Many Scholarship Opportunities for International Students to Study in the US

Studying in the United States is a dream for many international students from around the world. However, the high cost of tuition and living expenses often makes this dream seem out of reach without financial assistance. Fortunately, a variety of scholarships for international students are available each year to help make a US education more affordable. Whether you want to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree, funding options exist to cover at least part of your educational costs. In this blog post, we will explore different types of scholarships for international students studying in the US, eligibility requirements, application tips, and other useful information to help fund your studies.

Types of Scholarships Available

Government/State Sponsored Scholarships

Some of the most competitive and prestigious scholarships for international students in the US come directly from the US government or individual state governments. These include the following:


Fulbright Scholarship:¬†Administered by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Fulbright offers funding for graduate students, young professionals, and artists from over 160 countries for study and research in a wide range of academic fields. Awards cover tuition, books, room and board.

Gilman International Scholarship: Sponsored by the US Department of State, Gilman provides awards of up to $5,000 for undergraduate study or credit-bearing internships abroad. Eligible students include Pell Grant recipients with a GPA of at least 2.7 studying critical need languages or in countries of strategic interest to the US.


Freeman Awards: Offered through the US Embassies and Fulbright Commissions overseas, Freeman Awards support undergraduates from Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe to study in the US. Full tuition, internships, and cultural enrichment activities may be covered.

Schwarzman Scholars:¬†Funded through a $1 billion endowment by Stephen A. Schwarzman, this program provides one-year master’s degrees at Tsinghua University in Beijing for students from the US, China, and around the world. Scholarships cover tuition, room and board, internships, field study and enrichment programs.

Foreign Fulbright Student Program: Administered at the state level, this offers scholarships to study or conduct research within specific US states or US partner universities. Coverage of costs varies but usually includes significant support.

University Sponsored Scholarships

Many individual US colleges and universities offer their own merit-based scholarships specifically for international undergraduates or graduates. Here are a few examples:


Cornell Presidential Research Scholarships: Full funding through the completion of a PhD at Cornell University, including tuition, stipend, health insurance and travel. Awarded based on academic and research excellence.

Yale Center for International and Professional Experience Fellowships: Support for summer academic programs, internships or independent research projects through Yale University. Awards cover living expenses, academic costs and travel.

MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives Scholarships: Merit-based awards provide tuition support for international undergraduates studying science, technology, engineering or math at MIT.

University of Southern California Provost’s Global Scholars Program:¬†Full tuition scholarships for outstanding international undergraduates plus monthly stipends, mentoring and leadership training at USC.

UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship:¬†Multi-year funding covering tuition and living expenses for outstanding international students pursuing doctoral study across all disciplines at UC Berkeley.

University scholarships are usually awarded on the basis of academic merit, demonstrated leadership abilities, extracurricular achievements and potential fit with the institution’s academic priorities and programs.

Foundation Grants and Private Scholarships

Private philanthropic foundations and organizations also offer funding opportunities specifically targeting international students:

The Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program: Supports dissertation and postdoctoral research across academic disciplines for citizens from select countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

The Duke Endowment International Scholarships: Administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), Duke funds US undergraduate study for residents of the Carolinas and Georgia from 13 countries.

Global Korea Scholarship: Covers full tuition and benefits for graduate degrees in any field for citizens of all nationalities studying at a partner university in South Korea. Administered by the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Holland Scholarship: Provides support for Americans, Canadians and citizens of select countries to study in the Netherlands each year. Scholarships focus on science and technology-related fields.

Private scholarships typically have more flexible eligibility criteria compared to government awards. However, competition for funding remains strong given limited award amounts. Thorough research is key to identifying suitable opportunities.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for any international student scholarship program to study in the US, standard basic eligibility requirements usually include:

  • Non-US citizenship or permanent residency
  • Pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at a US college/university
  • Demonstrated academic excellence through transcripts, standardized test scores (GPA ‚Č• 3.5, GRE/GMAT ‚Č• 70th percentile)
  • A clearly defined career goal that may relate to the scholarship objectives
  • Proficiency in English (TOEFL iBT 90+ for most programs)
  • Recommendation letters from professors or employers
  • A personal statement on how this award will further your ambitions

Beyond these common criteria, each scholarship may have additional eligibility filters based on nationality, fields of study, career stage, leadership qualities, financial need and more. Checking program websites and guidance carefully is important to confirm all requirements are met.

The Application Process

Landing a competitive international scholarship takes considerable preparation time. Here are some tips for maximizing your chances of success:

Start Early: Research scholarship deadlines well in advance (often 6-12 months before the program start). Prepare application materials strategically.

Check Requirements:¬†Carefully review each award’s eligibility criteria, selection priorities and requested application components. Address all requirements thoroughly.

Emphasize Uniqueness: Highlight experiences, talents and interests that distinguish you versus generic applicants through thoughtful essays and resume formatting.

Get Recommendations: Ask for letters well ahead from recommenders who can personally vouch for your qualifications and potential. Provide helpful context.

Proofread Thoroughly: Have others proof applications for clarity, typos and formatting consistency before submitting final versions. Leave nothing to chance.

Stay Organized: Maintain neat electronic or paper dossiers of all application materials in a consistent format for easy access and submission.

Follow Instructions: Adhere closely to word counts, required fonts, margins and submission guidelines. Consider submitting early if allowed.

Practice Interviews: For Fulbright and other in-person interviews, anticipate likely questions through mock interviews and research the scholarship programs thoroughly.

Taking the time to plan carefully and put your very best foot forward in the application improves the odds of winning a competitive scholarship award. But persistence and patience are also valuable traits when seeking international funding support.

Additional Resources for Funding Your Education

For students still facing a funding gap after exhausting scholarship opportunities, other options exist to bridge financial needs:

Student Loans: While loans may seem unattractive, federal Direct Loans and private education loans offer fixed, deferred payment terms beneficial for degree completion. Shop loan terms carefully.

On-Campus Employment:¬†Check with your college or university’s career center and financial aid office about part-time student job placements that allow working up to 20 hours each week during the semester.

Crowdfunding: Platforms like GoFundMe enable setting fundraising page goals. Build a persuasive case highlighting educational value and career aspirations to expand your donor circle.

International Organizations: Research support programs through global foundations, religious organizations, community centers or cultural associations affiliated with your nationality seeking to invest abroad.

Career Services: Explore recruiting partnerships between companies and universities that provide pre-degree internships converting to post-graduation employment offers with tuition reimbursement options.

With diligent research and creative thinking, international students can overcome obstacles to financing studies in the US. Utilizing available aid and considering debt-conscious alternatives leads to more choices and opportunities. An open mindset broadens the scope of funding pathways significantly.


Choosing to study abroad comes with inherent challenges, but also tremendous rewards with lifelong impact. By starting the scholarship application process strategically well in advance, international students actively increase chances of receiving life-changing aid to pursue their academic and career goals at a US institution. Commitment to continuously exploring all available options helps maximize the probability of achieving this important educational dream. With effort and persistence, barriers to achieving a world-class US education can be successfully overcome.

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