Frequently Asked Questions - Applications

  1. General Advice
  2. When will the updated application material be available?
  3. Who should I provide as my referees?
  4. Must I have applied to or been admitted to my intended Harvard/MIT programme before applying for a Kennedy Scholarship?
  5. Do I need to take the GRE/GMAT tests?
  6. If my course requires the GRE/GMAT, must I take it before applying for a Kennedy Scholarship?
  7. Must my Harvard/MIT application be submitted by the Kennedy Scholarship deadline in October?
  8. Will you confirm receipt of my Kennedy Scholarship application?
  9. I need to change something on my application. Is this possible?
  10. How is my information protected?
  11. I have an application pending for UK citizenship. May I apply?
  12. I have dual citizenship of the UK and another country – may I apply?
  13. I am a dual UK-US citizen – may I apply?
  14. I completed some of my primary/secondary schooling abroad – am I eligible to apply?
  15. I switched undergraduate courses/have multiple undergraduate degrees – what date counts for eligibility?
  16. I am already enrolled on a Master's programme in the UK. May I apply for a subsequent one in the US?
  17. The US Master's I would like is wrapped up within a PhD programme. May I leave after the Master's element?
  18. I am already partway through a programme in the US. May I apply for funding?
  19. What makes a strong Kennedy Scholarship application?
  20. Do I need a First Class degree to apply?
  21. May I apply for graduate programmes at both Harvard and MIT?
  22. When should a medic apply re the MPH?
  23. Can I apply for a Kennedy Scholarship to support an MBA/MBAn?
  24. I will apply as a Special Student. Can I delay my Harvard/MIT application until after the interviews?
  25. I will be applying for a Visiting Fellowship. Can I delay my US application until after the interviews?
  26. I have applications pending for other scholarships; does that matter?
  27. What is the relationship between Kennedy Scholarships and Frank Knox Fellowships?
  28. Can I apply for both a Kennedy Scholarship and a Frank Knox Fellowship?
  29. Can I use the same essay and referees for both my Kennedy and Knox application?
  30. I have a question not addressed above - is there someone who can advise me?

  1. General Advice

    Please read the Call for Applications and the following FAQs carefully before contacting the Trust with specific questions. The Call for Applications is updated each year and provides detailed information regarding eligibility, application requirements, and selection criteria. You may find answers to other questions below.

  2. When will the updated application material be available?

    The timing of the Scholarship competition can vary from year to year, with applications opening in the late summer, usually in August, and updated application material available from late July. The deadline for completed applications is usually 23:59 on a date in October. Please see the Call for Applications for the precise closing date in a particular year.

  3. Who should I provide as my referees?

    You are asked to supply details of two referees on the Kennedy Scholarship application form. We recommend that you include one referee who has supervised some aspect of your academic work at university, and one referee who knows you in a professional capacity – a manager or senior colleague you have worked with, for example, whether in an internship, temporary, or permanent professional role depending on your career stage.

    If you have not yet graduated or have limited professional experience at the time of application, you may supply details of two academic referees. Equally, if it has been some time since you have graduated, you may wish to supply details of two professional referees. The Trustees have a strong preference for at least one academic reference, however - someone who is familiar with your undergraduate record and can provide insight into your intended graduate studies.

    Please note that referees' contact details are compulsory fields on your application form and you should request permission of those whose details you give. In providing a referee’s details, you should give their professional email address – not a gmail or hotmail account, for instance. You should give your referees plenty of notice of your intended Kennedy Scholarship application. They will only receive a request for a reference letter from the Trust, by email, when you submit your application.

  4. Must I have applied to or been admitted to my intended Harvard/MIT programme before applying for a Kennedy Scholarship?

    The short answer is no. The Kennedy Scholarship has an earlier application deadline than most Harvard or MIT graduate programmes. Nonetheless, you must still apply separately for admission to Harvard or MIT (or both), and ensure you fulfil their application requirements. The important thing here is that you are aware of the application deadline for the US programme of your choice and that, by the time of the Kennedy deadline, you are beginning to put together a serious academic application for it. If you are intending to take a degree programme, the US deadline will likely be sometime between early December and early January and you will need to have completed your GREs by that time too. You do not have to have done this before submitting your Kennedy Scholarship application.

