Planning to get a scholarship or grant for studying abroad? Our article will tell you about the funding options, requirements, and the largest programs.
Education abroad is a frequent aspiration for many students, but it is not always affordable. In addition to tuition fees, you need to have money for accommodation, food, transportation, textbooks, and other expenses. Grants and scholarships that are issued by universities, state governments, and various organizations can help get the desired education.
Scholarships and grants
Education is funded through grants and scholarships. The difference between the two is that a grant is a one-time payment, often covering all training costs. Scholarships, as a rule, are paid monthly, and not in full amount at once. However, in English, a single word "scholarship" is often used, which can mean both a grant and a scholarship. Sometimes in case of postdoctoral studies you can come across the term “fellowship” that has the same meaning.
Receiving 100% coverage of tuition and living expenses is a rather rare occurrence that requires a rather serious preparation for admission, as well as the presence of outstanding achievements not only in studies but also in extracurricular activities, for example, in the field of sports, arts, volunteering, social activities. It so happens that international students receive coverage for only half of the tuition fees (for example, up to 18,000 USD per year) and pay for their accommodation, meals, and flights out of their own pocket. However, much depends on the country of study and on the type of scholarship program.
According to the level of education, grants are allocated for obtaining bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees. Scholarships available for bachelor’s programs usually offer only 1 year of tuition coverage, and for graduate and PhD programs — the entire period of study (usually up to 3 years).
Who issues scholarships and grants?
Sources of funding:
Higher education institutions;
National or regional governments;
Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Education;
Commercial companies interested in research;
International educational centers;
Charity foundations that support education.
There is a huge number of opportunities and sources of funding. The challenge is finding the right one for you. Moreover, there is no single site or database that would provide complete and structured information about all existing opportunities.
Who can get the scholarship?
As a rule, an applicant for a grant or scholarship, regardless of the program and conditions, must have the skills, experience, and knowledge that characterize him as a capable and promising candidate who does better than 90% of the rest of the students. Grants are focused on a wide range of professions, therefore, students of various fields of study receive funding: medicine, technology, economics, art, science, education, etc.
The profile of an average student who received funding from a US university looks something like this:
The school with a complex curriculum, a large number of advanced courses and additional subjects;
High performance rating in the class, in the top-5-10% of the school;
Participation in school, city, national olympiads and contests;
GPA is 5.0;
The average SAT score is 1500 out of 1600 (ACT 27-32) or higher;
Achievements in sports, creativity, social activities, etc.
If your experience and achievements meet the specified criteria, then you can apply for funding both in the United States and in other countries. If not, then you should focus your efforts on improving your profile in order to achieve your goal. Getting funding depends not so much on the student's ability as on his desire and perseverance.
However, grants are awarded not only to excellent students and specialists with extensive experience. For example, different foundations have different purposes, from helping those in need to supporting certain professions.
Getting a scholarship to study at a university is a pretty real opportunity for current students. Many universities, national governments, and foundations around the world provide large sums of money to fund talented and outstanding candidates. You don't have to be a genius to do this, the main thing is to find a suitable scholarship or grant and collect the documents correctly. Moreover, if there are not enough achievements under your belt, then the application for funding can always be postponed, for example, for a year, during which the applicant can achieve the necessary heights and results.
It is important to remember that everyone who seeks to get an education is unique and can offer something of their own to the admissions committee. Moreover, education abroad is becoming more popular every year, and at the same time, the amount of funding allocated for research projects and education, in general, is growing.
A candidate's chances are increased if one:
Shows an excellent academic performance at school or university;
Plans to study in the same specialization or close to the field of education already received;
Is fluent in a foreign language, better even in several;
Writes the thesis and conducts scientific research on pressing scientific topics;
Has experience in the chosen field of activity;
Can clearly explain how the knowledge gained while studying abroad will contribute to the development of cultural, economic, and political relations between the country of study and the country of permanent residence of the candidate.
It should be noted that the chances of getting a grant often depend on age: the older the candidate, the less likely it is to receive funding. For example, for a scholarship for a master's degree, the preferred age is up to 35-40 years.
