How to get Scholarships in US

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

In Scholarships & Funding by Kumar292 Comments

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 :
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. or Academics Percentage for Scholarship :
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:
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 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 :
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 

Education Loan for International Students : Also, if you are not sure if you can get scholarship, you can look at the various lenders who can provide you education loan, all you need to do is sign up for account and see various vendors who can offer you education loan with our partner. Check out options at NomadCredit

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

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Comments ( 292 )

  1. sourabh

    what aggregate needed for MS in civil engg. for universities like stanford.
    I got 56.77 aggregate upto third year.What should I do regarding it?
    How much I need to get in GRE.?
    What I have to score for good scholarship ?
    Is there any job security after doing MS in USA?
    suggest me ….thank you

  2. arsalan

    hi, i’m glad to find your site..
    i’m iranian and have inustrial degree form shiraz azad university,where should i apply for master of menagment engineering or master manufacturing engineering?
    which univ get more scholarship to iranian student?would u tell me the names..

  3. Ali

    I forgot to mention.
    I am from pakistan.and please Mr.kumar reply me soon…
    and suggest me about tests.
    and as i had told you my %ges are they enough for scholarships and admission if i score decent marks in test (which you will tell me)

  4. Ali

    Dear kumar !
    First of all i would like to thank have cleared lots of things about scholarship in this article..
    My educational career
    10th 59.7%
    Inter 44.45% (thats the prob)
    Bsc (math+phy 2 years) 61%
    Currently i am doing msc physics and hope i will get above then 70% marks in it.
    Please suggest me what should i do after that for ms in uk,usa,canada etc on scholarship basis..i mean which test i should prepare and score?
    Also will inter marks matters or msc+bsc with that %ge covers that bad %g

    1. mekonnen admas

      how can i get scholarship for gratuate program?becuse we not enough chances upgrading knowlege especial to enhaces peace and democracy the role of educated citizes are i am one of them

  5. Azhar

    Hi KUmar i got 1110 in GRE my acads is 75%

    Can u suggest few universities where i cud do my MBA

    PLease suggest 6-7 universites if u dont mnd sir

    Thank you in advance…

  6. Ashik habib

    Hello kumar sir,
    How are you? i am ashik from bangladesh. I am pursuing my BBA in HRM and i am in last year at 11th semester. i want to do my MS or MBA in USA. what GMAT score i need to get scholarship? can i get job in intel as a management trainee after MBA? which university will give me full scholarship?

  7. addishiwot fekadu

    hey friend !still now i have some confusion about geting scholarship so let me ask you one question.can i start the process before taking the exam of TOFEL or GRE?Thank you for sharing your experience .

    1. adi

      starting the process before taking the exam wont do u much gud though if u believe that u ll get an exact score in both the tests then u can try but its really hard to do that so give ur tests first n then u can pinpoint the universities according to the score

  8. rinu

    hey… m doin ma final year Bsc in computer, math and electronics….. i wanted to know good universities in uk,us or canada for MS in nanotechnology , artificial intelligence and robotics…… also could u tel me bout d scholorships they offer for these courses and d fee structure….

  9. Martins

    Hello kumar i’m really impressed with ur gre score is 1270(quant–770/800)/3.0 and i’m really dissapointed Wit myself. hope to sit 4 gré subject test in btech aggregate is 79%.i’ve done lots of voluntery community and social i stand à chance in stanford for à phD in applied physics?Do i need to resit the general test évén If i score great in d subject physics test?what other university could consider me If i score 75% in subject test? Pls mail me

    1. administrator

      I do not know the specifics of PhD program at Stanford. You should email current students or check their website about the average scores for the Physics PhD program and take necessary action.

  10. yoga

    hi…!! i’m doing ma 3rd year…in eie dr any ways of me knowing abt d pg course tat is possible for me so tat it would help me find d right coll 2 appy for d scholarship……

  11. Olusegun

    Hi, I ve got only 54% in my B.Tech (Electrical and Electronic Engineering). is it possible to get a full scholarship for my M.Sc in Communication Engineering or MBA with a good score in my GRE and if yes what score must I get as I have plans to write my GRE in September.please also advise me on which university in US can offer me this. Thank you

    1. administrator

      As mentioned in article, Scholarship is not just based on one criteria. Yes, you can get scholarship if you get really good scores in GRE and TOEFL. We dont advise on schools.

