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.

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.


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. 

Whether you've made any firm decisions about applying, which universities/grad programs you're interested in, or are just getting started exploring, let us know you're considering UK options. Connect with Robin Chang in the UW Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards.

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 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 will open at the start of spring quarter.

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

Gates Cambridge application timeline and selection process

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship has different application timelines and deadlines for US applicants vs. applicants from other countries. Please see for details. Please also be staying up to date on the admission details and deadlines for your program of choice at Cambridge!

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship uses a two-stage selection process to ensure Scholars meet all of our criteria to the highest degree.

1. Departmental ranking

In order to ensure only the most academically outstanding candidates are considered, the Trust asks academic departments in Cambridge to rank eligible applicants on academic ability only. Those who are put forward by their departments are considered the most academically outstanding applicants they have received that year.

2. Interview

All candidates nominated by academic departments have a short interview to assess how they meet all four Gates Cambridge criteria. Scholars are then selected after interview.


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