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International funding programmes: How to find the right scholarship for study and research

A good overview of international funding programmes makes looking for the right scholarship easier for students and scholars worldwide.

A degree is expensive, whether you study in Germany or elsewhere. If this amounts to more than you can afford, then a scholarship helps to pay tuition fees, accommodation costs and for transport to and from the campus. A variety of funding organisations, ranging from research institutes to private and political foundations, companies and trade associations, offer a whole raft of scholarships and funding programmes. A large proportion of the scholarships on offer is also aimed at applicants from abroad. If you are interested in a German scholarship but you don't have a German passport, there are numerous funding programmes available to foreign students. There is therefore no lack of potential support. Nevertheless, all those who are interested need to ask themselves the same question. Where and how can I find the right scholarship for me?

Scholarship database: Step by step towards a scholarship

Scholarship prerequisites vary widely. Therefore, the first step towards finding the right scholarship for you and your requirements is doing the right research. Scholarship databases make a very good starting point. However, you will not find such a scholarship database or portal to facilitate your search in every country or for every country.

For scholarships in Germany, you can find a good overview at stipendienlotse.de. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research's (BMBF) website has a clear filter function. If, for instance, you click the box 'foreign students' on the search page, you will see a detailed overview of more than 50 German funding bodies.

The world's largest funding organisation for the international exchange of students and scholars is the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In addition to awarding scholarships, the association, whose members are German institutions of higher education and student bodies, also supports the internationalisation of universities in Germany and the establishment of universities in developing countries. The DAAD's scholarship database includes information detailing the funding opportunities for foreign students, graduates and postdocs provided by DAAD, as well as by other selected funding organisations.

The Electronic Research Funding Information System ELFI runs a commercial database for German funding programmes. In exchange for a fee you receive convenient and complete access to over 7,300 scholarships. ELFI is aimed at scientists, funding consultants, research institutions and students. You are able to access the funding database for students on the website free of charge, but without the use of the search function.

Grants for researchers

Anyone who already has a doctorate and is planning to carry out research in Europe should take a look at the International Incoming Fellowships (IIF) programme. It provides scholars who are not EU citizens with a good level of funding for one to two years. In addition, those who come from the 'International Cooperation Partner Countries' (Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe etc.) can also request funding for a one-year return phase.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation also offers a range of funding programmes for postdoctoral scholars. The service centre EURAXESS, which advises internationally mobile researchers, has its national coordination point at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Programmes for scholars are subdivided according to the criteria incoming, outcoming and returning in its funding databases.

Scholarships 2.0: Scholarships awarded differently

If you satisfy the prerequisites of a funding programme, then the next step is usually a written application. With a little luck you will be invited to attend further parts of the selection procedure locally. Here, candidates' personalities and how closely they match the funding body's objectives are assessed by means of various tasks and interviews. Those aspiring to a scholarship should win over the panel with their prior knowledge and commitment.

The association Absolventa e.V. awards scholarships without a lengthy selection procedure.The association will pay out a maximum of EUR 5,000 for projects and other requests connected with your studies. The only condition is that candidates have a place at a German, Austrian or Swiss institution of higher education. It is not the association who decides which applicants win a scholarship but instead members of the public. All users can take part in the online voting. Afterwards, the applicants with the most votes receive the requested funding.

An international or local scholarship?

The US government awards a highly prestigious scholarship. Its Fulbright Program promotes the bilateral exchange of students and academics from more than 150 countries. Those who are granted the sought-after scholarship recognise that they are in good company. 78 Fulbright alumni have won the Pulitzer Prize and 48 have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

If you would prefer a scholarship to study in your home country but are unable to find the right one for you there, then your best bet might be a sur-place programme. These third country programmes offered by various funding organisations provide funding for students in selected regions. For instance, the Heinrich Böll Foundation awards study and research scholarships for the Central America, Southern Caucasus and Russia regions. Other German foundations, such as for instance the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), offer sur-place scholarships as part of their programme too.

Information about scholarships for study and research on the Alumniportal Deutschland

Current calls for application for scholarships and funding can regularly be found in the news section of the Alumniportal Deutschland site.

Help us to compile a list of the funding programmes and scholarships on offer in and for your home region. In the comments below you can swap ideas about grants for study and research with us and other alumni!

Author: Sabine Müller

December 2012

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31 July 2017

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2 May 2016

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9 July 2015

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