Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Website: 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.

For 2020 entry, Gates Cambridge offered 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 are offered to PhD students, with approximately 25 awards available in the US round and 55 available in the International round. 2021 entry numbers are expected to be roughly similar. Applications for 2022 entry will open in September, but you should get started on the process far in advance of that.

The selection criteria are:

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

There are about 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.

The aim of the Gates Cambridge programme is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.


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

  • a citizen of any country outside the United Kingdom
  • applying to pursue one of the following full-time residential courses of study at the University of Cambridge:
    • PhD (three year research-only degree)
    • MSc or MLitt (two year research-only degree)
    • One year postgraduate course (e.g. MPhil, LLM, MASt, Diploma, MBA etc.)

Courses which are not eligible for Gates Cambridge Scholarships:

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

Selection criteria:

  • 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 on 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. 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 commitment to improving the lives of others: A defining characteristic of the Gates Cambridge programme 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 impact in the future careers.
  • 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.

Find out more

You can find out more information about how we select and see the diversity of Scholars we have selected to date on our YouTube channel, Scholar search and news page.

Student Type
  • junior
  • senior
  • graduate
Citizen Type
  • Us Citizen
  • Permanent Resident
  • International or Other Visa Status
  • Undocumented

Applicants for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship must apply directly for admission to the University of Cambridge. Candidates for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship must have sound academic reasons for wanting to study at Cambridge, and should intend to use the benefits of higher education for the common good.  Application and additional scholarship information is found on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship website. 

Let UW OMSFA know you're interested!

Whether you've made any firm decisions about applying, which universities/grad programs you're interested in, or are just getting started exploring, let UW's Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards know you're considering UK options. Submit this very short interest form, and we'll connect with you for advising and to share resources.

An endorsement or nomination from the University of Washington is not required for the Gates Cambridge; however scholarship advising is available through the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards. Potential applicants would benefit from using the spring quarter application process required for students applying for the Churchill, Marshall, Mitchell and Rhodes scholarships, though this is not required. Letting us know of your intention to apply will connect you with resources to develop a more competitive application.

Applicants and nominees for the Churchill, Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes, and Gates Cambridge scholarships should take advantage of OMSFA’s Global Fellowships Prep program to get advising support, connection to additional scholarship opportunities supporting their goals, application development tools and resources, potential connections to program alumni and additional mentors, and the opportunity to engage with peers working on similar applications.

Again, while the campus application isn't a required step to apply only for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, often students are interested in multiple of the UK scholarships. The campus application to be considered for those UK scholarships that do require nomination is now available at

To learn about the degree options available at Cambridge, check the Cambridge Graduate Studies Admission information at


Students who are American citizens, or who have permission to reside in the United States, and are currently studying at an American institution who wish to apply for a Gates scholarship must submit the Graduate Application and Scholarship Form by the October 2021 deadline.  

Shortlisting for Gates scholarship interviews will take place during December 2021, and those selected for interview will be informed by the end of December. The interviews (if offered) will be held in January 2022.

Applicants for a Gates scholarship from countries other than the USA - including international students studying at American institutions, and American students taking a post-graduate course abroad - must also complete the Graduate Application and Scholarship Form. The application deadline in this round is determined by the course you are applying for and is set by the central Graduate Admissions Office. Check the Graduate Funding Competition deadline in the course directoryPlease also note that if a course deadline is earlier than the relevant funding deadline above (e.g. the LLM in Law), you must apply by the earlier course deadline. Interviews for candidates in this round will take place in March 2022 (if offered).

All successful candidates will be informed of the result shortly after the interviews have taken place.


In October 2000 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $210 million to the University of Cambridge, establishing the Gates Cambridge Trust. This is the largest single donation to a UK university. The Trust is an independent charity and manages all aspects of the Gates Cambridge Scholarships programme - selection of Scholars, Scholars in residence, alumni relations and all financial and administrative matters. The programme celebrated its 20 year anniversary in 2020!

Quick facts

  • First class of Scholars took up their awards in 2001
  • Currently over 1,400 Gates Cambridge Scholars and Alumni from more than 100 countries
  • 95 new Scholarships awarded each year: 40 in US round 55 in international round
  • 225 Scholars from c. 50 countries studying in Cambridge
  • Over 1,000 Alumni spread across the globe
Contact Information

Gates Cambridge Trust
PO BOX 252
Cambridge CB2 1TZ England

UW Scholarship Advising Support:

Robin Chang

Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

171 Mary Gates Hall