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What Is a Rhodes Scholar?

Every year, the Rhodes Foundation gives away 90 Rhodes Scholarships. Recipients—called Rhodes Scholars—have the great opportunity to study in the prestigious Oxford University, located in England. Benefits include full payment of tuition, a generous stipend, and the opportunity to get additional scholarships from Oxford.

The scholarships are applicable to undergraduate and post graduate courses, such as master’s degrees or Ph.D’s. The criteria for acceptance is very high, and only the best and brightest are chosen. Many Rhodes scholars have gone on to become some of the most influential people in the world. For example, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Kim Beazly, and U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Communications Director George Stephanopoulos. Robert Penn Warren, a Poet Laureate, was also a Rhodes scholar.

The scholarships were established over a century ago in 1902, as indicated in the will of Cecil John Rhodes. He specified that recipients must have a “strong moral character, desire to lead and sense of duty” –plus, a keen athletic ability or interest in sports.

At the beginning, The Rhodes scholarships were open only to citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. (Note: the privilege was suspended to Germans from World War I to after World War II. However, it was only till much later—the 1970s, actually—that another German Rhodes scholar was named.)

The scholarships were only made available to women after 1977. Today scholarships are also distributed to Canada and other smaller countries, with a quota assigned to each location.

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