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How Rhodes Scholarships Work

Rhodes Scholarships History

The Rhodes Scholarships were established in 1902 and, according to the Rhodes Trust, are the oldest international education fellowships in the world. Though the scholarships have been awarded since 1902, the first Americans entered Oxford under the Rhodes Scholarships banner in 1904.

The Rhodes Scholarships were established by the will of a British statesman, Cecil Rhodes. In his will, Rhodes set out the beginnings of the Rhodes Scholarship program. He sought to create leaders who would be dedicated to service and academic inquiry. He also felt that those leaders would benefit from knowing each other -- that's why the Rhodes Scholarships cover study at Oxford University. Finally, Rhodes envisioned an environment where the scholars could learn from the differences among them. As a result, he named nine countries that would receive Rhodes Scholarships each year.

Since Rhodes' will, more countries have been added to the list of eligible areas. Now, Rhodes Scholars come from 14 different countries. Rhodes also originally made the scholarships open only to men; however, in 1976 the scholarships opened to women, too. And, as Rhodes originally specified, the scholarships have always been awarded without regard to race or religion.

The Rhodes Scholarships are administered by the Rhodes Trust in Vienna, Va. But how does a student go about winning a Rhodes Scholarship?