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What Is a Postgraduate Scholarship?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
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A postgraduate scholarship is an offer of financial assistance to a student pursuing a degree beyond the first or bachelor's qualification. Such scholarships are intended to defray the costs associated with postgraduate education. They may be offered on a number of grounds, ranging from academic merit to the promotion of education for minorities. Students enrolled in postgraduate education programs can often get information about scholarship opportunities from advisers and financial aid departments.

The terms of a postgraduate scholarship can vary. Some are straight cash awards provided to students for them to use in any way they see fit, as long as they are enrolled and in good standing. Others may be designated for specific purposes like funding research or paying tuition. The money is given to the student without the expectation of repayment, although the student may need to fulfill requirements like completing a particular task in order to retain the funds.

Academic merit scholarships provide financial aid to students with outstanding records or perceived potential. These postgraduate scholarships may be awarded to those who specifically apply, or to students nominated by advisers and academic institutions. They include prestigious programs like the Rhodes Scholarship as well as scholarships awarded by a school itself to promising graduate students. The options available can depend on the school and the academic program.

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Sometimes a postgraduate scholarship may be awarded on a demographic basis. Organizations that promote women in the sciences, postgraduate education for Black students, and other minority concerns may use scholarships to further their aims. People may need to apply for these, and can be asked to submit documentation about their minority status. Awards can be made available to low income students or people who are the first in their families to go to college, as well.

In some cases a postgraduate scholarship is paid directly to the student. Others may funnel the money through a financial aid office, in which case the office may apply funds to the payment of tuition and other fees before releasing the excess to the student. This office can also verify that a student is enrolled and in good standing, to avoid situations where students receive scholarships they are not eligible for.

Students interested in postgraduate scholarship opportunities can review resources from their schools, and may find online resources helpful as well. Organizations sometimes list available scholarships for the benefit of members of the public, and may create a clearinghouse of information with requirements and deadlines for the benefit of students. Because application requirements can change, it is advisable to confirm third party information with the original granting person or agency.

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