Penn Library

Top-Tier Colleges That Produce Rhodes Scholars

Given the intense competition for admission, if you aspire to attend an Ivy League or similarly elite college, then you’re an ambitious person. Perhaps you’re even more ambitious than that and have set your sights on one of the ultimate achievements for an American undergraduate — a Rhodes Scholarship.

An imperialist’s imperialist, Cecil John Rhodes was a 19th century British mining magnate who turned a near-monopoly in the diamond trade into a vast fortune and political power in Africa. In his last will and testament, he provided for the establishment of the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, the world’s first international study program. The scholarship enabled students from territories under British rule like India and Burma or formerly under British rule such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, to study at his alma mater, the University of Oxford.

Rhodes’s aims were twofold. First, he sought to promote leadership among “young colonists” who were marked by public spirit and good character, thereby fostering friendship among the great powers. Secondly, he envisioned “the furtherance of the British Empire, the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, the recovery of the United States, and making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire”. This delusion seems to have died with him.

Rhodes’s legacy specified four standards by which applicants were to be judged:

  • Literary and scholastic attainments.
  • Energy to use one’s talents to the fullest, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports (now energy used in many ways, not solely through sports).
  • Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship.
  • Moral force of character and instincts to lead; to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.

Each country’s scholarships vary in selectivity. In the United States, applicants first pass an intra-institutional endorsement. Then they proceed to one of the 16 U.S. district committees. In 2016, about 2,500 American students sought their institution’s endorsement for the scholarship and 832 were selected to proceed to the district level. Of the 128 students pre-selected by the committees, the Trust selects two students annually from each of the 16 districts. Students may represent either their home state or the state in which their school resides.

Since 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship program has been the most prestigious award granted to graduates of American colleges and universities. The 32 American scholars chosen annually since the program’s inception have included many highly accomplished people in both public and private life. Some of the more notable among them are listed in Table A with their alma mater and fields.

Table A: Notable American Recipients of Rhodes Scholarships

Name

Institution

Accomplishments/Field

Edwin Hubble

Chicago

Astronomer

John Harlan

Princeton

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

J. William Fulbright

Arkansas

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Robert Penn Warren

Vanderbilt

Poet, Author, Critic

Carl Albert

Oklahoma

Speaker U.S. House of Representatives

Dean Rusk

Davidson

U.S. Secretary of State

Daniel Boorstin

Harvard

Author and Librarian of Congress

Walt Rostow

Yale

U.S. National Security Advisor

Howard K. Smith

Tulane

Broadcast Journalist

Byron White

Colorado

Football Player, Supreme Court Justice

Nicholas Katzenbach

Princeton

U.S. Attorney General

Stansfield Turner

U.S. Naval Academy

Director of Central Intelligence

John Searle

Wisconsin

Philosopher

Ron Dworkin

Harvard

Academic

Paul Sarbanes

Princeton

U.S. Senator

Richard Celeste

Yale

Governor of Ohio, Director of Peace Corps

David Souter

Harvard

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

James Woolsey

Stanford

Director of Central Intelligence

Lester Thurow

Williams

Economist

Terence Malick

Harvard

Film Director

Robert Reich

Dartmouth

U.S. Secretary of Labor

James Fallows

Harvard

Journalist, Edito

Rachel Maddow

Stanford

Broadcast Journalist

Kris Kristofferson

Pomona

Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Bill Clinton

Georgetown

President of the United States

Cory Booker

Stanford

U.S. Senator

Bill Bradley

Princeton

Basketball Player, U.S. Senator

Naomi Wolf

Yale

Author, Critic

Wesley Clark

U.S. Military Academy

Supreme Allied Commander – NATO

Russ Feingold

Wisconsin

U.S. Senator

Nicholas Kristof

Harvard

Journalist, Columnist

Susan Rice

Stanford

U.S. National Security Advisor

Kurt Schmoke

Yale

Mayor of Baltimore, Dean of Law School

E. J. Dionne

Harvard

Journalist, Commentator

Michael Kinsley

Harvard

Journalist, Editor

Strobe Talbott

Yale

Diplomat, Journalist

Ira Magaziner

Brown

Senior Advisor to the President

George Stephanopoulos

Columbia

Broadcast Journalist, Campaign Manager

Ashton Carter

Yale

U.S. Secretary of Defense

The list of colleges and universities from which our Rhodes Scholars have graduated represents a wide spectrum of American institutions. From 1902 to 2017, there have been 304 institutions that have produced at least one Rhodes Scholar. As you might expect, the Ivy League and several other schools have produced more than their fair share, as noted in Table B below:

Table B: U.S. Schools With the Most Rhodes Scholars (1902-2017)

Institution

Scholars

Ivy League: Harvard

358

Yale

243

Princeton

209

Dartmouth

63

Brown

55

Cornell

31

Columbia

27

Pennsylvania

20

Universities:

Stanford

99

Chicago

51

MIT

45

North Carolina

44

Duke

42

Washington Univ. – St. Louis

27

Kansas

27

Michigan

26

Vanderbilt

26

Colleges:

U.S. Military Academy

92

U.S. Naval Academy

46

U.S. Air Force Academy

38

Williams

35

Reed

32

Swarthmore

28

Davidson

23

Bowdoin

22

Amherst

20

Haverford

20

 The Rhodes Scholars for 2018 were recently announced. The schools from which the 32 winners hail are: Stanford 4, Harvard 3, Washington University in St. Louis 2, MIT 2, Yale 2, and one each from Penn, Princeton, Hunter, Temple, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, Maryland, Emory, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Millsaps, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, South Dakota, Alaska, Santa Clara, and Duke.

IvySelect is a college admissions consulting firm that specializes in assisting students to gain admission at Ivy League and other top-tier institutions. Our students have been admitted to all of the elite universities and colleges listed above in Table B (other than the military academies, which are not a focus of our practice). The complete list of elite colleges and universities to which our students have been admitted is far more extensive and includes institutions such as Caltech, Northwestern, Berkeley, UCLA, Middlebury, Wellesley, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Notre Dame, USC, NYU, Vassar, and many more.