Meta: The Churchill Scholarship is a prestigious award worth more than $60,000 honoring the legacy of Winston Churchill and promoting research collaboration between the United States and the United Kingdom. Eight previous Churchill scholars have won the Nobel Prize, making this award competitive and transformative.

Winston Churchill is one of the most enigmatic figures of the 20th century and the Churchill Scholarship, created by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, honors his legacy and desire for collaboration between the US and the UK.

American students are awarded one year of study towards a Masters at the University of Cambridge, Churchill College, in the fields of engineering, science, and mathematics. Read on to learn more about the Churchill Scholarship, the myth behind the man, and the most recent winners of this prestigious award.

Winston Churchill’s Contributions to the Western World

It’s a nearly undisputed belief in history that without Winston Churchill, Britain would have fallen to Hitler’s armies during World War II, inexorably altering the face of Europe and the Western World. Known for his pugnacious, dogmatic belief in total victory, Churchill fanned the flames of his country’s courage and tenacity again and again, even as the entire European continent fell under the Nazi onslaught.

Always determined and somewhat rebellious, Churchill hadn’t always been successful. Poor military decisions during World War I had led to his disgraced removal from his military position, and he was occasionally on the wrong side of history, as in his lack of support for Indian independence.

One of the factors that marked Churchill’s outlook on life was his mother–an American woman. It was surely her influence that encouraged Churchill to request a means to foster academic and technical collaboration between the United States and Great Britain.

Why the University of Cambridge?

The University of Cambridge is a venerable institution. Created in 1209, it is second only to the University of Oxford in age and continues to be one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

The Churchill Scholarship enables students studying in the United States to collaborate with students and faculty studying and researching at Cambridge.

The program provides opportunities for further research that leads to publication (the quality of which is often not attainable in a Master’s program), extracurricular and social opportunities to enhance the student’s academic career, and the singular focus on STEM subjects.

More than nine Churchill Scholarship recipients have won the Nobel Prize, including James D. Watson, in 1962, for researching the structure of DNA. While the first three Churchill Scholarships were awarded in 1963, today the Foundation offers fourteen awards that lead to a Master of Advanced Study (MASt) or a Master of Philosophy (MPhil).

Am I Eligible for the Churchill Scholarship?

To determine eligibility for the Churchill Scholarship, you must answer the following questions:

  • Are you a United States citizen, either native born or naturalized?
  • Are you a senior enrolled in a participating institution or have you graduated from a participating institution in the last twelve months?
  • Will you have obtained a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) by the time of your Churchill Scholarship, but not a doctorate?

If you can answer these questions affirmatively, you are eligible to apply for the Churchill Scholarship.

Here are just a few of the universities and colleges that participate in the Churchill Scholarship program (the full list can be found here):

  • Rice University
  • Yale University
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Clemson University
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of Florida
  • University of Texas

How Do I Apply for the Churchill Scholarship?

If you are eligible to apply for a Churchill Scholarship, you should first check with your school’s scholarship office, as this institution normally has its own, internal application process. The Churchill Scholarship deadline for 2018 is November 1, 2018, but your school’s deadline may be earlier, so proceed with care.

Also, keep in mind that each institution can only nominate up to two individuals for the scholarship; your application will not be considered complete for the award unless you are nominated.

Application to the University

There will be fifteen Churchill Scholarships next available; to apply, candidates must apply to the Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Cambridge (in science, engineering, or mathematics; you may review available programs here). In the application, you should note that you would like to be considered for the Churchill Scholarship.

The Award Application

Your application should be filled out online (here). The application will include questions about past institutions and your grades, as well as future career plans (200 words), non-academic interests and activities (800 words), research and employment experience (800 words), and scholarships, prizes, awards, and other distinctions (800 words).

The application will also ask for dissemination, including peer review journals, oral or poster presentations, and others (no word limit).

You will also be required to attach a Proposed Program of Study (one page), a Personal Statement (two pages), a transcript, and (if available) correspondence with a possible lab supervisor.

Letters of Recommendation

You will also be required to submit four academic letters of recommendation (use this form to make your recommendation requests). These letters should not be submitted to you; instead, your recommenders should submit them to scholarship office at your university or college.

If you are selected, you will be notified by mid-January, after the application deadline. Awards will be publicly announced in early February.

What are the Selection Criteria?

As you might imagine, the selection criteria are quite stringent. The Foundation explains that, while it does not set a minimum grade requirement, it does expect to see what it calls “outstanding academic achievement.” This is expected to be indicated by course grades (recent Churchill Scholars’ GPAs have been 3.9 and above, particularly in major work).

In addition to high academic achievement, criteria include abilities in research that are proven and a definite ability to contribute (via original work) to knowledge in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences. This is all borne out through awards, research, prizes, and letters of recommendation.

Every applicant should also extensive experience in the lab or related work, via internships or research (mathematics applicants will be able to show independent work or projects that are substantial).

The Foundation also looks for what it calls “outstanding personal qualities.” It’s not looking for a scholar who is well-rounded; rather someone who demonstrates an interest in life outside of academics, including athletics, music, and more.

What Do I Win?

The worth of the Churchill Scholarship is estimated at approximately $60,000 (this depends on the exchange rate). The student’s University and College fees are covered in their entirety (usually about $40,000), and an allowance for living expenses is provided. In 2018-2019, this amounts to £11,083 (nine-month study program), £13,447 (eleven-month study program), or £14,777 (full year of study).

For travel back and forth to the UK, students will also receive up to $1,500, plus full reimbursement of fees for a UK visa and health surcharge. Scholarship recipients may also receive up to $2,000 in a Special Research Grant, to cover additional research at other universities (intended to be brief), travel for international conference presentations, and so forth.

Most important, however, is the experience of collaborating internationally with the high caliber of students found at the Churchill department of Cambridge. As you’ll see below, most scholars find this experience transforming!

What Do Past Scholars Think of Their Churchill Scholarship Experience?

The Churchill Scholarship experience is intended to be transformative, in both a personal sense and an academic sense. In fact, Cambridge’s Master’s degrees are extremely independent-study focused–most graduate programs in the United States are not so independent.

In fact, an MPhil degree is solely lab-based and a MASt, which does include “taught” courses, does not grade problems (evaluations are based on exams and a research project).

Due to its special mix, however, of independent research and non-academic collaboration with fellow students from around the world, students have the opportunity to prepare for further work in Europe and elsewhere in a unique and vibrant way.

One student shares his experience in this way:

“When I started thinking about UK fellowships, I wasn’t sure if it was worth taking a year out of an already long MD-PhD track for a master’s education that would probably be dwarfed by two doctoral degrees. It was easy to mentally write off the nebulous cultural experiences I would have and the potential contacts I would make. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I was so naïve – the year was one of the most exciting, interesting, and valuable of my life.”

This Year’s Winners

2018-2019 Churchill Scholars include four women and twelve men, chosen from over a hundred nominations.

The winners include individuals such as Kevin Chen from the University of Pennsylvania, using his biophysics degree to understand how molecular components collaborate and Namrah Habib of the University of Arizona, who has plans to be a missions specialist astronaut.

Also in this star class is Aishwarya Nen from California Institute of Technology, who will work to identify peptides that might inhibit beta-amyloid proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s.

Pin It on Pinterest