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I wanted to know if one can get MSc scholarships just by emailing professors from different universities, by showing them that we have some interest and some experience in fields that they have research interests in.

I am thinking mostly about universities in Germany, Australia, and the UK.

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    When you say you are looking to do a masters, are you looking to do a masters by research (where you are basically doing half a PhD) or a masters by coursework (which is roughly one year coursework, and 6 months to 1 year research). In Australia there is a distinction, I don't think Germany has an option to do it by research, and I don't know about UK. If you do by coursework, often you'll be able to get to know potential supervisors during the first year Sep 22 at 6:59

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Teaching and Research Assistants, not Scholarships

Compared to some other countries, scholarships in Germany are underdeveloped. (On the other hand, university fees are very low, but a student still needs a living.) What a professor may be able to give to a suitable student are paid positions as teaching or research assistants.

  • These assistants are employed by the university, but the professor who is leading a team will have a significant input on who gets hired. When a highly regarded professor is about to get tenure, he or she may negotiate with the university about working conditions, which may include a few such assistants working directly for the professor.
  • Assistants will usually have some academic credentials, such as a Bachelor or Master.
  • A professor will be thesis advisor to many more students than there are paid positions. Most of his or her students will not get one.

It is not impossible that a paid position goes to a student who did not work with the professor before. If you have a personal recommendation from your current professor and this professor knows the professor who is hiring, maybe. But a cold call expressing "some interest" won't do.

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  • but if I am not mistaken, you have to be proficient in German to become TA right?
    – edelweiss
    Sep 24 at 1:00
  • @edelweiss, some classes are using English. Depends on the particulars.
    – o.m.
    Sep 24 at 4:11
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I have received many unsolicited letters of this kind. They are so often clearly from people who have no idea who I am or what I do (despite what they say) that I routinely flag them as spam. So even if your request is truly legitimate, it is unlikely to get any response.

You should simply apply to the schools you are interested in.

I suspect (but do not know) that funding for a Master's degree is rare.

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    May I know where you are from? And do professors have that kind of authority to provide students with scholarships?
    – MJay
    Sep 21 at 15:52
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    I'm in the US. Individual professors rarely have this authority at the Master's level. In an individual exceptional case a recommendation to the department admissions committee might be effective. Sep 21 at 16:08
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    Some universities give funding automatically to all accepted Master's students, I don't know how common this is though, an example is U Waterloo. Sep 22 at 0:05
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    This may be true for MSc. But it is important to note that this is not universally true for PhD students. E-mail can definitely help. See my answer.
    – Dilworth
    Sep 22 at 0:21
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    @AmerAl-Amry at least in physics it's common in Canadian universities, probably similar in most STEM fields, less likely in liberal arts.
    – llama
    Sep 22 at 14:20
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As university education in Germany is free, scholarships are not very common, and they are (almost) never given out by individuals at universities. If you want to do a masters at a German university, simply apply--it is often not that hard to get a spot (see also my answer on this question). It might be possible that you get a job at the university as a student researcher once you are admitted, but if you want to find a scholarship to pay for your living expenses, look elsewhere (e.g. DAAD, as has been suggested in the comments).

But depending on where you are studying, finding a student job outside of university is also quite easy in most bigger cities if you are not terribly picky.

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Australia as far as I know

Master of Philosophy (Higher Degree by Research)

It is important for you to check the website of the universities/institutions where the professors are working. All the information about scholarships will be available there. If you just email them without looking for information yourself, you are wasting their time.

Probably, there will be scholarships designated for specific projects which professors are looking for students. You may contact them to express your interest, and to ask them if they are willing to supervise you. Then you can proceed with application for the programs and the scholarships, yet it is worth mentioning that these scholarships are mostly for PhD students.

For general scholarships (many universities offer Master by Research/MPhil scholarships without specifying the eligible programs and projects), in my opinions, it is not appropriate to send emails to potential supervisors solely to ask for Master (by Research) scholarships. You may send emails to them to express your interest, to know more about them, and to know if they are willing to supervise you. If they agree, you (and the potential supervisor(s)) can proceed with application for the programs and the scholarships.

Professors are generally not in charge of giving scholarships even if there will be designated scholarships for potential MPhil/PhD students working on their projects, yet the support of potential supervisors will influence the chance of getting the scholarships, so the most important step is to convince them to supervise you first. Without this, no scholarship whatsover.

Moreover, make sure that you are eligible to apply for the programs and the scholarships.

Master by Coursework

If you are not interested in doing research, and you simply want to apply for a taught master, there will be probably no full (merit-based) scholarship from most universities. Probably there will be 50% scholarships from some (good) universities, but the required GPA is really high (min: 6.5 - 6.8/7). 15-30% scholarships are probably more common (min: 5.5-6/7), but given the high tuition fee and living cost in Australia, I think you already have the answer for this.

For most universities, you can get at most ONE merit-based scholarship. There will be top-up scholarships that are worth 500 to a couple of thousands of AUD. Depending on the universities you are applying to, you can get a few top-up scholarships, but there will be a limit.

