Student Fellowships & Awards

The Center for Life Beyond Reed, Division of Student Services

Sperling Studentship

Internal Deadline: November 20, 2014
Liaison: Troy Cross

» List of previous winners
» Get started - request an internal application!


John Sperling '48, founder of the University of Phoenix and an alumnus of both Reed College and Cambridge University, has committed funds to support Reed graduates in the pursuit of a three-year doctoral degree at Cambridge University in England. Sperling, whose degree from Reed was in history, earned a master's degree in political history at the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in economic history from Cambridge University on a fellowship from the University of California.

The Studentship: King's College, Cambridge University, and Reed College seek applications from Reed graduates for the Sperling Studentship, a three-year doctoral fellowship at Cambridge University. The Studentship will cover three years of tuition, college and university fees, and room and board. Doctoral students at Cambridge are expected to work closely with specific tutors and to move quickly into their own area of research.


Reed graduates from 1995 to 2013 (all classes graduated since the inception of the award) are eligible to apply for the Sperling Studentship through Reed's Committee on Fellowships and Awards. Reed may nominate up to three ranked candidates to King's College. The nominees apply directly to their chosen doctoral programs for admission. The highest-ranking nominee admitted to the doctoral program and to King's College is awarded the scholarship. Applications will be considered in all graduate fields at Cambridge University except medicine.

These three-year doctoral programs require superior academic training and performance. Most of the programs, with the exception of some in the sciences and mathematics, require a master's degree for admission; thus a Reed graduate who does not have graduate experience comparable to a master's degree should be cautioned about the suitability of this competition. In addition, it is virtually impossible for an applicant to be admitted to a Cambridge doctoral program without the explicit endorsement of the student's potential adviser; thus applicants should be well informed about the program to which they are applying, and in contact with the future adviser.

Application Procedure

Potential applicants should use this form to request  an internal application. Internal applications are due by noon on November 20 and must include detailed information about the Ph.D. program to which the candidate wishes to apply. The Cambridge University Graduate Prospectus can be found online ( Applications for the Sperling Studentship are reviewed by Reed's Committee on Fellowships and Awards.  Reed students and graduates interested in the Sperling Studentship should also consider the Gates Cambridge Scholarship program.  Contact Michelle Johnson with any questions.

For additional Reed-specific commentary on study in the UK, including Cambridge, go to