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How to apply for a scholarship abroad: The Ultimate Guide


Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that can help you grow, advance in your studies, and learn about new cultures and ways of thinking. However, one of the biggest challenges for students is financing their studies. Scholarships are a valuable resource for students looking to study abroad, as they offer a way to help cover the cost of tuition, travel, and living expenses.

In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about applying for a scholarship abroad. We will go over the steps involved in researching potential scholarships, preparing your application materials, writing a compelling personal statement, and submitting your application. By following the tips and advice outlined in this post, you will be well on your way to securing the funding you need to make your study abroad dream a reality.

So, whether you are just starting your journey or already well on your way, this post will provide the information you need to make the most of your opportunity to study abroad and achieve your academic and career goals. So, let’s get started!

Research the host institution

Credit: Dom Fou

To get a scholarship, you need to apply. And to apply, you need to know what the host institution is like. So before you start your research into scholarships and grants, ensure you have some basic knowledge about what makes each university unique.

There are a variety of scholarships available for students looking to study abroad, each with different eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and funding amounts. It’s important to be aware of these details so you can select the best scholarships for your situation and goals.

When researching scholarships, consider the following:

  1. Eligibility criteria: Make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements for the scholarship you’re interested in, such as your field of study, academic achievement, or financial need.
  2. Application deadlines: Be aware of the deadline for each scholarship you’re interested in, and submit your application before it’s too late.
  3. Funding amount: Consider the amount of funding the scholarship provides and whether it will cover all your expenses or just a portion.

It’s also important to look at the application process, including the type of materials required and the process for submitting your application. Again, doing your research ahead of time will help ensure that you’re well-prepared when it comes time to apply and give you the best chance of securing the scholarship you need.

Prepare your application materials:

Once you have identified the scholarships you want to apply for, it’s time to start preparing your application materials. Depending on the scholarship, you may need different things, but here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Transcripts: Official transcripts from your current and previous institutions demonstrating your academic achievements and progress.
  1. Letters of recommendation: Letters from teachers, counselors, or other professionals who can attest to your character, academic ability, and motivation.
  1. Essays: Personal statements or essays that showcase your strengths, goals, and motivations for studying abroad.
  1. Resume: A professional, up-to-date resume highlighting your experiences, skills, and achievements.

In addition, it’s also essential that your documents are translated into English if necessary (many scholarships require this). Finally, keep a copy of each document in a folder so that they’re easy to find when needed.

You will also need the following:

  • Your passport (and photo ID if applicable) – this needs to be valid until at least six months after return from study abroad;
  • Your degree certificate(s), showing graduation date(s).

It’s essential to take the time to carefully prepare these materials, as they play a crucial role in your application. Ensure that your materials are accurate and polished and showcase your strengths and abilities. Seek feedback from trusted sources such as teachers or career counselors to help improve your materials and increase your chances of success.

Choose the right scholarship:

There are several types of scholarships available for students looking to study abroad, and choosing the right one is crucial to your success. Some of the most common types of scholarships include:

  1. Merit-based scholarships: These scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, talent, or other merits, such as leadership skills or community service.
  1. Need-based scholarships: These scholarships are awarded based on financial need and are intended to help students who otherwise would not be able to afford to study abroad.
  1. Scholarships for a certain subject: These scholarships are for students who want to study a certain subject, like science, engineering, or the arts.

Consider your goals, strengths, and financial situation when choosing a scholarship. For example, a merit-based scholarship might be the best option if you have a solid academic record and are pursuing a high-demand field of study. A need-based scholarship might be the best fit if you have a financial need. If you’re pursuing a specific subject, consider a subject-specific scholarship.

In addition to considering your circumstances, it’s also important to know the eligibility criteria for each scholarship and the application deadlines and funding amounts. Doing your research and choosing the right scholarship for you can help increase your chances of success and make your study abroad experience more affordable and accessible.

Check out the Turkish government’s fully funded scholarship program.

Write a compelling personal statement:

The personal statement, or essay, is a key component of your scholarship application. It’s your opportunity to showcase your strengths, goals, and motivations and convince the scholarship committee that you’re a deserving candidate.

When writing your personal statement, consider the following:

  • Purpose: Understand the purpose of the essay and what the scholarship committee is looking for. This could include information about your background, academic achievements, goals, and future plans.
  • Showcase your strengths: Highlight your unique experiences, skills, and achievements, and explain how they make you a strong candidate for the scholarship.
  • Be specific: Avoid vague or general statements; provide specific examples and details that illustrate your points.
  • Be concise: Ensure your essay is well-organized, easy to read, and to the point. Remember that the scholarship committee may read hundreds of essays, so you want to make a good impression quickly.
  • Proofread: Carefully proofread your essay for grammar, spelling, and typographical errors. Have a friend or teacher review it to catch any mistakes you may have missed.