  12. divya sistla

    myy gre score is 1200
    my btech aggregate is 80%
    +2 i have 92.1%
    10th std i have 92%
    can u suggest me something regarding universities?

  13. Ajay

    Kumar sir,
    Above all, may you be blessed for assisting prospective students to pursue their dreams. I’m a student in my 2nd year BE(CSE) and as of now, and I have no research papers published under my name but planning to do it very soon. During the two months holidays which we get(transition from 2nd to 3rd year),I want to invest my time wisely in-order to improve my profile(already decided to do my MS).Fields like’ networks ‘attracts my attention. Do you think a certified course(eg:CCNA or Microsoft Certified Courses from NIIT/APTECH) could boost my profile?(since it could help me to acquire TA scholarship ) I’m also planning of another alternative: “Working as an assistant in IISC under a Professor(this would help me out in obtaining RA scholarship and also recommendation letters from eminent professors)”. What do you think would be more valuable? Do you suggest doing both simultaneously? Please let me know since I have no clue how one is more valuable than the other.I’m open to any suggestions. And yeah, regarding my other achievements, 1.We as a team of 4 members had developed a project for IBM (a competition held for students known as TGMC)and had been selected to national level. 2. I’m an active member in IEEE Student chapter of our college and held two posts as “webmaster(10-11)” and “student welfare in-charge(11-12)(ongoing)” and had been instrumental in organizing events in our college’s technical fests. The main reason I quoted my extra-curricular s is because I think it would be useful to you in knowing about my strengths and could help me out to spend my summer vacation worthily. Looking forward to your article “What to do in BE/BS to boost your profile”. Sir,please respond to this since I trust you because you have more experience and could guide me well.Thanking you in deep anticipation.

  14. Swanand

    Hello !
    Your articles are great and they are helping a lot of people who want to do M.S. So, Thanks!

    I am in my last year of B.E. (mech.) from a decent college and achieved an aggregate distinction (71%, and i am amongst top 5). I scored 1360/3.5 in GRE and appearing for toefl in next month. I have presented some papers and got some prizes also. I have nice educational background and have achieved some prestigious schoarshipls in 10th and in engg.

    I will be working for Tata for 1 year and I would like to apply for Mech/ Aerospace for fall 2012. So, what are my chances of getting scholarship or any kind of aid?
    i have good relations with profs and hoping to get fantastic reco letters.

    Is it worth to apply for univs like Caltech, illinois, georgia tech etc with this profile?

  15. D.Ray

    Hi All,

    I have completed my baccalaureate degree in Electronics and Communication engineering in the year 2010.Presently I am doing job in an IT firm.I want to pursue Masters and Phd programme in Theoretical Computer Science in US.My GRE score is 1350. I secured 92% in 10th followed by 89% in 12th. My B.Tech degree percentage was 72%.
    The problem is I haven’t done any past ground work on the field I like to pursue. I don’t have any past project on this field and hence no such source of getting a recommendation letter to support it. Please advise on what I should do to get an admission into US universities provided i am eligible for scholarships. Is it mandatory to do some projects on my field?If so , from where can I do that?
    Thanking you in advance.

  16. Pavani

    Hi ,
    I have completed my engg in electronics and communication wid 81% and presently working for a to MNC holding an experience of 2 yrs(by end of june).I wanna purse for higher studies for a better exposure and for a good career ahead.Being in a software field for 2yrs ,it wouldnt be easy to go back to MS electronics now (thought nt that difficult if it has better future)
    1Can you please suggest me how would MIS be?
    2 Do i prefer go to for fall or spring so that i can plan to take GRE accordigly. ( i m planing for spring but if falls beter then may b i wil think again

  17. Muhit

    I have recently completed my graduation i Fisheries and Marine science. My cgpa is 3.14 in out of 4 , what are the possibility of getting scholarship.?

    1. administrator

      Muhit, As I mentioned in article, it is a holistic decision and we cannot decide on scholarship decision just by looking at CGPA.

  18. Olumide Babalola

    Please I need the site that i can do exam to gain scholarship in USA or Sweden,I will like to do this Subject to get scholarship… English Language.

  19. DEV

    I am a cse student having 8.0 cgpa out of 10. This august 2011 I will be appearing for GRE exam. what will be a good gre score in new format which will increase my possibility to get scholarship.

