Gates Cambridge Scholarship

How to apply



The Gates Cambridge Scholarship was established in 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge. This scholarship offers 80 scholarships to applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a postgraduate degree in any discipline at the University of Cambridge. The majority of scholars pursue PhD programs, but some scholarships are awarded to students pursuing other degree programs. Scholars come from over 50 countries and are part of a network of over 1,700 Gates Cambridge Alumni. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, a modest stipend, travel to/from scholars’ home country at the start and end of the program, and visa and Immigration Health Surcharge fees. Scholars may also apply for additional funding on a discretionary basis.


  • A citizen of any country outside of the UK
  • Applying for a PhD (full-time or part-time*), MLitt (full-time), or a one year postgraduate course (full-time)

*The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is piloting a program for October 2023 entry that allows applicants to apply for a part-time doctoral degree. This is a new option and may or may not be available in future years.

Selection Criteria

  • Outstanding intellectual ability
  • Reasons for choice of course
  • A commitment to improving the lives of others
  • Leadership potential


A Gates Cambridge Scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge. It also provides additional, discretionary funding.

The award includes:

  • The University Composition Fee at the appropriate rate
  • A maintenance allowance for a single student (£18,744 for 12 months at the 2022-23 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 UK’s Immigration Health Surcharge

Application Components

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship application consists of the following components:

  • 3,000 word personal statement that explains why you are applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how you meet the program’s selection criteria
  • PhD applicants must submit a research proposal
  • Two academic letters of recommendation
  • The Gates Cambridge reference that speaks to how the applicant meets the scholarship’s selection criteria

More information about application components can be found on the scholarship’s webpage.

How to Apply

  1. Start considering the Gates Cambridge Scholarship in the spring of the year before you intend to start graduate studies, or earlier. 
  2. Learn about the award: visit the Gates Cambridge Scholarship website; check your eligibility and read about alumni from the program.
  3. Research Cambridge University and determine which graduate program you will apply to. Talk with your academic advisor about the feasibility of being admitted to that program and your competitiveness for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. 
  4. Book an appointment to meet with Office of Fellowships staff to shape your strategy for this application and your broader plans. Few Gates Cambridge applicants receive the scholarship; this is not a reason not to apply, but consider how else you might fund a Cambridge graduate program and apply to more than one university.
    1. Note, if you are applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, in many cases you should also consider other UK graduate study awards, including through the Marshall Scholarship Program and the Fulbright US Student Program.
  5. Draft your application essays and book a draft review appointment with the Office of Fellowships. The last opportunity to do so is before the campus deadline in late August. (See the list of campus deadlines for information about the current cycle.)
  6. Once you have submitted your application for the campus deadline, you will receive any final comments on your drafts and then revise them on your own before the national deadline in October. Applicants apply for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship as a part of their application to Cambridge University (simultaneously) via the University of Cambridge’s Graduate Application Portal. In other words, the Gates Cambridge application is a part of (and embedded within) the general graduate school application for Cambridge University. Each course of study will require information about the applicant’s academic and professional background, in addition to a statement of one’s plans and suitability for the program.