Gates Cambridge Scholarship

The University of Cambridge has attracted many of the very best minds since 1209.

Today the University has grown to around 20,000 students, 7,500 of whom are graduate students. Of those 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 in both national and international league tables, the University of Cambridge offers a world leading graduate education. With a global outlook and reach, our mission is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.



Cambridge Colleges

Throughout its history, Cambridge has had Colleges, which are intimate social and intellectual communities of scholars. They are educational charities, each with a particular mission and character, and they have evolved in response to different social pressures. They remain flexible, reacting to the changing needs of their members. But all are devoted to study and research across the range of disciplines and generations. Governed by Fellows, who are mostly academics employed in the University, they remain integral to the University’s educational and research environment today. They can offer you a home and other facilities that universities usually provide centrally. They also give you experiences and opportunities that are unique to Cambridge.


Gates Cambridge Scholarship

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme was established in October 2000 by a donation of US$210m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge; this is the largest ever single donation to a UK university. The first class of scholars came into residence in October 2001.

Each year Gates Cambridge offers c.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.

The selection criteria are:

  • outstanding intellectual ability
  • reasons for choice of course
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others
  • leadership potential

There are at least 225 Scholars from c. 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, as well as forming their own distinctive community.

There is currently a community of more than 1,700 Gates Cambridge Alumni spread across the world.

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.


Funding in Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Core components

  • the University Composition Fee at the appropriate rate*
  • a maintenance allowance for a single student (£17,848 for 12 months at the 2021-22 rate; pro rata for courses shorter than 12 months) – for PhD scholars the award is for up to 4 years
  • one economy single airfare at both the beginning and end of the course
  • inbound visa costs & the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge

* The University Composition Fee varies for different types of students; applicants should see the Graduate Studies prospectus for full details about precise amounts. Where a student from the European Union has been successful in gaining a fees award from public authorities they must accept this and the Trust will not pay these fees.

Discretionary components

The Trust also considers applications for several types of additional funding on a discretionary basis:
  • Academic development funding – from up to £500 to up to £2,000, dependent on the length of your course, to attend conferences and courses.
  • Family allowance – up to £10,120 for one child and up to £14,440 for two or more children (2021-22 rate). No funding is provided for a partner.
  • Fieldwork – you may apply to keep up to your normal maintenance allowance while on fieldwork as part of your PhD (the Trust does not fund other fieldwork costs as these should be funded by the University Composition Fee).
  • Maternity/Paternity funding – should you require it, you may apply to intermit your studies for up to 6 months and continue to receive your maintenance allowance during this time
  • Hardship funding – for unforeseen difficulties facing the scholar

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

  1. a citizen of any country outside the United Kingdom
  2. applying to pursue one of the following full-time residential courses of study at the University of Cambridge:
  3. PhD
  4. MSc/MLitt
  5. One year postgraduate course (with some exceptions – see below)


Reasons for choice of course

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

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 note on the ratio of PhD: Masters awards

In order to create and sustain a viable Scholar community in Cambridge University and for Scholars to take full advantage of their time in Cambridge, we aim to select approximately 2/3 PhD scholars each year.

Those applying for taught Masters 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.

Current 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 PhD.

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 in round two.

However, if you have already started a course you cannot apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to fund the remainder of it.

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