Best Scholarships for International Students

Are you an international student looking for the best scholarship opportunities abroad? Then you are in good company! Each year more than one million international students study in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea and many more. One of the most frequently asked questions by these students is “Where can I find scholarships for international students?”. This can often be difficult as many scholarships are restricted to students residing in these countries. However, we are here to help. Read on to find the best scholarships for international students!

Tips to Improve Your Scholarship Chances

Before we delve into the scholarships themselves, let’s go through some of the best practices for applying for scholarships. Ideally, this will make your application process as smooth as possible and increase your possibilities of winning! And without dwelling any longer, here they are:
  1. Create a Spreadsheet
You are probably considering applying for more than one scholarship. Whether it is a few, dozens, or many more, it’s a good idea to do so. If you put your “eggs” (i.e. applications) in multiple baskets, you increase your probabilities of winning one (or more than one hopefully!). However, applying for so many scholarships can often make it difficult to meet the deadlines and requirements for all of them. Once you have selected or found a preferred spreadsheet, use it to track the following information for each scholarship you are interested in:
  • The scholarship’s name
  • The provider/organization
  • The application link/URL
  • The account you created to apply for the scholarship
  • Eligibility criteria (e.g. standardized test scores, age, GPA, etc.)
  • The deadline
  • Important contact details (for you or the organization)
  • Attached documents (e.g. letters of recommendation, essays)
When you keep track of everything in one document, all the necessary information becomes easily accessible. Keeping important documents (such as essays, letters of recommendation or CVs) in a folder is also helpful when it comes to attaching them to applications.
  1. Demonstrate Strong Writing Skills
Strong writing skills can enhance your scholarship applications as well. For one, “good” writing shows the scholarship committees that you are ready for graduate- or college-level coursework. Most importantly, persuasive writing makes it easier for you to communicate why you, of all people, are eligible for a scholarship.
  1. Obtain High Scores on Standardized Tests (IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, etc.)
Before we get to the nitty-gritty, we need to make one thing clear: not all scholarships for international students require standardized test scores. However, it isn’t uncommon for fully funded scholarships to require applicants to achieve relatively high scores on English proficiency tests (such as IELTS or TOEFL). Additional scores may be required depending on the specific scholarship and your level of education. Prospective university students may be expected to submit their high school results. GRE scores can be expected from graduates. In general, however, exceptional qualifications and endorsements are likely to be required of all scholarship applicants.
  1. Gather References
References are, quite simply, people whose names and contact information you provide to an organization. They are usually required for job applications, but can be used for other applications too, such as scholarships! But what are references exactly used for? Good question! Scholarship awarding organizations use references to learn first-hand about their candidates’ work ethic, positive attributes, and other skills. So if you need a reference list for one of your scholarships, it is best to list former employers, teachers, or professors with whom you have had positive experiences. On the other hand, family and friends should not be included as references as they can be seen as biased sources. Before registering someone as a reference, we recommend that you inform them in advance. This way, you can (1) be sure they feel comfortable with you, and (2) make sure they’re ready when they get a call to speak on your behalf.
  1. Ask for Help When You’re Stuck
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Finally, don’t be afraid to seek for help! If you require help completing any part of your application, please use the contacts listed on each of your scholarship applications. They can answer all of your queries and point you in the right direction.

Avoid these Common Scholarships Mistakes

Just as there are many ways to improve your chances of getting a scholarship, there are also many things that can hurt your chances. Here are some things to avoid when applying for a scholarship:
  1. Not writing your own essay
Although you may often be inspired by essays you see on the internet, or even by your own already submitted essays, it is always best to provide completely original material when submitting an essay for an application. Not surprisingly, scholarship committees are well aware of the range of what students typically write in scholarship essays. That way, they will likely be able to determine whether or not an essay truly represents your abilities and potential. Therefore, it is best that you write your essay completely yourself, inspired by the passions of your heart and the thoughts of your own mind. However, after that, we strongly recommend that you have your essay checked for errors and proofread by someone you trust (ideally, a grammar whiz). Don’t forget the spell checker!
  1. Applying at the Last Minute
This may seem a bit obvious to many readers, but we strongly advise you not to wait until the last minute before applying for a scholarship. This can speed up your applications and force you to submit poor essays and other materials. Therefore, we recommend that you start your application a few months before the deadline. This will give you enough time to write convincing essays, collect and submit all required documents, and gather required references.
  1. Apply to Only Few Scholarships
Regardless of how confident you feel about your scholarship applications, it never hurts to apply for many (or multiple). In fact, one grave mistake students make when applying for a scholarship is not applying enough. Your chances of getting a scholarship will never be affected by applying for more than one. Therefore, we strongly recommend that students avoid the mistake of applying to only a few. Applying for more scholarships will increase your chances of winning one, so be sure to apply more!

