Application for U.K. Graduates
The application for the 2024-2025 academic year is now closed. Applications were due 1 November 2023.
See FAQ’s below for pertinent information.
- be British citizens who normally reside in the United Kingdom
- have attended U.K. secondary schools
- be graduates (by the summer following their applications) of a U.K. university.
Start planning early, to give yourself time to research the graduate program you wish to undertake at Penn. There are two key parts to the process: a Thouron Award application with three references and a separate application to the graduate programme at Penn you have selected, which often requires standardized testing. Explore our FAQs to help guide you along the way.
Thouron Award Application
Our application gives you an extensive opportunity to tell us about yourself. Include information about your accomplishments at university or since then. We want to learn about your academic achievements as well as your extracurricular activities. This is your chance to demonstrate your suitability to act as a representative of your home country while being open to the different perspectives that come from gaining an academic qualification in another country.
We care about your personal story. Please share your unique experiences, background, and perspectives including any triumphs and challenges.
You will also need to apply to Penn and should contact independently the graduate program to which you wish to apply. The Penn website supplies application forms and information about entrance procedures and deadlines. Please ensure you take into account the time involved in completing any standardised testing you are required to undertake as part of your Penn admissions application.
All eligible applications are initially reviewed by academics knowledgeable about the broad subject areas covered by the Thouron Award. A short-list of finalists is invited to interview with a selection committee made up of past Thouron Scholars from the U.K. and the U.S., together with Thouron Family members.
Applicants are selected on the basis of scholarship, as well as clarity of purpose, contribution to community, and their ambassadorial qualities. Candidates must be able to show enthusiasm for their particular specialty. You will be asked to participate in the exchange of ideas and opinions in a variety of settings. Scholars are selected for their ability to engage with the world with the expectation that their experience overseas will increase their commitment to the scholarship’s founding principles of promoting cross-cultural understanding.
The final selection process is in three parts: the formal panel interview; the group discussions; and a personal interview with Rupert or Rachel Thouron and another committee member. Depending on the travel status of COVID-19 pandemic at the time of interviews, interviews may be conducted in-person or virtually. While academic criteria are important, given the nature of the Award in the context of graduate study, it is important to do well in all three aspects of the selection process. The three parts are designed to allow all members of the committee to gain a fair, overall view of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates.
Who is eligible to apply for the Award?
The Thouron Award is available (1) for graduate study in the U.K., to graduating seniors, professional students, graduate students or recent graduates of the University of Pennsylvania and (2) for graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania, to final-year undergraduate students attending, or recent graduates of, any university in the United Kingdom. For Award winners (“Scholars”) the Award covers full tuition and fees for up to three years of study in most graduate degree-granting programmes offered in the U.K. and by Penn’s twelve graduate schools.
Funding for years beyond a Scholar’s first year of tenure depends upon annual confirmation of a Scholar’s satisfactory progress towards their chosen degree. In addition to tuition and fees, the Award also includes an annual stipend sufficient to cover living costs and to encourage entertainment and travel, and, for Scholars studying at Penn, health insurance.
In recent years, the Award has granted as many as ten Awards for study at Penn and a similar number for study in the U.K. As a general rule, the Award will not provide funding for a period longer than that requested in a Scholar’s Thouron application. Further, with regard to degree programmes that have a standard or expected period for completion (such as most Masters programmes), the Award will not provide funding beyond that period.
Does the Award provide funding to pursue a Ph.D. Degree at the University of Pennsylvania?
Scholars wishing to pursue doctoral programmes at Penn:
(1) Should understand that if a student is accepted into a Ph.D. programme and is deemed to be engaged in work worthy of a doctorate, Penn typically funds tuition and fees after the second year of study. Accordingly, Scholars ordinarily will not receive more than two years of funding from the Award for the pursuit of a Ph.D. at Penn.
(2) If a Scholar identifies, and intends to apply for, a Penn Ph.D. programme that does not typically fund tuition and fees after the second year of study, the Scholar may request a third year of funding. Scholars are responsible for identifying any such programmes prior to submitting their Thouron application and must, in that application (a) establish the funding practices of the relevant graduate school or doctoral programme and (b) explicitly request a third year of funding.
(3) In any situation satisfying condition (2), a third year of funding will be contingent upon written confirmation (in additional to departmental confirmation of adequate progress at the end of the Scholar’s first year) from a Scholar’s supervisor, at the end of the first semester of the Scholar’s second year, that the Scholar is making satisfactory progress toward the relevant doctoral degree.
