Finding the right course of study in the UK for your Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, or Gates Cambridge application takes time. Your scholarship applications will only be competitive if you invest considerable effort into investigating the strengths of the various higher education institutions in the UK and make a strong case for why your chosen course is the best one for you. This can be achieved by taking the following steps:
1) Decide what type of graduate degree you wish to pursue. Are you interested in a 12-month taught or research master's degree, or a PhD? Here is a helpful guide to UK graduate degrees.
2) Talk to your academic mentors to find out if they have contacts in the UK in your area of interest. This is the most efficient way to start a conversation with a colleague abroad who may be a critical ally in helping find your best course of study.
3) Rankings. The UK is very big on ranking its higher education institutions and the various rankings can be very difficult to interpret. The University League Tables pull data from various sources including student satisfaction, entry standards, research quality, and graduate prospects, combining scores into an overall rating and ranking. Please note that higher education in the UK is of very high quality overall, so you will find excellent institutions not only in the top rankings but in the top 20 and beyond. Here are several sources of information on UK rankings:
University League Table 2017 (can be searched by subject): http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings
Research Excellence Framework (REF): http://www.ref.ac.uk/
How to find a graduate program in the UK: http://www.marshallscholarship.org/studyuk/chooseuniversity
4) Don't rely entirely on rankings. Rankings are a helpful guide to determining overall institutional strengths. However, UK courses of study are also highly interdisciplinary and sometimes very specialized depending on current faculty and active centers of excellence. The best way to ensure the right fit and make a compelling case for funding is to invest time in thorough communication with your prospective university and department. See #5
5) Communicate with your prospective universities. There are several ways to do this:
- Contact admissions and ask for departmental contacts. UK universities are keen to host international students, so I recommend speaking directly to departments for information.
- Speak with faculty. Obtain references from admissions, or look them up online and contact them directly. Be respectful of their time, but persistent if needed. They are most often happy to speak with prospective graduate students.
- Ask to speak with student ambassadors for the student perspective. The culture of institutions varies widely from one to the next, and students are often the ones most likely to give you a perspective you can relate to.
6) Always ask about funding for international students. In addition to Fulbright, Marshall, etc. universities always have competitive scholarships for incoming international students. Depending on the department, there may also be other forms of support, such as grants, partnerships with industry, and assistantships. If all else fails, US students can take out US student loans for UK graduate study and are allowed on the student visa to work up to 20 hours per week. Working isn't recommended if you have other means--UK graduate students are very social and you'll want to have time for extracurricular activities and travel!
Questions? Contact: LeAnn Adam, OSU Advisor for Prestigious Scholarships