Gates-Cambridge: An Overview

At A Glance...

Official Name: 
Gates-Cambridge Scholarship
Who Should Apply?: 

Seniors and graduate students, non-U.K. citizenship
U.K./Ireland Pre-Application must be completed and submitted by June 1.

What It's For: 

Graduate degree at Cambridge University

Fields of Study: 
Any field

The Gates-Cambridge Scholarship is for one to four years of graduate study and research at the University of Cambridge. A small number are also available for study towards a second undergraduate degree.  Award covers full cost of study at Cambridge plus airfare to and from the U.K.

ELIGIBILITY: Seniors and recent graduates. May be citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom and may apply to any subject available at the University of Cambridge.  Applicants must apply directly to the University of Cambridge and complete the supplemental portion of the application to the Cambridge Trusts to be considered for the award. The scholarship is open to applicant who will pursue one of the following full-time courses at the University of Cambridge: 

  • PhD (three-year research-only degree)
  • MSc or MLitt (two-year research-only degree)
  • A one-year postgraduate course (e.g., MPhil, LLM, MASt, Diploma, MBA, etc.)

CANDIDATE PROFILE: Candidates will be expected to have excellent transcripts showing evidence of sustained achievement in study, together with academic references that speak of the candidate's leadership potential, social commitment, intellectual ability, and why further study at Cambridge is particularly appropriate.  The Gates Trust looks for students with enthusiasm, robustness of intellect, a willingness to engage, and humility. The four key selection criteria are:

  1. Academic excellence: Applicants should have an extremely strong academic record, with a GPA over 3.7.  Successful applicants will have the ability to make a significant contribution to their discipline while at Cambridge, with a strong aptitude for research, analysis and a creative approach to defining and solving problems.
  2. Leadership potential: Successful applicants must demonstrate a clear ability to “take others with them.”
  3. Commitment to improving the lives of others: Gates Scholars will be driven by the values of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which include a commitment to reducing inequities and improving lives around the world, particularly in the areas of health and education, often through the use of science and technology.
  4. Good academic fit with Cambridge: The Trust expects a good match to be made between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and what Cambridge has to offer.  This means that the applicant’s research track record and future goals should connect with their targeted Cambridge program and proposed research supervisor(s) at Cambridge.

Application Components:

  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members. Share this important information with your recommenders: Instructions for Recommenders: U.K. & Ireland Awards
  • 500 word Personal Statement
  • Certified transcript (or transcripts)
  • Cambridge admission application - GRADSAF

The Graduate Admissions Office or academic department to which you are applying may also require the following materials:

  • English language test scores (if English is not the student’s first language)
  • Research proposal or example of your written work
  • GRE/GMAT scores

Application Procedure:

While students apply directly to the Gates Foundation, it is in the best interest of applicants to work through ONSA. This involves support and feedback throughout preparation of the application materials to help students craft the strongest application possible. Contact us for advising approximately 2 months before the national deadline and send us your draft no later than 2 weeks before submitting it.

ONSA staff encourage you to set an advising appointment during the spring semester to discuss your eligibility and competitiveness for the UK/Ireland scholarships. After discussing with us your academic record and leadership and community engagement experience for these highly competitive scholarships, students will pre-apply with ONSA by June 1.

The pre-application process officially informs ONSA about your application plan and allows students to start working early on their applications. Complete and submit the pre-application by June 1: U.K./Ireland Scholarships Pre-Application (If you need assistance with this PDF file, please call 413-577-2615 or email

UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE DEADLINE: early OCTOBER. For exact date check their website. 

Gates Cambridge scholarship applications are part of the University of Cambridge application. Some key points regarding the Cambridge application are:

  • If your account is inactive for two or more weeks, your application will be automatically deleted, so be sure to log in frequently.
  • Your application will require two academic letters of recommendation, plus the third, personal reference.  Your online submission of the Cambridge application will send automated email prompts to your references, who will then have 14 days to submit their letters.
  • Your Cambridge program may have distinct requirements, such as a research proposal or other essays, test scores, or differing deadlines. Carefully review their website!