  20. Divyang


    I am a 3rd yr IT engg student frm Pune Uni..
    I hav a bad acad till date.
    i.e. hav bad marks in internals and good scores in university papers. As u said in ur article, i hav my own community which helped many students of differ colleges in city to stay updated 2 latest technology.we hav almost done these events in 12 diff colleges.
    Also My prac are good but my department staff r jealous abt me which has effect on my acads..
    What r my chances of getting scholarship?

    1. administrator

      Honestly, it is very hard to say….Scholarship committee typically look at your application as a whole and judge it. Just not having one of those will not limit your chances of scholarship.

  21. Mamum

    kumar how are you? I am knocking you for some info. I am bangladeshi,student of Jahangirnagar University of mathematics & having cgpa >3.25 out of 4 in I want to complete my msc in usa or what will be required score in gre for admission in mathematics or physics in my dream land?
    Plz give me full info by email [email removed]

    1. administrator

      It is very relative and entirely depends on the school you are applying to. Anything around 1400 would be considered a good score.

  22. anusha

    hi…am doing my btech 3 yr nw..i am done with my gre..i score 1200..i hav an aggregate of 78% and i even hav a good profile..
    can u suggest an university whch can give me pretty gud financial aid..

  23. rohit telang

    hii now am in f.y. and i want do MS .
    my question is that
    is it enough to score in GRE exams to get Scholarships ?
    and what will be target score to break this score ?

  24. abirami


    I am done with my engineering in bioinformatics and currently working is some private firm. Im having 9.06 cgpa in my engineering and im planning to join this winter or next fall . How can i get scholoarships for doing MS in US? please give me the details n procedures.

    Thanks a lot ….

    1. administrator

      As the above article says you have to make sure you do well on the mentioned aspects. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

  25. nirlipth

    I am in 6th sem , pursuing my ELECTRONICS and COMMUNI. course, and i have an aggregate of 81% ,till date

    These are my doubts……..
    1)When do u apply for scholarships and how do u come to know about them.
    2)Will they cover the entire expenses or only partly.
    3)Any idea what my GRE score must be, approximately.

  26. shashank

    i hav lots of doubt
    1st of all..LemME TEL U rite nw m in 1st year btech…

    And my 1st sem exam wer bit horrible…
    My 1st questn is…
    What do they see in acad marks..?
    Wil a bAck pROVE 2 Be a curSE IN GETTing scholarship…even if u are doing exceptionally wel in rest of sems..?

    Is there any possibility to get job in research field like nasa or intel through those universities..?

    Is MS better than mtech..(from IITs)..!?

    Plz answer me….and mail me if possible…as it is bit restrictd environment in college hostel these days..

    Thank you

    1. administrator

      Shashank, I cant really understand all your questions. Write in proper English.

      2. Not NASA unless you are citizen. Intel Yes !
      3. Depends on school

      1. shashank

        sorry !
        I was asking that will it be a shear badluck for a student if he gets exceptionally high percentage/cgp but with a star ( because of back/grace) in marksheet for getting a scholarship for MS in those universities ?

        1. administrator

          Shashank, I may have some impact, but the decision is not solely based on one factor. If you are genuine candidate and have what they are looking for, you should get it…

  27. siddharth

    Hey,I have 62% in with 2 year work x and a GRE score of 1440.what are the odds of getting a scholarship in a good university for MS.

    1. administrator

      Siddarth, As your GRE score is good, you have really good odds to get either scholarship or some sort of funding from a decent school. Research, plan and apply.

  28. Prashant

    I recently heard from a friend that good universities in us, no more give scholarship for ms and only supports phd students?!
    Is this thing correct to any extent?

    1. Ratan

      hi PRASHANT,
      I understand your concern but this is not true in all the cases. Universities have various forms of scholarships to fund their students. Yes,the ongoing recession and cuts in fundings definitely had impacts on disposal of their funds to students but they are still available to students who deserves it. So the bottomline is that the university will give you scholarships and provide other fundings if they feel you are worth it. But don’t worry, education in US is not so grim yet.
      good luck

  29. deepak

    In this article its said that if a student has a required academics even with a less GRE and TOEFL as per their requirement he can get admission, i wanted to know about vice versa, what if a student has a good GRE score(for ex: a university accepts only 1150 and above but the student who applied has applied has 1400+ but he has a GPA less by 1 in number as per requirements of university) and less GPA which couldn’t meet the university requirements? could he get accepted?