Are any programmes considered unsuitable for funding by the Award?
The Award does not fund dual degrees, executive MBAs or any other degrees that do not involve full-time study and regular, in person interaction for at least one year with a full cohort of students. In addition, the Award does not consider suitable for funding degree programmes that (1) provide the academic basis for admission to a licensed profession where such basis would ordinarily be an undergraduate degree in the country (U.S. or U.K.) from which the student is applying (e.g, the Penn J.D.) or (2) professional degrees whose anticipated duration exceeds three years (e.g., M.D degrees).
Any student who is uncertain about whether a degree they wish to pursue will be considered eligible for funding by the Award should contact us not less than sixty days prior to the deadline for submitting Thouron applications. The Executive Committee will review the desired course of study and will advise the student of whether an application to pursue it as a Thouron Scholar would be considered.
Are there any exceptions to these eligibility requirements?
The Executive Committee of the Award may, in its sole discretion, consider requests to waive or vary the foregoing rules relating to the funding and tenure of the Award, but will do so only in circumstances that it believes to be truly exceptional. In particular, the Executive Committee will not generally consider requests to change a course of study to a degree programme that would extend tenure of the Award beyond the period applied for.
Any Scholar who wishes, despite these guidelines, to apply for such a change, must submit their request to email@example.com such that it is received no later than December 31 of the academic year during which they would be expected to graduate in the programme originally applied for. Any such request must (1) be in writing (2) explain in detail the reasons for the request and why the proposed new programme was not applied for initially, and (3) contain letters from two faculty members familiar with the Scholar’s work that set out (a) the importance of the proposed change to the Scholar’s academic or professional goals, and (b) where applicable, the importance or significance of the work the Scholar would do if allowed to change programmes and any exceptional qualifications to do such work that the Scholar has demonstrated.
Which programs at Penn are eligible for the Thouron Award?
Most of the full-time postgraduate masters and PhD programmes offered by Penn, including the single MBA program from Wharton, are eligible for the Thouron Award. Those that are not eligible include the Masters of Liberal Arts (MLA), joint MBA programs, all part-time programs and executive programs, such as M.S.Ed. Educational Entrepreneurship. The PennVet Externship training opportunities are eligible – contact the Thouron Award U.K. Administration for more details.
Do I need a First Class degree to apply?
No you do not need a first class degree to apply for a Thouron Award. Please note that these awards are highly competitive, and it is expected that your academic record will enable you to be accepted onto your chosen programme at Penn, so please ensure you check the qualification requirements for your chosen programme at Penn. Thouron Scholars are chosen both for their strong academic potential and their “ambassadorial qualities.”
I have dual U.K .nationality, am I eligible?
If you meet all the other eligibility criteria then you would be considered eligible.
I have an application pending for U.K. citizenship. May I apply?
As long as you meet all other eligibility criteria and your U.K. citizenship is/will be granted by the time you apply for the Thouron Award, then yes you may apply.
I completed my secondary schooling outside of the U.K., but am a U.K. citizen, am I eligible?
No, applications are only accepted from candidates who completed their secondary schooling, to include GCSEs and A-levels, or Highers and Advanced Highers within the U.K.
My undergraduate degree is from a university outside of the U.K., but I am a U.K. citizen, am I eligible?
No, applications are only accepted from candidates who have graduated or are due to graduate next summer with an undergraduate degree from a U.K. university.
I am a non-U.K. citizen, but am currently resident in the U.K. for university education, am I eligible?
No, only U.K. citizens are eligible for a Thouron Award to study at Penn.
Application & Selection
Will you confirm receipt of my application?
If you successfully submit an online application an automatic message will appear onscreen confirming acceptance of your application. You will also receive an email confirmation. You may check the status of your application at any time by returning to the application portal. You may be contacted directly by the U.K. administrator if there are any queries relating to, or documents missing from, your application. You will be contacted again in mid-December with details of whether you have been short-listed for an interview.
Can you provide me with specific feedback and/or reasons why I was or was not selected for a Thouron Award?
No. It is the policy of the Thouron Award not to give to individual applicants, to others inquiring on their behalf, or to the public generally, the specific reasons for selection or non-selection of applicants for awards.
Is the application deadline ever extended?
Application deadlines cannot be extended for individual applicants and/or to accommodate personal circumstances. On rare occasions, factors which may impact the entire applicant pool (eg. internet outage) may result in an extension of the deadline.
How are applications reviewed and selected?
