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An Insider’s Guide to Cambridge University Scholarships for International Students


An Insider’s Guide to Cambridge University Scholarships for International Students


Cambridge University has long attracted students worldwide with its reputation for academic excellence and rich history of over 800 years. For many talented international students, the opportunity to study at one of the world’s top universities is an invaluable experience. However, the UK’s excessive living costs and learning can often present a significant financial barrier. Fortunately, Cambridge University offers many scholarships to help international students overcome these obstacles.

In this in-depth guide, I will provide an insider’s perspective on the scholarships available to international undergraduates and postgraduates studying at Cambridge. I will explain each program’s eligibility requirements, award amounts, application processes, and deadlines. I want you to know that I aim to empower you with the knowledge needed to decide whether pursuing a Cambridge scholarship is realistic. By the end, I hope to leave you motivated and prepared to pursue this life-changing opportunity. Let us get started!

Types of Undergraduate Scholarships for International Students

Cambridge International Scholarships

The Cambridge International Scholarship program is among the most prestigious and competitive scholarships available to international undergraduates. Awards cover 75% of tuition fees for the entire duration of a bachelor’s degree program. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement as well as significant extracurricular accomplishments. Selection is based on academic transcripts, personal statements, references, admissions assessment, and interview performance. Only a handful of scholarships are awarded each year, so applicants must be exceptional to stand out.

Other Subject-Specific Scholarships

In addition to Cambridge International Scholarships, individual departments and colleges offer targeted scholarships for international students in specific fields. For example, the Cambridge Natural Sciences Scholarship is available to applicants interested in studying subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Candidates are assessed based on their academic merit and demonstrated passion for the natural sciences. Award amounts vary but can be up to 100% of tuition fees.

Types of Postgraduate Scholarships for International Students

Cambridge International Graduate Scholarships

Mirroring the prestigious undergraduate program, Cambridge International Graduate Scholarships provide a 75% fee reduction for international master’s students with outstanding academic potential. Competition is intense, with only the top 5-10% of international applicants being selected yearly. The assessment looks at prior academic transcripts, statements of purpose, references, and research proposals. These scholarships help attract the best and brightest students worldwide to Cambridge postgrad programs.

Faculty Postgraduate Scholarships

Individual faculties, departments, and colleges sponsor additional targeted scholarships for international master’s and PhD students. For example, the Computer Laboratory offers highly competitive scholarships covering total tuition fees and a living stipend for students pursuing technical master’s degrees. Eligibility varies by program but often focuses on those demonstrating exceptional academic merit in their intended field. Letters of recommendation are also evaluated.

Country Specific Awards

Some scholarships are designed specifically for students from certain countries or regions. For example, the DAAD Cambridge Scholarship supports one German national each year studying an eligible postgraduate program at Cambridge. Living allowance and tuition fees are fully funded. Country-specific scholarships can open doors for students who may otherwise need help to afford a Cambridge education.

Things to Note About Applying

Start Early

The application and selection process for Cambridge scholarships can take 6-9 months from initial proposal submission to final decision notification. It is crucial to begin preparation at least a year before your intended start term. Procrastination could risk missing critical deadlines.

Showcase Your Potential

Standing out amidst intense competition requires demonstrating far more than just grades. Scholarship selection committees want evidence of independent research, leadership qualities, extracurricular accomplishments, and passion for your field beyond the classroom.

Obtain Strong References

Referees play a crucial role in verifying all your claims and attesting to your character. Ask only people who can speak genuinely and at length about your talents, work ethic, and suitability for Cambridge. Professors who know you well make the best referees.

Have Realistic Expectations

While rejection should never deter challenging work and taking chances, it is healthy to acknowledge the odds. Only a tiny fraction of applicants are awarded Cambridge scholarships each cycle. I think presenting genuine interest plus strong yet realistic chances increases your chances of consideration.

Know Deadlines and Requirements

Scholars have varying eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and required supporting documents (e.g., recommendation letters, research proposals, transcripts, etc.). Please carefully review program guidelines so your proposal doesn’t get lost because of missing information. Timeliness is paramount.

Alternative Options if Unsuccessful

Apply to Other Schools

Top international universities worldwide offer merit-based scholarships as well. If a Cambridge award fails, your application materials can secure funding elsewhere. Target reach schools balanced with safe options.

Explore External Awards

Alternative financing includes awards sponsored by governments, non-profits, and corporations, sometimes with less intense competition than Cambridge programs. Examples include Chevening, DAAD, Fulbright, Rhodes, and Gates scholarships.

Student Loans and Employment

As a last resort, private student loans or part-time on-campus jobs can help bridge financing gaps. While heavier on future debt, loans preserve the Cambridge dream for some. Optimize loan amounts and repayment terms through careful planning and budgeting.

Crowdfunding and Sponsorships

An emerging trend sees successful crowdfunding campaigns and angel/alum sponsorships helping students attain otherwise unaffordable educations. Social media marketing skills unlock this potential funding avenue for a precious few.


Pursuing a Cambridge scholarship as an international student presents excellent rewards and challenges. With early and diligent preparation matched to realistic self-assessment, your chances of securing this life-enhancing opportunity are optimized. Even if unsuccessful, alternative options allow you to follow your academic passions. I hope this guide empowers you to pursue your Cambridge dreams! Please let me know if you have other questions about education, funding, and personal growth.


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