Gates Cambridge Scholarships | For International Students

The Gates Cambridge Scholarships are one of the most prestigious international scholarships in the world.

Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge.

Host Institution(s):

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Level/Field of study:

Ph.D., MSc, or MLitt, or a one-year postgraduate course in any subject offered at the University

Number of Awards:

About 95 Scholarships are awarded each year.

Target group:

Citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom.

Scholarship value/inclusions:

A Gates Cambridge Scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge including tuition fees, maintenance allowance, travel costs, etc.

It also provides additional, discretionary funding such as academic development funding, family allowance, fieldwork, etc.

Who can apply for the Gates Cambridge Scholarships?

You can apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarships if you are:

  • A citizen of any country outside the United Kingdom
  • Applying to pursue one of the following courses at the University of Cambridge:
  • Ph.D. (full-time or part-time*)
  • MLitt (full-time)
  • One-year postgraduate course (full-time), with some exceptions.

* For October 2023 entry, Gates Cambridge is piloting a scheme that allows applicants to apply for funding for a part-time doctoral degree.

Current a student at Cambridge?​

If you are currently studying at Cambridge and wish to apply for a new postgraduate course you can apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

For example, if you are currently studying for an MPhil you can apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D.

Current Gates Cambridge Scholars may also apply for a second scholarship if they are applying for a new degree.

All current Cambridge students will be considered for the second, international round.

However, if you have already started a course (e.g. you are currently part way through a Ph.D.) you cannot apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to fund the remainder of it.

General funding at Cambridge

Whether or not you are eligible for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you may be eligible for other funding offered by the University of Cambridge.

See for more details.

Courses which Gates Cambridge does NOT consider:

  • Any Undergraduate degree, such as BA (undergraduate) or BA affiliated (a second BA)
  • Business Doctorate (BusD)
  • Master of Business (MBA)
  • Master of Finance (MFin)
  • MASt courses
  • PGCE
  • MBBChir Clinical Studies
  • MD Doctor of Medicine degree (6 years, part-time, Home students only)
  • Graduate Course in Medicine (A101)
  • Part-time degrees other than the PhD
  • Non-degree courses

What we are looking for at Gates Cambridge Scholarships

Our Scholars come from diverse backgrounds and each brings something unique to the program.

We use four criteria to select them.

Academic excellence

To be competitive for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship candidates must show evidence of academic excellence (through their transcripts, references, experience, and the potential to succeed in the chosen course).

Academic departments at the University of Cambridge nominate only the most academically outstanding applicants for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which ensures that those whom we select will thrive at Cambridge.

Reasons for choice of course

You should be able to make a strong case for a particular postgraduate degree at Cambridge.

Ph.D. applicants (and most research MPhil applicants) will need to make contact with a potential supervisor with whom they will develop a research project, a summary of which is part of the application.

You will need to demonstrate that you have the academic background and the necessary skills and expertise to complete the course.

Taught MPhil and other applicants need to make a strong case for how completing the proposed course will facilitate their career plans.

Gates Cambridge seeks Scholars who will have an academically transformative experience at Cambridge.

So it is important that you fully research and justify the course for which you are applying.

A commitment to improving the lives of others

A defining characteristic of the Gates Cambridge program is the commitment of our Scholars to improving the lives of others.

We interpret this criterion broadly and applicants define it themselves by providing evidence of their past, current, and future commitment to the societies in which they will live and work.

A capacity for leadership

Successful applicants must be able to demonstrate a capacity for leadership, which can be expressed in a multitude of ways.

Applicants should provide evidence of their leadership experience to date and indicate the ways in which their leadership skills may have an impact on their future careers.

A note on the ratio of Ph.D.: Masters awards

In order to create and sustain a viable Scholar community at Cambridge University and for Scholars to take full advantage of their time in Cambridge.

We aim to select approximately 2/3 of Ph.D. scholars each year.

Those applying for taught Master’s should pay special attention to explaining why this is the optimal course for them and how it is critical to their future academic or professional training plans.

A combined application form

Applicants submit their application for admission and funding (Gates Cambridge and other funding) via the University’s Graduate Application Portal.

To be considered for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you must complete the section to apply for admission to a course and a College place and the Gates Cambridge part of the funding section.

Gates Cambridge has access to the full application for admission and funding when reviewing applications.

The admission section

In this section, you are applying to a specific graduate course and a College place.

You will provide all of the usual details about yourself, your academic background, plans, and suitability for the proposed course.

The funding section

In this section, you can apply for a range of funding offered by the University and associated bodies, including the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which has its own sub-section.

When applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you will be asked to provide the following:

Gates Cambridge statement

In the application form we ask:

In no more than 3000 characters (approximately 500 words) please explain why you are applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how you meet the four main criteria.

Full details about how to apply, including selection criteria and guidance on completing this statement, can be found at:

The statement is used by Gates Cambridge to help distinguish between those candidates who have been nominated by academic departments.

It helps us identify those candidates who, as well as being academically outstanding, possess a capacity for leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others.

This is the only part of the application form where applicants are specifically asked about their fit with the Gates Cambridge program.

You should use your background, achievements, experiences and future aims to show how you specifically meet the program’s criteria.

Research proposal (Ph.D. applicants only)

Gates Cambridge requires PhD applicants only to submit a research proposal as part of their application for funding.

Most PhD applicants will upload a research proposal as part of their application for admission.

But where this is not the case a research proposal is required to apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

If you are applying for a degree other than the Ph.D. you do not need to submit a research proposal as part of your materials for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Gates Cambridge reference

In addition to two academic references for admission, Gates Cambridge applicants must arrange for someone to submit a reference setting out how they meet the scholarship’s criteria.

In the application form, we ask:

Please give your assessment of the applicant’s suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

These are awarded on the following criteria:

intellectual ability, justification for the choice of course, a commitment to improving the lives of others, and leadership capacity.

We also ask:

  • How highly would you rank the applicant for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship?
  • On what overall group are you basing this ranking?
  • What is the size of this group?

The Gates Cambridge reference is used in the same way as the Gates Cambridge statement.

To help distinguish between those candidates who have nominated by academic departments.

Referees are also asked how they rate the applicant for the scholarship: exceptional, strong, not strong, weak.

They may paste/type up to 4,000 characters into the on-line reference or upload a separate letter.

Who should write the Gates Cambridge reference?

You should ask someone of appropriate standing who is able to answer the question with authority and who understands the criteria.

Also its, highly competitive nature of the Gates Cambridge programme and academic standards at the University of Cambridge.

Many applicants ask a current or former academic advisor who is aware of their personal attributes, a current or former employer, or a senior member of an organization with whom they have volunteered.

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some applicants ask one of their two academic referees to write the Gates Cambridge reference:

This is fine, as long as that person has a good understanding of your personal qualities and writes specifically about how you meet the Gates Cambridge criteria (and does not provide a third academic reference).

You should not ask a friend or a family member, or someone who is unable to comment on your suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Some points to consider are:

  • It is essential that the Gates Cambridge referee is fully briefed about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, especially its selection criteria, so they can write the most appropriate reference for you;
  • It is useful when referees use specific examples of how you meet the Scholarship’s criteria;
  • You will need to ensure your Gates Cambridge referee understands the need to keep the reference focused on the Gates Cambridge criteria (and not, for example, rehash a standard or previous reference).
  • You must ensure both your academic and gates Cambridge referees submit their references by the specified deadline

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