  5. Do I need to take the GRE/GMAT tests?

    Many degree programmes at Harvard and MIT request these standardised tests or an equivalent as part of their admissions requirements. Check the requirements for your preferred course thoroughly as your test results, if required, constitute part of your formal application for admission. Also, note that there is a delay between completing the test and your full scores being sent to your nominated institutions; you should factor this in regarding the closing date for applications to your preferred programme(s) as you could disadvantage yourself if there is a delay in your full scores being received.  

    Visit www.ets.org/gre for information and access to practice material.  

    The GRE test comprises a verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing component. UK Arts graduates should particularly invest time in preparing for the quantitative section of the test. Applicants to doctoral programmes should prepare thoroughly for these and for any subject-specific tests which may be required.

    GRE scores are requested of those offered an interview for a Kennedy Scholarship, if your programme requires them. They are viewed as one indicator of the potential strength of your application to Harvard/MIT. You do not need to have taken the GRE/other standardised test before applying for the Kennedy Scholarship in October, but should bear in mind the Harvard/MIT admissions calendar as noted above. See also the further guidance below.

  6. If my course requires the GRE/GMAT, must I take it before applying for a Kennedy Scholarship?

    No, but if your intended programme at Harvard or MIT requires a standardised test like the GRE/GMAT for admission, you should be preparing to take it and ensure you book a test date before the relevant Harvard/MIT application deadline. Since the Kennedy Scholarship deadline is usually earlier, the Trust does not require that you have taken the test(s) before submitting your scholarship application, but if you advance in the scholarship competition we will request confirmation of your test date and scores. 

    If you have already taken a standardised test, there is a section on the Kennedy Scholarship application form where you can enter your scores.

  7. Must my Harvard/MIT application be submitted by the Kennedy Scholarship deadline in October?

    The short answer is No. What is important here is that you make your Harvard/MIT application in the same application season as your Kennedy application and that you meet all Harvard/MIT deadlines and any additional requirements for the programme of your choice. Kennedy Scholarships cannot be deferred. You must therefore complete your university application for admission in the same season or withdraw from that particular year's competition.

  8. Will you confirm receipt of my Kennedy Scholarship application?

    Once you complete and submit your Kennedy Scholarship application online, we will send you an email to confirm receipt. You should then expect to hear from us again at the end of November to inform you whether your application is being put forward to the later stages of the competition or not. Regrettably, the Trust is usually not able to release this information in time to prevent you having to commit to GREs and other costs associated with applying to Harvard and/or MIT. The advice is not to put your US application at risk by delaying action until you have heard from the Trust.

  9. I need to change something on my application. Is this possible?

    Unfortunately, once you have submitted your application form online you cannot change any details. If you have a major problem, please contact the Trust using the email address which acknowledged receipt. If you have submitted close to the deadline please bear in mind that this is an especially busy time for the Trust, and there may be a delay in our response.

  10. How is my information protected?

    We use a server certificate (also known as a digital certificate) to assure you of our identity and a secure sockets layer (SSL) to encrypt data transmissions.

  11. I have an application pending for UK citizenship. May I apply?

    Kennedy Scholarships can only be awarded to UK citizens, as evidenced by a UK passport or other certificate of naturalisation. If you are in the process of applying for UK citizenship and wish to apply for a Kennedy Scholarship in October, you must reasonably expect that your citizenship will have been granted by the following January, when the Kennedy Scholarship interviews are held. All interviewees are asked to provide evidence of British citizenship as a condition of award. Please also bear in mind that to be eligible for the Kennedy Scholarship, you must be normally resident in the UK, and have been wholly or mainly educated in the UK prior to university, as well as holding British citizenship.

  12. I have dual citizenship of the UK and another country – may I apply?

    Dual citizenship is not a barrier to applying for a Kennedy Scholarship, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria, including being normally resident in the UK, and having been wholly or mainly educated in the UK prior to university, as well as holding (or will soon hold) an undergraduate degree from a British university.

