Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

Apply here (see below for details regarding application deadlines).

This program aims to provide support for highly promising and altruistically-minded students who are hoping to start an undergraduate degree at one of the top universities in the USA or UK (see below for details) and who do not qualify as domestic students at these institutions for the purposes of admission and financial aid.

Funding criteria

We are looking to fund candidates who:

  • have demonstrated exceptional academic merit;
  • are interested in using their careers to do as much good as possible.

We plan to offer both full and partial scholarships, depending on candidates’ financial need and the strength of their applications.

Note that the application timeline will differ depending on whether candidates are applying for funding to attend university in the USA or the UK (or both) - see the sections immediately below.

Scholarships to attend university in the USA

Candidates are eligible to apply if:

  • they are planning to apply to one or more of the following universities for an undergraduate degree starting in 2022: California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Brown University, University of California - Berkeley; and
  • they qualify as international students for the purposes of admission and financial aid at these institutions.

Candidates who are applying to Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, and Yale in addition to (one or more) of the universities listed above are also eligible to apply. However, we generally don’t expect to offer scholarships to attend one of the former universities (Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale), given that these universities both meet full financial need of admitted undergraduates and select applicants - including international applicants - in a need-blind manner (i.e. financial need does not affect the chances of admission), which means that we see less room for our scholarship to benefit recipients.1

The application timelines for applicants seeking funding to attend one or more of the above-listed universities in the USA are as follows:

  • If you plan on applying to one of the above-listed universities in the USA through early decision/early action and would like us to consider your application for a scholarship to attend that university, you should apply here by October 1st, 11.59 p.m. Pacific Time. We plan to inform successful candidates by mid- to late October, in order to allow them to include information about the scholarship they have been awarded in their early decision/early action applications.
  • Otherwise, you should apply here by November 5th 2021, 11.59 p.m. Pacific Time. We plan to inform successful candidates by early to mid-December, again in order to allow them to include information about the scholarships they have been awarded in their university applications. Our impression is that for both early decision/early action and regular decision applicants, having already secured an outside scholarship (like ours) at the time of applying to the universities in question can in many cases meaningfully improve their chances of admission.
  • If you have already applied to one of the universities on our list through early decision/early action, you can still apply for a scholarship to attend one of the other relevant universities (by applying before the November 5th deadline).
  • Scholarships will be conditional on admission to one of the relevant universities. In some cases, we may offer scholarships conditional on admission to a specific subset of the universities listed above.

Note that for these universities, early decision/early action deadlines are generally around November 1st and regular decision application deadlines between January 1st-5th (exception: November 30th for Berkeley). However, they all require applicants to submit results from standardised tests (ACT/SAT and in some cases also English proficiency like TOEFL) which have to be booked and taken in advance of these deadlines, and also require applicants to submit materials that require advance preparation (essays, references, etc.). We therefore strongly advise applicants to familiarise themselves with the relevant application requirements as soon as possible and plan ahead.

Scholarships to attend university in the UK

Candidates are eligible to apply if:

  • they have been admitted to the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, or Imperial College London for an undergraduate degree starting in 2022; and
  • they do not meet the criteria for “Home” fee status in England (see here for more information).2

Applicants seeking funding to attend one of the above-listed universities in the UK should only apply (using the same form) once they have received offers from one or more of these universities, which will generally be in mid-January (unless they are also seeking funding to attend university in the USA - see below). The deadline for applications will be March 15th. We expect to notify successful candidates by mid-April 2022.

Note that the application deadline for Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial (for candidates who are also applying to Oxford or Cambridge) is October 15th. However, the universities require applicants to submit materials that require advance preparation (references, personal statement, etc.), so again, we strongly advise applicants to familiarise themselves with the relevant application requirements as soon as possible and plan ahead.

Candidates are welcome to apply for both funding to attend university in the USA and funding to attend university in the UK in case they are applying to relevant universities in both countries. In such cases, candidates can submit a combined application by the earlier deadline (October 1st for early decision/early action, November 5th otherwise) and we will evaluate the relevant parts of their proposals on the same timelines (decisions regarding scholarships for US universities by mid- to late October/early to mid-December depending on whether they are applying to a relevant university through early action/early decision, UK universities by mid-April at the latest). They will also need to notify us once they hear back about the outcomes of their UK university decisions (by emailing [email protected]) by March 15th.

Application process

To apply, complete the application form here.

The application form mostly just asks for pretty straightforward information about candidates’ academic record (similar to the information they will provide for university applications) and their family’s financial situation (similar to the information requested by university financial aid offices, to help us assess financial need).

In addition, candidates will need to provide responses to three brief essay questions (1,500 characters each, which corresponds to ~250 words apiece). It’s probably worth spending a bit of time thinking about your answers to these questions, but we generally think candidates shouldn’t invest more than two to three hours into actually writing/polishing their submissions.

Further information

  • We may be able to expedite decisions in cases where candidates require an earlier decision.
  • We encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply, especially self-identified women and people of color.
  • Given the anticipated volume of applications, we may not be able to notify all unsuccessful candidates.

Questions? Please contact [email protected].

  • 1. We may still consider doing so in exceptional circumstances, but only if a candidate has also applied and been admitted to one of the other universities listed above.
  • 2. Our rationale for offering a scholarship aimed specifically at students with “Overseas” fee status is that they face higher fees and more limited availability of scholarships, which can make it more difficult for them to afford degrees at these institutions.