Are you applying for scholarships for the 1st time or perhaps not aware of other means of funding available for graduate school? kindly check this article out and follow it. A comprehensive explanation of the two main routes.
ROUTE A : Scholarships
Familiarize yourself with Scholarship org or website sharing scholarship links –:
1. Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program (Africa, Lebanon, UK, Canada, US)
2. Rhode Scholarship for West Africa (UK)
3. Commonwealth Scholarships- (UK)
4. Chevening Scholarship (UK)
5. ERASMUS MUNDUS Scholarship
6. Pan Africa Union Scholarship, etc.
These scholarships are truly competitive. So, you need to put in a very tight application. In most cases, they focus more on your CGPA, your leadership potential, community & volunteer position.
Route B : Professor's research grant
Since scholarships are mostly competitive & often select fewer people, you don’t want to put all hopes on them. Another (perhaps better) way is by contacting Professors.
In Canada and the US for example, Professors often have research grants to work on a particular project(s). Ideally, this might be a year, 2 to 5yrs (or even longer) depending on the funding. The output of this is to publish papers & make some evidence-based results.
The Professors are mostly busy (as you can imagine, teaching and all), so they need some outstanding students to do this research with them. The students (Research Assistant) will work on the Professor's research & funded through the research grant.
This grant (in most cases) will be enough for you. It can also be combined (depending on each school policy) with Teaching Assistant (where you assist Prof in teaching a particular course & get paid for it). This way, you work with Professor, get paid & get your MSc/Ph.D.
So, how do you go about this? How do you contact Profs- especially since they don't know you before? You need to reach out to potential advisors (Profs).
You have to identify your strength, what excites you most in your course of study? What would you like to study? E.g: You like Ornithology/bird- What in ornithology excites you most? You need to identify a research question and your strongest motivation for studying what you want to study.
(hopefully, we can discuss better on how to identify research question later).
Your questions need to start with: How? Why? What? Etc.
A research question can be like:
How do birds vary over time and across space?
What's driving the extinction of a particular species in a particular location?
Now you have something interesting to you, look for Profs working in those areas:
A. Use google- eg: Prof of Landscape Ecology in Canada. Once you see anyone interesting, visit their website, read their papers, connect something they’re currently doing that interest you.
B. Search for schools- Eg: University of Arizona. Visit the dept site, they will list all Profs, their website & contact.
Once you identify Prof(s) you like, please send them an email (state your interest in joining their lab, attach your CV and transcript if you have).
If there’s a potential fit, they'll reply, probably schedule an interview (online).
How to prepare for Skype Interview with a Professor and Questions
If all goes well, you'll be encouraged to apply for admission & if admitted (your funding will be confirmed), & boom, you’ve got it. IMO, this seems a better way of getting funding.
So, what are they looking for in you?
This is like a Job, the Prof wants to see you’re a good candidate & can do research
In particular, the prof wants to see:
1. If you've published a pape Or show that you can write a research paper?
2. Your achievements- CGPA, etc
3. Your enthusiasm, your curiosity in that research, especially if you can quickly come up with a research question
4. Your skills- Can you use some software that will help the Professor research? (R-software, STATA, MATLAB, ArcGIS, Google Earth Engine, PYTHON, etc).
So, in either way (scholarship or Prof grant), what do you need to start preparing now for the scholarship round
1. Identify what you would like to work on- very important.
2. Your transcript
3. Identify your referees
4. Start sending emails to Professors now.
5. Start writing a draft of your statement of purpose and Personal statement (tailor it to the scholarship).
To conclude:- if you can combine the 2 ways. (Don't count on just one), I believe you will win this faster.