    If you are a dual UK-US citizen, please see additional guidance below.

  13. I am a dual UK-US citizen – may I apply?

    Yes. As above, the key eligibility criterion is having UK citizenship, though you must also fulfil the other eligibility criteria, including being normally resident in the UK, and having been wholly or mainly educated in the UK prior to university, as well as holding (or will soon hold) an undergraduate degree from a British university. Please bear in mind, however, that the Kennedy Scholarship is in part a cultural exchange programme intended to provide British students with new opportunities to travel and experience the United States. It is therefore important that dual UK-US citizens address the extent of your connection to the United States in your personal statement – for example, periods of time during which you have lived in the United States, or any prior experience in US educational institutions.

    In addition, since dual US citizens may also be eligible for US-based funding for postgraduate study, the Trustees may request information on non-UK awards or scholarships to which you may be applying.

  14. I completed some of my primary/secondary schooling abroad – am I eligible to apply?

    It depends. To be eligible to apply for a Kennedy Scholarship, you must have been “wholly or mainly educated in the UK prior to university,” as well as holding (or will soon hold) an undergraduate degree from a British university, along with fulfilling the other eligibility criteria noted in the Call for Applications. “Wholly educated” in the UK prior to university is straightforward: you attended primary and secondary schools in the UK, and completed GCSEs / A-Levels / N5 / Highers / IB or equivalent qualifications before attending a UK university for undergraduate studies.

    As to “mainly educated” in the UK prior to university, the Trust expects that the majority of your primary and secondary schooling was completed in the UK. Where this majority criterion is nearly fulfilled, or there are other special circumstances, the Trustees are willing to consider applications on a case-by-case basis, placing a stronger emphasis on UK secondary education. In this situation you should contact the Director to discuss your circumstances prior to applying. If you were not educated in the UK at all prior to university you would not be considered eligible to apply.

  15. I switched undergraduate courses/have multiple undergraduate degrees – what date counts for eligibility?

    The date on which you initially commenced undergraduate studies at a UK university is the relevant one from an eligibility perspective for the Kennedy Scholarship, even if you later switched to a different undergraduate degree course without graduating from the first, or undertook a subsequent undergraduate degree.

  16. I am already enrolled on a Master's programme in the UK. May I apply for a subsequent one in the US?

    Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of master's programmes taken prior to a scholarship application, providing you meet the eligibility criteria to apply. You should bear in mind, however, that the Trustees ask that applicants make clear “why their proposed course in the US is particularly suitable, in light of similar opportunities available in the UK.” If you are pursuing/have already pursued a UK postgraduate course, you should address the ways in which the US programme is distinctive and will further enhance your academic training and future professional aims.

  17. The US Master's I would like is wrapped up within a PhD programme. May I leave after the Master's element?

    You should only apply for the PhD programme if you genuinely intend to complete that degree.

  18. I am already partway through a programme in the US. May I apply for funding?

    No. Kennedy Scholarship applications will not be accepted from applicants already studying in the US.

  19. What makes a strong Kennedy Scholarship application?

    The Kennedy Trust awards Scholarships across the range of academic disciplines, and does not specify particular fields or programmes which applicants should pursue. Conveying your interest in, enthusiasm for, and future personal and professional impact of your proposed studies are thus important elements of a strong application. You should also demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched your proposed programme and have a clear case for why you wish to pursue it at this point in your career. As noted in the Call for Applications, applicants with a strong public service ethos are particularly welcomed, with public service conceived broadly – as contributing in a significant way to local, national, or global communities through your academic research, voluntary activities, or future career.

    Section 5 of the Call for Applications also states:

    In awarding Scholarships, the Trustees will take into account candidates’ intellectual attainment, ability to express themselves, and a well-researched and argued case for their proposed course of study at Harvard or MIT at this point in their careers. Applicants should make clear why their proposed course in the US is particularly suitable, in light of similar opportunities available in the UK.

