Denys Holland Scholarship

The Denys Holland Scholarship is one of the most prestigious and generous scholarships available at the University of Oxford. Offering full coverage of tuition fees and living expenses, it provides an incredible opportunity for outstanding students to pursue graduate studies at one of the world’s top universities.

This will cover everything you need to know about the Denys Holland Scholarship, from eligibility criteria to the application process and tips for creating a strong application.

Overview of the Denys Holland Scholarship

The Denys Holland Scholarship aims to support exceptional graduate students at the University of Oxford. The scholarship was established in 1989 with a generous bequest from the estate of the late Denys Holland, an Oxford alumnus.

Up to nine Denys Holland Scholarships are awarded annually across all subject areas. The scholarship fully covers the tuition fees and provides a generous annual stipend towards living expenses. The stipend in 2022-2023 is £17,132. Scholars are provided financial support for the length of their program, which is typically 2-3 years for a master’s degree and 3-4 years for a doctoral degree.

The Denys Holland Scholarship is awarded based solely on merit. Financial need is not considered during the selection process. Competition is fierce, with only the most academically outstanding applicants selected.

Eligibility Criteria

The Denys Holland Scholarship has strict eligibility requirements. Meeting the basic criteria below is essential before applying:

Academic Excellence

Applicants must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and potential. Successful candidates typically have first-class honors or equivalent from their undergraduate degree program. Strong letters of recommendation from academic referees are important in assessing academic merit.

Admission to Oxford Graduate Program

You must first apply and gain admission to a graduate program at Oxford before the scholarship application deadline. The Denys Holland Scholarship can only be awarded to admitted Oxford graduate students.

UK/EU Citizenship

As the scholarship aims to support UK education and research, applicants must be UK or EU citizens. Unfortunately, international students from outside the EU are not eligible.

Timeline and Deadlines

Here is an overview of important Denys Holland Scholarship dates:

  • September-December – Apply and gain admission to your desired Oxford graduate program. Deadlines vary by department.
  • January – Denys Holland Scholarship application opens.
  • Early February – Deadline for scholarship applications. This is earlier than the deadline for graduate admission applications.
  • May – Final decisions are announced and award letters are sent to successful Denys Holland Scholarship recipients.
  • October – Denys Holland Scholars commence their graduate program at Oxford along with the new academic year.

Applying early is crucial, as the scholarship deadline is in February while graduate admission deadlines span into the summer months. You must submit your scholarship application before the admission outcome is known.

Application Requirements

Denys Holland Scholarship 2

The Denys Holland Scholarship application involves submitting materials that demonstrate your academic achievements, interests, and potential:

1. Online Application Form

You must complete the online application form, which collects basic biographical details, education history, contact information, and a personal statement.

2. Personal Statement

The personal statement is a critical part of your Denys Holland Scholarship application. In 500-1000 words, you must highlight your academic achievements, research interests and motivations, future goals, and how you will contribute to academic life at Oxford.

3. Academic Transcripts

Official transcripts from each university you have attended are required. Transcripts should show high academic performance relevant to your chosen graduate program.

4. Letters of Reference

You must submit 3-4 letters of reference, preferably from university professors familiar with your academic work and abilities. The letters should offer in-depth evaluations of your qualifications for advanced study and potential for research.

5. CV/Resume

Your academic CV or resume should detail your educational background, research experience, publications, awards and honors, and any other relevant information.

6. Additional Requirements

Some graduate departments ask for additional materials such as research proposals, writing samples, or GRE score reports. Follow your department’s application instructions closely.

Selection Process

The Denys Holland Scholarship selection process is highly competitive and selective. Here is an overview of how awardees are chosen:

  • Applications are pre-screened by the Oxford graduate admissions department for eligibility. Ineligible or incomplete applications are rejected.
  • Eligible applications are reviewed by the selection committee, comprising professors and academic administrators from each graduate division.
  • The committee thoroughly assesses each candidate’s academic excellence based on their transcripts, test scores, publications, research experience, recommendations, and personal statement.
  • After in-depth discussion and deliberation, the committee selects the scholarship recipients judged to be the most qualified and deserving candidates.
  • Final decisions are made in May once all graduate admission outcomes are known. The number of scholarships awarded each year depends on the number of suitable candidates.

