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Sperling Studentship

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Internal Deadline: September 20, 2023 at 12:00 PM Pacific

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John Sperling '48, founder of the University of Phoenix and an alumnus of both Reed College and the University of Cambridge, committed funds to support Reed graduates in the pursuit of postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, 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.

The University of Cambridge'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. 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 September). 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 can nominate multiple nominees, but only one studentship will be available at Cambridge most years. Reed's nominees must also apply directly to the University of Cambridge and must receive an offer of admission from Cambridge's Postgraduate Admissions Office before King's College sees their application. Once a nominee has received this offer of admission from the university, King's College intends to offer admission in most cases. If more than one of Reed's nominees makes it to this stage of the application then King's College makes the final decision, with input from Reed College.

Because of Cambridge’s rolling admissions, we strongly suggest that you submit your application to Cambridge by the deadline for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which is in early to mid-October. Cambridge's application process opens in mid-September. 


Eligible Applicants

  • 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.
  • In most cases, Cambridge 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 from U.S. institutions).
  • International students are eligible.

Eligible Courses

  • Applications will be considered in all fields at Cambridge except medicine and education.
    • Medicine refers to degrees that are intended to result in an MD, or the British equivalent.
    • King's College does not have any Education Fellows, and typically does not accept postgraduate students in this field. Therefore courses in education are ineligible.
  • Applications to master's programs and doctoral programs are both eligible, with the following caveats regarding doctoral programs:
    • 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 postgraduate 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 doctoral applicants should be well informed about the program to which they are applying, and be in contact with the future adviser.

Selection Criteria

The Sperling Studentship can only be awarded to applicants who have been admitted to the University of Cambridge, so the selection criteria for the Sperling match those of Cambridge.

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 applying to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship program. We also highly recommend you apply to any other available funding via Cambridge as well, as not all nominees will receive funding via the Sperling Studentship.

We recommend you reach out to previous recipients of the Sperling Studentship, as they may have insights about Cambridge and King's College that could be helpful to you. You can look up contact information for alumni in Reed's Alumni Directory.

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

Advice from Ken Brashier

Contact CLBR Fellowships with any questions.