Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Please consult the program website to confirm details, including applicable deadlines.

Visit Program Website Here

Program Purpose and Description: 

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in 2000 by a donation of $210 Million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge; this is the largest ever single donation to a UK university. The Gates Cambridge mission is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. It aims to achieve this mission by selecting outstanding scholars, providing them with financial and non-financial support at one of the world’s leading universities and facilitating community building at and beyond Cambridge. There are at least 225 Scholars from about 50 countries studying in Cambridge at any one time who pursue the full range of subjects available at the University and are spread across its departments and Colleges.

Each year Gates Cambridge offers approximately 80 full-cost scholarships to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Approximately two-thirds of these awards will be offered to PhD students, with approximately 25 awards available in the US round and 55 available in the International round. These scholarships are awarded only to students who gain admission to Cambridge through its regular procedures.  Applicants may apply to study for one of the following full-time residential courses at the University of Cambridge:

1. The PhD (three year research-only degree);

2. MSc or MLitt (two year research-only degree);

3. One year postgraduate course (e.g. MPhil, LLM).

Supported Fields: 

All PhD, MSc/MLitt, and one year postgraduate courses except those listed here are supported by the Gates Cambridge.

INELIGIBLE for Gates Cambridge Scholarships: 

(A) Any Undergraduate degree such as BA (undergraduate) or BA affiliated (a second BA);

(B) Master of Business (MBA);

(C) Master of Finance (MFin); PGCE; MBBChir Clinical Studies; MD Doctor of Medicine degree (6 years, part-time); Graduate Course in Medicine; Part-time degrees; Non-degree courses.

Program Benefits: 

A Gates Cambridge Scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge, including:

1. the University Composition Fee;

2. a maintenance allowance for a single student (in 2020-21 £17,500 for 12 months; pro rata for courses shorter than 12 months) – for PhD scholars the award is for up to 4 years;

3. one economy single airfare at both the beginning and end of the course;

4. inbound visa costs and the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Cambridge's Colleges: All graduate students become a member of one of Cambridge’s 31 Colleges, each with its own character and offerings. The College system is unique to Cambridge and Oxford and offers and enhanced experience where students and academics from across disciplines meet, discuss and form bonds. The Gates Cambridge Community at Cambridge. This community is vibrant, diverse and passionate. There are numerous community-building events throughout the year, including orientation for new Scholars, a welcome dinner, professional development events run by the Learning for Purpose program, an annual lecture, Day of Service, Day of Research, Gala, Scholar symposia and a Graduation Dinner – in addition to regular informal activities each week. The Scholars’ Council hosts many of these events and facilitates Scholars in hosting their own events. Scholars have access to the well-resourced Scholars’ Room – a physical hub for many Gates Cambridge activities. Alumni Network: As an alum of the program Scholars are connected to the Gates Cambridge community in numerous ways – through on-line interactions, informal meet-ups and substantive alumni events. The Trust, Scholars Council and Alumni Association work together to offer a range of interesting ways to remain connected with the Gates Cambridge community.

Possible Additional Funding. The Trust considers applications for several types of additional funding on a discretionary basis: Academic development funding – Up to £500 to £2,000, dependent on the length of the applicant's course, to attend conferences and courses. Fieldwork – Applicants may apply to keep up to your normal maintenance allowance while on fieldwork as part of their PhD (the Trust does not fund other fieldwork costs as these should be funded by the University Composition Fee). .Family allowance – Up to £10,120 for a first child and up to £4,320 for a second child (2020-21 rate). No funding is provided for a partner. Maternity/Paternity funding – Should applicant require it, applicant may apply to intermit their studies for up to 6 months and continue to receive their maintenance allowance during this time. Hardship funding – for unforeseen difficulties.

Application Process: 

A combined application form. Applicants submit their application for admission and funding (Gates Cambridge and other funding) via the University’s Graduate Application Portal. Research proposal. Gates Cambridge requires PhD applicants only to submit a research proposal as part of their application for funding. PhD 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. In addition to two academic references for admission, Gates Cambridge applicants submit a reference about their fit with the scholarship. The application process has three phases:

1. Departmental Ranking: Potential Scholars are ranked by the department they are applying to. Academic departments at the University of Cambridge nominate only the most academically outstanding applicants for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Those who are put forward by their departments are considered the most academically outstanding applicants they have received that year;

2. Shortlisting: Once the Trust has a list of all ranked candidates, these are divided into broad subject areas and passed to Shortlisting Committees.These Committees look at the candidates' entire application packet (including the Gates Cambridge Statement and Reference) and apply all four Gates Cambridge criteria in order to identify those who will be invited for interview. Everyone who is shortlisted for interview will have gone through an exceptionally competitive process and will show evidence of meeting the four Gates Cambridge criteria;

3. Interview: All shortlisted candidates have a short interview to assess how they meet all four Gates Cambridge criteria.

