The Marshall Scholarship is a postgraduate scholarship for “intellectually distinguished young Americans and their country’s future leaders” to study at any university in the United Kingdom. It is widely considered one of the most prestigious scholarships for U.S. citizens, and along with the Fulbright Scholarship, it is the only broadly available scholarship available to Americans to study at any university in the United Kingdom.
Created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1953 as a living gift to the United States in recognition of the generosity of Secretary of State George C. Marshall and the Marshall Plan in the wake of World War II, the goal of the scholarship was to strengthen the Special Relationship between the two countries for “the good of mankind in this turbulent world.” The scholarships are awarded by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and are largely funded by the British government. The program was also the first major co-educational British graduate scholarship; one-third of the inaugural cohort in 1954 were women.
With nearly 1,000 university endorsed and selected applicants in recent years, it is among the most selective graduate scholarship for Americans, with an acceptance rate of around 4 per cent, and as low as 3.2 per cent in 2015.
There are over 1,900 Marshall Scholar alumni. Many of these alumni have achieved distinctions and hold prestigious careers. In the Federal government, current alumni include two of the nine current Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (Neil Gorsuch and Stephen Breyer), and the Director of the CIA, William Joseph Burns. Other alumni have been members of Congress and the presidential cabinet; state governors; CEOs of companies such as LinkedIn and Dolby Labs; deans of Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard College; and presidents of Duke University, Wellesley College, the Cooper Union, and Caltech.
They also include one Nobel Laureate, one winner of the Kluge Prize, four Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, two winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, twelve MacArthur Genius Grant awardees, the president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the managing editors of Time magazine and CNN, the international news editor of The New York Times, NASA’s youngest astronaut, two Oscar nominees, one winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and one awardee of the Distinguished Flying Cross for service during the Iraq War.