All eligible applications are initially assessed for eligibility against the eligibility criteria and then reviewed by academics knowledgeable of the broad subject areas covered by the Thouron Award. Following this pre-selection stage, the Chair and Deputy Chair of the U.K. Thouron Award selection committee short-list candidates for interview. The selection committee is made up of past Thouron Scholars from the U.K. and U.S., together with Thouron family members.
How long after the interview do I have to wait before I am notified whether I’ve been successful or not?
Typically, interviewees will be notified by 1 February where possible.
How long do the interviews last?
Interviews are conducted as part of a full day and will consist of a formal panel interview, group discussion and a personal interview. For 2023, it is planned that interviews will be conducted in-person, any changes to this will be confirmed nearer the time.
Is it possible to make alternative arrangements for the interview dates?
Interview dates are fixed and published online in advance of the application deadlines; alternative dates are not possible. Interviews are usually conducted in-person and confirmation of this for the 2023 interviews will be provided nearer the time. If short-listed for an interview and you are not able to attend we would not be able to consider your application further.
When will interviews take place?
Interviews will usually take place in mid-January, dates will be confirmed and advertised via the website.
What do you want to see in my Personal Statement?
The Personal Statement is your opportunity to explain to the selection committee why you want to go to the U.S. and in particular why you want to undertake your chosen programme at Penn, and how this will fit with your long-term career goals, as well as describing your academic /personal goals and objectives in relation to your chosen programme of study. This is also your opportunity to demonstrate your ambassadorial qualities which make you suitable to act as a representative of the U.K. while being open to the different perspective of undertaking an academic qualification within the U.S.
What exactly do you mean by extra-curricular activities?
Include as much information as possible about all the things you have done or achieved while at university or since, for example if you were active in your Student Union, founded a society, represented your university/College at an external event or mentored younger students. Include all work experience, paid or voluntary, that may be relevant to this application, and/or demonstrates leadership skills and initiative. For candidates already in a profession, please include any activities outside of your employment e.g. involvement with a social action group, either within the U.K. or overseas, organizing sporting activities, etc.
I will not hear about my Penn admissions application until late March. Will this affect applying for a Thouron Award?
No, it will not. Most candidates will not have received a firm offer of a place at the interview stage. If you are interviewed and are successful, you will be offered an award on the condition that you are offered a place at Penn. The Thouron Award process is separate from the Penn admissions process.
Do I need to take the GRE/GMAT tests?
Most schools and departments at Penn now require or strongly recommend that applicants submit scores from standardised tests such as the Graduate Research Examination (GRE) and General Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Where applicable, candidates will be asked to confirm whether they have complied with this requirement prior to attending a Thouron interview, therefore please ensure you take into account the timescales involved in completing your GRE / GMAT tests. Without these scores, you may not be considered for an admissions place at Penn which in turn could jeopardise your application for the Thouron Award. This is especially relevant for the MBA programmes. It is essential that these test results are submitted with your Penn application as early as possible so that Penn admissions tutors can make an informed decision when reviewing your application.
Who should I provide as my referees?
Please note that referees’ contact details are a compulsory field on the application form and you should request permission from those whose details you give. However, candidates are responsible for ensuring that their chosen referees submit their reference by the deadline. Missing references will NOT be chased by the Thouron Award U.K. administration. It should be noted that applicants will be at a disadvantage if their application is not accompanied by the required two references. Suggestions for appropriate referees might include the following: i) University Dean of Faculty or Master of College, ii) Professor or Head of Department/School who can assess academic performance, iii) tutor/lecturer/class head or other person with personal knowledge of applicant’s work, activities and other strengths, iv) supervisor/manager of any employment, paid or voluntary, permanent or temporary.
When should I start planning my application?
If interested, you should start planning your application as early as possible. New application material is usually available approximately 3 months in advance of the Thouron Award deadline, and you will need to take into account what research you will need to do to help you to decide which programme you wish to undertake at Penn. Most applicants usually start this process during late summer prior to the deadline. Please also ensure you take into account the timescales involved in completing any standardized testing you are required to undertake as part of your Penn admissions application.
How difficult is it to be accepted to the graduate programs at Penn?
Penn’s graduate programs are highly competitive. Each of the graduate programs at Penn have their own application and criteria for acceptance. Some require standardized testing which should be taken early in case you need to take a second time to improve your scores. Please go directly to the specific graduate program website to research what is necessary and how to best present your application. If you are applying to Wharton Business School it is strongly recommended that you apply by their first deadline to increase your chance of being accepted, and it will be expected that you have completed or are due to complete your GMAT test at the point of applying for the Thouron Award.
