By Heran Abiy
Applying to master’s programs requires a lot of research. It requires even more research if you’re planning on earning a higher degree abroad as an international student. Applying for graduate studies in the UK or Europe has an added layer of difficulty if you’re hoping to earn funding and scholarships to offset the cost of tuition— which many international students rely on.
I know just how involved this process can be because I’ve been through it myself. After two of my best friends began their graduate studies in the UK and told me often of the incredible experiences they were having, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to complete a degree in the UK. As I was nearly done with my Bachelor’s at the time, I decided to apply for a graduate degree in the UK. I figured London would be an ideal place to seek out opportunities due to the ability to complete a master’s there in one year, and because its reputation as an international development hub could open many professional doors for me.
After an arduous application process, I was eventually offered admission to The London School of Economics and Political Science, The University of Sussex, and SOAS (University of London) to complete a master’s in Anthropology and International Development.
I was over the moon to see that my hard work had paid off. Through being proactive about finding funding opportunities, I was able to offset some of the costs that can be pretty daunting for international students, which include tuition, cost of living, and moving costs.
I was able to secure partial funding for my master’s in the UK, and through this application process, I learned a few tips. I’d like to share some of my most helpful advice for how you can succeed in finding funding for your graduate studies in the UK.
4 Tips for Finding Funding for Graduate Programs in the UK
#1 Get organized! Create an Overview of available scholarships and universities
One of the biggest tips I have is to make sure you get organized and stay organized. Make sure you know what schools you’re interested in and if they offer scholarships for international students. Some schools will have resources that allow you to apply for schools based on your citizenship or the region you’re from. For example, two scholarships I applied to at the University of Sussex were specifically for students who held US citizenship.
Additionally, research if your respective department has funding or scholarships for students in that department. Several universities have departmental awards from those studying social sciences, STEM, History, you name it! Sometimes these awards won’t be directly advertised, so it’s worth reaching out to department heads or departmental offices to gain this scholarship information.
There are also several scholarship search engines you can use such as Scholarship Search, The Scholarship Hub, Education UK Scholarship Database, and European Funding Guide are just a few resources. Be prepared to write supplemental essays between 250-500 words in order to be considered for these awards.
The most important thing to remember is to know your deadlines and apply early! Mapping out your time on a calendar will help you stay on track and remain aware of all your tasks and responsibilities. This mapping work will allow you to ensure nothing slips through the cracks during hectic semesters, work schedules, or research.
ProFellow Tip: Learn about different types of graduate school funding options in What Are My Funding Options for Graduate School?
#2 Ask for help!
One big takeaway I had as I applied for various scholarship and funding opportunities was making sure to email university scholarship and financial aid offices and, even better, directly call the office for a quick response. Another way you can learn more about the various funding opportunities is by going to your own respective university fellowship/scholarship representative for more advice or guidance on funding a master’s degree.
Throughout my time in school, I worked in Career Services at my university. I noticed that this free university resource was highly underutilized by undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni. Reach out to the career services at your university to support you with a resume, writing samples, or scholarship supplementals for your master’s scholarship applications. You can also browse the ProFellow website for graduate school tips articles that will help you throughout the process.
#3 Seek external funding
Another tip is to apply for external funding opportunities, often in the form of fellowships. ProFellow Founder Dr. Vicki Johnson recommends that you never take on a mountain of debt to achieve a higher degree, but many people don’t know that fellowships and external funding opportunities are available and plentiful as alternatives to scholarships, which can often be sparse.
The free ProFellow Database lists many opportunities to win full funding to study in Europe. Such opportunities include the Fulbright Awards, the Marshall Scholarships, the Rhodes Scholarship, and others. You can sign up today to bookmark international fellowships that interest you in the free ProFellow Database.
ProFellow Tip: Learn how guest author Andrew Clement funded his studies in the UK in I Completed 4 Fully-Funded Graduate Programs in Europe (And You Can, Too!).
#4. Be persistent! Be Patient! Pace Yourself.
You got this! Make sure you’re applying to various opportunities and doing research on alternative external funding opportunities and resources. Follow up with an email and make sure you are in communication with the scholarship/fellowship office at the universities you are applying to and the university you’re currently at. Be prepared to negotiate your graduate school funding offer.
This research and application process will require you to pace yourself and have patience and persistence. Put a sticky note on your mirror with a reminder of why you began applying in the first place, what your career goals are, and why this process is worth all the time and effort.
I hope that these personal tips on how to find funding for your graduate studies in the UK are helpful to you in your graduate school application journey! Persistence, communication, research, and seeking support are key in finding the right university and finding the scholarships and fellowships that can support your studies.
Happy researching and applying! If you’re reading this article and on the ProFellow website, you’re already on the right track.
Heran Abiy is a graduate of Clark University with an M.A. in Community Development and Planning in Education Development + Forced Migration. She holds a B.A. in Sociology, Global Environmental Studies, & Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. Her academic interests intersect with storytelling, socio-cultural anthropology, community organizing, education, and public affairs. Heran used to work as a Career Development Coach at Clark University and as a youth college mentor at Yale University, where she supported students with resumes, cover letters, and scholarship support. Heran is currently a Princeton in Africa Fellow.
Learn more about graduate funding in the UK in guest author Andrew Clements’ article, I Completed 4 Fully-Funded Graduate Programs in Europe (And You Can, Too).
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