How To Win Fully Funded PhD Scholarships Abroad

Are you interested in pursuing a PhD abroad but worried about the financial burden? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many students seek how to win fully funded PhD scholarships abroad to help minimize the costs of obtaining their doctorate degree. However the competition is fierce, and it can be challenging to secure funding. However, with the right approach and some insider tips, you can increase your chances of winning a PhD scholarship.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to enhance your chances of securing a PhD scholarship abroad. So whether you’re aiming for a fully-funded scholarship or partial support in a specific field, this guide has got you covered. Stay determined and believe in your abilities your dream of pursuing a PhD abroad is within reach.

What are Fully Funded Scholarships?

Fully funded scholarships are financial awards in which an award package covers all student expenses. This includes not only the tuition, but also sometimes fees, book allowance, living stipend, travel expenses, and health insurance. About terms regarding a financial award, the word “fully” entails an exhaustive and extensive level of funding.

These awards are highly competitive and are sought after by a large number of students, given the comprehensive level of support. A fully funded scholarship can come in many forms and names, depending on the institution. Also, because of the varying degrees of full support, sometimes a package may or may not include one or more of the incentives listed.How To Win Fully Funded PhD Scholarships Abroad

How To Win Fully Funded PhD Scholarships Abroad

There are multiple ways to secure scholarships for schools abroad, however, winning a fully funded scholarship is the best way to go. Not only will a fully funded scholarship cover the costs of your tuition and living expenses, but it will also allow you to enjoy a stress-free academic career since the scholarship may include some form of monthly stipend/salary.

The difficulty of securing a fully funded scholarship varies amongst different programs of study and different universities. However, there are a few steps that you can take to maximize your chances of receiving a fully funded scholarship.

Step 1. Get Aware of Ongoing Scholarships

The first thing you need to do is get aware of ongoing scholarships available. This is the most important for obvious reasons. If you are not aware of scholarships, you cannot find scholarships to apply to, you cannot possibly win a scholarship. Conversely, the more scholarships you are aware of, the more you can apply to and the greater your chances of winning a scholarship. So, investing time to know about available scholarship opportunities will pay off in the long run.

There are a few ways you can become aware of possible available scholarships. Use Google, social media, and online forums. Check our dedicated portal “PhD Scholarships” for various scholarships. In your quest to learn about ongoing scholarships, note the following points as they are very helpful.

  1. Research Available scholarships

You know, “good things don’t come easy”. You have to utilize all available resources if you must learn about ongoing scholarships. Use search engines like Google to research available scholarships in various countries like the USA, Canada, Sweden etc. Register your profile and set your preferences, e.g. your research interest, your nationality, the country you would like to study, and the aimed starting year.

  1. Set Scholarship Alerts

Set up alerts at all these sources according to your feasibility, so that if you miss information from one place, you can get it from another. But once you set up these alerts, be regular in checking them and also remove any inactive alerts so that you don’t miss any information.

There are several ways you can set up scholarship alerts. One way is to subscribe to our news updates via email. The best way to stay informed about scholarships is to set up scholarship alerts.

  1. Check Eligibility Criteria

Your eligibility for a scholarship is what qualifies you to apply for it as your application will not be considered if you are not eligible to apply. Eligibility criteria for a scholarship vary greatly depending on the specific scholarship, but usually, it’s the first set of parameters that need to be met. There are a few common eligibility criteria points for PhD scholarships, such as a minimum grade requirement, sex, age or nationality.

Common Eligibility Criteria For PhD Scholarships

Eligibility for a scholarship goes beyond a mere consideration of the student’s scholarly merit. It is better to think of scholarships as a form of employment. The eligibility standards will vary depending on the source (e.g. government scholarships compared to university scholarships) and type of the scholarship framework from state to state. Generally, below are the common eligibility factors to be considered when applying for a PhD scholarship abroad.

i. Nationality

When applying for a PhD scholarship, the first eligibility requirement to look out for is the countries whose citizens are allowed to apply. Although, in most cases, “international students” imply that citizens from every country are eligible to apply. Nevertheless, some conditions vary and the eligible countries are listed specifically, in this case, crosscheck to see if your countries is eligible to apply before you proceed to apply.

ii. Study Area

The study area is another important eligibility factor to look out for before considering a scholarship opportunity to apply for. Man scholarships are subject-specific – STEM, Humanities, Arts etc. Other scholarships are equally specific to subject areas – Biology, Chemistry, Law and Business and so on. Candidates allowed to apply for this scholarship are expected to hold a previous degree (B.Sc. or M.Sc.) in the particular field to be eligible. Check out all these before applying.

