3rd Oct 2023
Manisha Sharma

Scholarships vs. Fellowships: Understanding Financial Aid for Studying Abroad

Dive into the differences between scholarships and fellowships for international education. Discover renowned financial aids, application procedures, and myths surrounding them.

Advanced technology and globalisation have led to connecting every part of the globe. As a result, the global exchange of trade, commerce, and, most importantly, education has become a common affair. According to a study in 2022, approximately 7,50,000 students emigrated from India to study abroad. Immigrating to countries abroad in order to pursue higher education calls for an intensive amount of expenditure to fulfil academic and livelihood needs. However, it is cumbersome for every aspirant to invest such a humongous amount of money entirely out of their pockets. This is where the concept of scholarships and fellowships kicks in. Many aspirants find themselves stuck in the dilemma of understanding the basic differences between scholarship and fellowship. Read ahead to know more.

The First Step Towards Differentiating

The terms "fellowship" and "scholarship" are seen as financial aid for aspirants or researchers planning to study abroad. Although a university offers scholarships and fellowships both, there are many differences between them. The key difference is that the term "scholarship" means that financial aid will be available. This financial aid can be offered in the form of tuition fee, per diem, or a living allowance. On the other hand, a fellowship does not necessarily include financial aid in every case.

This can be explained in detail with an example. If a pupil receives a scholarship to study at Cornell University, it means the person has received financial aid. However, if the same university announces a fellowship, it means a profile is opened at the institution, per se, at the library or computer desk. Therefore, a fellowship is a status or position for which top-tier researchers and public personalities apply at their own expense to receive the same title.

The other differentiating factors are listed as follows:

  • Scholarships are offered to aspirants at their early academic stage. One can be eligible for scholarships even during their early schooling age. However, fellowships are offered to aspirants once they commence pursuing their higher studies.

  • Any form of financial aid offered to the aspirants at the undergraduate level and more is known by the term scholarship. At the same time, fellowship is used solely where any activity concerns the research and development department.

  • In many cases, fellowships offer to cover the tuition fees and provide a monthly set stipend to the aspirants at the graduate level. This is contrary to scholarships, which aim to offer a set amount every academic year.

  • Scholarships can be offered to aspirants based on their need or merit in academics. However, fellowship is offered only based on the academic merit of any aspirant.

  • Scholarships mostly offer one year of funding, unlike fellowship, which offers funding for multiple years pertaining to academics.

How To Apply For Scholarships And Fellowships To Study Abroad?

Fellowships and scholarships differ not only in their basic terminology but also in their application procedures. The application procedure can vary from submitting one application form to undergoing a lengthy application process.

There are a number of procedures to follow in order to study abroad. Many universities that offer scholarships set a number of critical criteria required to meet the common objective of finding the aspirant's career path and academic background. Various scholarship applications also call for understanding the leadership and philanthropic qualities, along with the aspirant's financial background and level of need. On the other hand, fellowships include a tidbit of complex procedures wherein the aspirant has to submit a personal statement of purpose, a letter of recommendation, and a statement of research. In addition, the university committee can also set an interview with the deserving aspirants to finalise the candidate to be awarded the fellowship.

One thing in common between these two forms of financial aid is that it is a lengthy process that requires the aspirants to submit their applications early. A little patience in this area is always rewarded!

Bursting the myths!

There is a set of commonly asked questions by every aspirant wishing to study abroad when it comes to scholarships and fellowships. A few of them are listed below-

It is commonly presumed that an aspirant can either win a scholarship or fellowship at a time. However, this is not true. An aspirant can be awarded both scholarship and fellowship at the same time. It is possible in these cases that the educational institution might cut off the scholarship amount from that of the fellowship.

It is a known fact that fellowships exist mostly for graduate students. However, a few fellowship offers are meant for undergraduate students. They are awarded in the form of undergraduate research fellowships and summer fellowships.

Famous scholarships and fellowships offered to study abroad


  • Fulbright Scholarships USA

Fulbright Scholarship is regarded as one of the most prestigious and most applied study abroad scholarships. These scholarships are mostly offered to master's and doctoral students applying internationally. This fully funded scholarship covers tuition fees, health insurance, monthly stipends, and accommodation fees. The application deadline to apply for these scholarships varies from the month of February to October each year.

  • AAUW International Fellowship Program

The American Association of University Women, USA offers this prestigious fellowship program and it is fully financed. The fellowship is regarded as one of the potential fellowships to study abroad for Indian students.

United Kingdom

  • Chevening Scholarship

This global scholarship is open to every international aspirant aiming to study in the UK. The scholarship calls for exceptional candidates with leadership skills, and the high commission of the British Embassy usually makes the selection. Furthermore, it covers the expenses of tuition fees, airfare, and living expenses.

  • Commonwealth scholarship and fellowship

This prestigious scholarship and fellowship program is offered by the Commonwealth countries of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. International students aiming to pursue their Ph.D. from the UK can apply for this scholarship to get their studies funded. Furthermore, it allows the students to complete their one to three-year tenures of Ph.D.


  • DAAD Scholarship Programs

DAAD, also known as the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst or the German Exchange Service, is an organisation formed by the joining of various higher education institutions in Germany. The scholarship aims at funding science aspirants, researchers, and graduate students to fulfil their dreams of studying in the country. One can find various programs and scholarships upon checking the official page of DAAD.

  • Erasmus Scholarship programs

The Erasmus scholarship program has proven to be one of the wisest choices for international students to study abroad. It is a renowned fund granted by the EU's member states and aims at strengthening foreign relationships through the pillar of education. However, the only determining factor for the program is that an applicant's institution for completing higher education should be enrolled with the Erasmus Charter of Higher Education.


  • Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program

This program calls for aspirants from the field of teaching or research to pursue their dreams that will be fully funded. Applicants who are teaching permanently or teaching master's or doctoral graduates from China and are eager to conduct research in Canada are highly welcome to apply for the program.

  • Emerging Leaders in the Americas program

Also known as the ELAP program, it offers scholarships to aspirants from post-secondary educational institutions situated in the Caribbean and Latin America possessing short-term education exchange offers. This is an excellent opportunity to pursue research at secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels.

  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

This fellowship program offers funding to one of the most meritorious postdoctoral applicants, invited both nationally and internationally. The main aim behind the program is to equip the aspirants so that they can contribute to advancing the country in terms of economy and social status through research.

To sum it up!

Every aspirant dreams to study abroad, but only a few of those dreams come true. However, this situation has turned around due to the increasing availability of scholarships and fellowships. One should not be confused between the opportunities offered by these two. A scholarship is open to aspirants studying at any education level and is not necessarily based on their merit. On the other hand, fellowships are offered solely to graduate and above-average aspirants who are aiming for research.

Students can get both, after meeting the guidelines set by the university. The terminologies might differ, but the aim remains the same, i.e., making the dreams of every aspirant come true, regardless of their financial background.

So, the next time you are planning to study abroad to step forward in your career, go ahead and apply for scholarship and fellowship programs.

Start your 1:1 Counselling with Experts at Azent

Begin your Overseas Journey with us
+ 91
Recent Blogs