Professors will probably have ZERO influence on these scholarships mentioned above. You just need a good (or more precisely, a ridiculously good) GPA.

There is a prestigious scholarship from the Australian Government (the Australia Award) which covers everything, but you have to go back to your home country and stay there for at least 2 years? after finishing the degree program unless you repay every buck they give you. That is a limitation as you cannot apply to any working VISA after graduation (e.g 485), and cannot leave your country for a long period of time during these 2 years, but that is the purpose of that award which is to help developing countries. If you do not care about working opportunities in Australia after graduation, or you have no plan for further study after graduation, I think it could be a good opportunity. Just do not take advantage of it for unethical motivations.

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No, or not in the UK at least. This approach is very unlikely to work, for many of the same reasons others have said: (a) individual academics are unlikely to be those controlling the purse-strings; and (b) there isn't much in the purse to begin with.

One of my institutions has relatively generous funding at the masters' level compared to some, but it is still absolutely the exception to get funding for a masters' level-qualification, and moreover they are incredibly competitive. Often the applicant has to be put forward to it by a bunch of academics in at least two committees -- one admitting them to the university and recommending that they are considered for one of the rare and prestigious sources of funding; and then the second committee awarding them the scholarship. Both of these are formal processes, and the academics on them are likely doing it as some form of their "service" for having a permanent job.

Note that there has been a big switch in recent years to the completely blind judging of applicants for these things: an anonymous CV is compiled with their name, gender, and the like removed and they are supposed to be judged objectively on their merits. In such circumstances even if the academic you emailed wanted to swing things in your favour and was in a position to do so -- all separately unlikely events -- this system would effectively make it far harder for them to do so.

However, talking to academics is a good thing to do if you are interested in the course -- but write a personalised, relevant email and not a "dear valued professor" spam that I get a lot of daily. If they tell you to apply, apply! Go through the process, and see if funding can be found -- and if not, well, there are other options ranging from professional loans to separate charitable bodies, to other institutions.

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    I haven't seen any "dear valued professor" before but it does sound like "dear valued customer"
    – edelweiss
    Sep 22 at 16:20
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For Australia, no way. Scholarships are mainly for PhD students. Further, it is quite rare for a supervisor to simply give you his/her scholarships, if any.

Scholarships funded by the industry or Australian government are usually advertised at 'THE Unijobs' or Seek.com. Apply for them like any jobs, and compete with other applicants.

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    Actually, it is possible to get MPhil scholarship. Of course, the priority will always be given to PhD students, but if one wants to apply for full-scholarship for Master by Coursework programs. Impossible but waaaittt, there is actually only one option which is the Australia Awards, however, there will be no opportunity to work in Australia even in academia after graduating unless you repay all the money you receive, so it is quite limited.
    – edelweiss
    Sep 22 at 1:06
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In Germany: Nope

Not going to happen. Professors do not handle Master's scholarships, and hardly any universities offer them. Some NON-UNIVERSITY organizations offer scholarships, which is how to obtain them in Germany, because you get none from the universities. And even if you could: not as a master's student and not by emailing a professor. There would be a regular way to apply for it.

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    For germany we dont need scholarship anyway. But can we be granted admission by emailing professors?
    – MJay
    Sep 22 at 12:23
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    @MJay: Did you read Susula's answer and its linked question ? Admission via the official process is rather straightforward, so your idea has obvious drawbacks and no clear benefits.
    – MSalters
    Sep 22 at 16:22
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    @MJay also nope. Leave the profs alone, they have a) already enough on their plate and b) absolutely ZERO say over anything administrative for Masters students. Germany is very much against special ways into programs, there is a regular path, all documents are almost certainly also available in english so there is no reason to try and be special
    – Hobbamok
    Sep 23 at 8:55
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Professors are not in charge of giving or not giving scholarships.

In most cases, universities or organizations are in charge of scholarships.

Here, in México, you can apply to a scholarship once you got accepted into a Master or a PhD program. Of course, budget depends on how relevant and/or important the institution where you're doing it is, as well as your research topic.

You may try asking to people in charge in the university if they have scholarships (for international students, if you're willing to apply in other countries).

Good luck!

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E-mailing a professor to be their student is possible, and happens, but only in case you really really are a good fit! If you are clearly not a good fit, and this is usually the case and shows clearly, in most cases you are unfortunately going to get ignored (i.e., the professor viewed you as spam).

Unlike the previous answers here, I definitely think, and know for a fact, that e-mailing a professor may be even a necessary condition to get you a scholarship in many schools. Unlike in some US schools where the recruitment is supposedly central, and even in these US schools, a specific professor who supports you can be crucial to get accepted. (But mostly for PhD, not MSc, and again, only if you are really fit and top student.)

Note from experience: I receive many such emails. 95% are clearly not a good fit, but sometimes I do get excellent students.

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    OP specifically asked about masters.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 22 at 0:31
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    @BryanKrause, there's a difference between Research Masters and taught masters. For the latter, admission is usually central. For the former, admission can be done based on individual considerations, hence an email can help (depending on the institution/country).
    – Dilworth
    Sep 22 at 14:46

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