See Also: Top Doctoral Funding Opportunities for STEM Students

iii. Research Interest

Now consider research interest as another eligibility consideration. In this case, you may be eligible for a scholarship based on nationality and study area but ineligible due to previous research interests. For example, you can be eligible for a scholarship in Chemistry, but have carried out your previous works on environmental studies with a keen interest in soil sampling and the available scholarship is for experts in synthetic chemistry.

iv. Age

When researching available scholarships, look out for the age requirement. Some PhD scholarships require that candidates should not be more than 35 years as at the time of resumption while other Masters scholarships keep it at 30. In any case, the age limit is not one of the most important factors as most scholarships do not care about age.

v. Sex/Gender

Some scholarships are specifically for women and these scholarships automatically disqualify men from applying. Hence check if a scholarship is specifically for a particular gender before sending in your application.

Related: How To Win Doctoral Scholarship in Canada

Step 2. Prepare a Strong Application Package

This is the most critical stage to prepare a strong application to make a successful attempt to win fully funded PhD scholarships. You have to prepare and get application documents handy. Start this process as soon as possible, because making a strong application can take a long time. The more effort you put into your application, the more likely it is that the scholarship review committee will recognize your dedication to your project and the likelihood of winning the scholarship.

In your interest, as you make arrangements to prepare a strong application package to win a scholarship to study abroad, take a look at the following as a guide.

  1. Prepare Early in Advance

One of the biggest mistakes students usually make is delay in preparation and arranging the application package. Usually, they start when the scholarship announcement is a few months ahead, which is very late! Remember, preparing for winning a scholarship and getting admission to a foreign university is a lengthy and highly competitive process.

If you start late, you will hurry in making your application package and most probably you will miss out on some important things. Early preparation will increase your chances of making a perfect application package and also the possibility of winning the scholarship!

  1. Get Application Documents Handy

If you really want to stand a chance, then your application documents should be handy before you kick-start any application process. I always tell my students not to wait until they want to apply for a scholarship before they request their documents from the schools they attended or professors.

In some cases, the scholarship committee may feel they have collected enough applications before the deadline and decide not to look at other applications, in this situation, having your application documents ready ensures you have no delay in applying.

Common Documents Necessary for Scholarship Application

An important thing to remember when applying for scholarships is that the information you include in your application needs to be relevant to the scholarship aims and selection criteria. Providing a generic application that does not relate to the aims of the scholarship shows a lack of effort and could result in your application being rejected.

Below is a list of the common documents that are required when you apply for a PhD scholarship. Not all documents will be required for all applications, and these are only representative examples. But get all these documents ready, as at some stage you will need them all.

i. CV/Resume

CV/Resume is the first document that a potential PhD scholarship student prepares. It is an overview of the applicant’s studies, research experiences, publications, and other achievements. It is mandatory to enlist a detailed educational background, from primary school up to the latest degree recently received.

Applicants should also put their full and detailed working experiences, such as research assistant or teaching assistant, along with the duration. A clear and easy-to-understand CV increases your chances of winning the scholarship and being accepted into the desired program.

ii. Statement of Purpose/Motivation Letter

The most important part of your application can be your statement of purpose or motivation letter. This is the only opportunity you have to address the decisions committee directly and try to convince them to accept you onto the PhD course. It is important to get this right. Your statement of purpose would likely be the deciding factor in your application, so you must ensure you give it the time and effort it deserves.

See: Writing a Doctoral Statement of Purpose: 10 Tips For Success

iii. Research Proposal

A research proposal is another inevitable document that is required during the application process. The research proposal needs to be clear, focused and well-structured. You need to demonstrate that the topic you are proposing has the potential to be a great project and that you can produce the desired results. When writing your proposal, provide evidence of studies you have already conducted in the field and how these studies have prepared you for the research you are now proposing to undertake.