How do I get a grant or scholarship to study?
First, you need to decide on the country, academic program, and/or university. Then read the detailed description of the selected program. It is worth paying attention to the content of the program, the number of European study credits (ECTS) required, the application deadline, the necessary documents, as well as the tuition cost. This is important information that will help you determine the search criteria for funds to cover the costs.
After that, you need to start looking for the necessary information. It should be based on 3 factors:
University — some universities offer partial (less often full) financial assistance to international students;
Program — for some programs and specialties, funding is offered through universities or external sources.
Documents required to apply for a scholarship
The package of documents for participation in the competition for a grant or a scholarship is largely similar to the documents required for university admission. An approximate list of required documents is as follows:
Secondary education certificate and/or bachelor's/master's degree + transcripts with a high GPA. Documents must be translated into the language of the scholarship program (usually English) and notarized;
Other documents that prove extracurricular achievements, work experience in the specialty, participation in conferences, publications, knowledge of additional foreign languages, participation in Olympiads, etc.
Check the list of documents and requirements for their registration on the websites of universities and scholarship programs.
When searching on your own, you need to go through the websites of the universities that you are considering for admission. If there is no information, you should contact the Office of Financial Aid or the International Office to clarify what types of financial assistance are available to foreigners.
If universities do not provide financial assistance, it is necessary to thoroughly study the websites of the government or other state entities of the country of study. As a rule, funds established by the government provide significant sums to attract students from abroad. Various databases can also help in finding grants and scholarships: Scholarship Portal, Neupusti.net, Australia Scholarships, Go Overseas, Study Abroad, We make scholars, International Student. It is possible to find something suitable thanks to the ability to filter grants according to the applicant's desired search parameters.
The shortest term for a study grant is a few weeks or months, the longer one is from 1 to 3 years. In this case, the money is given in several installments.
As a rule, the grant cannot be postponed or delayed, it is allocated for a certain period of study. The exception is grant programs with one-year preparation for admission, as well as the possibility of studying in free language courses. In this case, the grant becomes effective after the training program.
It should be kept in mind that if during the year you still have not used the grant, the foundation holds a competition to find other candidates, in which you can also take part, but on a general basis.
Results of competitions and refusals
Usually, only after 2-3 weeks or even a month after the end of the competition, the committee of the scholarship programs makes a final decision on who receives funding. Candidates usually receive notification of results via an email, sometimes an official letter is sent by mail.
In the case of refusals, most often the reasons are not indicated, but they can be as follows:
The application is not unique. Another applicant with a similar goal was recognized by the committee as a more worthy candidate for a scholarship or grant;
The applicant provides an incorrectly filled out application or incomplete package of required documents;
The candidate's topic and goals do not correspond to the project goal;
The applicant has requested a too small/large amount of funding (this may play against the applicant and raise concerns about the need for funding and project implementation);
The number of grants allocated is limited.
Major scholarship programs
German Academic Exchange Service DAAD
DAAD is an association that provides grants and scholarships. Founded in Heidelberg in 1925 on the initiative of one student, DAAD has since become one of the largest funding organizations worldwide for the international exchange of students and researchers. The organization promotes the training of:
Young German scientists in the best universities in the world;
Outstanding international students, doctoral students, and researchers in Germany.
DAAD offers the following funding opportunities for students:
Master's degree programs of general and creative specialization;
Programs for PhD candidates and scientists;
Special programs (for certain regions of some countries, professions, fields of study).
All scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis. The selection takes into account academic performance, exam results, quality and relevance of the scientific project, motivation, knowledge of German or English (depending on the program). A big plus will be the presence of contacts with a higher educational institution in Germany. A student can discuss future scientific work with a professor of interest in advance and receive an invitation from him.
Updated and detailed information can be found on the DAAD website. You can view all funding opportunities from DAAD and other organizations in the database.
A cultural exchange program between the United States and other countries through education and training. Under Fulbright, US students, academics, educators, and professionals receive grants to study, research, teach, or develop their talents abroad. Conversely, talented foreigners come to the United States for the same purpose. Program grants are awarded through an open competition. Fulbright offers the following opportunities for international students:
Master's or doctoral program
For graduates of universities and PhD candidates in the field of arts, technology, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Finances 1 year of research for PhD candidates in a home country, or 2 years of Master's degree in the USA.
