How can I apply for scholarships abroad?

General facts

Have you ever dreamed of studying abroad, but you don’t know where to start? This post is for you. This is the same procedure I did to start my MSc in Europe. And see, I could even stay here for continuing with my Ph.D. studies. The first thing you need to focus on is: what type of studies would you like to do abroad?

Ecole Centrale
Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France

There are tons of options when seeking to study in Europe or the USA. Therefore you need to center on exactly what you want to do. If you are currently doing your bachelor studies, remember that the European system is very different. This might be an issue if you want to get a double degree. For instance, in the new European study system, a bachelor is only 3 years long and everybody is committed to doing a master. But in latin America (at least in Colombia and Brasil) as well as some Asiatic countries, the bachelor is done in 4-5 years (or more) and people obtain their degree directly.

You can apply to a master in Europe

It is possible to do an advanced master in Europe because the requirements include a bachelor plus a master, equivalent to a total of 5 years bachelor. This only if in your country of origin it is possible to start a Ph.D. without a Master degree. But in case you want to do a double degree only, it is very likely that they will make you do the 3 years study plus 1 or 2 years of a master. Maybe it is even possible that they do not homolog the lectures you already attended in your country of origin. For this case, you better make sure that the two countries have some kind of agreement of free exchange of students, this way your time will not be “lost”.

You really need to make some research before selecting either the line of studies or the country you want to go to. In my case, I started since almost my first semester of bachelor to look up options for either a double degree or a master in Germany. I discovered that for the aeronautical engineering program (back in 2008), my university didn’t have any agreement with any European university. Moreover, only some specific careers did have with universities in Germany. I decided that it was better to apply for a master since there were plenty of options. Also when having the engineering diploma, it would be easier to get a scholarship.

Where to apply?

I can recommend you to start learning German or French if your goal is one of these countries because it is a must to speak the language even if there are some careers to which you can attend in English.  They will ask you for at least a basic level of the language (A2 or even B1) before applying to their universities, and if you get admitted, then you can apply for a scholarship with the DAAD for Germany, for example (link for Colombia only, but you can find the link for other countries as well). The DAAD also offers complete scholarships for different options, just check on their websites to be better informed.

And in the USA?

If your goal is the USA, you can check out with Fullbright or even apply for a scholarship from your own country. Normally governments would open scholarships to help to fund students abroad. However, they might ask you to go back to your country of origin when finished or even pay the debt back, as it is the case of Colfuturo or Enlaza Mundos in Colombia. It is better if you do a research in your own country, they might have good options that you don’t even know them.

Finally, the scholarship I applied to (thanks to a friend who also applied and got it) is Erasmus Mundus (nowadays it’s Erasmus+) . This one is offered by the European Commission and there are different programs around Europe to which you could apply (just check on their website). The one I got is the EMship, for advanced ship design. There are a lot of other scholarships offered to Latin-American students. For example, the Fellow Mundus or SUD-UE (You can find some others with some google research)


You might encounter different requirements. It depends on the university and country you are applying for, but they normally ask for:

  • High school diploma
  • Bachelor diploma (and Master as well)
  • Transcript of records (both from high school and degrees obtained) – they might ask you for a minimum average of 70%-80%
  • Recommendation letter from a university professor
  • Recommendation letter from a supervisor in a company you’ve worked fo. Or another university professor if you don’t have working experience
  • Letter from the university stating that you can start a Ph.D. without a master degree. This if you only did a 5-year bachelor
  • Motivation letter
  • Certificate of language (English, German or French according to the scholarship and country of application)

My recommendation is to look up carefully. Read all the requirements – because every scholarship has different formalities – and get all your paperwork translated and apostilled as necessary. Remember that in Europe they are quite demanding about paperwork or documents. More specific when applying for a long term visa (for which I will write more recommendations in another post).

If you have some doubts about your application, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll be happy to help you out if it is something I can do.

Good luck with your application!

University of Rostock
University of Rostock, Germany

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