    1. administrator

      It depends on school and how they give weightage. Ideally, they would look at everything and judge based on the application. Yes, you may have advantage if you have good GRE score and less acads, provided you explain the reasons in your SOP.

    1. administrator

      Deepak, typically every course is given weightage by credit hours based on how many hours of lecture and course load…Will try to write an article on this later.

  30. Deepak SP

    Hi Kumar,
    As i was browsing through a site which had contents of US university rankings, acceptance rate and fee structure. I saw that there were separate fee structure for in State and out state students. What about foreign students? must they pay in state or out state fee as u can see in this link
    out state fee is twice or thrice than in state fee, please clarify me on this.

    1. Ratan

      Hi Deepak,
      I was into the same dilemma before. Yes, unless you receive any fundings or scholarships or assistantships from the university, you have to pay out of state tuition fees which is like a deep hole in your pocket. Find out if your desired university has ‘Non-resident tuition waiver scholarships’ or other fundings of similar kind that will bring down your tuition fees equivalent to in state tuition.
      Good Luck

  31. Ratan

    Hi Kumar,
    I don’t know if you will mistake my intention as over flattery or something but I can’t stop myself praising for every articles of yours I read. It is just not the content, credibility and facts and figures involved in your articles which makes it very useful and appreciable but there is more into it. Just like here in this article above you mentioned your intent to post another article in the near future on ‘what students can do in their undergrads to make their profiles stronger for scholarship’s’ which is a very sincere intention to help aspiring students unconditionally. What more a student can ask for and this is more than they can ever expect. This is a true social work.
    If I had encountered this amazing website little early or had made plans to move to US from my undergrads days then things could have been much more wonderful for me.
    I request all the students and readers of this website to refer this to other friends also and appreciate the work of Kumar and others who has made such an informative website. They are worth of huge praise and appreciation.

    really impressed kumar.


      1. Prashant kapoor


        I had applied to few Colleges for Spring 2012 and plan some for fall 12 too for MS-Electrical engg:

        TOEFL:95(22+ all)

        UG %: 86

        Good work on SOP, good LOR

        What are chance of funding…

        IS it advisable to go for good College as point of view from getting job


        1. administrator

          Prashant, it is very hard to decide the chances of funding, as it depends on various factors. Also, Good is a very relative word when it comes to schools. Yes, applying to Good schools does help in job search.

    1. administrator

      Not necessarily…every scholarship is different and have its own terms…they are typically based on merit or financial need…

  32. maverick

    Hey Kumar u have certainly posted some good material.
    I am an Electrical Engineer (CGPA 3.6) from NUST Pakistan ( International Ranking Engineering: 274) and I am planning to give GRE in April 2011. I have to ask that with CGPA of 3.6 GRE score 1400+. What are the chances of geting admission in a top tier school in USA? If NO, Would a research publication help?? Also tell me if i join EU scholarship program ERASMUS MUNDUS for say an MS at universities in Germany, France or UK (This is a fully funded program), would i be having the same chances for a job compared to a US university graduate of my same calibre?? Because i am planning to settle in USA in the long run.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator

      Maverick, I cannot really speak for other countries…but for US, if you get that kind of score it helps for admission and scholarship too…A publication would be awesome and would give lot of value to your application and can get your funding as well….Again, they look at lot of things not just your GPA and Score….

  33. srikar

    i want to do MS in telecommunication in USA is it good in future to do ms in this specialization. currently i am working in telecommunications feild

  34. Balaji

    Hi friend!
    this guide is very useful for me. But still i need more information about gre tests and how to get scholarship pls do help me!

  35. rajendra

    hey thx for ur info i’am planning to do m.s for the next fall can please send me the details of documents required for applying to the universities

  36. Vic

    HI Kumar,
    You have an awesome site …and im an avid follower of most of your posts . Could you please shed some light whether “First Generation Scholarships are available to international students too?

    Thanks and hope to hear from you

  37. chaitanya krishna

    Hi,I am in the last stage of completion of my BE(computer science) and i want to persue MS in US…but dont know what is the procedure to get a seat in good university and also seeking for scholarships as everyone know that studying abroad has been very costly…so pls can anyone guide me by telling the exact procedure for the above mentioned…i will be very thankful to all those who help me in sharing their experience..

  38. Pingback: What is a Statement of Purpose and Why Is the College Asking for It?

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