The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Sperling Studentship

Apply through Reed Fellowships and Awards Committee

Internal Deadline: November 3rd, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Liaison: Catherine Witt

» List of previous winners
» Internal application instructions


John Sperling '48, founder of the University of Phoenix and an alumnus of both Reed College and Cambridge University, committed funds to support Reed graduates in the pursuit of graduate studies at Cambridge University, King's College. 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 PhD in economic history from Cambridge University.

Cambridge University's King's College and Reed College seek applications from Reed graduates for the Sperling Studentship. Students may apply for Sperling funding for either a one-year master's degree or a three-year doctoral degree at Cambridge University. Students who successfully receive funding for a master's degree and who wish to apply to Cambridge to continue on to a doctoral degree must also reapply to the Sperling Studentship through Reed by that year's internal deadline (typically in November). Initial funding is only for one degree, and will not automatically roll over with the student if they continue on to a doctoral program.

The Studentship will cover 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 the present (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 candidates per award available (typically one or two awards). The nominees must also apply directly to their chosen programs for admission. Final selection of awardees will be made by King's College from nominees who were accepted to both Cambridge and King's College.

Applications will be considered in all graduate fields at Cambridge University except medicine. In this case, medicine refers to degrees that are intended to result in an MD, or the British equivalent. In most cases, Cambridge University expects applicants to have a GPA of at least 3.5 (some courses require a UK First class Honours Degree, which translates to a 3.7).

The three-year doctoral programs require superior academic training and performance. Most of the programs require a master's degree for admission; thus a Reed graduate who does not have graduate experience comparable to a master's degree should consider applying for a master's program. 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 be in contact with the future adviser.

Application Procedure

Potential applicants should review the internal application instructions. Internal applications are due by the internal application deadline and must include detailed information about the program to which the candidate wishes to apply. The Cambridge University Postgraduate Course Directory 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 CLBR Fellowships with any questions.

For additional Reed-specific commentary on study in the UK, including Cambridge, visit Ken Brashier's site on this topic.

Advice from Ken Brashier