The United States is the top global study abroad destination for international students, hosting more than 1 million international students every year. However, funding for international students studying in the United States can be difficult to come by. American college tuition is notoriously high compared to that in similar countries around the world, and there are few scholarships readily available to foreign students in the United States. However, these scholarships do exist, and they can vary from small awards that will make a chip in the total tuition cost to large ones that can fund the majority, or at least a large minority, of the total cost of education.
Here are 10 of the best scholarships for international students:
The #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship offers international students at over 60 participating institutions two annual, renewable scholarships that cover a minimum of 50 percent tuition. The #YouAreWelcomeHere program was started in 2016 to promote diversity at U.S. institutions. To qualify, students must be dedicated to furthering this message.
To apply, interested students must complete a one-page application to the university of their choice. They must also complete and submit a 500-1000 word essay or a 2-5 minute video in response to a prompt. Some schools may only accept essays, so interested students should check with individual schools for details.
Award Amount: A minimum of 50% of the cost of tuition
- Must hold citizenship in a country outside the United States
- Must not hold U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
- Must attend a participating university
- Must demonstrate interest and initiative in promoting intercultural learning and exchange
- May pursue an education in any field or major
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) offers international fellowships to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The awards are granted for full-time graduate or postgraduate study at U.S. institutions of higher education. Awards are granted on the basis of academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to the interests of women and girls.
To apply, interested students must complete an online application. To do so, they must first pass an eligibility quiz to be reviewed by a selection panel. Applicants must also provide supporting documentation: three recommendations from professors or professional colleagues; proof of highest degree in the form of a transcript or a letter from the institution including degree completion date; proof of enrollment (for enrolled students); proof of degrees held; proof of English proficiency; a resume or CV; academic information; and a summary of their budget.
- $18,000 for Masters and first professional degree students
- $20,000 for doctoral students
- $30,000 for postdoctoral researchers
- Must identify as a woman
- Must have demonstrated commitment to the interests of women and girls
- Must not have received an AAUW fellowship or grant in the past (not including branch or local awards or Community Action Grants)
- Must have citizenship in a country other than the United States. or possession of a nonimmigrant visa if residing in the United States
- Must hold an academic degree earned in the United States or abroad equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree, completed as of the application deadline
- Must be committed full-time to academic studies or research
- Must intend to return to her home country after completing program to pursue a professional career
- Must be proficient in English and confirm proficiency by submitting a valid Educational Testing Service’s Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score, International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score or other verification
- Master’s, first professional degree, and doctoral applicants must have applied by November 15 to an accredited institution of study for the period of the fellowship year
- Postdoctoral applicants must provide proof of their doctorate degree and indicate where they will conduct their research
- Master’s, first professional degree, and doctoral applicants must be enrolled in a U.S. accredited institution during the fellowship year
- Distance learning and online degrees are not supported
The Aga Khan Foundation, a nonprofit international development agency, offers scholarships for students from select developing countries in Africa and Asia who need assistance to fund their graduate education. In order to qualify, students must be a national of one of the following countries: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, or Mozambique. Applications are also accepted from students who are originally from one of the aforementioned countries, but are currently residing in France, Portugal, the UK, the United States, or Canada. Preference is given to students pursuing a master’s degree. However, funding for the first two years of Ph.D. programs is also available.
To apply, students must obtain application forms by January 1 from AKF offices or Aga Khan Education Services/Boards in their countries of current residence. Application procedures and requirements vary by country. Completed applications should be returned to the agency from which they obtained the application form.