A well-written personal statement can make all the difference in your scholarship application. Take the time to carefully write a statement that shows off your strengths and makes the scholarship committee want to pick you.

Ask for letters of recommendation:

Credit: Debby Hudson

Letters of recommendation are a key part of your scholarship application because they show what kind of person you are, what skills you have, and what you could do as a student. 

If you’re applying for an international scholarship, the application process will likely include letters of recommendation. Most scholarships require at least one letter from a professor or adviser who can attest to your academic skills and achievements.

If you’re unsure of who would be best suited to write this letter, start by asking yourself: Who knows me well enough? Which faculty members have taught me in the past? Which professors have been most supportive? Then, reach out! The sooner you reach out and ask these people if they would be willing to write a recommendation letter on your behalf, the better off you’ll be.

When selecting people to write letters of recommendation, consider the following:

  • Relevance: Choose individuals who can speak to your qualifications and abilities relevant to the scholarship you’re applying for. For example, a teacher who taught you a subject related to your intended field of study would be a good choice.
  • Credibility: Select individuals who are credible and well-respected in their field. A recommendation from a prominent researcher or industry leader can carry much weight.
  • Relationship: Choose individuals who know you well and can write a personalized, detailed letter that speaks to your strengths and potential. A generic letter from someone who doesn’t know you well is unlikely to be as effective.

When asking for letters of recommendation, be considerate and give your recommenders plenty of time to write the letter. Provide them with relevant information about the scholarship and let them know what qualities or experiences you’d like them to highlight in their letter.

Having solid letters of recommendation can be the difference between being accepted or rejected for a scholarship, so take the time to select the right individuals and ask for their support in the best possible way.

Meet the eligibility requirements:

Before applying for a scholarship abroad, it is important to carefully review the eligibility requirements and make sure you meet them. Your application could be turned down if you don’t meet the requirements, so it’s important to double-check before you send it in.

Here are a few things to consider when reviewing the eligibility requirements:

  • Demographic criteria: Check for any specific demographic requirements, such as being a citizen of a particular country, a certain age, or a student in a specific school.
  • Academic requirements: Make sure you meet the minimum academic requirements, such as GPA or test scores.
  • Field of study: Some scholarships may be specific to particular areas of study, so check that your intended field of study is eligible for the scholarship you are applying for.
  • Financial need: Some scholarships may require proof of financial need, so be prepared to provide any necessary documentation.
  • Deadlines: Make sure you know any application deadlines and submit your application on time.

By thoroughly reviewing and understanding the eligibility requirements, you can ensure that your scholarship application is complete and meets the criteria set by the scholarship committee. This will increase your chances of being accepted for the scholarship and allow you to focus on preparing the best possible application.

Submit the application:

Once you have gathered all your materials and made sure you meet the eligibility requirements, it’s time to submit your application for a scholarship abroad. The process of submitting your application will vary depending on the scholarship provider, but there are a few general steps to follow to ensure that your application is submitted correctly:

  • Gather all required materials: Make sure you have all of the required materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and any other required documents.
  • Complete the application form: Fill out the scholarship application form completely and accurately. Make sure you have reviewed and answered all questions thoroughly.
  • Submit the application: Submit the application through the appropriate online portal or mail it to the scholarship provider.
  • Meet the deadline: Ensure that your application is submitted before the deadline. Late applications will not be considered.

Follow up:

After submitting your application, follow up with the scholarship provider to confirm your application’s receipt and ensure the institution receives all materials. Here are a few ways to follow up:

  • Send an email: Send an email to the scholarship provider to confirm receipt of your application and inquire about your application’s status.
  • Make a phone call: If the scholarship provider’s contact information is available, consider making a phone call to inquire about the status of your application.
  • Check the online portal: If you submitted your application through an online portal, check for any updates or messages from the scholarship provider.

Stay organized:

Applying for scholarships abroad can be complex and time-consuming, so staying organized throughout the process is essential. Here are a few tips for staying organized:

  • Create a spreadsheet: Keep track of all the scholarships you are applying for, including application deadlines and the status of your application.
  • Set reminders for important deadlines and follow-up dates to ensure you stay on track.
  • Keep all materials in one place: Store all your application materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays, in one place for easy access.

By staying organized, you can ensure that you are on track throughout the process of applying for a scholarship abroad and that you don’t miss any important deadlines or steps along the way.


We hope this article has given you a clear understanding of how to apply for a scholarship abroad. Remember that the process is not always easy and requires plenty of planning, but if you can follow the steps outlined above, then there’s no reason why your application shouldn’t be successful! Good luck with all your future applications!

The ultimate scholarship sleuth and job-hunting Jedi. When I'm not scouring the internet for the next big opportunity, you can find me lost in a book or out exploring the world. Don't ask for a recommendation on what to read next unless you want to be buried under a mountain of books.

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