Studying abroad is not cheap, and having scholarships will potentially save you thousands of dollars.
While it’s challenging to get scholarships, their benefits are huge and make applying well worth your time.
In this guide, I share useful information and tips to help your scholarship application easier. You’ll find answers to the following questions:
How to find scholarships?
What are scholarship requirements?
How to apply for scholarships?
How to prepare your application?
What is the scholarship application process?
How to find scholarships to study abroad?
1. University websites
The university website is an excellent resource to find scholarships. They usually link to their own scholarships or related ones from other associations. You can check the Admission, Student, Scholarship pages to search for information.
2. Online portals
If you can’t find any information, you can also look online.
You should regularly visit scholarship portals to update information about scholarships in the region or country that you’re interested in.
So what documents do you need for a successful application?
Each scholarship program has different requirements, and you must meet and satisfy those conditions to have a chance to succeed.
Here are some of the most common documents for scholarship applications.
Scholarship application form
Copy of passport/ ID
Copy of transcript or diplomas
Proof of academic, social, or athletic achievement
Letter of motivation
Letter of recommendation (work/ academic)
Official financial statements
Acceptance letter from the university
How can you apply for scholarships to study abroad?
After selecting a scholarship, you should prepare essential documents. A standard application process includes these steps:
Complete an online application form
Check for a confirmation email
Write a motivation letter or an essay. It depends on the requirements.
Get a transcript and official proof of academic, social, or athletic achievement. You should translate the documents if required.
Get your official financial statements.
Proofread these documents at least a few times and send them.
Submit the acceptance letter from the university. You won’t get a scholarship if you can’t confirm your studies.
Wait for the results.
How to increase your chance of getting scholarships?
Get a high score
Depending on each scholarship program, they may have a different Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement.
A high GPA is especially important if you intend to apply for a college or high school scholarship, as you have little or no opportunity to participate in scientific research.
For engineering, biomedical, information technology, Master’s or Ph.D. scholarships may ask a lower GPA, but require candidates to have experience and research capacity, demonstrated through quality research (articles published in prestigious international journals).
Participate in research
An impressive resume (CV) will be great when applying for a scholarship.
Participating in research groups helps you familiarize yourself with research and academic work.
Depending on the specificity of each field, you will have new experiences and learn more techniques, which are very useful for your future study abroad and career.
In addition, participating in scientific research also helps you find like-minded friends, get acquainted with professors, and find scholarship opportunities.
You should know that letters of recommendation from these professors play an important role in your scholarship application.
Improve language skills
Depending on your study destination, you may need to learn a new language. If the course teaches in a specific language, you should master it before going.
Those who intend to apply for scholarships in English are usually required to have a TOEFL or IELTS score.
For example, a British Government scholarship (Chevening scholarship) requires applicants to have an IELTS score of at least 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each skill of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
To have the certificate, you should take the foreign language exam beforehand, at least 3 to 6 months. If you can’t meet the requirement, you can retake it, and you won’t miss the deadline.
Participate in other activities
Participation in volunteer organizations, non-governmental organizations, or a short-term training course can help your CV stands out and make your scholarship application more weighty.
Social activities, unions, volunteering will prove to the scholarship selection committee that you are a dynamic person, able to work in groups and have certain skills.
What is the scholarship application process?
While each scholarship has its application process and eligibility criteria, here are the basic steps that most scholarships follow.
1. Announcement of scholarship information
Scholarship granting organizations will announce information about scholarships on the mass media, such as newspapers, the Internet, the organization’s website, or websites specializing in scholarships.
You can find out information such as
field of study
scholarship values and conditions
where to send your applications
2. Receiving scholarship applications
The scholarship application department will receive applications by post, e-mail, or online application system.
Nowadays, most scholarships usually require candidates to apply via online or e-mail systems for the convenience of candidates. However, some universities still ask for posts.
3. Reviewing scholarship document
After receiving the application, the scholarship selection committee will evaluate the candidates. In this round, they will choose the best candidates (Shorted list 1) to advance to the next round.
Preliminary interview (Round 1)
After the application round, the Scholarship Selection Committee will select excellent candidates for the first interview round. This round is usually interviewed by phone, e-mail, or skype, sometimes in person.
The interview can be just a simple conversation, or sometimes the candidates are required to prepare a short report about themselves, such as the reason for choosing that scholarship or their career planning.
After this interview, the more excellent candidates (Shorted list 2) will be selected for the next round.
Interview Round 2 (face-to-face interview)
If you get selected, you should be prepared for the second interview.
This interview usually involves more in-depth issues, such as your academic ability, research skills.
The interview may be conducted online, or you will get invited directly to the place of study for an interview. For example, Singapore’s Singa Scholarships for PhDs often invite candidates to a training institution for face-to-face interviews, and they fully cover the costs.
4. Decision step
After the interviews, the scholarship selection committee will select a list of scholarship recipients (Final list).
They’ll also select a provisional list. If, for any reason, any candidate in the final list is eliminated / or dropped, the most outstanding person in the reserve list will be replaced.