Step-by-Step Guide To Applying For Full Erasmus Mundus Scholarships in Europe
Getting a full scholarship as an international student changed my life. In two years, I was able to travel to more than 30 cities, lived in four, added a master's degree to my qualifications, and got to save 6000 euros worth of emergency fund. It also enriched my network and opened up opportunities for a longer stay. It wasn't a bad deal at all.
So you might be thinking: Scholarships!? Duh. I'm not a genius and I won't stand a chance.
Well, I'm proof that that's not true.
You see, most people think the same way... which can actually work in your favor. If you're willing to shift your mindset from "I'm not smart enough" to "What is there to lose?", then you're actually increasing the odds of you getting it.
I got decent grades but had a couple of major subjects where I got barely passing marks. I could name tons of other people who are smarter than I am.
What made the difference was that they didn't apply. For whatever reason (family obligations, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection), they're not vying for that spot.
Erasmus Mundus is also relatively unknown in some places. In fact, I've come across people from all over the world who've never heard of it. So you can definitely use that to your advantage.
Interested? Let me tell you more about Erasmus Mundus.
WHAT'S ERASMUS MUNDUS?
Erasmus Mundus is a mobility scheme in Europe available to university graduates all over the world. It allows participants to complete a master's or doctorate degree in at least two universities in different countries.
(**Update 01/2018: Erasmus Mundus now only offers master's level courses under the Erasmus+ scheme; applications for doctoral degrees are now processed under the Marie-Sklodowska Curie scholarships, also funded by the European Commission.)
Launched in 2004, its goal was to promote the European Higher Education system worldwide by offering scholarships to students from outside the EU. The idea was to attract top-notch students through scholarships, promote a good image worldwide, and consequently increase their intake of self-funded students.
So yeah, it came with a bit of vested interest — which is totally fine if you’re giving out millions of euros worth of scholarships, anyway.
Aside from its goal to promote European higher education internationally, Erasmus Mundus also came with a humanistic objective. By putting students from the EU and international students in the same classroom, it hoped to facilitate understanding and dialogue between cultures.
In 2013, the Erasmus Mundus for masters and doctorate studies were incorporated into the streamlined Erasmus+ program. There were some changes, but the application procedures are basically the same.
Sounds good? Here are the steps to jumpstart your search for Erasmus Mundus full scholarships for international students.
Step 1: Browse through the available Erasmus Mundus courses on their website.
Step 2: Get more information about the programs that interest you on their individual websites. Look for their objectives, the universities involved, and their program structure. Evaluate them against your own preferences and goals.
Step 3: Check and confirm if you're eligible.
Step 4: Narrow down your choices to 3 (the maximum number of applications allowed for Erasmus Mundus).
Step 5: Prepare a document checklist for each program.
Step 6. Get familiar with the online application platform to make sure you'll have all the needed documents and information.
Step 7: Mark your calendar, procure the documents, and lodge your application!
Step 1: browse through the master course offerings through this link.
You’ll see a long list labeled “EMJMD Catalogue.” This enumerates all the Erasmus Mundus active program offerings that you can apply to.
When you process your Erasmus Mundus scholarship application, you’re actually applying for admission to the master’s programme AND the scholarship… no separate applications are required. You lodge your application through the course website.
Step 2: Head over to the programs' individual course websites to get more information about program objectives and structure.
You’ll find the link to the courses' individual websites on the right-most column of the table (as shown above), labeled “Website” in blue. Click on the websites of your top choices and see how the program fits you.
Is it related, even loosely, to your background, interests, and work experience? If you’re also keen on living in a specific city or country, then head over to the program's description page and look up which universities are part of the consortium.
In my case, I wanted to live and study in Spain. I fell in love with Spanish and I initially wanted a language immersion course. I found it difficult because these types of scholarships were discontinued by the Spanish government at that time.
So when I was deciding on which masters to take, I narrowed down my search to those relevant to my field and interests and wrote them down on a piece of paper. I checked the universities that were part of the consortium and kept an eye on those with a Spanish university involved.
Luana has come up with a brilliant 8-step planner to help you find the scholarship that's right for you. Download it here for free.
It’s also worth noting that Erasmus Mundus master courses tend to come and go, as they’re only funded by the European Commission for 5 years. Upon review, they can be extended to another five years and that’s it. So don’t be surprised if, in a span of a year, you see some courses disappear.
Step 3: Check and confirm if you're eligible.
So you’ve zeroed in on those programs that are aligned with your personal goals and professional aspirations. The next thing you need to do is to check their eligibility requirements.
Some of the information you should be on the lookout on include:
Do they only take in graduates of certain bachelor's programs or are they keen on attracting students from diverse backgrounds?
Do they require specific technological skills?
What about their language requirements?
At this point, you'll also need to know your Erasmus Mundus category, as this will affect your scholarship amount and your odds of getting the scholarship.
These applicant categories include: (1) applicants from Programme Countries and (2) applicants from Partner Countries. You can see a summary of countries under each category here.
According to Erasmus+ rules, at least 75% of scholarships are awarded to applicants from Partner Countries. Students from Partner Countries also typically receive a higher monthly stipend due to higher installation and travel costs.
