The Gates Cambridge Scholarships were established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 with a $210 million endowment to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge. The awardees are given funding for postgraduate study at the University for the duration of the degree. The award includes all tuition costs and a maintenance allowance, currently £13,300, and a return economy airfare. Scholars are also able to access travel funds for conferences, have exclusive use of recreational and social facilities, and participate in an annual retreat to the lake district. The first scholars arrived at Cambridge in October 2001, and the Scholarship celebrated its 10th anniversary in July 2010.
The Gates Scholarships are similar in structure to Oxford University's Rhodes Scholarships, although the Gates Scholarships are much younger and are awarded through a more centralized though similarly competitive selection process. Their duration is also more flexible, as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships generally only last for two years (sometimes three).
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, established in 1999, was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "It is critical to America's future that we draw from the full range of talent and ability to develop the next generation of leaders," said Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The Millennium Scholars program is intended to ensure that we build a stronger America through improved educational opportunities." 
Eligibility and criteria
Applicants from any country other than the United Kingdom are eligible for the scholarships. In the first 13 years of the program (2001-2013), 1236 individuals from 95 different countries have been awarded scholarships. By statute, approximately 40% of scholars are intended for citizens of the USA (in practice, the figure has been 44.5%). Other common countries of citizenship have been Germany (5.9%), India (5.3%), Canada (4.9%), Australia (4.1%), and China (3.0%).
The Cambridge Gates Trust aims to maintain about 200 Scholars in residence at any time, and 90 Gates Scholars are elected each year from a pool of over 4500 applicants. The Trustees are required to award scholarships on the basis of a person's intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others. Although the Trust does not set a minimum GPA, the average GPA of Gates Scholars as of 2011 is 3.93, with a range of GPAs from 3.7 to 4.0.
GMS scholarships are awarded to undergraduate students of color across the country who demonstrates academic excellence and strong leadership skills. Scholarships assist students in meeting the cost of attendance at the school of their choice. GMS scholars who choose to pursue graduate studies in the areas of education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and science are eligible to receive continued funding. The program also provides leadership development opportunities, to insure that scholars graduate prepared to become strong leaders in their professions and in their communities. Candidates for the GMS award must be citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. Students must also meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria, have at least a 3.3 GPA (on a 4.0 scale), and have demonstrated leadership through community service or other extracurricular activities.
In establishing the scholarship, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hoped to create a network of future leaders from around the world who would bring new vision and commitment to improving the life circumstances of citizens in their respective countries. Over time, it is anticipated that Gates Cambridge Scholars will become leaders in all their respective fields, and will help to address global problems related to health, equity, technology, and learning - all areas in which the Foundation is deeply engaged.
In establishing the scholarship, Gates Millennium Scholars, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hoped to create a network of future leaders from around the world who would bring new vision and commitment to improving the life circumstances of citizens in their respective countries. Over time, it is anticipated that Gates Scholars will become leaders in all their respective fields, and will help to address global problems related to health, equity, technology, and learning - all areas in which the Foundation is deeply engaged. Together, the Gates Millennium and the Cambridge Gates Scholars stand together as a powerful demonstration of the vision of Bill & Melinda Gates to "help bring about a new global belief that every life has equal value". We are determined to join their fight to build a better future for everyone.
Gates Scholars organizations
In 2002, the Gates Scholars self-organized and elected a student committee titled "The Gates Scholars' Council". The Council aims to represent the Gates Scholars at Cambridge and to build a scholar community interwoven into the fabric of the University. In cooperation with the Gates Cambridge Trust, the University and various academic and professional organizations, the council organizes a number of successful academic, social and professional events that have distinguished and built the reputation of the Gates Scholars at Cambridge University. The scholarship is particularly known for it strong academic and social community at Cambridge.
In 2005, the scholars once again self-organized to create the Gates Scholars Alumni Association. This association aims to build upon the friendships and contacts that were first made at Cambridge and to bridge the gap between the different generations of scholars. It is an active and growing organization, with members dispersed all over the world.
In 2014, through alumni donation and collaboration this community of Gates Millennium Scholars cofounded and successfully launched GatesScholars.com | Think Tank and Global Community. GatesScholars.com | Think Tank & Global Community is a grass roots initiative developed and financed by Gates Scholar Alumni; the platform is a networking portal with capacities to further Scholar collaboration for the continued betterment of our global village.
- McCormack, Steve (9 March 2006). "Gates opening for the leaders of tomorrow". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Official website
- Bloomberg news coverage and comparison with Rhodes Scholarship
- Coverage in the Harvard Crimson