Private Scholarships for International Students

It is now time to review the scholarships for international students themselves! A great option for international students is private scholarships, often offered by local, state, and even national organizations. Because these are numerous and the requirements are peculiar to each organization, students are sure to find some that qualify. So keep reading! $2,500 Christian Connector Scholarship
  • Eligibility: To qualify for this scholarship, students must be enrolled for the first time as a full-time student at a Christian college or university.
  • Deadline: May 31 (annually)
  • Amount: $2,500
AAUW International Scholarship
  • Eligibility: Women planning to pursue full-time undergraduate or graduate studies in the United States who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States
  • Opens: August 1; Deadline: November 15
  • Amount: $18,000 to $30,000
Aga Khan Scholarship
  • Eligibility: Outstanding students from various countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East who wish to pursue graduate study in the United States.
  • Deadline: March 2022 (exact date varies by country)
  • Amount: Scholarships awarded 50% loan and 50% grant to cover tuition and living expenses of students
Foreign Fulbright Student Program
  • Eligibility: Students from around the world who wish to study and conduct research in the United States. To find out if this program is available in your home country, be sure to check out this handy country finder. The specific criteria vary by country.
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: Varies by country. Winners typically receive fee and tuition waivers for two semester/courses + healthcare benefits + enrichment activities
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Margaret Mcnamara Education Grants
  • Eligibility: Women who are at least 25 years old and are nationals of a country on the MMEG Country Eligibility List. Applicants must already be enrolled as a full-time student at a US or Canadian university and maintain their full-time student status for the next academic semester.
  • Opens: September 15 (every year); Deadline: January 15 (annually)
  • Amount: Up to $15,000
African MBA Scholarship at Birmingham University
  • Eligibility: International students who exhibit the highest standards of academic excellence, relevant experience and who are passionate about responsible business.
  • Deadline: March 4, 2022
  • Amount: $41,000
University of Bologna Scholarship for Bachelors & Masters
  • Eligibility: High school students and graduate students
  • Opens: February 24, 2022; Deadline: May 31, 2022
  • Amount: $12,000
Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program
  • Eligibility: International students from World Bank WBG member countries that are graduates of master’s level studies or currently pursuing a PhD in Economics or related field.
  • Deadline: March 31, 2022
  • Amount: $42,750
Imperial College Business School Scholarships
  • Eligibility: The scholarships award talented international students pursuing a graduate degree in finance related courses.
  • Deadline: Varies by scholarship
  • Amount: $13,000 to $26,000
Oxford University Scholarships for African Students
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate, Masters, and PhD students from African descent.
  • Deadline: Varies by scholarship
  • Amount: Varies
Orange Knowledge Programme
  • Eligibility: The scholarship is awarded to male and female professionals who are living in OKP countries
  • Opens: February 2, 2022; Deadline: November 21, 2022
  • Amount: Fully Funded
Maastricht University High Potential Scholarship
  • Eligibility: Highly talented international students who have been admitted to a master’s programme at the Maastricht University.
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: $32,000 (including tuition fee waiver and monthly stipend)
Macquarie University Vice Chancellor’s International Scholarship
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate and Postgraduate international students
  • Amount: $7,200
  • Deadline: Varies
Joint Japan World Bank Graduate Scholarship
  • Eligibility: The scholarship is open to international students with relevant professional experience and a history of supporting their countries’ development efforts who are applying to master degree program in development-related topic.
  • Deadline: February 28, 2022 and May 27, 2022
  • Amount: Travel allowance, Tuition, medical insurance, monthly subsistence allowance to cover all living expenses (accommodations, food, books, etc.)
Global Citizen Scholarship Application for International Students
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate and graduate international students
  • Deadline: January 15 each year
  • Amount: $10,000 (winner), $2,000 (runner-up), 2,000 (honorable mention)

Other Sources for Private Scholarships for International Students

If none of these apply to you, there are other places to look for private scholarships! Some of them include:
  • University teachers, librarians, and guidance counselors – Ask if school-sponsored scholarships are available
  • Your guardians’/parents’ employers: Ask if their employers offer scholarships. If you are unsure, you can contact their human resources (HR) department for more information.
  • Your employer: Ask if your company offers scholarships for high school seniors.
  • Your Place of Worship – Ask if there are any scholarship opportunities available. Alternatively, you can ask if private fundraising events are allowed.
Search engines for international scholarship like these: Hopefully, you will find a scholarship for you. If not, it’s still a good way to check out which schools provide generous financial assistance to international students.

University-Specific Merit-Based Scholarships for International Students

  • Another good place to look for scholarships is your prospective university! If you really want generous merit-based aid, check out these universities and colleges that offer such scholarships for international students:
American University (Washington, D.C.)
  • The American University Emerging Global Leaders Scholarship is awarded to an international student who needs a visa to study in the United States.
  • The EGS scholarship includes tuition fees, accommodation and full board! (Up to four years, provided enough courses are maintained)
Boston University (Boston, MA)
  • BU automatically considers its first-year international students for Presidential and Trustee Scholarships
Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)
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Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts) Elon University (Elon, North Carolina)
  • The International Scholar Award is presented to non-US students with outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement.
  • $3,000/year (renewable annually)
George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
  • Harvard offers a wide variety of scholarships for international students graduating from countries around the world.
Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA) Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota) Oregon State University (Corvallis, Oregon)
  • OSU offers a variety of scholarships for international undergraduate and graduate students
  • International students may also be eligible for scholarships based on their field of study or university.
University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL) University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR) University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV) University of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
  • First-year international students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships worth up to $27,000 per year
  • International transfer applicants are automatically considered for scholarships of up to $16,000 per year
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)
  • UW-Madison offers a variety of generous merit-based scholarships for international students
  • Most have a February 1 deadline.
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee) Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Still Can’t Find your School?

If you can’t find your future university on this list, don’t worry for now! This list is just a few of the many schools around the world that offer merit-based aid to international students. We therefore recommend that you contact the student finance office of the school and inquire about scholarships or funding opportunities for international students. We hope they can provide you with the useful information (and scholarships) you need! If not, we encourage you to go back and look at some of the many “private scholarship” options. We will send you off with that. We hope you have an amazing experience abroad and can find the financial support you need. Good luck and have a good trip!

Explore these other scholarship categories:

Top Foreign Government Scholarships Fully funded scholarships for grad students No essay scholarships Scholarships for high school seniors Scholarships for college students Scholarships for women

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