Top 7 Step-By-Step Tips For Winning An International Scholarship 2024

Are you dreaming of studying abroad? Studying abroad can be an expensive endeavor, but there are many opportunities to win quality international scholarships that can help offset the cost if you take the right steps.

International scholarships are highly desired for their potential to open doors to world-class education and experiences.

However, the increasing competitiveness of scholarships has made the process of securing a scholarship very challenging. To maximize your chances of success, it’s crucial to follow a few key strategies, starting with building a positive psychology.

Ryan Sutherland, MPH, MPhil, a medical student at Yale University of Medicine, shared two questions to ask yourself before applying for an international scholarship. Ryan, who has won over $170,000 in scholarships said “Write three things you are grateful for and three reasons why you deserve a scholarship” at his fireside chat on US scholarships for students.[1]

Of course, you deserve a scholarship and that is why you should reassure yourself on why you deserve it. This will give you the drive to maintain consistency and build your confidence. In this article, you will explore the best practices to secure financial support for your study abroad experience.

Top 7 Step-By-Step Tips For Winning An International Scholarship

Step 1: Intensive Research

When it comes to winning an international scholarship, knowledge is power. There are a number of factors you need to consider to be eligible for a scholarship. Some of the factors include:

  1. Understanding which type of scholarship you are eligible for: There are a variety of scholarship types available to international students, and it’s important to understand the differences between them before applying. This will help you narrow down your search and increase your chances of success. Some of the most common types of scholarships include:
  • Country-based scholarships: These are offered by some colleges and universities to students in certain countries, especially developing countries. Scholarships of this sort are favorable because it is country-specific. If you are not from a particular country, you are not qualified to apply. [2]
  • School-specific scholarships: These are given based on academic excellence, personal achievement, and the school you are attending and are offered by individual colleges and universities depending on affiliation. This scholarship is less competitive. You may contact your school to enquire about scholarships, which you may get automatically or need to further apply.[2]
  • Subject-specific scholarships: These are offered to students who want to study a certain subject or want to obtain a specific degree, and only students who plan to study this subject or degree are qualified to apply.[3]
  • Program-specific scholarships: These are given to students who plan to participate in a program. Only students who plan to study abroad through the program are qualified to apply.[4]
  • Student-specific scholarships: These are based on specific factors of the student like background, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Such scholarship includes the Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship.[3]
  • Athletic scholarships: This scholarship opportunity is strictly for students highly skilled in a particular sport. To receive this kind of offer, you will need to showcase your skills and gain critical acclaim.[2]
  • Location-based scholarships: This offer is for students who want to study in a specific country or city such as a scholarship for students who want to study in the UK.[4] Applying for scholarships in rare countries that offer the same kind of quality and education funding has higher chances than in very popular countries.
  • Organization-provided scholarships: Certain organizations such as non-profit or heritage organizations to qualified students who match their criteria, examples include scholarships for students of a specific tribe in Nigeria or scholarships for LGBTQ students.[4]
  • Academic scholarship: These are typically based on a student’s GPA or other academic performance metrics such as standardized test scores in SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc. The requirements for these scholarships can vary greatly, so it is important you consider a range of options if you did not qualify in one of the metrics.[2]
  • Government-funded scholarship: These are scholarships funded by government bodies and are given to students who meet the criteria. Government-funded scholarships include The Federal Government Scholarship Award.[4]
  1. Once you have determined the type of scholarship you’re eligible for, the next step is to research which universities offer that type of scholarship. This will help you focus your search and identify the best options for your needs.
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Many universities have dedicated scholarship pages on their websites that list the available scholarships and the criteria for eligibility. Endeavor to read about the university you are applying to. Get well versed with its vision, mission and objectives.`

  1. Seek out the opinion of knowledgeable people: there are several resources available to help you get started. Your university’s study abroad office is a great place to start, as they can provide information on scholarships and other funding opportunities.

Many organizations publish success stories of past scholarship winners, which can provide valuable insight into the application process and you can reach out to them if their information is provided.

You can also consult online resources, study abroad consultants, and your personal network like family, friends, and peers for additional insight and recommendations. Taking advantage of all these resources can give you an edge over a million applicants vying for the same scholarship.[5]

Step 2: Check Eligibility Criteria

It is important to carefully review the eligibility criteria and make sure you meet them, before applying for a scholarship, so you don’t waste your time applying for what you are not eligible for.

While some criteria might be similar across different scholarships, not all will be the same. This criterion may include requirements related to academic qualifications, language proficiency, work experience, and more.[6]

Another criterion to pay attention to is how the candidates are evaluated. Take note of the exact factor they require. Use this criterion to guide your application and make sure you are always genuine and authentic.[7]

Step 3: Prepare your application materials

It’s crucial to prepare all required materials and documents in advance. These may include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and most importantly essay also called a personal statement, start writing your specifically targeted and personalized personal statement.[8]

Allowing plenty of time to complete your application will help you avoid last-minute errors and demonstrate your commitment and preparedness.

