Frequently Asked Questions

image of Merton Quadrangle from Merton College tower

Merton Quadrangle from Merton College tower© Whitaker Studio / University of Oxford Images

Should I Apply?

A Q&A with the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust

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2014 Frequently Asked Questions

The Rhodes Scholarships were established after the death of Cecil Rhodes, who dreamed of improving the world through the diffusion of leaders motivated to serve their contemporaries, trained in the contemplative life of the mind, and broadened by their acquaintance with one another and by their exposure to cultures different from their own. Mr. Rhodes hoped that his plan of bringing able students from throughout the English-speaking world and beyond to study at Oxford University would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace. Each year, 32 U. S. citizens are among more than 80 Rhodes Scholars worldwide who take up degree courses at Oxford University. The first American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.

Mr. Rhodes' Will contains four criteria by which prospective Rhodes Scholars are to be selected:

  1. literary and scholastic attainments;
  2. energy to use one's talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports;
  3. truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship;
  4. moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.


The American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust administers all aspects of the Rhodes Scholarships in the United States. On behalf of the Rhodes Trustees in England, he determines the rules and procedures of the competition, advises colleges and universities, selects all selection committee members, interprets Trust policies and selection criteria for Americans, and advises Rhodes Scholars-elect. The current American Secretary is Elliot F. Gerson. The Rhodes Trustees have designated officers in other countries with Rhodes Scholarships who have similar responsibilities.
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The questions on the pages which follow are representative of those commonly asked of this office or of the Secretaries of Committees of Selection. The questions are divided into four sections:

  1. Is Oxford The Right Place For Me To Study?
  2. What Is Life Like At Oxford?
  3. What Does The Application Process Involve?
  4. What Are My Chances?
Applying for the 2014 Rhodes Scholarships