· scholarships · 11 min read

How did I win a fully funded Erasmus Mundus Joint Master's scholarship?

Are you afraid to apply to a fully funded scholarship because of your average GPA? Then this guide will definitely prove you wrong because regardless of your records, you have all the chances to win the scholarship and study in Europe for free.

1- Introduction:

Growing up, whenever I read about someone being awarded a fully funded scholarship to study in Europe, the first thing that pops into my mind is that this person must have an exceptional GPA. Guess what? This is actually far from being true. With mediocre transcripts, I was offered both an Erasmus Mundus scholarship and the Swedish Institute scholarship (I’ll write a separate article about it), which are two highly competitive scholarships. This article will provide you with all the tools and tips to win this scholarship.

2- What’s an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s scholarship?

It’s a prestigious scholarship that allows its holder to study a joint master’s program (EMJMD) in Europe for free. These programs are delivered by European high education institutions. The scholarship covers tuition fees, travel costs, installation costs, and the monthly allowance. Additionally, students from all over the world can apply as long as they have a bachelor’s degree.

Furthermore, those joint master’s programs are offered by at least 3 Universities which means that by the end of the program, the student will be awarded a double diploma that is recognized in all over Europe. This package of a joint master’s program offer + scholarship is mainly supported by the European commission and aims to provide a unique experience for the students who will study in at least 2 different countries.

3- Where to find the eligible Joint Master’s programs ?

Before telling you where to find the eligible master’s program, you have to know that the entire process of preparing and applying to the joint master’s programs starts early, at least 2 months before the application opens. So make sure to read this complete guide thoroughly and follow the steps carefully.

The official catalogue of the programs is here. It is updated` yearly and lists the joint master’s programs that are supported by the European Union. You can apply up to 3 programs from this catalogue.

4- What’s the work plan to win the scholarship ?

Bear in mind that this is a hefty process that can take months of preparations and a lot of delicate research. But if you really want this, then know that you have all the chances to land the scholarship and make your dreams come true.

I started doing research in December 2020, and applied in the period between October 2021 and February 2022. So I guess you know now what I mean by saying START EARLY. By sifting through the catalogue, I only chose the EMOTION program because it correlated perfectly with my skincare passion and my future career prospects. So buckle up, this is where it gets spicy.

a) Step 1: Prepare your English language certificate

All the programs are taught in English so unless you come from an English speaking country or you have a bachelor’s degree in English, you are obliged to submit an English language certificate. I chose to pass the Academic IELTS with the British council.

I started preparing for it in March 2021 and passed it in June 2021. Honestly, I wasn’t consistent with the preparation because I was working a full-time job and writing my thesis. So the material that I will be giving you is spot on and will certainly help you get a good score (as a side note, my level in English before the prep was already a B2 and this material helped me get a C1. So if your level is below B2, you can use the same material but start a bit earlier than me). So this is what I used :

The main material is the Keino Campbell course on Udemy. This course is totally worth the purchase. I bought it on a discount with 10$ so don’t be discouraged if you find the original price which is a bit expensive, just wait a bit until they offer some sort of a discount which is pretty frequent. The strategy is to just follow this course, and watch every single video because the instructor gives you directly the tricks to tackle the 4 sections of the IELTS (Listening, reading, writing, speaking). I followed the strategies he taught me in answering the listening and the reading questions, as well as in writing. Trust me, all the strategies work. So don’t spend a lot of time rummaging through google for random material. Just stick with this one.

For speaking, I was out of time so I couldn’t watch the entire “speaking section” in Keino’s course, but instead, I plunged into Keith’s videos on YouTube. His videos will help you tremendously grasp vocabulary. This latter is super important in the speaking part of the test because landing a good score mandates a good vocabulary.

Another material that I used is the Cambridge books. This is where you can find the previous tests. I recommend downloading only the latest 5 books because older versions are a bit different than the current test’s format. My only tip here is to treat these tests seriously and make sure to set an environment that is similar to the test day and don’t forget to respect the time allocated for each section.

The reason why I’m recommending to pass the IELTS early is because you need to have a good score in order to be eligible to the EMJMD as the majority of the programs require a B2 level. Hence, getting an impressive score in IELTS (C1 or C2) will really boost your chances of getting the scholarship regardless of your GPA. SO FOCUS ON IT !

b) Step 2: Read, read, read

Once you chose the programs that you want to apply to, create a separate Word document for each one. Let’s say you chose program A,B, and C. Start by reading about each program’s description, required profiles, career prospects, etc. Don’t panic! The catalogue provides you with the direct link of every program’s website with all this information. In my case, my program was mainly about dermatology, skin disorders, R&D, innovation, entrepreneurship. So I knew that I need to align my profile and motivation letter with these keywords.

