Churchill Scholarship: Science, Mathematics, Engineering

What They Say

A Master’s degree in Cambridge emphasizes independent study to an extent that is unfamiliar to most American graduates. The MPhil courses do not normally involve any coursework, but are purely lab-based. The MASt “taught” courses do not tend to grade problem sets, and students are only evaluated at the end, through exams and sometimes a research project. College life mixes social and academic discussion. The setting is international and well-positioned for further exploration of Europe and beyond. All together, this experience can be transformative.

“I believe that I shall look back on my year at Churchill as the first year when I stopped thinking about myself as a student, and started thinking about myself as an academic and as a researcher.”

“It has been incredible to be able to start a research project and devote all of one’s time to it, delving much more deeply into topics I have previously studied, running my own experiments, and developing conclusions as I obtain results.”

“When I started thinking about UK fellowships, I wasn't sure if it was worth taking a year out of an already long MD-PhD track for a master's education that would probably be dwarfed by two doctoral degrees. It was easy to mentally write off the nebulous cultural experiences I would have and the potential contacts I would make. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I was so naïve – the year was one of the most exciting, interesting, and valuable of my life.”

“Life seems to consist of a handful of key decisions. For me, one such proverbial “fork in the road” was when I was given the opportunity to attend the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar.  As I look back, it was an unforgettably adventurous year: total immersion in the unique academic environment of Cambridge, blessed with the chance to pursue my research of interest in a world-class lab.”

“I have only been in Cambridge now for a few months, but I have learned – finally – how to be both passionate about my field and to be able to find the time to become great friends with others who share similar passions about their respective fields of study.”

“My year at Cambridge was without a doubt the best year of my life to date, and I know that the people I met there, and the experience that I gained, will continue to have a positive impact on my life far into the future.”

“I’ve realized that scientific creativity and productivity can benefit by consciously limiting work time and setting aside downtime during which one can read, think, and do relaxing things other than science. My year at Cambridge was a highly worthwhile immersion in a new scientific community and a new culture of doing science.”

“Of all the amazing opportunities this year has afforded me, however, the one that influenced me the most was simply the experience of living and studying abroad with people from all over the world.”

“The project I worked on is a success, for not only do I have several manuscripts in the process of preparation and a thesis I am extremely proud of, I am also confident in my abilities a scientist to design and execute elegant experiments to tackle complex problems. It is for this reason that I would refute the notion that a top young American scientist spending a year at Cambridge is a ‘break from their real studies.’ ”

“The past year was a defining year for me, a chance for me to figure out who I am and who I want to be.”

“The cultural understanding I have gained at Cambridge is simply unattainable in the United States. The people I have met hold scores of deeply held cultural and political beliefs that have made me seriously consider why we do the things we do at home. For someone like me who has never spent serious time in a foreign country before, I believe this is the most important aspect of the program.”

“I encountered new ideas and new research and met students and professors with whom I shall continue to work for the rest of my career.”

“The year was life-changing!”

On Part III of the Mathematical Tripos:

“One of the biggest draws of Part III Mathematics is the sheer quantity of talented students one interacts with here, and I am sure these are people whose paths I will cross in the future.”

“Part III puts me in a special position, because I am bringing material into a department of astronomy that is traditionally seen only in departments of physics and mathematics.”

Even unsuccessful applicants can benefit from the experience of applying:

“I appreciate this experience immensely. The application process was rigorous, and helped me push my boundaries... This is something I will never forget.”

“The process of applying for the Scholarship was rewarding in itself.”

“Regardless of the outcome, the application process helped me to better define my interests, grow in independently devising a research proposal, and meet an exceptional faculty member at Cambridge. As such, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to even apply.”

Churchill scholars pose at campus statue