Postgraduate studentships and scholarships have similarities, but they also have some key differences so it's best not to be confused about them.
Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between these two sources of postgraduate funding.
What are the similarities?
There are some similarities between postgraduate scholarships and studentships. First of all, both involve the postgraduate student being paid, often tax free, to study and both often involve a lengthy application process. You'll have to work hard to keep a studentship position while completing your PhD research and similarly a scholarship is going to involve hard work as well. Although there are few comprehensive lists of scholarships available to postgraduate students, they are often advertised on university websites, such as these at the University of Edinburgh and New York University. PhD studentships are usually advertised as well as they are treated as academic jobs, so they will be listed at most universities – as the University of Nottingham does – along with academic job websites and publications.
What are the differences?
To start with, a studentship is going to require you to work for the university in a research, teaching or administration capacity. You will be studying for a PhD with a studentship and working with your professor(s) and other academic colleagues. Scholarships, on the other hand can involve any level of study up to and including a PhD, but also other postgraduate qualifications as well. You'll need to work hard and you'll also probably have to provide evidence to the organisation giving you a scholarship that you are keeping your grades up. However, you won't be directly working for anyone, although scholarship programs can involve some work experience or volunteering, and it's usually up to you if you want to participate.
How do you secure a scholarship or a studentship?
First of all, you need to research the scholarships and studentships that are available. If you are tied to a particular institution, then you can keep an eye on the positions and scholarships that are available there. Otherwise, search through websites advertising studentships or scholarships and sign up for alerts. Networking is useful throughout your career and if you want to gain a postgraduate studentship, then you might meet someone through a networking event. Scholarships are less likely to be found at networking events, but volunteering at a wide range of relevant organisations could well provide you with the opportunity to find out about any scholarships that might be available. When you're searching for postgraduate scholarships it's a good idea to include this as part of your course research and course selection process, as many postgraduate courses offer discounts or scholarships to alumni or for students with particular backgrounds. Once you've found a scholarship or studentship that interests you, then you will have to complete the application process. This usually involves providing grade transcripts, writing personal statements, and for larger scholarships and studentships there will often also be an interview. To increase your chances of success spend time polishing your personal statement and try to get a little interview practice in. It will be worth the extra effort, as being paid to study at the postgraduate level will look great on your CV and your bank account!
Average PhD studentship payments