There is no specific number of the keywords, but they are mostly words that will help you shape the wanted profile. Don’t rush this step because understanding each program thoroughly needs some time.

c) Step 3: Align your profile with the program’s goals and requirements

After writing down all the keywords that are deemed to be important, do some extra research about the universities that offer the chosen programs and read more about the field you are applying to. To help you understand this better, I will use myself as an example.

So after reading my program’s website thoroughly, and jotting down the keywords that I previously mentioned. I did extensive research about the involved universities especially the one that is coordinating the admission process. I knew that they are looking for someone who is innovative enough to carry on research and development in the cosmetic field, and to create new skin treatments. This prompted me to read more about the cosmetics industry in Europe and the striving bootstrapped skincare brands in the world. And still, whenever I find new keywords I write them down in the document.

Finally, When I accumulated enough keywords. I started the self-reflection process. I reflected upon what I want to be in the future, how can I reach my goals, and what are the projects / causes that I want to tackle after graduation. I knew that I’m interested in sustainability, finance, entrepreneurship, brand management and natural skin care ingredients. At this point, I found myself connecting automatically all the keywords together which shaped the exact profile that the admission committee wants.

Please don’t rush this step, it’s very crucial and if it’s done correctly then it will help you tremendously writing an outstanding motivation letter.

d) Step 4: Write the motivation letter

This is the most important document that you should focus on. Before writing your motivation letter, bear in mind that you would want to write a letter that sticks into the head of the examiner to the point where he can remember it even if he reads 100 letters after yours.

If you followed step 2 and 3 thoroughly, then writing the letter won’t be hard because you already have so many ideas and keywords that will make your letter look so spot on. Since you already aligned yourself with the required profile, make sure to use some of the keywords that you found on the program’s website. The examiner needs to know that you spent a good amount of time reading and understanding the program, and there is no better way than this to show him that you really know why you are applying to this particular program.

Some programs give questions to answer in the motivation letter such as why you are applying to this program, what value can you add to our program… So make sure to write them down in the document and understand them. You will probably find the answers in your document already because you did some good self-reflection before.

Never be so direct in your letter, you can start with a quote that you believe in, you can be creative in writing the letter while you answer indirectly the questions that the program suggested. In my case I made my letter in the form of a story that outlined my previous achievements ( first class honors doctorate, volunteering experiences, my working experience in a Danish startup, future professional plans and how my past experiences shaped them). There is no standard format so be creative, be honest, and show them that you aligned yourself with the program. In other words use the information in the document to tell them that you are the one they are looking for.

Quick note, it helps mentioning one of the professors in the department that offers the program. You can mention that you would want to work in the future with that professor (mention his name) and conduct research together in a certain area. This shows the committee that you are really interested in the program.

e) Step 5: Submit other documents to stand out

In this step, you will have to submit other documents that can help you stand out among other applicants. Demonstrating your previous volunteering experiences will help you massively because they are definitely looking for someone who is altruist , who takes the initiative to help others, who can create an impact after graduation. And someone who takes the lead and who is an outside of the box thinker. Hence, the best way to show this is through submitting proofs of your previous volunteering activities. I did this through providing them with recommendation letters written by my supervisors during the volunteering work that I did before as a humanitarian pharmacist, rescue worker with the Moroccan Red Crescent, volunteered business developer, fundraising manager, and an English teacher.

This panoply of demonstrated experiences helped me win the Erasmus Mundus scholarship because it showed the committee that I’m not someone who is solely focused on studies, in other words a monomath. They want someone who has the right recipe of a leader, that’s why they don’t judge the applicants by their records / GPA, but rather evaluate their profiles as a whole.

As a Moroccan, French is my second language so I made sure to provide them with a French language certificate given by the French Institute which is recognized in all over Europe. I wanted to demonstrate my strong points by focusing also on my linguistic diversity. So make sure to reflect also upon your previous achievements and your strong points and make sure to depict them very well through recommendation letters and certificates.

5- Conclusion

If you made it here, then this purely shows that you really want the scholarship, and that’s the spirit. If you believe in your abilities, you already did half the job. The process of researching, reading, drafting, and submitting is a bit cumbersome but once you reap the results you will definitely forget about everything.

The final recipe to win the scholarship is: good score in the IELTS (B2 or above) + remarkable motivation letter + demonstrated extracurricular activities.

If you followed my guide and won the scholarship in the next round, feel free to pm me. I would be curious to know about your journey.

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