Most people make the mistake of obtaining their letter of recommendation late. Ensure to get it ready before submitting your scholarship application. This will ensure that your professors, mentors, or other possible references have enough time to write their letters.

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However, some scholarship programs will allow you to submit your application before submitting your letter of recommendation. In this case, you should follow the instructions followed by the scholarship provider.[7]

Be sure to read the application properly and follow all formatting and submission instructions given to avoid disqualification or any delay in processing the application

Step 4: Start Applying Early

Apply only to scholarships that are best matched to you and apply early. Scholarships often have strict application deadlines, and meeting up to the deadline is one key to success.

You can clearly mark the deadline on your calendar for the scholarship you wish to apply, for to serve as a reminder. Some scholarship deadlines might be earlier than stated on the scholarship website, so it’s important to apply early to avoid missing any opportunity.[9]

Carefully research to know if your chosen scholarship requires entry tests, it is crucial to give yourself enough time to prepare. Luckily, some scholarship programs like in the US now offer the option of submitting an application without any standardized test such as ACT or SAT, while some require even SAT2. Therefore, make sure you understand the requirements of any scholarship program you are about to apply for.[1]

Organizing yourself is important, especially when you are applying for multiple scholarships.

This early groundwork can also enable you to plan your academic and extracurricular activities accordingly.

Step 5: Tailor your Application Materials Specifically

Scholarship applications often require a personal statement also called, an essay. This is your chance to highlight your accomplishments, future goals, and what makes you unique.

All other documents you might have submitted may be generic but, while writing the essay, avoid generic content, don’t write the same essay to different scholarship applications. Be sure to read the application thoroughly and adhere to all of the specified formatting and submission requirements. Ensure to highlight your qualifications that fit the criteria upfront.[9]

Your writing should be clear, concise, and persuasive, with a focus on how you meet the criteria and contributions you will make.

Another important factor is the opening, focus on writing an opening that will capture the reader’s attention. Avoid clichéd introduction rather consider an opening that highlights your unique experience or perspective.

Lastly, don’t forget to proofread everything before you submit your application. Take the time to double-check your application materials, especially your personal statement for spelling, grammar, and factual errors. Do any necessary edits or improvements before submission.

Step 6: Follow Up

You can cold call the scholarship committee to further get results from your application, provided the deadline for the scholarship has passed and no announcements have been made. However, it is not a good idea to follow up before the deadline, as it may be seen as impatient.

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When following up, be respectful, professional, and concise. Be prepared to provide any additional information needed.

Generally, follow-up is an important step as it can help you minimize the number of rejections you might have to face because it gives you the chance to know if the information you have provided is complete.[8]

Step 7: Apply for More Scholarships

Just like the lottery, the more tickets you buy, the better your chances of winning. It is always better to have multiple options when it comes to funding your education or career goals.

Applying for multiple scholarships increases your chances of being awarded at least one. Even the process you take to apply multiple times makes you more versed with the system and it is beneficial on its own.


In a system, where there are millions of individuals vying for thousands of scholarship opportunities, rather than simply meeting the scholarship requirements, it is important to go above and beyond to make your application stand out. Knowing the criteria and meeting these criteria is important in crafting these winning applications.

When compiling your application material, it is beneficial to stress the points you match the requirements more than the points you matched less. For example, if your grades are not outstanding, you can highlight the relevant extracurricular activities that show your competence and commitment to your goals, as long as it is relevant to the requirements.

Winning an international scholarship can be a life-changing experience. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of winning and achieving your academic and career goals.

Additional Tips for Winning International Scholarships

  1. Network with people who have won international scholarships: Talking to people who have won international scholarships can give you valuable insights into the application process and what it takes to win.
  1. Attend scholarship workshops and seminars: There are many scholarship workshops and seminars available that can teach you how to find and apply for scholarships.
  1. Use scholarship search engines: There are many scholarship search engines available that can help you find scholarships that match your criteria.
  1. Don’t give up: Even if you don’t win a scholarship the first time you apply, keep trying. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances of winning one.
  1. Learn a foreign language: Learning a foreign language shows that you are adaptable and open to new cultures. It can also make you more competitive for scholarships that require language proficiency.
  1. Some scholarship programs require interviews. Prepare for interviews by researching the scholarship organization, practicing your answers to common questions, and showcasing your confidence and authenticity. A strong interview performance can significantly enhance your chances of success.

Tips for Submitting Successful Scholarship Applications:

  1. Meet all deadlines: Scholarship committees take deadlines very seriously. If you miss a deadline, you will likely be disqualified from the scholarship.
  1. Submit a complete application: Be sure to submit all of the required materials, including your resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays.
  1. Follow the instructions carefully: Read the scholarship application instructions carefully and make sure that your application meets all of the requirements.



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