A study grant can be a viable alternative to scholarships when it comes to financing your Masters studies. However, candidates must prepare for severe competition.

In the modern academic environment, gaining admission to a prestigious degree programme is often only half the battle. The other half is securing the funding. Pursuing a Masters degree represents a significant investment in your future, both of time and money, and there are several possible routes to secure funding.

A scholarship is probably the most obvious option. Scholarships are usually awarded by the university which has granted you admission and are often advertised to students by the university itself. Scholarships come in many different shapes and forms – they may cover the tuition fee (or part of it) or even include a direct cash payment.

What is a study grant?

Study grants are a popular alternative to scholarships. They are similar to scholarships in that they are a form of non-repayable financial assistance, but the key difference is the source of funding. Study grants are not normally affiliated to any particular university or college, but are offered through a third-party source (e.g. a business, government or charity initiative). Due to this lack of affiliation, they will not normally take the form of a tuition fee waiver, but of a direct cash grant or monthly allowance.

Check out: Masters Funding Options: How Do They Differ?

The fact that these grants come from third-party sources makes them a useful funding option. They are not exclusive, enabling you to hold multiple grants from different sources, and they can be held simultaneously with any scholarships you may have secured. Additionally, grants are typically not awarded on the basis of academic achievement but on the basis of one’s social or financial background, and some will specifically target students who are at a disadvantage in a normal scholarship competition. Many of them, especially in the sciences, are specifically designed to provide funding for a particular field of work.

They do have one obvious drawback, however: competition is fierce. When applying for scholarships, you are vying with candidates from your chosen university. When applying for grants, however, you could well find yourself up against national or even international competition. Approximately 80% of grant applications are immediately rejected and it is therefore important to make sure that your application is as competitive as possible.

Check out: Top 5 Grants for Graduate Students

Do your research

Much like choosing a university for a Masters degree, the successful application for a grant requires thorough research. Grant opportunities are often not immediately obvious, and they will require you to do some independent investigation. Your university or college is a good place to start: they should be aware at least of the national grants, if not the more specialised ones. There should be specific grants related to your academic field, so it is worth checking faculty notice boards and mailing lists. Other good places to start looking are educational charities, particularly in your local area, and national government websites. While applying, bear in mind it is possible to hold more than one grant simultaneously, so it is sensible to apply for as many grants for which you could be eligible.

Again, however, finding the grants is only the first step. Many grants will have extremely specific requirements, and it is important to make sure that you are an exact fit for the grant specifications. Most of the time, the awarding body’s website will explain the details thoroughly, along with designated contact details.

Each grant will have different specifications because some will require a written application, passing a test, or even an interview. A strong academic track record may not be as vital as it is for a scholarship, but it is still a definite advantage. Some grants will require proof of residency, nationality or other details so it would be useful to have them to hand.

Make sure that your application is unique, give your best effort to fulfil the requirements for obtaining a grant from a third party and apply for all those grants that cater specifically to your particular needs.

“I always wanted to go for a Masters degree but my family’s circumstances and limited means made it pretty much out of the question. When I was awarded an HNU grant, everything that was a dream became reality,” said Tatianna Leghoretta, a student at Holy Names University, in California.

Browsing the wide array of grants available to a student may seem daunting at first, but if you research the awarding bodies well and match your profile and application to the criteria they demand, they can be an extremely flexible and useful way of funding your Masters studies. Here is a list of study grants with which to start your research:

US-based Grants

  • Fulbright Study/Research Grant
  • Google Scholarship Programme
  • Federal Pell Grant Programme
  • Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund Grant
  • Churchill Foundation Scholarship
  • Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation
  • Richard A. Freund International Scholarship

UK-based Grants

  • Lawrence Atwell’s Charity
  • Sidney Perry Foundation
  • Gilchrist Trust
  • Stapley Educational Trust
  • The Humanitarian Trust
  • St. Clement Dane Educational Foundation
  • Leathersellers’ Company

This article is original content produced by Advent Group and included in the 2016-2017 annual Access MBA, EMBA and Masters Guide under the title “Wish Granted”