nushi

Apply for General Scholarships?!!

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Hey everyone,,, ^_^

I'm currently looking for PhD scholarships abroad. My desired research is multi-disciplinary & specific, so it's not easy to find professors who are specialized & willing to supervise me. It's something about human cultural evolution, & children's value formation.

My current scheme in searching for scholarships is: search for professors who have relevant research interests --> find their universities --> find out if their universities offer fully-funded PhD programs & stipends so I can apply to them --> email the professor to see if she's interested, so I can apply to the university.

However, sometimes I find announcements about university scholarships, like for ex., the Swiss government scholarships for international students.

Do you think if I apply to such scholarships, & if I get accepted, would it be easy to find professors then (assigned in the university(s) of that scholarship) who are specialized & willing to work with me in that kind of research? Or should I only stick to the first scheme of applying to universities?

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My advice is to do both. You should be applying to fully funded programs as well as looking for external scholarships (generally government funded). For most of these programs, especially in the USA and Canada, getting the scholarship and getting admitted to a specific program are independent processes. For example, it is possible for students to win the NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR (in Canada) graduate scholarship or the NSF graduate fellowship (in the USA) but not get accepted into their first choice school.

Almost all of these scholarships will have some restrictions. Many are very flexible and basically just require that you attend a school in their country working in the field you applied to. These are easy to handle and you will be applying to them in addition to applying to schools. Many schools, especially in North America, will ask if you are applying to these external fellowships as well and your status. Tell them whatever information you know at the time of application (sometimes there are cutoffs/shortlists so if you have been informed by the scholarship committee that you are on the second or third or whatever stage, put it in your application). The major scholarships of this kind in Canada and the USA release final results in April/May, so it is usually past the decision deadline. However, if you do win such an award and the school you want to go to has not accepted or rejected you yet, let them know!

Sometimes these scholarships are meant for specific schools only. For example, the Rhodes Scholarship is meant for students to study at Oxford in the UK. In these cases, I would still recommend applying to these very competitive awards as well as any other schools with funded programs that you are interested in. Pay attention to each of these scholarships to determine whether or not applying for the scholarship is also an application for admission or if you have to be admitted separately.

For both general and school-specific external scholarships, sometimes you are expected to work with a prospective advisor in order to write a research statement, or get an endorsement from the school that you plan to take your scholarship to. So, pay attention to the requirements and plan for these extra tasks accordingly. And, if you are contacting any faculty members prior to applying to their school, be sure to note whether you are applying to any of these external scholarships as well.

One last thing to note since I think both of you have expressed interest in US and/or Canadian PhD programs: Although it does depend on field, in general, the external fellowship/scholarship deadlines are earlier than the school PhD application deadline. In North America, most fellowships are due in September, October, or November, while school application deadlines are December through February. Many of these scholarship application are as involved/complex as a school application, including requests for test scores, transcripts, and letters of reference. So, if you are planning to apply to these, start your research early so that you know when the earliest deadlines are, so that you can ask for letters, take tests, and order transcripts etc. in time.

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Thank you so much for this detailed explanation takeruk :) you're very helpful. I will definitely show this to my friends as well, because we're looking for programs together.

I wasn't aware that most North American fellowships' deadlines are September:November! An Egyptian friend of mine who has studied Master's in the US & is currently looking also for PhD, has told me that applying for PhD programs in the US is much easier than in Europe, because it doesn't require that one searches for an independent scholarship or fellowship, as most of these programs are fully-funded through fellowships & assistantships, & just getting accepted at the program would sequentially secure me financially with any fellowship provided in the program.

But what you say is giving me a different view. Do I have to apply to an independent fellowship next September:November before applying to American & Canadian PhD programs next December:February? Are most of these programs not fully-funded already?

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56 minutes ago, nushi said:

Thank you so much for this detailed explanation takeruk :) you're very helpful. I will definitely show this to my friends as well, because we're looking for programs together.

I wasn't aware that most North American fellowships' deadlines are September:November! An Egyptian friend of mine who has studied Master's in the US & is currently looking also for PhD, has told me that applying for PhD programs in the US is much easier than in Europe, because it doesn't require that one searches for an independent scholarship or fellowship, as most of these programs are fully-funded through fellowships & assistantships, & just getting accepted at the program would sequentially secure me financially with any fellowship provided in the program.

But what you say is giving me a different view. Do I have to apply to an independent fellowship next September:November before applying to American & Canadian PhD programs next December:February? Are most of these programs not fully-funded already?

Most of the PhD programs are fully funded in the US. Takeruk was simply discussing outside fellowships you can apply for. The in-house funding of each program is considered when you apply to the program. There is no "additional" application. However, even if programs accept you, they may not fund you. You never know if you will receive funding until you receive an offer letter, although if the university calls you to make the offer, they will usually talk about whatever funding they are offering and follow-up with a formal offer letter via an email. Sometimes, they may simply email you. Your formal letter has all of the terms of your acceptance. Read it very carefully. If it doesn't include funding or says funding is conditional upon other things, make sure you understand what is being offered. It is unlikely that funding will be forthcoming, if it is not included in the offer letter. However, I could be incorrect about how other departments make offers to their prospective PhD students. Each department/field has its own criteria for funding.

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As @cowgirlsdontcry said, most US and Canadian PhD programs are indeed fully funded. Depending on your field and the school, having an external scholarship could mean additional funding, extra prestige, or more research freedom/opportunities. But it's certainly not "necessary". Note that these external scholarships are usually limited to citizens only in the US and Canada (with one or two exceptions). Most international students with external scholarships in North America won them from their home country's government (e.g. I took a Canadian fellowship to a US school). I am not about the situation in Europe though, and some countries (e.g. Canada) have a small number of limited scholarships intended to attract the best international students to their country.

So, my advice is not that you must get a scholarship, but instead to encourage you to also look at scholarships and to prepare to apply for them earlier than the schools application deadlines (for North American ones). In addition, some of them will require someone at the school you want to go to nominate you (e.g. one of the Canadian ones for international students) so keep that in mind for timelines too!

 

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