This is probably only relevant to the UK, because in the USA, PhD funding usually come from the department/university through fellowships/TA/RA.

I applied for PhD at a UK university and got admission. The university also runs an extremely competitive named scholarship competition (for example, this one - not the one I got, just an example) that offer holders can compete in. I was fortunate enough to have won the scholarship. However, I am going to turn it down for a funded PhD at another school.

Is it alright to state that I won this scholarship on my academic CV but turned it down? If this was a typical USA PhD funding offer (fellowship/TA/RA), I would not consider stating it on my CV.

Edit: This is a similar but slight different question from the "duplicate" because I am not asking about the "typical" PhD fellowship/TA/RA that is awarded to candidates admitted to PhDs in the USA. I am talking about competitive/prestigious scholarships like Rhodes and Gates-Cambridge scholarships that one has to apply for outside of the regular admissions process.

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    I stand by my previous answer: "If you turn down an award (or an acceptance to a univeristy, etc), you don't get to reap the benefits of that award." academia.stackexchange.com/questions/368/… – Amy Mar 2 '13 at 23:37
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    If you didn't accept the scholarship, you didn't "win" it. The person who accepted it "won" it. It's obvious what answer you want to hear, and you are free to ignore my opinion. But keep in mind that listing things that you turned down will rub some people the wrong way. – Amy Mar 2 '13 at 23:51
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    I very much disagree with the statement If you didn't accept the scholarship, you didn't "win" it. Technically, this is perhaps correct, but it misses the point. When you list an honor, you are listing that you were chosen for that honor; whether you accept or not seems of relatively little consequence. For example, if someone is chosen for an all-star team in sports, but can't compete on it due to injury, it is still publicized that they were chosen. – Dan C Mar 3 '13 at 4:51
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    @DanC - you may have been chosen for the honor, but you didn't choose to take it. This isn't like getting injured before an all-star game, this is like getting courted by the Yankees and the Red Sox and choosing the Sox, but telling everyone you were a Yankee too. – Amy Mar 3 '13 at 4:57
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    I turned down an NSF fellowship. However, NSF still considered me an awardee, and included my name in the official list of offered fellowships. So, by NSF's reckoning, I don't see what's the harm in calling attention to that fact. So long as you don't claim to have been a recipient of the award, you're not being dishonest. (And the better sports analogy here is being drafted into different leagues, and only being able to accept one.) – aeismail Mar 3 '13 at 12:14

It might be worth mentioning this while you are applying for PhD positions. But after you have obtained a PhD position, it will be fairly meaningless, as what will matter is how you perform in your PhD studies (ie, number/quality of publications).

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    I disagree with the part it will be fairly meaningless. Yes performance is very important for PhDs. But the list of accomplishments (i.e. successfully won a scholarship) is another important thing. – seteropere Mar 2 '13 at 19:17
  • International PhD scholarship competitions in the UK tend to be judged based on the strength of the candidate's research proposal. I thought it would be of some use to say I was able to produce a proposal that won competitive research funding. (also, international students in the UK are usually not funded by the university or department - we get in and then look for our own funding) – Legendre Mar 2 '13 at 20:24
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    I agree with this answer. People will be interested in what you have actually accomplished, not what you could have done instead. – Amy Mar 2 '13 at 23:56

Having easy access to your complete funding application history is critical in the UK. It is not uncommon for funding agencies to ask if you have every applied before. Some of the research councils are now tracking the number of unfunded/triaged applications you have made. As part of my annual review, my university wants to know how many funding applications I make every year (both funded and unfunded). Since I need information about both my successful and unsuccessful applications, I need a place to keep it. For me, the obvious place is the long version of my CV where I keep every piece of information about my academic life. My feeling is if something doesn't make my "long" CV, it gets forgotten.

It is also important to remember that most people don't want to see an unedited version of your long CV. You haven't said which version of your CV (you have more than one right?) you are thinking about including this information on. If you are talking about a 1-page summary CV for promotion to full professor, hopefully you have many more relevant things to include. If you are applying for a research support job where your job might be to help students apply for PhD fellowships, then it is probably of critical importantance.

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  • Those are good points, thanks. I suppose it is implied in your answer that that only the most competitive (e.g. national level) awards are worth stating, rather than the generic funding that comes with an admit - in both long/short versions. IMHO it looks very silly to list all the PhD programmes I got into with funding, but at the same time, its feels silly not to list Rhodes, Marshall or NSF. – Legendre Mar 4 '13 at 10:51
  • @Legendre No, I am saying list EVERYTHING on your "long" CV and then edit down to tailor the CV for a particular purpose. But I am also saying in the vast majority of the cases the declined fellowships will be irrelevant and get edited out. – StrongBad Mar 4 '13 at 11:07
  • a 1-page summary CV for promotion to full professor — What the what? The official biographical document I had to submit for promotion for full professor was about three times longer than my "full CV". – JeffE Mar 4 '13 at 12:53
  • @JeffE in the UK when you are promoted to chair there is a celebratory lecture. They like to have a 1-page CV/bio to promote the lecture. The promotion itself is hopefully based on the full application and not the summary (although I wouldn't know). – StrongBad Mar 4 '13 at 13:48

If the award is sufficiently prestigious then you should list it, otherwise you should not.

If you declined a Rhodes scholarship you would be very foolish not to list it on your CV. In the US you should list declined NSF or DoD graduate fellowships. However, you do not want to look like you are padding your resume with extraneous information, so I would advise against listing more than one declined award, and would advise against listing any declined awards that are not well known. In most circumstances the declined scholarship isn't going to give any important information that couldn't be gotten from just listing the scholarship you did accept.

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    This is exactly right, in my opinion. National-level awards should be listed, because it indicates a level of accomplishment. Awards at individual schools that are declined are not relevant. – aeismail Mar 3 '13 at 12:18
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    Not quite. You should only list national level awards if the awarding organization recognizes you as a winner even if you turn down the money. If you actually turn down the award, you don't get to reap the benefits of the award. – JeffE Mar 3 '13 at 13:53

I think that the information that you have won several competitive PhD scholarships is by itself meaningless: you have won one, this is enough information to ensure that you have a potential.

The real interesting information is why you chose one specific scholarship amongst the ones you won. If you state on your CV all the scholarships you won but didn't take, be prepared to answer to the "why this one" question. And be very careful on your answer if you don't know the profile of the asker.

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    In the UK, international funding for PhD is often not automatically given by the department. There are a few, very competitive, named scholarships which are won by the strength of our research proposal. I thought it would be advantageous to show that I can write proposals that can win competitive funding. – Legendre Mar 2 '13 at 20:21

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