How to apply for a study scholarship

How to go about applying for a scholarship for postgraduate studies


“Over the years, thousands of Nigerians have gotten scholarships for post graduate study in the UK. You too can be one of them”

Preye is a Chemical engineering graduate of University of Port Harcourt. She loves solving problems and believes biofuels can be harnessed as a viable alternative energy source in Nigeria. To fulfil her dream, Preye will love to go for her MSc and Ph.D. abroad someday. A major problem she faces now is, she doesn’t know where the money will come from.

Countless other Preyes live in Nigeria today. The good news is there are ways of getting funds for post graduate study abroad. Either from the private sector, NGOs, state governments or federal government, there are scholarship opportunities open to deserving Nigerians. Some scholarships are open to indigenes of certain states only. Others might be course – specific e.g. just for Agriculture courses.

Below is a list of some Post Graduate scholarships in Nigeria;

Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) Federal Government Scholarship

Niger Delta Development Commission Post Graduate Scholarship

Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas Post Graduate Scholarship

SPDC Niger Delta Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme

PTDF Scholarship Scheme

Nigerian Agip Exploration (NAE) Post Graduate Scholarship

Chevening Scholarship

Other post graduate scholarships sponsored by state governments.

Getting a scholarship in Nigeria involves basically three steps;

  1. Applying for the scholarship
  2. Writing an aptitude test
  3. Interview

Within these three major steps are many more smaller steps which will be outlined in due course. For the sake of this post, I will limit the scope of foreign institutions to those in the UK.

I want a scholarship for PG studies in the UK, Where do I start from?

It is advisable to first make up your mind that this is want you want. This might sound like the normal thing to do but is very important to note. The determination will keep you going when you come across obstacles (like pursuing your lecturers to write a reference letter for you).

Now that this is settled, the next step is research, research, and more research.

You will need to know schools that offer your (dream) course and their specific requirements. You will also need to know the scholarships you want to apply for and their different requirements. This is to help you prepare before the scholarships are announced.

To help you in picking a course and university, you can visit this findamasters page. It’s a useful tool in searching for universities all over the world. The website also provides an option of searching by course and for scholarships. Pretty nice if you ask me.

You can also search for universities through university rankings. There are several university rankings carried out by newspapers every year. A very good example is that done by theguardian which releases a rank list of UK universities annually. This is a good search option if you plan on going to the best ranked universities.

Do I need to get admission before applying for scholarships?

I’ll say yes. Why? Because it puts you on a safe side. There are scholarships that may not require you to have admission before applying. However, if I could guess, I’d say over 75% require you to have gotten.

Getting admission into a UK university

All universities have their requirements among which include;

  • Academic Transcripts
  • Reference letter(s) (preferably from academic staff of your department that knows you personally). If you have work experience one of the letters can be from your boss.
  • International Passport
  • English test (IELTS, TOEFL). Some schools accept a good grade in WAEC English but will require confirmation that you were taught in English.
  • Passport photograph
  • Statement of purpose
  • Proof of funding

Your undergraduate CGPA plays an important role in the application process. The higher it is, the better your chance of getting the best schools and courses. This doesn’t mean there are no exceptions. Someone with a second class lower but three years relevant work experience stands a good chance. Another important requirement is your statement of purpose. It should reflect your passion for your chosen course and school.

After submitting all requirements, some schools may opt for a phone interview for further assessment. If satisfied, the school may grant you provisional admission to resume at a set date. Resumption dates are mostly September and January.

Admission process and duration vary with schools. Some run into one or two months while others can be concluded in one week (yes, there are UK schools that give admission in one week). Longer time frames are majorly because of volume of applications received. It is best to start your application process early. Be rest assured that it will be duly treated and a response given on time.

Applying for the Post Graduate scholarship

Thanks to the internet most scholarship applications are done online. You will need to register on the website, fill out the online form and upload all required documents. This can be done from the comfort of your home with a laptop and good internet. Always be careful to strictly follow application guidelines as stated by the scholarship provider. The following documents are needed for most scholarships;

  • Passport photograph
  • International passport
  • Letter of Provisional admission from foreign University
  • Letter of recommendation from Community chief, Local government Chairman, State house of Assembly member, Nigerian Senator,
  • Local government identification
  • WAEC result
  • University Statement of result
  • NYSC discharge certificate
  • English test score

Tip: Make sure you have all requirements ready before scholarships are even announced. For fresh graduates, the NYSC year is a good time to start getting these documents.

Taking the test

Should your application be successful, you will be invited to take an aptitude test. Tests maybe computer or paper based. Test formats such as GMATS, SHL are generally used. There are cases where questions are tailored to courses of applicants. In other cases, WAEC standard questions and current affairs are asked.

The best advice for beating tests is to do a lot of practising beforehand. There are resources on Google for past questions of various scholarships. Download and practice. Practice without using a calculator and also do timed sessions.


Depending on scholarship, an interview stage might be required for successful candidates. Interview questions range from statement of purpose, to current affairs and discussions on current national issues. It is good to know a good deal of your proposed course of study and how you plan to apply it in Nigeria in the near future. A quick Google search could yield more results on other questions to expect.

If successful you will then be awarded the scholarship. You can then go about finalising other things (such as getting a study visa) before travelling.


There are other scholarship programs that come up from time to time. These might be a one-off scholarship sponsored by an individual or NGO. Some universities have sponsorship programs for foreign students. This might be for select courses. Do well to check the school’s school fees/funding page for scholarship options available to foreign students.

You can subscribe to scholarship portals for up to date information on scholarships available all year round.

At the end of the day, getting a scholarship requires a lot of dedication and hard work. You will also need to spend some money in the process e.g. getting transcripts, writing IELTS, minor transportation costs etc. You’ll agree that these minor expenses, when weighed against the expected outcome, is a worthy sacrifice to make.

Getting a scholarship is very possible. There are people who have gone through the same processes listed above and have gone on to study in the UK. Some have even progressed Ph.Ds. A key ingredient is to really desire and work hard towards it. Wish you good luck!



Have questions or tips to share? We love to hear from you.


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  • How about someone with an NYSC exemption letter, what Masters Scholarships can they apply for?

    Kevwe August 20, 2016 7:22 am
    • Hi Kevwe,

      Depending on how good your results have been, there might be international scholarships open to you. We might be covering these in the upcoming weeks.

      mrpepe August 22, 2016 11:20 am

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