As the establishment of a new college in Cambridge was becoming a reality, Sir Winston Churchill met with American friends to ask them to create a way for young Americans to study at the college. Among those friends was Lewis W. Douglas, a graduate of Amherst College and of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain from 1947 to 1950. Carl Gilbert, chairman of the Gillette Company, was the first Chairman of the Foundation.
The first Churchill Scholarships, three in number, were awarded in 1963 and funded one year of study. Shortly thereafter the Scholarships were available either for one-year programs or for the three-year doctorate at Cambridge. In the early 1980’s the Foundation decided to support only one-year programs in order to increase the number of Churchill Scholars.
In its early years the Foundation also made small travel grants to Churchill Fellows, distinguished senior faculty who would spend one year at the College. Eight of the Churchill Fellows won the Nobel Prize.
There have now been around 500 Churchill Scholars. This site has a database that lists all Churchill Scholars, their undergraduate institutions, and their departments at the University of Cambridge.
The first challenge for applicants for a Churchill Scholarship is to identify a program of study, and often a Cambridge laboratory, that best fits your intellectual aspirations. This can be far from straightforward, because the Cambridge structure is different from many American universities, labs in closely related fields can be found in a wide variety of different departments, and the University of Cambridge website can be confusing and, in many cases, incomplete.
There are two different degree courses available to applicants for the Churchill Scholarship: the MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and MASt (Master of Advanced Study). The standard MPhil is a research degree, a program that entails full-time research in a lab, and culminates in a thesis and a viva (an oral examination). The MASt is a taught degree course comprised of lectures and written examinations. Some MPhil courses involve a mixture of taught courses and a research paper, and most MASt courses provide the opportunity to write a research paper. You should check each department's website for a full description of each course.
In some departments, there is only one MPhil program, and each applicant simply finds the appropriate lab in which to work. In other departments, there are a number of different Master’s courses, some of which may not be eligible for a Churchill Scholarship. The list below is meant to be a general orienting guide of eligible and ineligible courses, but it may be just the start of your search for the Cambridge program that is right for your research interests.
An applicant for the Churchill Scholarship must be a citizen of the United States, either native born or naturalized, and must be a senior who is enrolled in one of the institutions participating in the Scholarship Program or a student who has graduated from one of those institutions within the past 12 months. Upon taking up the Churchill Scholarship, a Churchill Scholar must hold a bachelor's degree or an equivalent, and may not have attained a doctorate.
Criteria for selection
The criteria for the selection of Churchill Scholars include:
Outstanding academic achievement, especially in the major, as indicated by course grades. The Foundation does not require a minimum GPA, but recent Churchill Scholars have had a GPA of at least 3.7 and usually have 3.9 or above.
Proven talent in research and a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics by pursuing original, creative work at an advanced level as demonstrated by awards, prizes, research, and letters of recommendation. Applicants in the sciences and engineering will demonstrate extensive laboratory experience, internships, or other related work, while applicants in mathematics will show substantial independent work or other projects.
Outstanding personal qualities. Understanding the time commitment required by research, the Churchill Foundation does not seek so-called “well rounded” applicants; instead, it seeks applicants with what we call interesting “jagged edges.” Nonetheless, it should be noted that successful applicants display a bewildering array of talents and activities outside of academic pursuits, especially in music, athletics, social service, among other activities.
The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States is committed to a policy against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, marital or parental status, race, color, religion, national origin, or disability or any other characteristic protected by law.
Applying for scholarship
You may download the instructions for applying to the Churchill Scholarship by clicking the original link. Please note that you must apply separately to the University of Cambridge and that you must put Churchill College as your first choice college, even if you are also applying to other scholarships. The Churchill Scholarship is only tenable at Churchill College.
For more information click "Further official information" below.