I had applied for Erasmus Mundus scholarship for three different years and four different programs. Resulting in three failures and one final success. In this article, I would like to share with you my experience, which I hope you could gain benefit from. Here are the steps and tips on how to get the Erasmus Mundus scholarship.
First Step: Choosing the Right Program
European Commission provides scholarships for selected Erasmus Mundus programs. I was awarded scholarship for Action 1: Joint Programs for Master Courses. The list for Erasmus Mundus Master Courses can be accessed here and for Joint Doctorates you can click on here. From that list, you could start looking for the most suitable programs for you. You could apply for up to three different Action 1 programs.
Rather different from other graduate programs, Erasmus Mundus does not enlist its programs based on the academic major. You will not find programs in Chemical Engineering, International Relations, or MBA. The programs are tailored specifically based on their offered specialisation in which you would have to check their curricula before choosing the right program.
There is a quick method to decide whether the program will suit you or not: check the master thesis list! Based on the current research conducted by the program, you could see whether you are a fit candidate for the program or not. For instance, if you are interested in wastewater treatment, then environmental programs such as JEMES or IMETE might be suitable for you. You could also link that subject with membrane and choose EM3E (Membrane Engineering) as an alternative. There are numerous possibilities! Finding the right program is highly personal; no one will know better than yourself. So please, conduct your own research to decide which programs you will apply!
Second Step: Preparing for Application
After finding the suitable programs, now it is time to prepare for the application. Different programs might require different requirement, so it is important to check the requirement as well as the deadline of the scholarship application directly to the program official website. The first tip is: make your own timeline on your application based on the deadline!
Decide when you will apply for TOEFL/IELTS test and get the result; get the certified copies of your degree and academic transcript; request for recommendation letter from lecturers or supervisors; and finally, write and revise your Curriculum Vitae and motivation letter. Ensure all documents are ready by the latest ten days before the deadline, and provide enough time for posting the documents (6-8 days).
I underline ‘revise’ previously to emphasise the importance of those documents. Mostly, Erasmus Mundus applications are solely based on paper application and do not require interview. The only way to present yourself as the most suitable candidate for the scholarship is only through your documents. Therefore, you will need to write exceptionally good motivation letter for the application and your first draft simply will not be your best. That is why revision is an important step here. It is also recommended to have proofreaders to review your first draft and give their feedback.
The three important documents to prepare by yourself are: English proficiency certificate, Curriculum Vitae, and motivation letter. Academic transcript will also be a valuable document for strengthening your chance in getting the scholarship.
Academic transcript will be a valuable asset if you apply for programs within the same field, especially if you get excellent grades during your study. This will show that you have strong academic background for the program. If you are still a student, try to maintain excellent grades, especially on the relevant courses so that it increases your chance to get the scholarship. However, applying for different field is also possible as long as your arguments in your motivation letter are strong.
To prove your level of English proficiency, you could choose to submit either IELTS or iBT TOEFL. I highly discourage the use of ITP TOEFL since it cannot show your proficiency in writing and speaking. Choose which test could demonstrate your capability better. I prefer IELTS to iBT TOEFL since I have a partner for speaking section, instead of speaking to a recorder. In IELTS, I could also write using pen instead of typing.
To achieve your best result; create a study plan, set your specific target for each section based on your strength and weakness, and practice more on your weakest section. There are numerous free learning materials and simulations available on the internet, just Google it. You could check an online free IELTS course from the British council here.
Curriculum vitae (CV) is an important document to present yourself to the admission committee (Consortium). Most Erasmus Mundus programs require certain format of CV called Europass. If you are still a student, try to be an active student by joining extracurricular activities or competitions which you find relevant to your future study. Look for opportunities; volunteering in student organisations, working as a teaching or laboratory assistant, or competing for research grant (PKM – PIMNAS). You could also mention and describe your bachelor thesis as research experience and explain its relevance to the program.
If you are currently working, then you could enlist your job descriptions and projects that you handled during your work. Emphasise activities or projects that are relevant to the programs. Clearly describe the magnitude of the projects (might be in monetary terms) and your responsibility, and explain the result from the projects (might be in productivity increase, cost saving, etc.). Show the importance of your role in the projects. As different programs might value applicants’ activities differently, you are highly recommended to prepare different CVs for different programs. Ensure that your Europass CV is not too long, maximum of two pages (fresh graduate) or three pages (experienced).
For more tricks on how to write a strong motivation letter, please check my next post. Stay updated!
Photo taken from: http://www.em-a.eu/en/about-ema/regional-chapters/south-east-asian-chapter.html