Getting accepted on a good Masters programme is a dream come true for many, but winning a scholarship for your studies is even better. Although the possibility of securing full or partial financial aid may seem unimaginable at first, researching your options and making an effort is worth it. Here is our guidebook to preparing a winning application for the different types of Masters scholarships out there.
Types of scholarships
So where should you start? First, get acquainted with what is available on the market. The most common examples of scholarships offered by Masters programmes can be grouped into merit-based, need-based, and student-specific scholarships, although schools often consider both your academic success and financial situation.
Merit-based and need-based
If you have excelled at your previous studies, you have a high GPA, or high admissions tests scores, then be sure to look for any merit-based scholarships available at the schools you are considering for your Masters degree. In some cases, you may not need to prepare a separate application; instead, your overall application package and admissions interview feedback will be considered once you have been admitted to the programme. In other cases, schools will require that you submit additional documents such as a motivation letter addressing why you deserve to receive the scholarship and letters of reference from relevant academic supervisors.
Similarly, in order for the university to determine your eligibility for a need-based scholarship – one that is provided to applicants in financial need – you may have to provide supporting documentation such as bank statements or a financial plan. Keep in mind that even if you are applying for need-based financial aid, the university will still take your academic performance and the quality of your overall application into consideration.
There are also a multitude of scholarships with a focus on international and cultural diversity, gender balance, ancestry, and more. Many of the reputable and highly international schools offer financial aid to students coming from different regions and countries. Some can be as general as ESCP Europe’s Asian, African, Eastern European, and American Scholarships granted to talented candidates from these parts of the world. Other institutions such as London Business School (UK) cater to applicants from specific countries including India, Thailand, and Russia – to mention just a few.
Check out: Funding for Masters Degree Studies
Look for external assistance
Universities are not the only sources where you can seek full or partial financial aid as an international student. Depending on the country you choose for your studies, you may look for assistance through grants awarded by governments or other institutions. The so-called Erasmus Mundus Partnerships Programme facilitates various scholarships for European students who wish to study in non-EU countries, as well as for non-Europeans who wish to experience studies in the European Union. In addition, the Erasmus+ programme provides financial support for your travel and subsistence costs if you decide to go on an exchange semester abroad during your studies.
The Fulbright Programme is another well-known and internationally recognised source of study grants. A PrepAdviser article on the topic explains, “Under the Fulbright Programme competitively selected US citizens can be granted scholarships to study, conduct research or exercise their talents abroad; and citizens of other countries may qualify to do the same in the US.” Although the application details vary by country, you need to know that applying for a Fulbright grant precedes application to US universities by one year. You will also need to have completed your undergraduate degree and have a standardised test score such as TOEFL, GMAT or GRE at the ready.
Do not forget that embassies and local NGOs are also a great source of information. When it comes to the scholarships and grants available for a particular country, embassies are typically very involved in facilitating such opportunities. For instance, the recipients of Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the UK Government’s international awards programme for postgraduate studies – are personally selected by British embassies around the world.
Increase your chances
Seeing how many alternatives there are to get financial aid for your Masters studies, how do you decide which ones to apply for? Although you will see many sources online advise that you apply for all potential grants and fellowships, you may actually need to be somewhat selective. Applying for scholarships is not like playing the lottery. It requires time, effort, and a personalised technique rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Schools want to make sure that their contributions end up in good hands and that their financial assistance will further promote the name of their brand, which is why many of them will be selective as to which applicants are rewarded. However, dismissing scholarships that seem suitable just to save time may also be the wrong approach. Find the right balance between the amount and the quality of applications you send in.
All in all, whichever scholarship or grant you decide to apply for, it is best to start your preparation early and to take care of many of the details well in advance. Practising for admissions tests and arranging all required documentation such as academic transcripts, application forms, recommendations, etc. is always a lengthy process. Your early start will give you some peace of mind when the time comes to submit the full application package.
In the final steps of compiling your scholarship applications, do not hesitate to ask your peers and other scholars to evaluate your work. Spending a lot of time focused on perfecting your writing will make it more difficult to see what you might have missed. Having a third-party point of view will show you what you could further improve in the time you have left before submitting your entry. If you follow these steps throughout your Masters preparation, the process will be much easier to navigate and you will have a good chance of securing financial support for your studies.