I am interested in applying for a PhD programme at Penn, should I make contact with faculty in advance of applying?
Yes, if you are considering a PhD programme you are strongly encouraged to contact the relevant department and faculty at Penn to investigate options and appropriate supervisory support, as well as to determine whether the PhD programme is the most appropriate route for your circumstances and future plans. You will be expected to talk about your faculty contacts if short-listed for an interview. You should only apply for the PhD program if you are able to secure other funding for your third (or more) year(s) of study. Check with the Penn department you are interested in applying to about their funding opportunities for PhD programs.
The Master’s I would like is wrapped up within a PhD programme. May I leave after the Master’s element?
You should only apply for the PhD programme if you genuinely intend to complete that degree.
I am already enrolled on a Master’s programme in the U.K. May I apply for a subsequent one at Penn?
Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of Master’s programmes taken prior to a funding application, however, as part of your application you will be expected to explain what benefits you will gain by undertaking an additional Master’s programme.
If selected for a Thouron Award, but am unsuccessful in being admitted to my chosen programme, can I apply for an alternative programme?
No, your Thouron Award application was considered and selected on the basis of a particular programme.
What if I am successful in gaining a Thouron Award but then unsuccessful in receiving an admissions offer at Penn?
If you are not offered a place on your chosen programme at Penn, then unfortunately your Thouron Award will no longer be available to you as it is offered on the condition you gain admissions to Penn.
The Thouron Award will fund up to two years of study, but what if the best program for me is a PhD?
You should only apply for the PhD program if you are able to secure other funding for your third (or more) year(s) of study. Check with the Penn department you are interested in applying to about their funding opportunities for PhD programs.
Do I have to submit a separate application to Penn graduate schools for admissions onto my chosen program?
Yes. Applicants are advised to apply to their chosen Penn graduate programmes by mid-January of the application year. For those applying for the MBA programmes, you are advised to apply in the first round as places become limited in the later rounds. Application deadlines vary so please verify your programme specifications.
What questions are included in the application form?
Questions include past and current educational information and a set of short essays. A CV, two references, and a current photograph are also required in the application.
How many candidates are usually short-listed for interview?
The number of candidates short-listed for interview may vary, however, the approximate number tends to be 24 each year. The number of finalists to be interviewed and the number of awards to be made is at the sole discretion of the selection committee.
How many applications do you usually receive?
We usually receive around 100 applications each year.
What is the application deadline?
1 November 2022 with references due 8 November 2022.
Can I defer the scholarship to the following year?
Requests to defer the scholarship are not usually granted, however, in recent years due to the global COVID-19 pandemic exceptions have been made. This situation will be monitored over the coming months and a policy decision on deferrals for the 2023 competition will be made nearer the time depending on the situation.
What makes the Thouron Award different to other U.S. scholarship schemes?
The distinctive quality of the Thouron Award is its sense of family. The Thouron family are actively involved with the selection process and maintain continuing contacts with current and former Scholars, and there are frequent reunions – formal and informal – on both sides of the Atlantic, and all scholars are considered part of the wider Thouron family network. Scholars are chosen for their strong academic potential as well as their “ambassadorial qualities”, and all aspects of a candidates ‘career’ to date are taken into account during the selection process. The award is also generous enough to allow for travel throughout the U.S. during its tenure and scholars are actively encouraged to seek out experiences within the U.S. outside of Penn academia.
I am interested in undertaking a PhD programme at Penn, what are the benefits of applying for a Thouron Award, if the department will cover my costs anyway?
The department may ask that the Thouron Award cover the first year or two, with the department picking up the remainder, and therefore costing the department less. The other benefits relate to being part of the Thouron ‘network / family’.
What if my course is longer than two years?
With the exception of those undertaking a PhD degree programme (which usually attracts funding from the relevant Penn department), students would need to seek alternative funds to cover the additional years, as the Thouron Award cannot be extended beyond two years.
What does the scholarship provide / cover?
Up to two years of support for postgraduate degree programmes at Penn. The award covers tuition fees, health insurance and provides a monthly stipend which covers living costs, and such extras as entertainment and travel. The value of the award is adjusted annually, with the current annual stipend for U.K. Thourons set at $44,520. The Thouron Award is sufficiently generous to allow for vacation travel. Students are expected to use much of their vacation times to explore their host country.