Availability of Scholarships
There are scholarships for most fields of study and for most internships nationalities. There are scholarships that allows you to study at any country (i.e. Aga Khan Foundation Scholarships, Ford Foundation Fellowships, etc.) while other scholarships only allow you to study at specified host institutions (e.g. World Bank Scholarships, ADB-JSP Scholarships). Most government-sponsored scholarships allow you study at any University in their country (i.e. Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, Endeavour IPRS, etc.). The key is just to find them and to apply only to those which you are eligible for.
Checking if you are eligible
The eligibility requirements vary from scholarship to scholarship. Some of the usual qualifications include a previous University degree, proficiency in English, high academic grades, and an unconditional acceptance to a programme offered by participating/host institutions. Aside from the eligibility requirements of the scholarship, you must also consider the eligibility requirements of the programme of study you are applying to.
Some scholarships set an age limit and some do not. If the scholarship provider did not indicate an age limit as part of their eligibility requirements then it is safe to assume that there is no age limit.
Not all Universities require you to take the TOEFL or IELTS. A significant number of Universities accepts a Certificate of English as Medium of Instruction in place of an English proficiency exam. When it is absolutely required by the University, then you must take TOEFL or other English proficiency exams regardless if you were taught in English during your University studies or not.
Applying for the Scholarships
The application instructions vary among scholarship providers so there is no standard way of applying to a scholarship. Most of the time, admissions to the University is required before you are allowed to apply for the scholarship. Sometimes, the application to admissions and the application to the scholarship must be submitted at the same time. In some instances, your application to admission already serves as your application to the scholarship – you don’t need a separate scholarship application. There are also cases when you are allowed to apply for a scholarship even if you have not yet processed or still processing your application for admission. One must then follow the application instructions set by the scholarship provider.
The best time to apply for a scholarship is within the application period set by the scholarship provider/University. Usually, scholarship applications (as well as admissions) should be done 6 months to one year before the academic year you plan to study.
In making the essay, you must follow the format of the scholarship provider. If they have not given a specific format, then you can follow this simple outline when making your application/motivation letter: (1) Background/Key Qualifications, (2) Intentions for studying, (3) Expectations of the Course, and (4) your plans during and after the study. In making the letter, you should not just tell them why you need the scholarship but more importantly you should explain clearly why you deserve to get the scholarship.
You should be prepared to use your own funds for the application fee because most scholarship providers don’t shoulder this cost. Most often than not, the cost of preparing the application requirements including the TOEFL exam is not covered by a scholarship. If you are really serious in pursuing a scholarship, you must try to save up for the cost of TOEFL or the application fee.