The information contained on this web page pertains to the Fall 2019 Rhodes Scholarship for Canada competition and steps required for applicants seeking institutional endorsement through the University of Waterloo.

What is the Rhodes Scholarship?

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest (established 1903) international scholarship programme in the world, and one of the most prestigious. Administered by the Rhodes Trust in Oxford, the programme offers 100 fully-funded Scholarships each year for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom - one of the world’s leading universities. Rhodes Scholarships are for young leaders of outstanding intellect and character who are motivated to engage with global challenges, committed to the service of others and show promise of becoming value-driven, principled leaders for the world’s future. Two scholarships are allocated to the province of Ontario.

The broad selection criteria are:

  • Academic excellence
  • Energy to use talents to the fullest (as demonstrated by mastery in areas such as sports, music, debate, dance, theatre, and artistic pursuits, including where teamwork is involved)
  • Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship
  • Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in fellow human beings

What is the value and deadline?

The Rhodes Scholarship covers tuition and fees and provides a stipend to help cover living expenses for 2 to 3 years of study while at Oxford. The scholarship also covers travel to and from Oxford at the start and end of the program as well as private health insurance.

Application materials, including reference letters, must be submitted to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) by Waterloo's firm deadline of 9:00 a.m. EST on August 30, 2019. The official deadline by which endorsed applicants must apply within Ontario is 23:59 PT on September 27, 2019.

What are the critical steps in the application process?

1. Confirm eligibility

  • Nationality/citizenship: must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada (students who are attending a Canadian university on a student visa are not eligible to apply).
  • Education/residency: must be studying and living in Canada
  • Age: must have reached nineteenth and not have passed twenty-fifth birthday on 1 October 2020, which means the applicant must have been born after 30 September 1995 and on or before 1 October 2001.
  • Academic achievement: must have completed (or will have completed by June / July 2020) an undergraduate degree from a college or university (normally a Bachelor’s degree) to a sufficiently high standard to be admitted to postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. In this respect, please note carefully the requirements for the chosen course at Oxford.

Applicants must have at least received an undergraduate degree of high standard that would allow them to be admitted to a program at Oxford before starting the scholarship. Students who have completed or will be completing a master’s degree are also eligible to apply for the Rhodes for a second master’s degree or doctoral degree, providing they still meet all other eligibility requirements, including the age limit.

2. Read the official application instructions

The official Rhodes website provides detailed instructions regarding the competition process in their 2020 Rhodes Memorandum for Canada, as well as Guidance for Referees

3. Applicant submits pdf copy of application to GSPA

Institutional endorsement is required from the institution in order for the applicant to formally apply to Rhodes.

Applicants must email the following application materials to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) by 9:00 a.m. EST on August 30, 2019:

  • Full curriculum vitae which should include details about academic qualifications, prizes, scholarships, positions of leadership, employment positions, involvement in student, voluntary, community or political activities and any cultural, musical or sporting accomplishments
  • Personal statement of no more than 1,000 words. For a full description of the required contents of the personal statement, refer to Information for Candidates (section 5.i.)
  • Six letters of recommendation. For full details about the requirements of referees, refer to Information for Candidates (section 5.j.)
    • Referees must email their letters directly to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards by the FIRM deadline of August 30, 2019 in order to be considered for institutional endorsement.
    • At least three of the referees should be academics who have formally taught and graded the applicant during their undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
    • At least two referees should be able to comment on the applicant's character and/or involvement in extra-curricular/service or leadership activities.
    • Applicants are encouraged to provide the Rhodes Guidance for Referees to individuals they have selected.
    • Note: Referees of applicants who receive institutional endorsement from Waterloo will be asked to submit their letters of recommendation again via the Rhodes Embark online system.

Waterloo's adjudication process

Applicants seeking endorsement through the University of Waterloo must submit application materials identified above to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) by the FIRM deadline of 9:00 a.m. EST on August 30, 2019.

The institutional selection committee will be comprised of:

  • Dr. Jeff Casello, Associate Vice-President (GSPA)
  • Dr. Kirsten Muller, Assistant Vice-President (GSPA)
  • Laura Frazee, Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards (GSPA)

The selection committee will review the application packages, taking into consideration the selection criteria of:

  • Academic excellence
  • Energy to use talents to the fullest (as demonstrated by mastery in areas such as sports, music, debate, dance, theatre, and artistic pursuits, including where teamwork is involved)
  • Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship
  • Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in fellow human beings

The institutional committee will determine which applicants to invite for an interview to determine whether they are competitive enough to warrant institutional endorsement. Interviews will tentatively take place the week of September 9. All applicants will receive an email communication regarding decisions.

Applicants who receive institutional endorsement will receive an authorization code from Waterloo that will enable the Rhodes application to be completed online through the Rhodes website. Endorsed applicants will be provided with an official hardcopy of a Waterloo transcript that is to be scanned and uploaded into the Rhodes application system.

Referees of applicants who receive institutional endorsement are required to submit their letters of recommendation again via the Rhodes Embark online system.

An institutional endorsement letter, signed by the President of the University, will be written in support of the applicant(s) and provided directly to the Rhodes selection committee by the official deadline of September 27, 2019.

Examples of contributions from past Rhodes applicants

Applicants are expected to be of the highest caliber as the Rhodes scholarship competition is exceptionally fierce. Below is a sampling of contributions that would be expected of competitive Rhodes applicants:

  • Participant on committees such as social services, student governance, cultural diversity associations, community associations, city council, youth summit in the roles of representative, volunteer, secretary, director
  • Public interest research group leader
  • Program volunteer/assistant for student enrichment
  • Student ambassadors/dons
  • Volunteer at human rights centres
  • Missionary/humanitarian work
  • Presenter/delegate at international conferences, United Nations annual meeting
  • Workshop facilitator
  • Panel member in speaker series
  • Recipients of governance/volunteer/sportsmanship awards

Helpful resources

Questions about the Rhodes scholarship application process can be emailed to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA).