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How to get Scholarships in US for MS, MBA? GRE, Essays, Acads ?

Few of the most asked questions among international students coming to US for MS or MBA

  • I need Scholarships for MS . How do I get it ?
  • What percentage do I need for Scholarships in 10th, Intermediate( 11th& 12th)?
  • Do they only look for GRE and TOEFL for scholarships ?
  • When should I apply for Scholarships ?
  • How much money will I get if I get scholarships ?
  • How much percentage should I get in B.Tech for Scholarship ?

There are many similar questions…Bottom line, education in US is expensive and we as internationals need some sort of financial assistance either scholarships or any sort of assistantships. This article will focus on “Everything you need to know about Scholarships, including on How to get Scholarships and What do schools look for and other key things related to Scholarships ?”

Applying for Scholarships as International Student :

One of the biggest mistakes most of the students commit is assuming Scholarship deadlines and Admission deadlines as same and think of applying to Scholarships along with admission packet. In all reality, that is not true at all the times. Both are different and you need to apply ahead of time for Scholarships. Read this article Scholarship Deadlines Vs Admission deadlines in US Universities for MS/ MBA for full information on the deadlines.

Every Scholarship is Different and you Have to Meet the requirements first :

There are a plethora of scholarships available and everything has its own requirements. The below list is a generic view of scholarship committee for making a decision. Every scholarship has specific set of requirements and you have to meet those to get a scholarship.  For instance, if you are applying for “ First generation College student Scholarship, where you are the first person in your family to go to college to get degree” , The requirement is “ You have to be first generation college student, to get scholarship, if you do not meet this requirement you cannot even apply for the scholarship. Once you meet the requirement then they will look at the additional qualifications and credentials like below. First thing when you look at scholarship is “ Make sure you are eligible for the scholarship”. Your goal as a prospective student is to search the University financial aid office to find the right scholarship for you.

Myth about 10th, 11th and 12th Class Marks or Percentage for Scholarships :

There is a myth among students that US Universities consider 10th, 11th and 12th class marks or percentage for making admission and scholarships decisions. But, that is NOT true. Most of the US universities consider only B.Tech or any Bachelor’s degree percentage only. They look at your performance in recent degree. Some Universities do ask for the 11th and 12thgrade scores, but very few of them do consider for making a decision. Think of the logic : how does it matter to judge you what you were 4 – 6 years ago when you were not mature enough and did screw up with percentage.

B.tech or Academics Percentage for Scholarships to Study in US :

Academics are very important for making the scholarship decisions. Sometimes students are not good with Standardized tests like GRE or GMAT. For those kind of students,it would be a disadvantage. So, good weightage is given for acads. They look at it as “ if a student has a good proven record in the past four years of bachelor, then he/she is competitive. It is proven by getting good percentage in all the four years and a good aggregate percentage” . Acads are important but they are not the sole tie breaker. The application is always looked holistic to judge any award of scholarship.

GRE / GMAT / TOEFL Scores Importance to get Scholarship for MS and MBA :

GRE/ GMAT and TOEFL Scores are important for the scholarships decisions. But they are not necessarily the tie breaker. Some students are good at Standardized tests and some are bad. If you have good acads, and less GRE score, then it a typical situation. Your score has to be decent, but NOT bad. If you have good score then it is good. But, having a low score will not mean, you will not get scholarship. Always, having a good GRE or GMAT score will increase your chances in case there is a tie breaker between you and others.

Leadership and Volunteering :

Leadership skills and Volunteering are weighed significantly for scholarships decision. A typical leadership skill would be serving as a president or on the executive board for an academic or social organization in your Bachelors. Volunteering can include any kind of social service you do for the good of society. Any event where your campus invites students to help the community. These are very important because, scholarships endowments are typically created to encourage students who have good ideals for society and take up leadership role and help others and community succeed. So, being part of a social or academic organization in B.tech or doing volunteering is key and you must include all of these certificates if you have any or at least quote your experiences in scholarships essays. This is what distinguishes you from others who just have high GRE scores and high academic percentages.

Achievements, publications and Recognitions :

Any kind of achievements, publications or Recognitions are very important for scholarships. If you have any kind of achievements like First rank in class, Essay competitions, Paper publications, having prizes in various competitions, it helps make your scholarship application stronger. It distinguishes you from others that you have special skills apart from GRE, TOEFL or Acads. If you have been recognized in your college or in society for any kind of good cause you have done or any kind of achievement you got and helped the college, it adds value to your application. Make sure you provide documentation with proof of any kind if you have with the application.

Scholarship Essay or Statement of Purpose :

Most of the scholarships ask you to write an Essay asking “ Why should they give you scholarship and explain your situation or story along with your goals, etc”. Essay is the most important thing of your scholarship packet. You have to be genuine in your thought and explain why you deserve a scholarship. It should show your passion and explain your skills and plan to accomplish your goal. It should state things like how scholarship can make a difference and make your journey successful. If they are just asking for statement of purpose, then you have to focus on what you have to accomplish and how you want to accomplish. NEVER Copy and paste anything from others SOP. Try to read others and come up with your ideas and write your story and goals. Bottom line, your essay or SOP should be good and it should show your zeal to succeed and how you want to reach your goals and what it means to you and may be your family and society.

Recommendation Letters influence on getting Scholarships to Study in US :

Sometimes, the scholarship applications asks for your recommendations letters from professors or anyone who you report to. It is your goal to go to good person who knows you well and can give you a good recommendation. The recommendation should tell the committee your academic, leadership and other skills and how the recommender got to know you through all the activities. As I said, it depends on the type of scholarship you are applying to. Some ask for these, some do not. If they do ask, get good recommendations. Recommendations are very important for scholarships and can be a tie breaker.

Summary to get Scholarships for MS or MBA :

Some have good GRE scores, some have good Acads, Some have good leadership skills, some have good goals stated in Essays, etc. The point is, not everyone are perfect and scholarship committee looks at your scholarship application for MS or MBA as a whole and comes to a decision. As always, the scholarship you are applying to defines what they are looking for. You will have to read the requirements and what they need and present yourself accordingly. Think of it this way, “ Everyone has Cake, it is how you add the cherries and decorate the cake that makes it attractive”. So, present your strengths well and you will be rewarded !

Now that you know the details, next is find where scholarships are offered for International students. You should read How to find Scholarships for MS in US as International 

What has been your experience ? What did you consider when applied for  scholarship for MS in US ?  Share your thoughts.

Image Credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/3877375629/


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    • You should NOT do direct conversion by yourself. You can ask WES to do the education evaluation and they may suggest a range. You can submit that. But, in general, if you are applying on your own, there is no need to do conversion, you should put it as it is and indicate the scale of GPA.

  1. My gre scores are 320, Quants-165 and verbal-155, TOEFL-100, GPA-8.5.
    Which top universities can i apply and get a good scholarship for MS in chemical engineering.

    • it all varies by scholarship. Some are given for entire program until you graduate, some are given on a yearly basis…hard to generalize on every scholarship. Also, GPA is just one of the things that they look at and not everything is purely based on GPA…except few, where some schools offer some scholarships based on merit.

    • Well, it cannot be more specific than the above article because every scholarship is different and these are general guidelines…Share your ideas on what you would like to see, maybe we can write another article ?

  2. Hi,
    I am Adam, I have bachler’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering.I have three year’s work experience in my own home town Asmara (Eritrea) and currently working in juba.With GRE and TOEFL scores 323 (Q=160,V=163) and 547 respectively, what is my chance of getting scholarships from US universities .

  3. Hello, thanks for sharing such an important information for students like us. I appreciate that. I have maintained a first class grade in bachelors. I have volunteering experience with NGO. I also have participated in events like Ecokart (competition for electric cart) and Mega ATV Championship (ATV). And I’ve scored 315 in GRE. What are my chances of getting scholarship for MS in mechanical engineering? And please help me with the suggestions of universities too.

    • Nikhil,
      We do not really advise on schools, above is the guideline based on common requirements. You will need to check with the university on the specific guidelines and requirements for a specific scholarship.

  4. Hi Sir, I complete my B.Tech in Civil Engineering with aggregate of 78.3%. My GRE score is 309 and IELTS band is 6.5. I also worked as Vice President of IGBC and holds a position as Body member in social clubs besides volunteered for other organizations. I am applying for MS in construction management and looking forward for Scholarships. Please guide to receive scholars for my studies.

  5. Hello Admin,
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