Award Amount: Varies — funding is provided for tuition fees and living expenses only
- Preference is given to students pursuing master’s level courses, but in some cases, Ph.D. applicants are also awarded
- Preference is given to students under 30 years of age
- Must be a national of one of the following countries: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, or Mozambique
- Must reside in one of the countries where there are local Aga Khan Foundation, Aga Khan Education Services, or Aga Khan Education Board offices that process applications and interview candidates
- Must have consistently excellent academic records
- Must demonstrate genuine financial need
- Must have gained admission to a highly reputable university or program of study
- Must pursue education in a field relevant to AKDN’s focus areas, such as healthcare, education, and economics
- Must demonstrate a thoughtful and coherent educational and career plan, relevant extracurricular interests and achievements, and potential to achieve their goals in a foreign academic environment
- Must have some years of work experience in their field of interest
A scholarship program led by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables graduate students, young professionals, and artists from over 160 countries around the world to study and conduct research in the United States. Approximately 4,000 students receive Fulbright scholarships every year. The total award that each student receives varies, but generally, it covers airfare, a living stipend, health insurance, the cost of room and board, and partial or full tuition. Program eligibility varies by country of origin, so students should research the requirements for their country before applying.
To apply, interested students must apply through a binational Fulbright Commission/Foundation or U.S. Embassy. Application requirements vary significantly by country. Before applying, interested students should carefully review application and eligibility requirements for their specific country.
Award Amount: Varies
- Must be a graduate student, young professional, or artist from a country other than the United States who intends to study and/or conduct research in the United States
- Must be from one of more than 160 countries that participates in the Fulbright Foreign Student Program
- Must not hold both citizenship in a partner country and U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
- In the 49 countries with a Fulbright Commission, must meet citizenship requirements as defined by the binational agreement between the United States and the country in which they hold citizenship
- In countries where the program is administered by the U.S. Embassy, applicants must be a citizen, national, or permanent resident qualified to hold a valid passport issued by that country
- Other eligibility requirements vary by country of origin
The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program offers students from developing countries funding to pursue a master’s degree in a development-related field in the United States. The program is partnered with a list of programs at several universities in the United States, Japan, and Africa, including programs at U.S. institutions such as Pennsylvania State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Johns Hopkins, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In order to qualify, students should have relevant professional experience, and a record of supporting development efforts in their home countries.
Application guidelines differ between “preferred programs” and “partner programs.”
To apply to a preferred program, interested students must submit an online application. In order to complete the application, students require two letters of recommendation, a completed application form that includes proof of eligibility, the applicant’s Bachelor’s degree diploma, a CV, and a letter confirming admission for the upcoming academic year to the preferred university program.
To apply to a partner program, interested applicants must first apply for admission to one or more of the Partner Master’s Degree Programs. Application requirements vary by university. After reviewing submitted applications, each Partner Master Degree Program will identify a short list of eligible candidates who will then be invited to apply for a scholarship.
Award Amount: Varies (provides tuition, a monthly living stipend, round-trip airfare, health insurance, and travel allowance)
- Must be a national of one of the World Bank member countries listed here
- Must not be a dual citizen of any developed country
- Must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent earned at least three years before the date of the application deadline
- Must have at least three years of paid development-related employment since earning a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and acquired within the past six years from the date of the application deadline
- Must have been admitted unconditionally (except for funding) for the upcoming academic year to at least one of the preferred university master’s programs and located outside of the applicant’s country of citizenship and residence on or before the application deadline
- On or after the date the call for scholarship applications opens, must not be an Executive Director, his or her alternate, and/or staff of any type of appointment (including temporary and consultant) of the World Bank Group, or not be a close relative of the aforementioned by blood or adoption with the term “close relative” defined as: mother, father, sister, half-sister, brother, half-brother, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program offers scholarships to students from Africa to study at participating universities in the United States and several other countries around the world. The program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students at select institutions around the world. Participating U.S. institutions include Arizona State University, Duke University, McGill University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Wellesley College. The program is intended for students who require financial assistance, which may be used to fund tuition fees, accommodation, books, and other scholastic materials.
To apply, interested students must follow the application instructions on the university program. Some institutions accept only online applications, others accept only paper-based applications. Before applying, interested students should carefully research the eligibility criteria, application requirements, and required materials outlined by the university of their choice. Based on these requirements, they should prepare the necessary documents and take required tests prior to the application. Many participating institutions also require applicants to pay admission fees.