In a nutshell, Programme Country applicants include citizens or passport holders from:
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Meanwhile, if you're a citizen of a country not stated above, you're considered a Partner Country applicant.
If you're a citizen of any of the Partner Countries, you're eligible to apply if:
You haven’t resided in an EU country for 12 consecutive months in the last five years, and
You hadn’t received an Erasmus Mundus scholarship prior to your application.
My experience shows that most Erasmus Mundus programs accept international students from almost every country around the world with little to no age restrictions, but it's always better to check.
Step 4: Narrow down your choices to at most 3 programs.
Choose a MAXIMUM of three Erasmus Mundus programs to apply to. Remember, your application will be denied if you lodge more than three applications for every application round.
STEP 5: PREPARE A DOCUMENT CHECKLIST FOR EACH PROGRAM
Once you confirm that you’re eligible, check the list of required documents. We've come up with a free checklist to help you monitor your tasks and the documents you need to submit.
The required documents usually include the following:
the biometric page of your passport
transcript of records from your bachelor’s degree
a certified true copy of your diploma, proof of English command (IELTS or TOEFL) (check out our post on how to meet the language proficiency requirements of the course you're applying to)
a motivation letter
two reference letters from professors or colleagues
They might also require an essay on a related topic.
(If you need help with your essay, we offer proofreading and one-on-one consultation. Check out our services page.)
Be sure to have all your documents translated into English or any other language indicated by the coordinators. As this may take time and resources, you have to plan accordingly.
Step 6: Locate and get familiar with the courses' online application platform within the website.
As we’ve said, Erasmus Mundus applications require an ONLINE APPLICATION. The platform to upload applications is located on the program’s website. However, some of them might require you to do a postal submission in addition to the online application.
At this point, you don't need to complete the online application form just yet. Just get acquainted with the system and what kind of information will be required from you so you can plan ahead.
Let me show you an example of an EMJMD program website.
Example: CHiR’s website (Erasmus Mundus Master in Chemical Innovation and Regulation)
The CHiR application form can be accessed through the drop-down menu, as marked above in red (Apply > Application Form).
You will then be directed to a link for registration, where you’ll need to fill out a form with your personal details. The CHiR’s preliminary application platform looks like this:
Based on this information, you'll know that you need to provide your demographic data and your category. As I described in step three, you may fall in one of these two categories (Programme or Partner Countries) and should indicate this whenever requested in the application form. To see the complete list of countries included in these categories, click here.
Now that you've narrowed down the choices and identified the documents you need to submit as well as the information you need to provide, it's time to actually start applying!
STEP 7: Mark your calendar, procure the documents, and Lodge your application!
Once you’ve decided which programs you'll apply to (maximum of three), calculate how much time you’ve got. The call for applications usually open in November and close in December, but it’s a good idea to check their websites as early as you can to give you ample time to secure the documents. I'd say preparations can start as early as June.
You also need to start planning early if you're required to submit a proof of English language proficiency. I'd say that if you're eyeing for a 2018 entry and sare ubmitting your application in December 2017, you should take the language proficiency exam in July 2017 at the latest.
Look up the procedures on how to apply for IELTS or TOEFL exams, and make sure that these proofs will be accepted by the program you wish to apply to. Some Erasmus Mundus only honor IELTS Academic Test results, while others also admit TOEFL and Cambridge, among others. Check out our tips on how to improve your English and tackle the language proficiency requirement in your application.
I had a valid TOEFL document at the time of application so I didn’t need to bother with it. But some of you might not, so take this into consideration. Also, remember that all English language exams are only valid for a maximum of two years. If you took it more than 2 years ago, you have to take it again (and pay, unfortunately).
Alternatively, if you completed your bachelor’s in English, shoot an email to the coordinators of your preferred program — they may allow you to submit a “Proof of English as a Language of Instruction.” In this case, I’m sure you’ll need less time to request and get it from your university.
To help you keep organized with your scholarship application, download our free Scholarships Application Checklist printable. Having a visual roadmap of your scholarship application tasks and deadlines will make it easier for you to be on top of things.
How my process looked like
To give you an idea it took me two months for the whole process – one month searching for programs, and another month to come up with all the required documents. Some people may work better or worse with this timeline, but that should be the minimum allotted time for a master’s scholarship application.
Having incomplete requirements is one of the most typical pitfalls in scholarship applications — a good percentage of applicants get booted out because of this. Having a complete set of documents will at least get you through the first phase of evaluations and thus makes you one step closer to that much coveted scholarship place.
What To Expect Post-Application
After reviewing your application, you'll hear back from them between February and March. You'll be in one of these situations:
Accepted to the programme's main list (with a scholarship offer)
Accepted to the programme's wait list (initially without a scholarship offer, but with a chance of getting the scholarship if someone backs out)
Accepted without a scholarship (which means you are eligible to participate in the programme but you're not ranked high enough in the waitlist so you have to search for other sources of funding), and
Rejected (you're not eligible neither to participate in the programme nor to receive a scholarship)
If and when you get rejected, don't get disheartened! I know some people who were rejected on the first attempt but eventually made it to the main list. Treat it as an intellectual exercise and a way for you to improve your writing and self-marketing skills.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start searching for full Erasmus Mundus scholarships! Who knows, by next year, you could be packing your bags on to your next big adventure abroad.
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