Scholarship FAQ

Why should Michigan students think about applying to these very prestigious scholarships in the British Isles?

Being awarded a Rhodes, Marshall, or Mitchell Scholarship is a life-changing event. Not only do these scholarships fully fund study in the British Isles, but many of your fellow scholars will go on to be leaders in their fields. The people you meet will influence your ambitions and provide invaluable connections.

What is the likelihood of winning one of these scholarships?

Each year there are 32 Rhodes, as many as 40 Marshalls, and 12 Mitchell Scholars selected from among thousands of applicants. Students, who come from colleges and universities from all over the country, must earn the endorsement of their undergraduate or graduate institution to be considered on the regional or national level. The competition is intense, but Michigan students have proved up to the task. See our list of nominees and recipients.

What kinds of applicants have the best chance?

The Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell websites provide biographic details on recent winners that indicate that the only commonality among these scholars is a remarkable depth and breadth of accomplishment. They come from every kind of undergraduate institution with interests in science and liberal arts. Because Oxford has a very limited range of performing arts degrees and no theatre or visual arts programs, students who are interested in these areas should apply for the Marshall—which funds study at any certified institution in the UK—rather than the Rhodes, which funds study only at Oxford.

Is it worth it to invest the time to apply when the competition is so stiff?

Michigan students frequently report that the process of applying is worthwhile, even if one does not reach the finals, because it forces students to think deeply and clearly about what they have accomplished and how they hope to build on those achievements to make a difference in the world.

Can I use one of these scholarship for study outside of the British Isles?

No. The Rhodes can be used only at Oxford University. The Marshall will fund study in most programs at any British University. The MItchell supports study at seven universities in Ireland and two universities in Northern Ireland. An important aspect of these applications is a compelling reason why study in Ireland or England would further your goals.

Are these scholarships only for study beginning the fall after graduating?

You must have completed your undergraduate work before making use of any of these scholarships, but it is not unusual for winners to be a year or two out of college. Rhodes applicants must be at least 18 but not yet 24 by October 1 in the year they apply. To be eligible for the Marshall, you must take up the degree within three years of graduating from college. The Mitchell considers applicants who are 18 or older but not yet 30 by October 1 of the year he or she is applying.

When should I begin the application process?

Even if you decide that you will not apply until you are out of college, it is very important to begin thinking about your application while you are on campus. As an undergraduate you will want to establish personal relationships with faculty members so that they can offer advice and be prepared to write knowledgeable recommendations. They can offer important counsel when weighing possible programs in the British Isles and may even suggest specific faculty members with whom you might be able to study. During your time at Michigan, you should also attend departmental lecture series as well as participate in research and volunteer experiences that broaden your understanding of your fields of interest. Read widely and stay attuned to world events. Winning candidates shine in interviews when they can both speak passionately about their own interests and converse intelligently about other topics.

What is the deadline for applying for the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships?

In order to be considered for these scholarships, you must first be endorsed by the University of Michigan. The official institutional deadline for applying for the University’s endorsement is the last Monday in August. Essays, resumes, and recommendations (4 for the Marshall and Mitchell and 5–8 for the Rhodes) are due by email to Assistant Vice Provost Ellen Meader by noon. Although the national deadlines for these scholarships vary slightly each year, they are usually early October. See the Timeline for details.

How are the scholarships listed on this website different from other scholarships offered at the U-M?

Applicants to these highly competitive scholarships must have the university’s endorsement.

What kind of person are these scholarships looking for?

Successful applicants for Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell scholarships are as varied as the educational opportunities that these scholarships offer, yet there are some features that consistently characterize successful applicants. It is a given that the student will have achieved a high level of success in his or her academic field, but academic excellence is not enough. The selection committees are looking for dynamic, well-rounded individuals that want to make a difference in the world. The difference may be social and political, it might be through excellence in artistic performance or in scientific understanding, and the scale may be global or local. Successful applicants tend to be individuals that are socially aware and engaged, and who relish a life of intellectual challenge and physical vigor.

Are these scholarships limited to particular academic fields?

No, students from any field of academic and artistic endeavor within the University are welcome to apply. It’s a good idea to check the websites for each scholarship program so you can determine the best fit for your field of study.

What if I’m selected for a scholarship, but don’t have enough money to fly to and live in England?

All of these scholarships cover not only your tuition and university expenses in Britain or Ireland but also money for travel and living expenses. The specific funding varies between the three scholarships and the Provost’s Council on Student Honors can provide more details. Likewise, none of the scholarships are ‘need based’ so personal finances should not be an issue for any applicant.

How should I prepare myself to apply? Will I be at a disadvantage if I’ve never visited Britain or Ireland?

You will be at no disadvantage in the application process if you have never traveled to Britain or Ireland. The selection committees do look at your proposed course of study and whether it makes sense given the university you would like to attend. You should therefore research the school(s) you propose to attend to ensure that they have programs that fit your educational plan. All major universities in Britain and Ireland have websites, which make a good starting point, and the Provost’s Council on Student Honors can also provide advice on some British universities and point you towards other U-M faculty that may have recent first hand experience with particular institutions of interest.

What should I cover in my personal statement?

Your personal statement is read closely by the selection committee and provides you with your first opportunity to tell the committee who you are and how the scholarship fits into your larger life plans. The statement should not simply rehash information that is already in your application, but should rather provide the crucial details about your self and your ideas that are not conveyed in a mere list of class honors or course transcripts. The best statements tell the committee who you are, and where you want to go with your life, and what motivates you to make the journey. It should also indicate how your time in Britain or Ireland will further your goals.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

The best letter of recommendation is one written by someone who knows you and some aspect of your life or activities well and has the position to be able to put your achievements into a larger perspective. While testimonials from peers and roommates are nice, they rarely carry the weight that a letter from your major professor or a community leader will command. Since your interests and activities are multifaceted, it is also useful to seek letters from persons that reflect these different arenas, i.e., don’t only seek letters from professors in your major department, but include instructors in class outside your field, or community members or employers who can comment on these other aspects of your life.

Click here for tips for writing recommendations that you can share with your recommenders.

If I’m already receiving financial aid, am I still eligible for a Provost Council scholarship?

Yes. But you should check with the Student Financial Aid office for clarification before applying for a scholarship. Contact them by phone at 734-763-6600, by email at financial.aid@umich.edu, or visit their website .

Back to top