Applying for a Scholarship: The Basics

Need to get a scholarship but don't know where to start? Then our guide is for you. Read on to find out how to research, apply, and get funding for your undergraduate degree. (Studying at graduate level? Check out QS's exclusive scholarships for graduate students.)

Studying at a top university is often an expensive choice to make, but there is money out there for you. If you've just emptied the last of your coins from your piggy bank and your account is still in the red, don't despair. This guide will give you the starting point you need for a successful scholarship application.

Almost all top universities will have scholarships available for students to apply for. You just need to know what they are, where you can find them, and how you can put yourself forward for them. To begin with, you need to realize that putting together a successful scholarship application does often require a significant amount of time. But of course, if you're successful, your efforts will be well worth it. 

1. Do your research

To avoid putting pressure on yourself and trying to apply for that scholarship you desperately want at the last minute, start your research early. The more time you can put into your scholarship search, the more options you will have. You will need time to research scholarships, request information and application forms, and complete your application by the specified closing date. Remember that some scholarships may close before your academic year starts.

2. Check if you are eligible

Another important element you want to consider early on is finding out what scholarships you are actually eligible for - because you won't be eligible for them all. By doing careful research you'll be able to find the scholarships most appropriate for you and then you can spend time working on your application for those ones. The last thing you want is to spend time putting together an application for a scholarship you don't even meet the criteria for.

3. Be organized

It pays to be organized when it comes to working on your scholarship application. To begin with, keep all of your scholarship material in a separate folder. That way you will always know where it is, and make sure you have the most up-to-date information in there. This will also help you to keep track of the different deadlines for each of the scholarships you are applying for. They won't all be due at the same time.

4. Include all required information

Make sure you have all of the information that the selection panel has requested of you in your application. An application with missing items does not make the best first impression, particularly if these are items they have specifically requested. See the checklist at the bottom of this article to see what you need to include.

5. Think about presentation

A scholarship application is very similar to a job interview. You want to give a good impression and spelling mistakes or illegible writing do not look good. If you're fill in a form in a particular way, do so. And before you send it, ask a family member or friend to proof-read it for you. They may find a mistake that you just didn't pick up.

6. Provide correct information

Not only should you provide all of the information that the selection panel has requested, make sure you provide the correct information as well. Small details such as your full and correct address, or a new phone number if you've lost your mobile, will avoid any unnecessary delays, as well as making you look professional.

7. Provide references/referees

In some cases you may need to provide references or referees. Choose these people carefully. After all, there's a lot hanging on this application. You also need to let each of your referees know when you are applying for a scholarship, and tell them something about the kind of skills and experience you need to demonstrate. That way they'll be able to ensure they praise you in the most effective way!

8. Don't miss the deadline

Always give yourself an extra few days leeway when applying for a scholarship. You may need this if you're getting your application professionally printed, or if you're waiting for confirmation from a referee. Remember, late applications won't usually be considered. 

Scholarships checklist:

  • Are you eligible?
  • Do you know the deadline?
  • Have you got all the necessary information? This will vary depending on the scholarship application, but usually includes: academic record; proof of financial circumstances; confirmation of your study plans.
  • Do your referees know what scholarship(s) you are applying for?
  • Have you and a friend/family member proofread your scholarship application?
  • Have you submitted your application before the deadline?
Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by QS Staff Writer

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Its me Md. Alhaz Uddin, Master of Science (M. Sc) student, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. I graduated from secondary and higher secondary schools in my country with grades much higher than average and as I decided to study on biological science. I got enrolled in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at Rajshahi University, Bangladesh. Recently I’ve finished my 4 year graduation and got good grade in my B. Sc examinations. At present, I am studying my M. Sc at the above mentioned discipline and side by side eagerly looking for a chance to receive higher study opportunity as I have very much interested in research work and to build a research based career.
I have keen interest in biomedical research especially in the field of cancer drugs/therapy development. But there are still many limitations here and as I am interested to do research in such a place where I have access to state-of-the-art technologies and modern research tools. This is why I want to go advanced countries as well as modern lab.
I think my working habits are impeccable. I am punctual, loyal, well prepared, enthusiastic and very well acquainted with scientific topics. I feel very much interest in the different fields of biological sciences. I also have a very warm personality with a good team spirit. I'm a workaholic person and love to dedicate myself to the work I'm doing but I am not too experienced with modern techniques, but I am always willing to learn new skills.
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Hello am Gail i really need a scholarship to study Biotechnology in Belgium.I will be graduating on December 2014 from the DEPARTMENT OF BIOCHEMISTRY

hi, im ayon from Bangladesh. in australia the tution free is so much higher. how can i reduce this fees nd want to study in australia. my family condition is not too well.
can some body help me.

hi,am Asmau from Nigeria. i here by want to apply for scholarship to study in king khalid university

i am from Myanmar.I am seeking post-grad scholarships in agriculture and other related fields.plz can u help me.

I am from bangladesh.I wanted to scholarship in AIT(asian institute of tecnology). i will complet diploma in mechanical enginiering decembre 2014. can somebody help me?

Hi, plz I'm dire in need of full scholarship to canada or USA to study sociology/political scienc. I have finish my high school with good grade obtaining nine (9) credit pass in my school certificate and have the ambition to pursue my further studies to abroad (canada/USA) I have the academic requirement for eligibility but I'm an indigent student from humble background. I don't have the financial support to bring my dream to actualisation. Please and please how can you be of help to me??

Hi Okoh. We have a list of scholarships to study in the US here, and a list of scholarships to study in Canada is coming soon! Keep an eye on this page: http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/scholarships

Hello my name is Portia and I come from Ghana.i want to apply for a scholarship in the UK universities, I would also like to know the date for the release of the 2014 admissions.Thank You.

Hi Portia. We have a list of scholarships to study in the UK here. And to find out more about applying to universities in the UK, visit our country guide, here.

Hope this helps!

hi i have done Mphil in Sociology and now I want to do Phd. Iam from humble background and want to get scholarship plz

In Canada I go to RCKTSHP.com , they give away a few scholarships per month. They're worth checking out

i am looking for a full term medicine scholarship in the US for 2015 please help

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