Marshall Scholarships was created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom when the Marshall Aid Commemoration Act was passed in 1953. The scholarships serve as a living gift to the United States of America in recognition of the post-World War II European Recovery Plan, commonly known as the Marshall Plan. The first class of Marshall Scholars, who began academic study in the fall of 1954, consisted of eight men and four women selected from a pool of 700 applicants. Currently, there are approximately 1,500 Marshall Scholar alumni, mostly residing in the United States.
Marshall Scholarships provide students with two fully-funded years of study, with a possible third-year extension, at any university in the United Kingdom and applicable to any field of study. Approximately 40 Scholars are selected each year. The majority of Scholars choose to attend either Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics, or one of the other major London institutions, but Scholars have attended a wide range of universities throughout the UK, many of which are ranked among the best in the world. In addition to pure academic pursuits, the program serves to provide future leaders of America with insight into the "British ideals and way of life" and to strengthen the "unique relationship" that exists between the United States and the United Kingdom. Each year, approximately four percent of university-endorsed applicants receive the scholarship, and applicants must have a GPA of 3.7 or higher to be eligible.