar before submitting

Personal Reference
As well as submitting two academic references for admission, applicants for Gates Cambridge Scholarships are asked to submit a Personal Reference as part of their application pack. It is used in the same way as the Personal Statement – to reduce the large number of well-qualified applicants to those who match the Gates Cambridge criteria.
The question
Please give your assessment of the applicant’s suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. These are 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.
Referees are also asked how they rate the applicant for the scholarship: exceptional, strong, not strong, weak.
Referees may paste/type up to 4,000 characters into the on-line reference or upload a separate letter.
Who should write the Personal Reference?
This is a common question. You should definitely not ask friends or family, or someone who is unable to comment on your suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
You should ask someone of appropriate standing who is able to answer the question with authority and who understands what type of person Gates Cambridge is looking for and how competitive the Scholarship is.
Many applicants ask a current or former academic advisor who is aware of their personal attributes, others ask a current or former employer, while others ask senior staff in an organisation they may have volunteered with. These are all sensible choices, although this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some applicants ask one of their two academic referees to write the personal reference. This is fine as long as that person has a good understanding of your personal qualities. The important point to remember is that the Personal Referee must understand what the Scholarship is about and must be able to write authoritatively about your leadership potential and commitment to improving the lives of others.
Points to consider
Many points in the section about the Personal Statement also apply to the Personal Reference. Further points to consider are:

  • It is essential that the Personal Referee is fully briefed about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, especially its selection criteria
  • It is useful when referees use specific examples of how you meet the Scholarship’s criteria
  • While your referees are likely to be busy, you will need to ensure they understand the need to keep the reference focused on the Gates Cambridge criteria and not, for example, rehash a standard or previous reference. We see a number of references which are generic and these do not do help the applicant stand out as a potential Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Gates Cambridge Scholarships are extremely competitive: over 4,000 applicants apply for 90 Scholarships each year.
Given the intense competition, the Trust has a four stage selection process:

  • Departmental ranking – the very best applicants to each department are ranked on academic merit only
  • Shortlisting – Gates Cambridge committees review the applications of ranked candidates using all four Gates Cambridge criteria and put forward a list for interview
  • Interview – all shortlisted candidates have a short interview to assess how they meet all four Gates Cambridge criteria
  • Selection – chairs of interview panels meet to decide the final list of Scholars

Please note that Trust is not able to provide feedback to applicants.
How competitive
Competition for admission to the University of Cambridge and for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship is intense.
The University of Cambridge is normally ranked in the top three universities worldwide. It typically receives over 9,000 applications for postgraduate study and research from non-British applicants, approximately 1,700 of whom take up their place at Cambridge.
Round 1 (USA)

  • around 800 eligible applicants apply
  • around 200 are highly ranked by departments in Cambridge
  • 100 are invited to interview
  • 40 offered a Gates Cambridge Scholarship after interview

Round 2: (International)

  • around 4,000 eligible applicants apply
  • around 350 are highly ranked by departments in Cambridge
  • 110 are invited to interview
  • 50 offered a Gates Cambridge Scholarship after interview

There are two application rounds:

  • Round 1: US citizens normally resident in the USA
  • Round 2: citizens of all countries other than the USA (except the United Kingdom) and US citizens normally resident outside the USA

Once you have submitted your application you and your referees will receive an email notification from the Graduate Admissions Office within 30 hours explaining how to upload supporting documents and references. You must submit this documentation by the deadlines given.
Once your application has been received, the Trust will ask academic departments in Cambridge to rank their very best candidates. A shortlisting committee then applies the four main criteria of the Scholarships to produce a final interview list.
We hold interviews in the USA in early February for Round 1 candidates and in Cambridge in late March for Round 2 candidates. If you are unable to attend in person we will interview you by Skype or phone. You will be told within a week of the interview whether you have been successful.
We advise that you begin your application as early as possible and do not wait until the deadline.
The next application round opens in early September 2012 for entry in October 2013. Scholarship deadlines are:

  • Round 1 – US citizens based in the USA – 16 October 2012
  • Round 2 – all other eligible candidates – 4 December 2012
  • You must submit your application no later than midnight (UK time) on the dates given. The Trust cannot guarantee that applications submitted after the deadlines will be considered.
  • You must supply all supporting documents (transcripts and anything else required by the department) within 7 days of submitting your application.
  • You must supply references (two academic, one personal) within 14 days of submitting your application.
  • If English is not your first language you will need to submit your language test scores.

*Note: if a course deadline is earlier than the relevant funding deadline above (for example, the Faculty of History) you must apply by the earlier course deadline.
For more information, please visit official website

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