Higher education (specialist) or bachelor's degree.
Program English Language Teachers(FLTA)
FLTA Fellows conduct classes in US universities (up to 20 hours / week), language clubs, participate in optional activities and projects. They can also take 2 courses during the semester.
Final year students of the specialty "Teaching English".
Program University Faculty Internship (FFDP)
The objective is to provide participants with the opportunity to work on curriculum and course design.
Teachers and researchers (up to 39 years old), without PhD (or received PhD in the last 5 years);
Minimum 2 years of experience.
Program Scientist Exchange
Designed for reputable scientists and professionals interested in professional development and for those who wish to travel to the United States to lecture or conduct research.
Good English proficiency.
Each state has different opportunities. Available programs for your country can be found on the official site.
Chevening is a UK government program. Grants are awarded to distinguished professionals from around the world to pursue a one-year master's degree in any subject at any UK university.
Chevening provides full scholarships. The main criteria for receiving funding are ambition, leadership potential, and strong academic preparation. You can read more about the program here.
Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD)
Master’s programs offered by a consortium of European higher education institutions. Each year scholarships are awarded to talented students.
EMJMD programs consist of 60, 90, or 120 ECTS credits, i.e. last from 1 to 2 years. To receive financial support, you must enroll in the program and apply for the competition. Grants can be partial or full. The latter cover tuition fees, health insurance, accommodation and flights to the host country. Additionally, a monthly scholarship is issued. The total sum depends on the duration of the program and the nationality of the applicant. Non-EU citizens receive larger scholarships. Current programs can be viewed in this catalog.
State Grant, foundedon a bilateral partnership between the Hungarian Ministry of Education and other countries. To participate, you must prepare the following documents:
All documents must be translated into English or Hungarian.
The program fully covers tuition fees, dormitory cost, and health insurance, and provides a monthly scholarship of 119 USD (138 USD). However, students need to have their own money to cover the rest of the living expenses in Hungary. More information is available on the Study in Hungary website.
Global Korea Scholarship
Global Korea Scholarship is a free education program for international students at universities in South Korea. Issued for studies for associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The grant covers travel, accommodation, tuition, medical insurance, study materials and other needs.
Before studying, all visitors must take one-year language courses, except for students with level 5 of the TOPIK exam. 170 undergraduate (bachelor's, associate's) and 700 graduate (master's, doctoral) fellows are selected annually.
The main criteria are age (up to 25 and 40, respectively) and a high GPA at the previous stage of education (more than 75% for associate's and more than 80% for other degrees). Applications for GKS are accepted at the Korean embassies in the participating states and universities accredited by the National Institute of International Education.
Turkey scholarshipsis a government scholarship program in Turkey. It is allocated for the study of foreign students in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies. Before studying, 1-year Turkish language courses should be taken. The scholarship covers tuition, accommodation, insurance, and travel. Additionally, a monthly scholarship is issued in the amount of 29-58 USD. The selection criteria are academic performance (70-75%) and age (under 21 for a bachelor's degree, under 30 for a master's degree, under 35 for a PhD).
VLIR-UOS Scholarships in Belgium
Organization allocates scholarships for students from 31 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to study in Flanders or university colleges in Belgium, as well as grants for European students to do internship/fieldwork in those 31 countries. Scholars coming to Belgium should attend training or Master’s degree programs in English language. Scholarships are provided for the full duration of the programs.
Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
Program allocates 750 scholarships for postgraduate studies and professional development. Its official site offers opportunities for citizens of Commonwealth countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.
It is necessary to carefully study the description and criteria for applying for scholarships. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee a grant. To increase the chances, you must have an excellent diploma, a language level above the specified requirements, outstanding achievements, and a strong motivation letter. Furthermore, it is important to submit documents as early as possible, preferably immediately after the opening of the admissions campaign.
The stories of students who have won grants to Harvard and other universities can be read here.
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