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How to study a postgraduate abroad for free?

It is absolutely possible to study a postgraduate abroad for free. Most importantly, congrats to you! If you are reading this post, it means you are considering studying abroad seriously.

Here is what you will find in this post:

  1. Five proven ways to study a postgraduate abroad

  2. Key requirements to be eligible

  3. Examples of programs

Five proven ways to study a postgraduate abroad

1. Fully funded Scholarships from your home country

Independently of the economic situation of a country, the reality is that even developing countries can offer fully-funded scholarships. This is mainly aimed at upskilling their workforce. Countries like Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil are just a few examples in LATAM where the governments have invested in education through fully-covered scholarships. On the other side of the world, China is a great example of sending their promising student to prepare in the best research institutes and universities for free.

2. Fully funded Scholarships from the destination country

Some developed countries such as Germany and Norway and many others in the EU, US, Canada, or UK offer fully funded scholarships to international students. These scholarships cover tuition, living expenses, and in some cases even travel costs. The selection process is tough and many requirements will need to be met.

3. Partially funded Scholarships

This is a middle-ground opportunity. Basically, two governments, typically one from a developed region and one from a developing region agree to finance a postgraduate program for the best students. You might be obliged to return back to your home country after the program and this can interfere with your plans if you want to continue towards a PhD but there are ways to work around that. So, it is important to be clear on what your long-term goals are as this will help you focus your energy on the right program for you.

4. Work-study programs

This is a suitable option as well if you really want to study abroad. It is absolutely, possible to study for an MSc and have a part-time job. In Germany for example, it is allowed that you work for a fixed amount of hours. This is called, a student job. The most difficult part is to get to the country, once you are there, there are a million opportunities.

5. Employer funded Scholarships

It is not uncommon for employers to want their workforce to upskill. Typically, this happens at Universities or public institutions. If you work at one of those, chances are that you can ask or there might be a specific program to support you in this endeavor. Contact, your international office and ask about this.

The truth of the matter is that some scholarships will oblige you to return to your country of origin, even if you have secured another Postgraduate study or job. So be strategic about this by looking very carefully at what is really important for you.

Regardless of the type of mechanism to finance your studies, there few steps of homework you need to do beforehand.

The secret sauce to success in getting free education is to apply a method that maximizes the probability of success. The most simple way to start is:

First: Write down your goal and be specific on when would you like to achieve that. This will help you stay on track and will keep you motivated when things are going south for A or B reasons.

Second: Create a list of the prospective programs and fill in all relevant data such as requirements, application deadline, country, visa, and language requirements. Be as specific as possible.

Third: Apply, Apply, and Apply. This is true like everything else in life. If you apply to a hundred, you might be shortlisted to 10, and get an offer from 5. This is a game of numbers, the more you apply the more chances you have of getting an offer. The best part is that if you have a system, then everything becomes easier.

Key requirements to be eligible

Good grades

The truth is that you need good grades if you want to get a scholarship abroad. Everyone tells you that a university degree is good but only a few people will tell you that being great at university will open doors you never thought before. I think, that most parents want that for their children, though. In a world that is constantly changing, you need to get clear about what you want in life. Remember, I told you about defining your goals. You don't need an MSc or a PhD to be happy. You can just have a BSc or an MSc and be super successful. You can have many degrees and be successful. You can also have none and be successful. There is no right or wrong. The only thing that matters is to define what are the most important things for you.

You can work around this one, though. Say, you did not do well at Uni but you are eager to progress. The easiest way to do it would be by taking an extra effort. That means, taking a standard test to prove that you are smart and that your grades at uni do not necessarily reflect your intellect. You can be really smart and still down-perform at uni, but the opposite is also true.

Track record

This is a bit about you. What have you done extremely well? Are you a local leader? Have you worked on a project that is creating value for your community? Has your work impacted the lives of others? This can help define the areas in which you have worked before and where you need to work.

Bold ideas

Developed countries seek to empower young leaders from developing countries. They know that betting on a person with bold ideas could potentially change the course of history of a given country. If you stand for the environment, people's rights, and health, chances are that you will get noticed if you put in the work to get noticed.


This is a must if you want to study abroad. Most international programs are in English, so you need to prove that with a test. There are some workarounds but ultimately, you will need it. See a previous post here for more details.

Examples of programs

Looking for a way to study abroad for free? Here is a snip of several external scholarships you can apply for. They are organized regionally based on both citizenship requirements and country of study.


DAAD: German Academic Exchange Service - The world’s largest funding body for international exchange. There are 20,000 courses in Germany based on your academic background and interests.

Fundacion Carolina - Competitive and most return policy for Spanish speakers

Austria scholarships - Covering BSc, MSc, and PhD grants and scholarships.

Belgium scholarships - The Flemifsh Ministry of Education and Training awards scholarships to highly talented international students who want to study a master's program at a Flemish university, a school of arts, or the Antwerp Maritime Academy.

The Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships - Competitive and to promote international exchange and research cooperation between Switzerland and over 180 other countries.

NL Scholarship - meant for international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to do their bachelor’s or master’s in the Netherlands.

Scholarships for foreign students in France - offer a large number of scholarships for foreign students to help them finance their studies in France and Europe.

Novo Nordisk Foundation - Applications to find the call that fits the purpose and idea of your project

The UK

Scholarships and funding - Study UK - British Council - ****A prestigious degree from the UK is a valuable and transformative experience and will take your education - and your employability - to the next level.

North America

US Fulbright Program - Fulbright offsets the cost of tuition, travel, and living expenses for US citizens conducting research at an institution abroad.

Conacyt - Scholarships to Mexican students doing graduate studies in Mexico or abroad.

Latin America

Senescyt - Covering BSc, MSc and PhD for Ecuadorians

Capes-Humboldt Research Fellowship - supports you – postdoctoral researchers and experienced researchers – with your research in Germany.

CONICYTComisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica - For research empowerment and training talent


China Scholarship Council - There are 274 Chinese universities offering scholarships for international students every year. The council provides financial aid to Chinese students studying abroad and foreign students studying in China.

Africa and the Middle East

Scholarship Portal for International Students - A monthly bursary, A preparation allowance when coming for the first time, The candidate would receive health care, accommodation, and facilities, subsidized meals can be provided for International students

To know more about these scholarships follow the links on each region!

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