Marshall Scholarship

To strengthen the "enduring relationship between British and American peoples," the Marshall Scholarship seeks leaders in any field to do their graduate studies in a British University for 1-3 years. Marshall Scholars are outstanding scholars and leaders and also show an interest in improving the human condition generally and the U.S.-U.K. relationship more specifically.

Students can apply to the Marshall to support one of the following:

  • A 1-year Master's Degree.
  • A 2-year Master's Degree.
  • 2 1-year Master's Degrees.
  • A 2-year Masters with an option to extend for a 3rd year Ph.D. (Third year funding is not guaranteed up-front, but is eligible by application in extraordinary circumstances.)

The Marshall pays all university fees, cost of living, books, thesis, travel and research expenses.

It bears repeating: this can be for graduate study in almost any field, as long as the work can be tied to the mission of the Marshall and done in one or two years. Medical and dental school, because they take longer than 1-2 years, are not eligible. A short list of other non-eligible fields can be found on the Marshal Scholarship - How to Apply page.

Eligibility

  • Open only to United States citizens
  • Must hold a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited four-year college or university in the United States at the time the Scholarship is awarded.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.7.
  • To qualify for awards tenable from October 2016, candidates must have graduated from their undergraduate college or university after April 2013.

Selection

40 awards are given annually, broken down by region. In the Southeast Region, the typical funnel is 100 applicants > 20 finalists > 4 awards. UAH has never had a Marshall Scholar, but it has not tried to compete until now…

Past Marshall Awardees include Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Reid Hoffman, founder and creator of LinkedIn.

Timeline

Like any major scholarship, the sooner you start thinking about applying, the better. You should have done most of the legwork by the end of your junior year, because the application is due very early in the fall of your senior year, and you will need the following things to be in line by the time you apply:

  • Academics: they require a minimum 3.7 GPA and they look closely at transcripts to see which courses were taken. (Eg., if you took thermodynamics for fun, but only made B, that's better than a student who took many easier classes and made all As).
  • Leadership: students must demonstrate that they have been leaders. Leaders can mean class president, starting up something important on or off campus, helping people through instruction, or even just "going against the grain" or rebelling against who you once were. They also want to know that your academics will lead to practical gains for all – that you won't "just" end up in a university publishing for other academics. They want "strength of purpose."
  • Coherence, specificity depth of plan: This is critical. Students must show that they have looked deeply into the various universities in the UK and found special programs or top programs in very specific areas, and that they have shown that their own trajectory leads naturally to studying and working at one of these universities. It doesn't hurt to have even contacted the faculty member at that university. You should know:
    • Quality of program of study.
    • Knowledge of proposed courses and supervisors at your proposed UK university.
    • Evidence of academic background that is strong and relevant.
    • Quality and breadth of recommendations.
    • Really looking for an academic plan that is very specific and very unique.
    • Tip: They want people to go to the "partner universities." In other words, some favor is given to those who are not seeking the big three: Oxford, Cambridge, and London University but looking instead for smaller (but still good) programs at other UK universities.
  • Ambassador role: This is also very important and connects all the pieces. They want to see that the future leaders in the U.S. have a good relationship and understanding of the UK. This is particularly about the "Special Relationship," which many Americans know very little about, but is critical in the UK. This requires several things:
    • Knowledge of the UK and US. Students will be asked about their knowledge of the UK in the interview.
    • Understanding of Marshall and Churchill who set this up originally. Don't use the same 3 quotes that pop on a Google search.
    • You must be the kind of person who would relate well to others, be personable, etc. You need an "ambassadorial" personality.
  • Recommenders: You will need one "primary recommendation" letter and 3 other supporting letters.

End of junior year

Your basic application and plan are ready to submit, including your references. You can do the application online, save it, and print it as a PDF before you submit, and you should plan on having it checked over by your adviser and the university's Marshall coordinator.

September 1

Application submitted to UAH. (Submission is through the Marshall website. It comes back to UAH. UAH decides which candidate it will endorse.)

October 1

UAH makes institutional recommendation

October

Shortlisting in regions

November

30-minute interviews of top 20 candidates (Atlanta)

Requirements

The application can be done entirely online. You must have the following:

  • Academics
  • Leadership
  • Coherence, specificity, and depth of plan
  • Ambassadorial role

You are also required to have 4 letters of recommendation. One of these is your "primary" recommendation and should be your "major" professor or somebody with whom you have worked closely. The primary recommendation is very important in selection.

Additional Information

  • It's not so much the number of activities as it is how they relate to your narrative and how you demonstrated persistence in them. (Eg., did you just take a French Class, or did you learn the language? Did you stay with your music through all four years of college?)
  • The Interdisciplinary angle could give us an edge: a 2-year program with 2 1-year Masters in different disciplines – this could be innovative and very attractive. Think about how you could get degrees in two fields (engineering and science, say) and use this to formulate a plan.
  • Undergraduate Research could also give us an edge: they want a coherent academic narrative and a very close relationship with the "Primary recommender," who can be a research mentor.
  • They are strong on diversity, and they are also very interested, especially in the Southeast region, in first time college students.
  • The narrative needs to be authentic, but well written and edited carefully.
  • Do not repeat yourself on the application: they read it all very carefully, so you can use the whole application to give all the information you need, not one point repeatedly.
  • They are not looking for "academic tourists."
  • Before Interview, spend a few weeks reading The Economist and listening to BBC.

Contact

For more information about the Marshall Scholarship, please contact:

Dr. William Wilkerson

Dean, Honors College

 Frank Franz Hall 104
 256.824.2339
wilkerw@uah.edu