    Trustees will also look for: originality of mind; commitment to public service; potential to make a mark in public life; ability to overcome adversity. Candidates who are re-applying should make clear the ways in which this application is different from previous submissions.

    You should keep these selection criteria in mind when writing your personal statement, and should feel free to share them with your referees as they prepare letters of reference on your behalf.

    See also this document for some general pointers and guidance.

  20. Do I need a First Class degree to apply?

    You do not need a first class degree to apply for a Kennedy Scholarship. While academic excellence is something that the Trustees will evaluate as part of their assessment, the Trustees are not looking for a specific classification or grade so much as a holistic sense of your academic interests, specialisms, past performance, and potential as a graduate student.

    If you are concerned about areas of your past academic performance, this is something you could discuss in your personal statement and address particular challenges you may have faced, skills you have enhanced, and ways in which you are now better placed academically for future graduate study.

  21. May I apply for graduate programmes at both Harvard and MIT?

    Yes. You can apply for programmes at both schools in the same application season, but should explain in your Kennedy Scholarship personal statement why each appeals to you. If offered a scholarship, choices would only have to be made after gaining admission.

  22. When should a medic apply re the MPH?

    The Kennedy trustees prefer you to apply to start the MPH no earlier than the end of F2. By this time you will have practised some medicine and therefore have a clearer context for a public health qualification.  Trustees also take the year of your formal medical qualification - MBBS/MBChB - as the definitive one re eligibility to apply for a Kennedy Scholarship.

  23. Can I apply for a Kennedy Scholarship to support an MBA/MBAn?

    The Trust awards scholarships across the full range of postgraduate courses at Harvard and MIT. Applicants for MBA or MBAn programmes should bear in mind, however, that an especially strong case for financial need must be demonstrated, as well as a clear public service dimension to your purpose in pursuing the degree.

  24. I will apply as a Special Student. Can I delay my Harvard/MIT application until after the interviews?

    In the case of Special Students, yes. The deadline for Special Student applications at both Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and MIT is not until early March, so is after the Kennedy Scholarship interviews. All other degree programmes have application deadlines prior to the Kennedy interviews, so make sure to apply in time.

  25. I will be applying for a Visiting Fellowship. Can I delay my US application until after the interviews?

    Yes. Like Special Studentships, the application deadline for Visiting Fellowships is in early March, so after the Kennedy Scholarship interview date.

  26. I have applications pending for other scholarships; does that matter?

    No. You are welcome to apply for other scholarships to support your graduate studies. If you are offered a Kennedy Scholarship, however, you may be asked to choose between it and other awards.

  27. What is the relationship between Kennedy Scholarships and Frank Knox Fellowships?

    These are distinct awards, though they share an administrative connection. Kennedy Scholarships are offered by the Kennedy Memorial Trust and are tenable at Harvard University or MIT. Frank Knox Fellowships are offered by Harvard University and are tenable only at Harvard. By agreement with Harvard, the UK Knox Fellowship competition is administered by the Kennedy Memorial Trust. The formal relationship between the two awards is therefore a purely administrative one. They are different awards with separate application procedures. You must submit separate applications if you apply for both awards.

  28. Can I apply for both a Kennedy Scholarship and a Frank Knox Fellowship?

    Yes. These are totally separate awards and if you meet the eligibility criteria for both (as detailed in the Kennedy Call for Applications and the Knox Information for Applicants), and intend to study at Harvard, then you would be able to apply for both awards. You would only be asked to choose between them if offered both awards following interview. Please note that you must submit separate applications for each award. Applying for one does not gain you automatic consideration for the other.

    Please see the UK Knox Fellowship website for more information.

  29. Can I use the same essay and referees for both my Kennedy and Knox application?

    Yes. Kennedy and Knox applications are read by different selection panels. You may submit the same or a similar essay, updated appropriately for each award.

  30. I have a question not addressed above - is there someone who can advise me?

    You are welcome to contact the Director on emily@kennedytrust.org.uk with queries. Please read the Call for Applications and FAQs carefully, and do some research on possible courses at Harvard and/or MIT before you get in touch.

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