What is a Rhodes Scholar?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A Rhodes Scholar is a winner of one of the approximately 90 Rhodes Scholarships awarded each year by the Rhodes foundation. Rhodes Scholarship recipients study at Oxford University, in England, for one to two years. This study may be applied to a degree being completed at another university, or it may serve to complete a degree. Citizens of only a select number of countries are eligible for this scholarship, and recipients often go on to find success in a wide range of professions.

The Rhodes Trust is the organization behind the Rhodes Scholarships.
The Rhodes Trust is the organization behind the Rhodes Scholarships.

Backgrounds of Scholars

Students eligible to become a Rhodes Scholar often have a fondness for sports, strong moral character, and an interest in their fellow citizens. While scholarships are often awarded to students with political or legal interests, playwrights, religious leaders, and athletes have all become Rhodes Scholars. Some scholars use the time to work on a bachelor's degree, while others study at Oxford to complete a postgraduate program.

Germany is allocated two Rhodes Scholarship per year.
Germany is allocated two Rhodes Scholarship per year.

Advantages of Scholarship

Being a Rhodes Scholar is quite an accomplishment and comes with extraordinary benefits. Not only is full tuition paid, but students also receive a generous stipend to live on, and may receive additional scholarships through Oxford. This scholarship is quite prestigious and can give a Rhodes Scholar an advantage when looking for employment after completing a degree. Study at Oxford also presents numerous opportunities for a Rhodes Scholar to network and establish long-term relationships with professors and future world leaders.

Cecil John Rhodes, whose will founded the Rhodes Trust, earned his fortune from African diamond mines.
Cecil John Rhodes, whose will founded the Rhodes Trust, earned his fortune from African diamond mines.

Eligibility for a Rhodes Scholarship

Initially the scholarship was awarded to students solely from the US, UK, and Germany. With the beginning of World War I, Germans could no longer become Rhodes Scholars. Germans were once more allowed to apply after WWII, but no German student became a Rhodes Scholar again until 1971. Women, however, were not permitted to apply until 1977. Scholarships are typically awarded based on scholarly achievement and demonstrations of leadership.

Scholarships by Country

The Rhodes Trust was established in 1902 through the will of Cecil John Rhodes, who amassed a fortune via diamond mines in Africa. Today, citizens of numerous countries including Australia, India, and a number of South African countries can apply for Rhodes Scholarships. These countries receive a yearly allocation to award. In the US, for example, there are 32 scholarships available each yeah, while Canada has 11. Germany is only allowed two scholarships and most smaller eligible countries can award one to two per year.

Famous Examples

Some well-known Rhode Scholars include:

  • Robert Penn Warren — Former Poet Laureate of the US.
  • Dean Rusk — Former US Secretary of State.
  • Bill Clinton — Former President of the US.
  • Kim Beazley — Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.
  • George Stephanopoulos — director of communications for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, later a political commentator.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is a Rhodes Scholar.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is a Rhodes Scholar.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I agree with anon37542. I studied at Oxford too (although on some scholarship than Rhodes) and my experience with Rhodes scholars was horrible. They are so bloody arrogant. I can't say that they are the smartest of the lot at Oxford.

I think they should understand that they got the scholarship to do something useful with their education and not to become high-headed about it.


So if Clinton won this, it's clearly not a gauge of one's morality.


The cultured blindness in world societies to the shallow and self-centered personalities of the

Ivy League "Elite" is baffling.

For every Ivy League educated person that makes a major difference in the world there are thousands from average schools that really make this world work.

How the world became hypnotized with people completing an education that leaves them obnoxious, arrogant, entitled and above-it-all is simply sickening.


Goodness but some of you people sound so bitter and so unkind. Focus on the good. It will make you less bitter and more kindly.


I am,believe it or not, the great great grand nephew of Cecil, and I haven't seen a penny. However, I have his brother's daughter's signet ring (my great granny on my father's side). it is well worn, cherished and in a safe place. I am self educated and a romantic nationalist.


It would be reasonable to expect the 'answer' to indicate the intent of the scholarship if that had actually been the question. The 'question' of 'what is a Rhodes Scholar' is answered in the first sentence.

As for the intent of the scholarship, the online FAQ states that Mr. Rhodes hoped to promote international understanding and peace by having English-speaking students study at Oxford.


In this five paragraph 'answer' I found nothing denoting the intent of the scholarship.


"Today, citizens of countries that are free and democratic are eligible to submit applications for Rhodes Scholarships." This is false. There are fixed quotas for certain countries.

As to "very generous" - it is very well possible to live comfortably with it in Oxford, but it is less than for example the research council scholarships. I'm a Rhodes Scholar, so I know. As to the supposed "acts of greatness" after the scholarship - not exactly sure. But what I know is that some of my dear fellow "Rhodies" are so damn' arrogant (either because they are Rhodes Scholars or because they have always been arrogant) that I prefer not having to do too much with them.


A Rhodes Scholar has everything paid including the transportation to Oxford, which is only one of the most influential institutions in the world. The stipend you live on is *very* generous, and well, you get it because after they select you, they expect for *all* of the scholars to go on to commit acts of greatness.

It is my *dream* to be a Rhodes Scholar!


What's so special about studying at University of Oxford? What's important is graduates will become future great leaders who will lead countries to create a better world than the world at present, regardless of their alma mater. As I see it, many graduates from University of Oxford don't become effective leaders, instead screw up the administration of the government, i.e. UK.


there is much to say to catch you up to my views on cecil rhodes but i can not do so here. anywho this will be a short quote from David Icke's book "...and the truth shall set you free"(suggest you buy and read this book)

Cecil Rhodes was a fabulously wealthy Englishman who exploited the continent and peoples of Africa, and particularly the diamond reserves of South Africa. The name Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, is an indication of his influence in that part of the world. As a student at Oxford University, Rhodes was inspired by a fine arts professor called John Ruskin....The views of John Ruskin and his articulate promotion of them brought about a revolution in the thinking of the privileged undergraduates of Oxford and some at Cambridge, too. Rhodes copied Ruskin's inaugural lecture in longhand and kept it with him for the rest of his life. The creation of a world government centered on Britain became Rhodes's obsession and lay at the heart of almost everything he did. Rhodes is claimed to have been a member of an elite group known as the Committee of 300, a.k.a. the Olympians.... consisting of leading people in politics, commerce, banking, the media, the military etc, who are working toward the goal of total global power. (this group along with others are behind the Boer War...[S. Africa 1899-1902 tens of thousands of men, women, and children were killed]... in 1902 Rhodes died and bequeathed his funds to the cause. In his will, Rhodes also created a system of subsidized scholarships which continue to this day. This was, in part, a front to hide the secret society. Selected overseas student are brought to Oxford University to be taught the British view of life and to be sold the idea of a world government. It is remarkable how many 'Rhodes Scholars', as they are called, go on to become leaders of counties or heads of intelligence agencies, education, and other subject areas important to the Elite, or 'advisors' to those leaders.)


-Cthroo seek the truth


Also not mentioned is Alain Locke, teacher, essayist, and impresario of the New Negro Movement AKA Harlem Renaissance.(watson, harlem renaissance). Locke is also the first black Rhodes Scholar and was a class of 1907 magna cum laude Harvard graduate!


You fail to mention South Africa, where Cecil John Rhodes lived and was buried. South Africa has had scholarships awarded each year since 1902. Furthermore, despite the fact that the greatest number of Scholarships are allocated to the United States, South Africa has always had the highest number of Scholarships per capita of the major constituencies.


Don't scholarship recipients not only get their tuition paid, but their living expenses covered as well?

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