There are many different types of scholarships, but generally they can be classified into scholarships that are:
- offered by the university or department
- offered to you, and which can be used to study in any university within a specific country or network of universities
- connected to a specific research project
As there are many different types of scholarships, you should read the conditions very carefully. These are a number of things you should check:
Are you eligible?
Scholarships are offered by a range of institutions, and each will have its own specific critieron which you need to check.
You also need to be honest with yourself about whether you qualify. Most scholarships require an excellent academic record and often you need to have a Masters degree. So do you have the academic qualifications that you need? In addition, a very good academic record is often not enough to get a scholarship, and so you also need to think about whether your application will stand out within a very competitive field. Do you meet the language requirements? Some scholarships are also only available to people from certain countries.
What does the scholarship cover?
Different scholarships offer different benefits, and so it is important to know exactly what the scholarship you are applying for will cover. Will it cover:
- all of the fees (fees are usually higher for overseas students, so check that they cover this higher fee)
- costs of living
- research costs (eg fieldwork expenses)
- other related costs, such as conference attendance.
You also need to know how long the scholarship is to be paid, and the possibility of obtaining an extension if you have good reason to go over time (eg maternity leave).
Scholarships are usually not overly generous, so you may also want to make a list of expenses, such as rent, food etc, but also potential research costs not covered by the scholarship.
Is the scholarship conditional?
Some scholarships are conditional, and most typically require you to teach. If this is the case, then there are some questions that you should consider:
- how many hours are you required to teach? How will this impact on your dissertation?
- are your teaching hours all together in the one semester, or spread evenly throughout the year. What would you prefer?
- will your teaching be related to your research?
It is often a good idea to do some teaching, as it can be valuable to show that you have teaching experience if you then apply for an academic post. However, if you teach too many hours, especially if you are required to teach courses that you have no expertise in and need to write teaching material from scratch, then are you going to finish your dissertation in time?
If you research is sponsored by a company, you need to check whether there are any limits on the publication of the work. Make sure than any obligations are written down, and that you understand the conditions from the offset.
When you apply for a position on a PhD programme in the US, you are also usually applying for funding at the same time. In other countries, acceptance into a PhD programme may not necessarily come with funding, and so you may need to find funding separately.
For some useful tips on finding funding for a PhD, watch:
Some useful tips for dealing with restrictions arising from confidentiality are available at: http://www.postgraduate.uwa.edu.au/supervisors/policies/ip