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 iv. Academic Transcripts

Academic transcripts are very critical to the application process. They are concrete evidence of your academic abilities and therefore very valuable to potential supervisors. Academic transcripts detail the content of your degree, course grades, the marking scheme and your academic ability. They are a reflection of your performance. The transcripts provide a summary of the university’s grading system or the grading scale used in each module.

v. Certificates/Credential

A certificate is a written guarantee or document that you finished your course or training successfully and awarded as proof of competency in that skill. It can be a powerful weapon to beef up your profile for the PhD scholarship application. Get your certificates ready before starting a scholarship application as they work hand in hand with your transcripts.

vi. Qualifications

Different scholarships will define what they mean by qualifications differently. Having qualifications in technical skills (e.g., laboratory skills, computer programming) will be evidenced by your academic record and marks achieved in previous studies. If you are applying for a scholarship where experience is a qualification, you can provide evidence of how you have developed and achieved success in your field by including employment history and results of projects you have undertaken in your studies.

vii. Recommendation Letters

The recommendation letter is a very important component of scholarship applications since it can provide a clearer picture of the candidate from another person’s point of view. It is also used by the application committee to measure your credibility and your actual performance in study or work. Usually, a scholarship application requires 2 or 3 recommendation letters; ensure you have a sufficient amount of recommendation letters from your previous professors before applying.

viii. Proof of Language Proficiency

Recently, proof of language proficiency has become a very important requirement in scholarship applications. As different programs are offered in different languages in different countries, you need to provide proof of requisite language skills in the prescribed language.

Some courses in countries like the United States, Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, and France may require you to submit proof of English proficiency or even French proficiency. One famous certification for language proficiency in English is the IELTS. International students from countries where English is the official language may be required to get a letter from their school indicating that they studied in English.

ix. International Passport

This may sound odd, but there is great importance in having an international passport. A passport is an identity for you as a citizen of your country. It tells about you and your nationality. Having a passport shows that you are ready and can move to another place to do an activity there. The preparation of having a passport is something crucial in applying for a scholarship

Step 3. Write an Impressive Research Proposal

The research proposal will also be used in assessing your ability to progress towards your PhD. In most cases, the research proposal would be between 1000-1500 words in length, although the number of words or characters is not definitely stated at times. It should clearly indicate the area of research and should demonstrate a good understanding of the existing academic literature in the area.

This is not a ‘what’ question; it is a ‘how’ and ‘why’ question. In assessing the proposal, the admission committee seek to know: Is this person fully aware of what the study will involve and what is trying to achieve? Has he or she indicated the availability of resources—particularly personal time and energy—to complete the task?

To be accepted as a PhD student, you must have an effective proposal. Your principal objective is to persuade the research committee that you or your project is important and that it is highly realistic that you will be able to complete the research on time.

Step 4. Secure Strong Recommendation Letters

Having a good set of strong recommendation letters can make all the difference. In my experience, it’s actually quite difficult to write a good recommendation letter, and most professors just don’t put the effort in, so it’s up to you to make sure it’s a strong letter. The idea is the reviewer should read the letters and feel that they cannot afford not to have you at their university. The three most important attributes of a strong recommendation letter are specificity, enthusiasm and a case of credibility.

To ensure a high-quality letter of recommendation, provide your recommender with your resume/CV, relevant achievements/attributes, and desired goals. Make it easier for them to agree and find time to write the letter. Build a good relationship with your recommender for stronger recommendations.

Step 5: Prepare Thoroughly For Interviews

Interviews for admissions into PhD programs can be very intimidating. Whether it is an informal chat between you and a professor or a more formal panel-style interview, it is essential to be prepared. Most interview questions are typical of any interview, but be aware that you might get questions based on your topic.

The main areas interviewers are trying to assess are your:

  • Intellectual ability.
  • Fitness with the department.
  • Work and research experience.

Text from which you will be assessed can be:

  • Your application itself, particularly the project proposal.
  • Your responses in the interview to questions about your application.
  • Your responses to other questions.
  • How you portray yourself (personality).