Winning candidates demonstrate top-tier academic achievements, strong research experience, and exceptional potential for graduate study. Each year, many highly qualified applicants go unfunded due to intense competition.

Application Tips

Follow these tips to give yourself the best shot at winning the Denys Holland Scholarship:

  • Start early – Begin preparing your application materials well in advance of the deadline. Rushed applications are easily disqualified.
  • Ask for strong recommendations – Approach professors who know you well and can vividly convey your abilities and potential. Give them plenty of time to write insightful letters.
  • Craft an impressive personal statement – The personal statement is make-or-break. Demonstrate your academic passion, research interests, and future aspirations. Have mentors review drafts and provide feedback.
  • Highlight research experience – Describe any faculty-mentored research, publications, conference presentations, etc. Underscore how these activities have prepared you for advanced study.
  • Be specific about why Oxford – Explain precisely why you are applying to Oxford and how it is the ideal place to pursue your academic interests. Reference specific professors, resources, and opportunities at Oxford.
  • Stick to best practices – Follow guidelines, meet deadlines, and submit complete error-free applications. Disorganization or sloppiness will undermine even the strongest candidacy.

Benefits of the Scholarship

The Denys Holland Scholarship provides recipients with tremendous benefits:

  • Full tuition coverage – The scholarship covers 100% of graduate tuition and college fees. This removes the huge financial burden of Oxford’s high tuition costs.
  • Generous living stipend – The annual stipend (over £17,000 in 2022-2023) provides ample support for living costs while studying full-time.
  • Housing assistance – Scholars receive priority access to university graduate housing.
  • Academic development funds – Financial support is available for academic activities like conferences, research, and language training.
  • Prestige and opportunities – As a Denys Holland Scholar at Oxford, you are marked as an academic high-achiever and offered access to special networking, mentoring, and career development resources.

The Denys Holland Scholarship enables outstanding students to pursue a world-class Oxford education which would otherwise be out of financial reach. Scholars can focus fully on academic excellence rather than financial hurdles.


The Denys Holland Scholarship at Oxford offers a truly life-changing opportunity. With full tuition and living expenses covered, outstanding students can focus on academic excellence during their graduate studies at one of the world’s best universities.

If you are a UK/EU citizen applying to an Oxford graduate program and can demonstrate proven academic merit, submitting a competitive Denys Holland Scholarship application is absolutely worth your time and effort. Follow the tips above to craft an application that convinces the selection committee of your worthiness to join the esteemed ranks of Denys Holland Scholars.

Top Questions About Denys Holland Scholarship Answered

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Denys Holland Scholarship:

Do I need to apply separately for the scholarship?

Yes, the Denys Holland Scholarship requires a separate application from your graduate admission application. The scholarship application is due earlier in February.

When do I need to submit the scholarship application?

The deadline is early February, before graduate admission decisions are finalized. You must apply for the scholarship preemptively along with your program applications.

Can I apply if I’m only applying to Oxford and haven’t been accepted yet?

Yes, you may and should apply before receiving an admission decision. The trick is convincing the selection committee you are likely to be admitted. This is where strong reference letters help.

How many scholarships are awarded each year?

Up to 9 Denys Holland Scholarships are awarded annually. The exact number depends on the applicant pool and number of suitable candidates each year.

What graduate programs are eligible?

You can apply from any full-time master’s or doctoral program across all academic disciplines. Part-time degrees are not eligible.

Do I need to reapply for the scholarship every year?

No, the scholarship funding is renewed annually for the duration of your degree program (2-3 years for master’s, 3-4 years for PhD).

Does the scholarship cover research or conference travel?

While it does not directly provide travel funding, the scholarship offers financial support you can apply for conferences, research, internships, and other academic activities.

Are international/ overseas students eligible for the scholarship?

Unfortunately no, only students who are UK or EU citizens can qualify for the Denys Holland Scholarship.

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