How Rhodes Scholarships Work

Notable Rhodes Scholars

With just 1,794 living Rhodes Scholars in the world, you would expect them to be a fairly accomplished group -- and you'd be right [source: Willen]. The most common career path for Rhodes Scholars is higher education. Some estimates indicate 40 percent of living Rhodes scholars work in higher education. The next most popular career field is law, with 20 percent of Rhodes Scholars ending up there. Government work is another popular career path. The Kennedy administration had 25 Rhodes Scholars in it, and the Clinton administration had 50 [source: Willen].

So, who are these Rhodes Scholars? Well, you've probably heard of at least a few Rhodes Scholars, even if you didn't necessarily know they were prior to reading this. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was one, as is Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is a Rhodes Scholar, too, and so is actor and musician Kris Kristofferson.

Former Senator and NBA star Bill Bradley was also a Rhodes Scholar. Like Bradley, Myron Rolle, a defensive back and sixth-round draft pick in the 2010 NFL draft, proves that Rhodes Scholarships aren't just for people who spend all day in the library. Since the selection criteria call for vigor demonstrated through participation in sports, athletes tend to do quite well.

For more information about Rhodes Scholarships and other related topics, follow the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Miners, Zach. "Where to Start if You Want to be a Rhodes Scholar." U.S. News and World Report. Nov. 23, 2009. (April 28, 2010)
  • The Rhodes Trust. "Oxford and the Rhodes Scholarships." July 9, 2009. (April 28, 2010) website_7_8_09.pdf
  • Willen, Liz. "Harvard Rhodes Scholar Factory Spurs Imitation at U.S. Colleges." Bloomberg. Dec. 29, 2004. (April 28, 2010)