Award Amount: Varies
- Undergraduate students must be 29 years old or under at the time they apply
- Graduate students must be 35 years old or under at the time they apply
- Other eligibility requirements vary between different universities
MPOWER Financing, a public benefit corporation that provides no-cosigner loans and scholarships to international students in the United States and Canada, offers the Global Citizen Scholarship, a scholarship to international students that is designed to be as broad as possible, with the intention of making it easier for international students to study in the United States. International students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are eligible to apply.
To apply, interested students must complete the online application form. In order to complete the form, students must provide information such as the institution they are studying at, their anticipated graduation date, their major or field of study, the country they intend to work in immediately after graduation, and if they plan to refinance their student loans. They must also answer a prompt in an accepted format.
- $3,000 (Grand Prize)
- $1,000 (Honorable Mention)
- Must be accepted at or enrolled in a full-time degree program at a U.S. or Canadian school that MPOWER supports
- Must be an international student allowed to legally study in the United States or Canada. For students studying in the United States, this means they must meet one of the following criteria: have a valid visa that permits study in the United States, be protected under the DACA policy, or be a U.S. permanent resident
MPOWER Financing offers a second scholarship designed for women in STEM fields. The MPOWER Financing Women in STEM Scholarship is open to international and DACA students enrolled at universities supported by MPOWER. Like the Global Citizen Scholarship, the Women in STEM scholarship is designed to make the application process as simple as possible and the eligibility criteria as minimal as possible.
To apply, interested students must complete the online application form. In order to complete the form, students must provide information such as the institution they are studying at, their anticipated graduation date, their major or field of study, the country they intend to work in immediately after graduation, and if they plan to refinance their student loans. Interested students must also upload a resume listing their record of professional and academic distinction or a list of extracurricular activities during their college/graduate degree experience, including any leadership positions held and any honors or awards they have received. Lastly, they must answer the following prompt in a maximum of 1500 characters: “Please tell us about your professional or academic accomplishments in STEM, your future career goals, and how your degree program will help you achieve these goals.”
- $3,000 (Grand Prize)
- $1,000 (Honorable Mention)
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must be female
- Must be accepted at, or enrolled in, a full-time STEM degree program at a U.S. or Canadian university that MPOWER supports
- Must be a female international student allowed to legally study in the United States or Canada. For students studying in the United States., this means they must meet one of the following criteria: have a valid visa that permits study in the United States, be protected under the DACA policy, or be a U.S. permanent resident
PEO International Peace Scholarships are offered to women from countries other than the United States and Canada to fund graduate study in the United States and Canada. Applicants are awarded based on demonstrated need but are not intended to cover all academic or personal expenses. Applicants must indicate additional financial resources, including other scholarships, tuition waivers, teaching assistantships, study grants, and personal and family funds.
Scholarships are not given for research, internships, or practical training, unless it is combined with coursework. Awards cannot be used to pay back previous student debt.
To apply, interested students must first send a request for information here.
Award Amount: Up to $12,500
- Must be qualified for full-time graduate study at an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada
- Must be working toward a graduate degree in an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada
- Must have a full year of coursework remaining, be enrolled, and in residence for the entire school year
- Doctoral students who have completed coursework and are working only on dissertations are not eligible as first-time applicants
P.E.R.K. Consulting, a business management consulting firm based in Maryland, offers a scholarship to international students and non-citizens who are interested in studying in either Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. The program offers one annual award to an outstanding high school senior or current college student at a two- or four-year college or university. In order to qualify, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be an international student or non-citizen enrolled in a U.S. school.
To apply, interested students must complete the online application. Applicants must be completed in one sitting, and required application materials can be viewed once the application period begins on February 1.
Award Amount: $1,000
- Must have a cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Must be a high school senior or current undergraduate student attending a two- or four-year college or university
- Must be an international student or non-citizen
- Must currently reside in Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia or must be accepted into a college or university that is in the Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia tri-state area.
For more scholarships, check the TUN scholarship search engine.