The Churchill Scholarship is awarded by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States to graduates of the more than one hundred colleges and universities invited to participate in the Churchill Scholarship Program, for the pursuit of research and study in the physical and natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, for one year at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. The scholarship is often considered one of the most prestigious and competitive international fellowships available to American graduate students, alongside the Marshall, Rhodes, and Mitchell scholarships. Each year, up to two students may be endorsed by each of the 110 U.S. institutions invited to participate in the program.
With an acceptance rate of approximately 6.3%, the Churchill Scholarship is nominally less selective than the Marshall, Rhodes, and Mitchell scholarships (acceptance rates 3.3%, 3.7%, and 4% respectively), however, significantly fewer institutions are allowed to nominate candidates for the Churchill Scholarship (presently 110 institutions as compared to at least 240 institutions for the Marshall, over 320 institutions for the Rhodes, and at least 415 institutions for the Mitchell). Furthermore, each institution may nominate only two candidates to the Churchill Scholarship, so the endorsed candidate pool is initially very selective. By comparison, the Marshall scholarship typically receives 915-980 endorsed applicants and the Rhodes scholarship typically receives 850-880 endorsed applicants, and the Mitchell scholarship typically receives 300 endorsed applicants. In contrast to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, applying to the Churchill, Marshall, Rhodes, or Mitchell scholarships all require the endorsement of an approved U.S. undergraduate institution. As such, the actual acceptance rates for these scholarships are significantly lower that the official acceptance rate of endorsed applicants (e.g., approximately 1.2% for the Rhodes in 2016). Instead of looking for the canonical "well rounded" applicant, the Churchill Scholarship seeks those with "interesting jagged-edges" and is considered one of the most academically challenging scholarships; the average GPA of the applicant pool is 3.8, and the average GPA of the winners is 3.98 (in 2016 all winners had a GPA above 3.95). From 2014-2017, 69% of the winning Churchill Scholars had previously received a Goldwater Scholarship.
Applicants for the Churchill Scholarship must be:
Applicants are chosen on the basis of:
Each participating institution may nominate only two candidates for the Churchill Scholarship, and each sets its own criteria for nomination.
In 1958, Churchill College at Cambridge was founded in honor of Sir Winston Churchill with a primary focus on science, engineering and mathematics. Anticipating the final establishment of the college, Churchill met with American friends Lewis W. Douglas, John Loeb, Sr., and Carl Gilbert to ask them to create a scholarship for young Americans to study at the college. In 1959, the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States was established as a nonprofit charitable organization. The Foundation initially made travel grants to Churchill Overseas Fellows, distinguished senior faculty from American colleges and universities who would spend a sabbatical year at the College. Eight of the Churchill Fellows won the Nobel Prize.
In 1963 the Foundation funded the first three Churchill Scholarships for one year of study. Subsequently, the Scholarships funded either one-year programs or three-year doctoral degrees. In order to increase the number of Churchill Scholars, the foundation decided in the early 1980's to support only one-year programs. To this day however, it is not uncommon for Churchill Scholars to obtain alternate funding to support continued doctoral study at the University of Cambridge following the completion of their Scholarship year.
Since 1963, around 550 Churchill Scholarships have been awarded. As of 2016 the Foundation has increased the number of scholarships awarded each year from fourteen to fifteen. The scholarship is worth between $50,000 and $60,000 depending on the exchange rate, covering all university and college fees (i.e., tuition, currently about $25,000) at the University of Cambridge, a living allowance, visa fees, up to $1,500 for travel between the United States and the United Kingdom, and the possibility of an additional $2,000 Special Research Grant.
A complete list of past Churchill Scholars is available here.
As of 2017-2018, 80 institutions have had successful nominations, and the schools with the most Churchill Scholars are:
|School||Number of Scholars|
|California Institute of Technology||21|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||20|
|Michigan State University||18|
|Johns Hopkins University||16|
|Harvey Mudd College||16|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||13|
|University of Chicago||13|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||12|
|University of Michigan at Ann Arbor||11|
|University of Rochester||11|
|Carnegie Mellon University||10|
|University of Minnesota||10|
|Case Western Reserve University||8|
|University of Pennsylvania||8|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||8|
|University of California, Berkeley||8|