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PhD Scholarships

A PhD scholarship is an award of financial aid to a student, usually based on fulfilling certain criteria. These criteria can be academic, or any other of a number of things – attendance at certain universities, certain localities, or various other criteria.

With a PhD scholarship, the amount offered is variable and can be anything up to full coverage of fees and a stipend. There are also partial scholarships available, which will not provide as much, but may have slightly less strict criteria. It’s worth checking whether scholarships allow you to apply for other sources of funding,  as you may either be able to apply to more than one, or apply to one and then source money from elsewhere, such as writing to charities or asking a company for support.

Scholarships are offered by a variety of places. Your first port of call should always be the university you have applied to, but these should not be the only place you look at. Websites such as ours (did you know we offer lots of bursaries ?) and other such sources can be a goldmine!

But what’s the situation if you’re an international student?

PhD Scholarships for International Students

Phd Scholarships

If you’re looking for PhD scholarships for international students, you still want to check out the university you’ve applied to first. Especially if you’re coming from within the EU, you’ll find that many scholarships are open to you – albeit, perhaps, a more limited in number.

But where else can you look? Well, that depends on the country you’re coming from. A good starting place is your country’s Education Department, they may either have some available, or be able to point you to places that do. That, or the British Council.

Let’s have a look through some of the provisions for various international students, shall we?


If you’re an international student from the EU, then you’ll probably have access to many offered from within the UK itself. However, these may be limited to fees only places, meaning you will still need to source maintenance fees from elsewhere.

The EU also offers grants to assist the exchange of students amongst its members, such as the SOCRATES programme, as well as having the European Commission in place to aware students from developing countries.


Two big sources of PhD scholarships and funding for American students are the Fullbright Scholarships and The British Marshall Scholarships.

The Fullbright Commission offers awards based on a variety of criteria. At minimum, the applicant must be a US citizen resident anywhere except the UK, and they must hold or be due to receive a Bachelors degree before going to the UK to study. Ideally, in addition, they must show cultural sensitivity, a wish to learn about the United Kingdom, and have interest in a range of activities beyond study, including community based activities. Also desirable is leadership potential and the goal to give back to the applicant’s home country.

The Marshall Scholarships also have certain criteria – academic merit, leadership potential and ambassador potential. Academic merit is based on academic achievement and good recommendations, leadership potential on strength of purpose, creativity, self-awareness and an ability to deliver results, and finally, ambassador potential is based on transferable skills, interpersonal skills and knowledge of UK-US relations.

British Commonwealth

Those who live in countries in the British Commonwealth also have two main sources available to them – the Commonwealth Scholarship Plan and the DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme.

The Commonwealth Scholarship Plan offers scholarships in a variety of countries, but not in all countries at all times, so it is necessary to check specifics for your year of study. They may occasionally only apply to specific universities too.

The DFID (or, Department for International Development) Shared Scholarship Scheme has a couple of things to note, if you are from a developed country, you can apply for funding for PhDs only, and if you are from a developing country, then you can apply for PhDs, masters, or fellowships. The general criteria are academic excellence, development impact, and leadership potential.

Other Countries

British Chevening Scholarships are available for both taught and research postgraduate courses, and are usually given for one year, and can cover either the full or part of the cost.

British Council Fellowship programs are available to professionals in fields that are considered by the British Council to be important in the applicant’s home country. They may cover anything up to and including full fees and living costs.

Overseas Research Scholarships are based on academic merit, and provide partial scholarships equal to the difference between home and international fees.


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