Once you have been invited for a scholarship interview, you are very close to winning the award. But remember, others are also that much closer. A scholarship interview is still an assessment. The deciding officials have already read your application.

What You Need to Win the PhD Scholarship Abroad

PhD scholarships are very competitive and are usually awarded to the candidates most likely to succeed in their project. To have a successful application, it is important to have careful consideration of which scholarship to apply for based on eligibility and project fit.

Make sure you can make a case that you are the best person to do the project. This stage also requires good written communication to present a clear and logical case of why you should be awarded the scholarship. Here are some things you need to put in place if you want to win scholarship to study abroad.

  1. Research experience/Research competence

PhD study is often called a research study, therefore, a good research experience is necessary to win a scholarship abroad. To develop this skill, engage in voluntary lab work to gain experience, do internships and join research groups. Do not be in a hurry to apply for a PhD scholarship, first, develop your competence.

  1. Relevant Coursework

Some scholarships require that an applicant must have done and passed certain credits in their previous studies (Undergraduate or Masters). Ensure that the courses you have done earlier are relevant to the next level you intend to go. Relating your coursework to specific research projects or presentations can enhance your application. Try to tailor it to the prospective research field, but don’t limit yourself to your current coursework.

  1. Enthusiasm for Research & Outreach

Showing interest through involvement with a professor in your field can be invaluable for PhD program admissions and scholarships. Outreach programs and teaching opportunities are also beneficial for personal and career goals. Demonstrating how each experience contributes to personal and intellectual development influences the decision to pursue a PhD.

  1. Exceptional Academic Record

A good CGPA is invaluable when the call for scholarship application arises. Most scholarships demand candidates to be first-class or second-class (upper division) holders. In some cases, they remain considerate and demand a CGPA of 3.0 on a scale of 5.0 or its equivalence. With this, maintaining an exceptional academic record is crucial to win a fully funded scholarship abroad.

  1. Technical knowledge

As a PhD is a purely technical degree than any other, no faculty would like to waste his money on a person who does not have a strong technical background. The amount of technical knowledge required may vary from field to field e.g. a computer science PhD would require more technical knowledge than a social science PhD. But in any case, having significant technical knowledge is a must.

  1. Interpersonal skills

Both oral and written communication skills play a critical role in the interview process. To enhance these skills, it is recommended to engage in mock interviews and actively seek feedback. For improving written communication, one can focus on writing technical articles and receiving constructive criticism. It is crucial to produce clear, well-organized documents with few errors and compelling ideas. Additionally, having strong interpersonal skills is vital for creating a favorable impression on researchers and faculty members throughout the selection process.

How to Win Fully Funded Scholarships Abroad at Any Level

These guides apply to any type of scholarship. An applicant following these steps will have put himself in the best possible position to obtain a scholarship. Your rewarded effort in following these steps should be a greatly increased success rate in obtaining scholarships. Good luck!

  1. Set Scholarship Alerts

Scholarship alerts are a reliable source of getting updated information about scholarships. They decrease the effort of searching for scholarships by visiting different websites physically. Students can save time and can see the list of scholarships by just visiting the mailbox or mobile inbox. The major advantage of these scholarship alerts is that they will make an individual the first to apply for scholarships.

  1. Prepare a Research-Focus CV

A well-constructed CV can be the difference between getting an interview and being dismissed. Tailor it to the school/scholarship board you’re applying to. Include study/work accomplishments, leadership roles, publications/conferences, research experiences, community service, and certifications.

  1. Design an Email Template With a Hook

At the time of writing an email, you should always remember that the first impression is the last. So an email must give a positive and correct impression about the writer. Always keep a formal conversation at the time of professional or academic emails. Write a correct email ID for perfect communication.

  1. Stick to Application Instructions

Before applying for any kind of scholarship, it is important to read the instructions thoroughly. Failing to follow these can result in automatic rejection before anyone even looks at the other materials you may have submitted. If you cannot follow the instructions for the application, it does not bode well for your ability to do so in the future, and this will decrease your chances of receiving an award.

  1. Finally, Submit Your Application

Most applicants after filling out the application online, fail to submit their final application. It is very crucial to submit your application before the deadline because, if you fail to submit it, it automatically means you are disqualified. After all, you didn’t apply in the first place.

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