There are four broadly subject-based interview panels: Arts; Biological Sciences; Physical Sciences; Social Sciences. Shortlisted U.S. candidates are invited to interview in Mid-December. All other shortlisted candidates are invited to interview in Early-March. Scholars are selected after the interviews.

Applicant Profile: 

The Program is looking for four key criteria:

1. Academic excellence: Gates Cambridge Scholars are expected to be academically outstanding with the ability to make a significant contribution to their discipline while in Cambridge.

2. Leadership potential: Successful applicants must 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 program.

3. A commitment to improving the lives of others: A defining characteristic is the commitment of Gates Cambridge Scholars to work for the greater good. Although broadly interpreted, this concept is nonetheless fundamental and sets this program apart from others of its kind.

4. A good academic fit with Cambridge: Applicants should be able to persuade the Trust that their qualifications and aspirations accord with what Cambridge has to offer in its postgraduate program. It is important that applicants make a convincing argument for doing a particular postgraduate degree at Cambridge. It is therefore important that they fully research their proposed degree using the Graduate Studies Prospectus and the website of the department to which they are applying.


Senior or alumnus from any country except the U.K.


Gates Cambridge Scholars' primary purpose in Cambridge is to dedicate themselves to their course of study or research. Gates Cambridge Scholars have access exceptional academic opportunities and resources – and it is their responsibility to make the most of them. The Scholar's department will provide their main academic resources and will be one of the lively and engaged communities they will be part of during their time at Cambridge. Scholars are expected to use their education for the benefit of others and to improve the common good. Over time, Scholars form an integral and dynamic part of Cambridge's international alumni network, bringing vision and new ideas to improving the lives of citizens throughout the world.

Selection Criteria: 

Gates Cambridge Scholars come from diverse backgrounds and each brings something unique to the program. Four criteria are used to select them. Academic excellence. To be competitive candidates must show evidence of academic excellence (through their transcripts, references, experience) . Applicants need to demonstrate that they have the academic background and the necessary skills and expertise to complete the course. Reasons for choice of course. Gates Cambridge seeks Scholars who will have an academically transformative experience at Cambridge, so it is important that applicants fully justify/make a strong case for a particular postgraduate degree at Cambridge. Only one-third of the Scholars selected each year are Master's students.

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 commitment to improving the lives of others. A defining characteristic of the Gates Cambridge program is the commitment of Scholars to improving the lives of others. The Program interprets 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 impact in the future careers.


Citizens of any country outside the U.K. are eligible.

Program Deadline: 

US citizens living in the US -- early October. Consult program website to verify this year's deadline. There are two possible application deadlines for all other applications -- and these are based on course to which the applicant is applying. These are generally in early December or early January. Consult program website to verify this year's deadline.

More information: 

Meet our Fellow

Graduate Studies at Cambridge

Throughout its history, Cambridge has had Colleges, which are intimate social and intellectual communities of scholars. Each has a particular mission and character. Each offers a home and other facilities that universities usually provide centrally. They provide experiences and opportunities unique to Cambridge.

The University has grown to around 20,000 students, 7,500 of whom are graduate students. Of graduate students, 50% come from overseas, and over 40% are women.The University and its Colleges are spread throughout the city.

Consistently ranked among the top universities internationally, the University of Cambridge offers an education at the highest international levels of excellence.

Watch the Gates Cambridge video about graduate applications and the College system and then go to Cambridge Graduate Studies and Colleges for more information.

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.

How To Apply: 

SF State students and alumni may apply directly to this program. Eligible SF State students and undergraduate alumni who have not yet enrolled elsewhere may seek the support of the Fellowships Office well in advance of the program deadline for feedback on the application essays and other materials. Short-listed applicants may seek support for the finalist interview. Applicants should be prepared to devote significant time to developing and revising the application essays, and should consider beginning the application process six months before the application deadline.


Resources for Applicants

Why Should You Apply for a Fulbright?

Quick Links

Fellowships Office

Dr. Joy Viveros

Phone: 415.405.2128
Reception: Grad Stop, ADM 250 
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132