How we select

The process

Gates Cambridge uses a two-stage selection process to ensure our Scholars meet all of our criteria to the highest level.

1. Departmental nomination

Gates Cambridge asks academic departments in Cambridge to nominate a small number of eligible applicants who meet all four of the scholarship’s criteria to a very high level. This ensures that those nominated by departments are academically outstanding and are likely to succeed as a postgraduate student at Cambridge and also that they show evidence of meeting Gates Cambridge’s selection criteria.  A relatively small number of those who apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship are nominated by departments and then invited to interview.

2. Interview

All candidates nominated by academic departments are invited to a short interview to assess how they meet all four Gates Cambridge criteria.  Scholars are then selected after interview.

If you are called to interview

You will be sent full details about the format and arrangements on the timing set out on our Timeline page. If you are invited for interview you will have gone through an incredibly competitive process.

You will be invited for a 20-25 minute interview and, depending on where you are, you can interview either in person or virtually. Where you are able to attend the interview in person we encourage this.

There are four broadly subject-based interview panels:

  • Arts

  • Biological Sciences

  • Physical Sciences

  • Social Sciences

Each panel consists of appropriate and experienced  academics and practioners and may also include Gates Cambridge alumni and a representative of the Gates Cambridge Trust.

Each interview has four main sections:

1. Welcome and introduction

  • The Chair will introduce the panel, set out the format of the interview, and provide any other essential information to allow for a productive conversation.

2. Gates Cambridge

  • What you know about the Gates Cambridge Scholarships

  • Your motivation for applying

  • Why you think you could be a Gates Cambridge Scholar

  • Your thoughts on the opportunities and responsibilities that a prestigious, full-cost scholarship at one of the world’s leading universities brings

3. Academic and career plans

  • Your academic work to date – can you convincingly communicate your passion for, and the importance of, your chosen subject?

  • Your proposed degree at Cambridge – can you provide a convincing justification for your choice of course at Cambridge?

  • Your career plans – can you convincingly link your application for both a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and your proposed course at Cambridge to your future career plans?

  • You may also be asked probing intellectual or ethical questions, to which there are no ‘right’ answers

4. Final thoughts and questions

  • A chance to convey any additional information and/or ask any questions to the interview panel (optional)

If you are not called to interview

You will receive an email from Gates Cambridge confirming that your application has not been successful. You will find further information on our  Timeline page.


Please note that we are not able to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.