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Applying for a Scholarship: The Basics

Applying for a Scholarship: The Basics main image

Studying at a top university is often an expensive choice to make, and if you’re struggling to scrape together the money, not only for fees but for accommodation and other living costs, university expenses can seem very steep and unaffordable. If this is you, don't worry. 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. Be aware 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. 

Read on to find out how to research, apply, and get funding for your undergraduate degree.

Do your research

To avoid putting pressure on yourself and potentially missing out on an excellent scholarship, start your research early. The more time you can put into your scholarship search, the more options you’ll have. You’ll need time to research scholarships, request information and application forms, and complete your application by the specified closing date. Some scholarships may even close before the academic year starts.

You can find out about the different scholarships available here.

Check if you are eligible

Another important element you want to consider early on is finding out what scholarships you’re actually eligible for, as some will have specific criteria. 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 them.

Be organized

It pays to be organized when it comes to working on your scholarship application. To begin with, make a note of the scholarships you’re planning on applying for, so that you can keep track of them easily and not miss any important deadlines.

It is also a good idea to 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.

Include all required information

When you’re applying for scholarships, you may think that it’s more effective to apply for many scholarships, instead of spending more time on just a few. If you do this, however, you may miss  out some vital information on your application. Make sure you have all of the information that the selection panel has requested 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.

Think about presentation

A scholarship application is very similar to a job interview. If you want to make a good impression, spelling mistakes and illegible writing don’t look good. Be sure to spend time checking these, and if you’re asked to fill in a form in a particular way, make sure you do. Before you send it, ask a family member or friend to proof-read it for you. They may find a mistake that you didn't pick up on.

Provide correct information

This goes without saying, but make sure the details you’re entering in are correct. Getting your contact details or other personal information wrong, or misspelling something, will make you look extremely unprofessional, as well as potentially delaying the process – so make sure you triple check before sending off the forms.

Provide references/referees

In some cases you may need to provide references or referees in your application. It’s important to 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. This enables them to write a considered reference that highlights the parts of your application that you want to stand out.

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 usually won't be considered. 

For some tips on time management, click here

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 and 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?

For more information and answers to commonly asked questions about finding and applying to scholarships, see our Scholarship Applications: FAQ.

This article was originally written in November 2008 and was updated in November 2019. 

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Hi I'm Pat from Philippines. I want to study medicine in Australia, US, Germany, Italy or Spain. I've done bachelor's degree of education.

hi,I'm Abdullah from Bangladesh.I want to study in Japan, how can i get a scholarship?

Hi Abdullah, You can find out more about international scholarships to study in Asia here. You can also take a look our article about scholarships for students from developing countries here.

hi i from India done bcom want to do ms i am handicapped from birth

Hi Nishant, You can find out more about scholarships available for students with disabilities here.

melaku beze from ethiopia i have BA dgeree in language and litrature

Hi, I have completed high school can get a scholarship with full tuition fee for undergraduate

Hi,i am from Ethiopia and I want to join one of american university to attend masters degree in software engineering. So can you help me?

Hello, our complete guide on studying in the US should help get you started, including info on admissions, student visas, fees, funding and more. 

Hi. I live in Iran. How i can get scholarship in german universites?(i`m inventer)

Hi Ali, to help get you started on your search you could check our list of scholarships to study in Germany. I'd also recommend checking the official websites of the German universities you're interested in, to find out what funding opportunities they have available. 

What is the minimum cgpa to get a scholorships to study in MS in US

Hi, I am Aneisha from Jamaica and I am interested in applying for a scholarship to study dentistry (undergraduate course). Please give me some information [ requirements] on how to apply. Thanks


Hello, I'm really sorry for your loss. You can view our main page of scholarships to study abroad here, which contains links to lists of scholarships to study in different countries/regions. You could also download our free guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad, which includes advice on writing strong scholarship essays. 

Hi, I am Rabindra from Nepal and i wanna study CAnada and join Master degree in IT .Please give me some information how to direct apply on university

Hi Rabindra, our complete guide on how to study abroad in Canada should help to get you started, and includes advice on applying to Canadian universities. 

dear sabrina can i get your facebook i wanna talk to you about scholarship in us.

Hi,am from Ethiopia and I want to join one of american university to attend masters degree in electrical and electronics engineering. So please help me.

Hi Mekidmu, to help get you started on studying abroad in the US you could view our complete guide. To help you choose a university, you could check our latest rankings by subject for electrical/electronics engineering, with the results narrowed down to show only US universities. 

Hello, I am Rishab from India, I am looking for a scholarship to pursue Masters in Data Science from any good universities in USA. Please help me with your valuable advice. Thank you

Hello, It's María from Spain. I'm actually in 11th grade in highschool and I'm looking for a scholarship in USC or any colleges in South Carolina. Thank you.

hi am from Kurdistan/iraq i want to get a scholarship in architecture. please help.

Hi Alan, please take a look at our list of architecture scholarships around the world. Hope this helps!

Hi I am an undergraduate and I am searching for a degree in astronomy and astrophysics

hi i am research scholar i want to apply for scholarship what i want to do... now i am 2nd year of research...

hi ican i get a scholarship to study medecine at UCLA

Hello, I'd recommend firstly checking UCLA's official website for details on any scholarship opportunities they offer that you could be eligible for. You could also check our list of medical scholarships around the world. Hope this helps!

hello..i'm asmit from Nepal....i want scholarship in health and medicine.please guide me....currently in high school.(+2 nepal)

Hi Asmit, please take a look at our list of medical scholarships around the world. You might also like to apply for our Undergraduate Scholarship, which awards up to US$10,000 to one student starting a bachelor's degree at any QS-ranked university. 

I have already received offer letter from University of Dundee but i lack funds for my course.
I'm a first class honors degree graduate and would be extremely grateful for any help with scholarship.

Hi Uma, I'd firstly recommend checking the University of Dundee's official website for details on funding opportunities you may be eligible for, and you might also like to take a look at our list of scholarships to study in the UK. Hope this helps! 

Hi I'm Miracle from Nigeria in need UK scholarships in Computer science and information systems.

Hi Miracle, please take a look at our list of computer science scholarships, which includes options to study in the UK. 

Hi, I'm looking for full term English Linguistics scholarship in UK, please.

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

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

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

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, 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: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/scholarships

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?

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

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

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.

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

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.
To become a part of critical research that can give me an opportunity to achieve a high professional growth by working as a team member and carry out vital tasks that would produce profit oriented results for the organization as well as the society.
So please come forward to fulfill my dreams providing necessary consultation .........

I am searching for the good universities of south Africa with scholarship until 2015. i had completed my fist degree of Information communication technology( ICT) from Amoud university somalia and had about 1years experience in GSM engineering. now I am interest master Account and Finance. Please let me know if you find any. Thanks

Hi Jamal. You might be interested in our guide to studying abroad in South Africa:  https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/africa/south-africa/guide

You may also be interested to see which South African universities appear in our ranking of top universities in the five BRICS countries: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/brics-rankings/2014

Here at QS we also offer some scholarships, exclusively available to attendees of the QS World Grad School Tour. You can find out about those here: https://www.topuniversities.com/scholarships

Best wishes for your search!