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I am an undergraduate Physics student at a well-reputed university in my country. My aim is to get a Master's scholarship in Europe (preferably in Germany) or the U.S. Although I have a 3+ GPA and I have heard that it is good but I am really worried and fear that I might not be able to earn a scholarship.

I have two questions:

  1. Is a GPA of 3+/ 3.3+ but below 3.5 considered good when applying for scholarships?

  2. What other factors besides GPA matter?

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    The admission systems in Europe aren't standardised, perhaps it would be better to specify countries you are interested in to get a helpful answer.
    – Basia
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 14:14
  • GPA is important but not everything for a scholarship if you wanna apply for a graduate program in the US. GRE, TOEFL (if you are not a native English speaker), your PS, your working/internship/research experience, they all count. Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 19:39
  • In many graduate programs in the US, PhD students are preferred to MS students. You might be more likely to get funding if you apply for a PhD rather than an MS. Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 23:11

2 Answers 2

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In the US it is probably sufficient for admission, but admission to graduate programs here depends on much more than just GPA. Some depends a bit on which courses you got full marks and which not. But even more will be the statements made in letters of recommendation, research you might have (not essential, but helpful), standardized exams (some places) and your Statement of Purpose.

Admissions are handled by people who want to be able to predict your future success. If the many pieces of an application point to that then you have a chance for admission.

However, the more competitive an institution is, the harder it is to "measure up". So applying to a wide range of graduate institutions is advised if you want to maximize your chances.

Getting a scholarship, however, is a much more difficult proposition. There are few of them (in the US) and may depend on the grant funding of the faculty. Most support for grad students goes to doctoral candidates. But it is possible, here, to apply for a doctoral position with only a bachelors, so you might consider that. It would likely come with support.

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  • Thank you for your response. The coronavirus situation has really messed up our performance. How do you think the admission committees will be looking at performance/ grades obtained in the year 2020-2021?
    – ryan1
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 13:28
  • Probably about the same, but you have an opportunity to explain a drop off, at least. Maybe successful. Maybe not. It is hard to predict anything in times of chaos.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 13:30
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I am from Germany originally, but have no idea what a GPA of 3.0-3.3 means -- although I assume the admissions people at a university would. What they consider an equivalent German grade will depend on what country you're from, too. So I am sorry that I cannot help with that question.

But I can say something about the scholarships:

What you should note is that public German universities themselves do not generally give out scholarships, they will only decide on whether to admit you to the programme or not. This is because public universities are tuition-free (although there is an administrative fee of ~150-200€ per semester).

You're expected to fund the cost of living yourself, through various means. Of course, there are ways to get help with this:

  1. There are foundations/non-profits around that offer scholarships. Some you can apply for yourself, for others the university has to nominate you (by submitting a nomination for you). They will probably only do that once you've started studying there and gotten some good results (but don't be afraid to ask professors about it!). In any case, there will be a separate application to the respective foundation, and the scholarship will not be given out purely based on your GPA; there are other considerations like what you have done outside your studies (like volunteering, community organising, activism, other interests). Do make sure to check scholarships in your home country; these may be easier to get than German scholarships.

  2. Many people get a part-time job to help pay for their living expenses. For example, there are lots of small teaching/research assistant jobs at the university itself available even to undergraduates. So even if you do not want to take a job that has nothing to do with your studies, working at your university department can be an option.

Germany also has public education funding (BAföG) available to students whose families do not have enough money to support them financially, but you usually need to be a permanent resident in Germany already or have worked there previously to be eligible. So most international students do not qualify.

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