I'm getting my Bachelor's degree in Physics in a year and a half, I have a good GPA (~3.6/4.0) and I can score ~7.0 or higher in IELTS exam.

Which offers better chances for a scholarship for a Master's degree, North american or European countries? Is there a difference in accepting foreign (in this case middle eastern) students? Because I can't take both TOEFL and IELTS exams, I have to choose.

And when looking for scholarships, when should I start emailing professors and start sending applications?

  • 3
    Also, the premise that you have to choose between N.A. and Europe is wrong. Most graduate programs in the U.S. will accept either TOEFL or IELTS scores, whichever ones you take. Look for programs you are interested in, then look up their websites and read about their admissions requirements + timelines.
    – ff524
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:16
  • @ff524 I didn't mean to ask for universities to apply to, I meant to ask which offers better chances for a master's degree. I'll edit my question to clarify this.
    – Alireza
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:32
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    I still don't see why you have to choose. As per my previous comment, most schools in the U.S. now accept TOEFL or IELTS - you can take either one.
    – ff524
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:39
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    Europe is not a single country. For example, in Brittain the tuition fees for foreign students especially are pretty high, while in many German states you pay no tuition at all (yes, there are not only differences between the countries of the EU, but also for some countries differences within those countries...) Aug 29, 2017 at 8:47
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    @MaartenBuis: And at the same time, in Germany, Master's studies are often just like Bachelor's studies with somewhat higher-level/more specialized classes, but involving nothing like research projects that could in theory be funded. Aug 29, 2017 at 9:40

2 Answers 2


In many European countries you won't be able to get a scholarship for a master's degree directly from a university. Also local students don't usually get that. The research funding is mostly aimed at PhD students, because master's degree students aren't expected to do research at the level these funds are targeting. Also, the general perception is that if you're a master's degree student, the university is providing a service to you, not vice versa, so why should they pay for that in addition?

Depending on national / local regulations, you may have to pay a tuition fee or not. If there is a tuition fee, there may be programs to waive or reduce these. There may be opportunities to work as a salaried student assistant at the university, but you'd first have to start a study program before even being considered for that.

What you're looking for are usually national funding organizations or foundations that support students coming from abroad to do a master's degree in that country. These are very rare and come with specific conditions. One such example is the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service.

For these countries, it'll be a waste of time writing to individual professors about scholarships for a master's degree. Instead it might be helpful to contact the offices for international exchange at your target universities to ask whether they know any scholarship programs for their place that apply to you. Or maybe you have such an office at your home university that has a list of programs for their students who are interested in international exchange.

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    "opportunities to work as a salaried student assistant for a professor" - or also for other people employed at the university. Aug 29, 2017 at 14:02

In some European countries, master's degrees are part of the "undergraduate" experience and handled accordingly. For instance, in Germany, where I worked for several years, there is no charge for undergraduate education beyond a registration fee of several hundred euros per semester. Consequently, scholarships would only be needed for living expenses, rather than tuition costs. Work-study arrangements could provide the necessary funding without scholarship support.

The case is very different in the US, where master's degrees are part of the graduate experience. Almost all master's programs charge tuition and there are not nearly as many available avenues for supporting such costs.

Therefore, it is probably "easier" to finance a master's degree in Europe, but it's also probably more challenging to get into such a program if you don't have the necessary language proficiency.

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