How to Get International Scholarships for Postgraduate Studies

6 min readApr 14, 2023

Win scholarships to study abroad by identifying some of the available scholarships for you, their requirements, and everything else you need to do.

This is an extract from an online training at StrikingCVs. Credits: Arawu Samuel.

Arawu Samuel was a 2018 MasterCard Foundation scholar, a First Class graduate of Biochemistry from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri and was a Masters student at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Getting International Scholarships

I will be talking about how to get scholarships for your postgraduate degrees.

For those requiring for undergraduate scholarships, you might think about contacting me personally.

Generally, for undergraduates, there are no defined paths. For example, in the USA, you can write the SAT and for other countries you might not.

Also, undergraduate scholarships are limited because it’s quite expensive and you really do not contribute to their research and economy so to say.

So, going forward, there are a number of documents that you need to have if you’re looking for a Postgraduate scholarship. By that, I mean MSc or PhD scholarship.

These documents include a transcript, CV (MSc: 2 pages and PhD: 3 pages), personal statement or motivation letter or letter of intent standardized test (IELTS, TOEFL, GRE).

I did not write any, so again, this depends on the kind of scholarship.

You might also need an International Passport — this again is not mandatory for the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship that I got but most others will require it.

References too are key documents you might need. They can be written on letterheaded paper and also you need to have like 3 lecturers who have an institutional mail e.g.

In summary, you need:

  • CV
  • Transcript (unofficial/student’s copy is fine)
  • Personal statement
  • International passport
  • Reference letters
  • Standardized tests

Types of Postgraduate Scholarships

I would summarize this in two ways: getting a school or organizational scholarship or contacting a professor.

Generally, I would recommend looking for scholarships in Canada, USA, Australia, Germany and the Scandinavian countries if you do not intend to return to your home country compulsorily.

This does not rule out the fact that you can get to these places when you go to other places like the UK and other countries with good educational system.

For the second route, in countries like Canada, you can get to be sponsored by a professor (either assistant, associate or a full professor).

This is quite a good way of getting into Canada but requires that you have a pretty high Grade Point Average (GPA), most times 80%.

How to Find Schools and Professors for Your Course

To do this, have a course in mind and google schools that offer that course or related courses.

For example, If I’m interested in cancer research, I would just google MSc cancer research in Canada and I would look up schools offering that and write them down.

Thereafter, I would individually check the respective school’s site and read up the details of people interested in cancer research.

I would send them a mail stating my interest and referring to a paper of theirs that I have read. I then attach my CV and transcript.

Here is a link on how to find a supervisor

A Template for Reaching Out to Professors

Dear Prof Scott,

Having gone through your research areas on the Institute of parasitology on McGill university faculty’s website, I humbly write to notify you of my interest to undertake my MSc under your supervision.

I am Mr. Arawu Samuel Chukwuma from Nigeria. I obtained my B.Tech degree in 2016 from Biochemistry Department, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria, where I graduated with First Class Honors (CGPA = 4.58/5.00), and as one of the best graduating students in the department.

My research interest is in molecular biology, and genomics. I’m quite fascinated by your research. I would love to understand in details the molecular basis and possible preventions and also develop possible interventions and therapies.

Attached herewith are my academic transcripts (unofficial) and my curriculum vitae for your perusal. I would not hesitate to provide further information on my personal and academic qualifications at your request.

I look forward to your favourable consideration.

Best Wishes,
Arawu Samuel.

It is also important to know that this is also applicable in the US but generally, only PhD’s are funded in the US.

On rare cases are masters funded. I know these things might be quite hard to grasp so I am willing to spare some minutes talking to folks at my convenience.

Do you know you can fund your postgraduate studies with 100% scholarship. Find testimonials of those who have done so.

Getting Scholarships from Organizations and Schools

Now, let’s talk about getting scholarships from organizations and schools.

Generally, this is the most common and I will recognize a few prestigious ones that offer good scholarships and are in the rankings. I might be wrong but then they are still your best bet.

They include:

  • Knight-heresy scholarship at Stanford: apply if you have a 4.9 and a perfect GRE score as the only Nigerian who has ever won had a 4.98/5.00 and 334/340.
  • Rhodes Scholarship — Oxford and SA
  • MasterCard Foundation Scholarship — Offered at UBC, McGill, Edinburgh, Capetown, Pretoria, America University (AUB), Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda, Kwame Nkuruma University, etc.
  • Erasmus Mundus — Several schools
  • Commonwealth
  • Chinese Government scholarship
  • African leaders of tomorrow scholarship
  • Chevening scholarship
  • And many more

Generally, they follow a particular order and details can be found online.

Where to Find Scholarships Online

You can look up and sign up for scholarship alert in these sites and apply for whatever appeals to you.

Also, there are amazing opportunities on Twitter.

You can leverage on them. How?

Simply go to the search section and type Ph.D. or MSc in a choice university or country e.g. MSc scholarship in Canada or MSc Food Science in Canada and just read and click on the links.

You can also get pop-ups when you follow the schools you like and all.

Who Can Win Scholarships

People who are dogged win scholarships. I know that scholarships are grade-dependent but they are not entirely grade-dependent.

Most times, 1st class graduates are more favored but I have seen outstanding 2:1 and 2:2 graduates having great scholarships and displacing 1:1.

So, from 2:1 is eligible for scholarships. If you have a 2:2, I would advise you write standardized tests and smash them at a 90% success rate.

For those with 2:1 and 1:1, please note that the competition is increasing daily and as such, I urge you to take failure lightly and keep pushing.

I received so many regret emails, at least 20.

Again, I am sharing a file that you can access for essays and other important stuff from my friend’s WhatsApp group. Please do not plagiarize. Thanks.

Former Fora’s transcript in PDF/doc format on how to secure scholarship to study abroad, can be found and downloaded here.

The drive also contains TOEFL/IELTS/GRE materials, SOP format and other useful resources. You can as well check from time to time for updates.

But, do not plagiarize. Thanks. You are permitted to share with others!

My Recommendations

Write IELTS and GRE for those in sciences, or GMAT for those in social sciences.

But if you want Canada, these English tests might not be needed.

For other scholarships like Erasmus Mundus, a proof (letter) as a medium of instruction showing that you were taught in English might be just enough to replace IELTS.

You can ask your lecturer to write for you with a letterhead signed and stamped. Personally, I opt for 100% scholarship and I am talking from that perspective.


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