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How I Secured A Scholarship For My European Master’s

Studying a top master’s program in Europe can open doors to opportunities worldwide, but it can be a big investment. Here’s how 8 grads secured scholarships for their studies

Tue Feb 20 2024

Studying at a business school expands your skillset, multiplies your business contacts, and gives you access to great jobs, but the investment cost can be high. According to our latest research, the average cost of studying a top European MBA is US$145,662. While a Master in Management or another business master's degree tends to have lower costs, the outlay can still be a challenge.

For many ambitious professionals in Africa, particularly those with financial dependents, this might seem to put business master’s programs in Europe out of reach—but this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are several scholarships in Europe for African students, enabling you to study, network, and launch a career on another continent.

We spoke to eight scholarship students from different business schools across Europe to find out about how they secured their scholarships, and the impact it’s had on their careers.

From Cameroon to Berlin on a Developing Country Scholarship


Name: Mohamed Al-Mokhtar

From: Cameroon

School: ESMT Berlin

Program: Master’s in Management (Business Analytics), class of 2021

Scholarship: Developing Country Scholarship

Job before the master’s: Project management associate at YY Goshti, Cameroon

Job after the master’s: Data analytics consultant, Ernst & Young, Germany

I applied to the Developing Country Scholarship because I thought I would stand out. I had excellent grades during my undergraduate degree but also professional achievements with my work at YY Goshti while supporting internally displaced people with Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus.

The scholarship came in handy as it reduced the financial burden on my parents. It also allowed me to focus on my studies better and I did not have to take up a job and to spend on extracurricular activities on campus with DigitalFuture Summit, Net Impact, TEDx and other clubs.

[During the master’s] I had the privilege to work for the United Nations Development Program in Tanzania as an external consultant and explore the startup scene in Berlin. I concluded that consulting was the right career starter for me. The skills and knowledge I acquire will enable a greater impact in the nonprofit sector later in my career.

Top tip: The applicants that stand out are those that have a story to tell. This is a combination of where you come from and where you are going, what are you taking with you along the way, and how this program and scholarship is going to help you.

From Zimbabwe to Switzerland with a Starr International Foundation Grant 


Name: John Mhuka

From: Zimbabwe

School: University of St.Gallen, Switzerland

Program: Master in Strategy and International Management (SIM), class of 2020

Scholarship: Starr International Foundation Grant (excellence scholarship)

Job before: Fixed income analyst, RisCura, Cape Town, South Africa

Job after: Corporate relations manager, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland

I applied [for the scholarship] to get some financial security. The cost of living in Switzerland was substantial and even though I had savings, they were not sufficient.

For the scholarship, I had to submit a motivation letter during the application period for the master’s program.

The scholarship gave me more time to focus on studying without the mental stress of thinking about funding.

Top tip: Be authentic and share as much information about yourself as possible, including your family situation and your financial obligations. Based on cultural differences there are things that may not be apparent to European reviewers, so give as detailed a picture as possible to ensure that your application for funding is clear.

From Ghana to London with a Merit Scholarship for Women


Name: Sadia Iliasu

From: Ghana

School: London Business School

Program: Master’s in Financial Analysis, class of 2024

Scholarship: Master’s in Financial Analysis Merit Scholarship for Women

Job before: New business and investments analyst, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation

Receiving the scholarship reaffirmed that London Business School truly values the qualities I bring to the table, strengthening my sense of belonging there, especially as an international student.

The scholarship [also] significantly eased the financial strain of relocating for my master’s study. This support not only relieved the worry about funding but also granted me the freedom to concentrate wholeheartedly on my education, student life, and kickstarting my career.

The program empowered me to pursue leadership roles and fuelled a desire to support individuals from similar backgrounds in achieving their aspirations.

Top tip: Effectively research and clearly articulate how you stand out in your application, emphasizing your strengths and contributions.

Exhaust all available options by applying to a diverse range of scholarships.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions to gain clarity and showcase your genuine interest.

Most importantly, don’t underestimate yourself; recognize and confidently communicate your achievements, potential, and aspirations.

From South Africa to Milan with a Graduate Merit Award 


Name: Tara Grobbelaar

From: South Africa

School: Bocconi University, Graduate School

Program: Master of Science in International Management, class of 2025

Scholarship: The Bocconi Graduate Merit Award

Job before: Undergraduate student at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

The Bocconi Graduate Merit Award is aimed at first-year graduate applicants based on their academic performance and includes full tuition and fee waiver.

The scholarship is awarded based on merit and does not require any additional application besides the admission application submitted to the university. A selection committee then reviews your application and grants the awards based on academic achievements.

Without this opportunity granted to me by Bocconi, my master’s studies in Italy would not have been possible! It significantly decreased the financial burden of pursuing a master’s degree abroad.

For me, this truly was a life-changing opportunity that allowed me to study in a different country and experience a new culture and academic environment.

Top tip: I applied to two different scholarships at the same university. Apply to all the scholarships whose requirements you meet, and don’t sell yourself short! You won’t know if you don’t apply.

From Mauritius to London with a tuition and stipend scholarship

Name: Yakshini Bhurosah

From: Mauritius

School: Bayes Business School

Program: Master’s in Actuarial Management, class of 2024

Scholarship: Boyle-Rodney Scholarship (full fee).

Job before: Actuarial associate, Ernst & Young, Mauritius

To qualify as an actuary, I need to complete 13 actuarial examinations. I had completed only five when I was applying for the scholarship, and I still needed to write eight more papers. This master’s degree will provide me with exemptions for five papers in one year.

There are only two universities in the world other than Bayes Business School that offer a degree with the exemptions that I require. This scholarship [which included tuition fees and a monthly stipend] allowed me to fulfill my dream of pursuing a master’s degree in London and becoming an actuary.

Top tip: When you are applying for the scholarship, do not let negative thoughts prevent you from doing so. You should try your luck and apply.

From Nigeria to Paris with a Diversity of Geography and Profile Scholarship

Name: Oluwafisayomi Badaru

From: Nigeria

School: ESSEC International Business School

Program: Master’s in Data Sciences & Business Analytics, class of 2023

Scholarship: ESSEC Diversity of Geography and Profile Scholarship

Job before: Associate consultant, Mazars, Lagos, Nigeria

Job after: Data scientist and strategy consultant, Emerton, Paris, France

There was no separate application process for the scholarship, but my profile received a Diversity Scholarship.

Securing the Diversity Scholarship was not only a financial relief but also a strong affirmation of ESSEC’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and inclusive student community.

Top tip: To my fellow African students: let us break barriers, aspire for excellence, and remember that our unique perspectives are pivotal in global discussions and innovations.

From South Africa to Madrid with a Young and Talented Leaders Scholarship

Name: Ziyanda Mgengo 7cf904fd080af4d2d8d20cfe0d768887b603f4ad.jpg

From: South Africa

School: IE Business School

Program: Master’s in Management (Sales & Marketing), class of 2021

Scholarship: IE Kistefos Young and Talented Leaders Scholarship

Job before: Senior associate account executive, SAS Institute, South Africa

Job after: Senior enterprise account executive, Adobe Sub-Sahara, South Africa

I applied for a scholarship because I wanted to study internationally and I knew that it would be close to impossible for me to cover the costs for the degree, let alone accommodation or a basic living while studying.

The process involved an essay, reference letters, an interview, and a financial record to show that you are unable to fund your studies.

Having a scholarship for my master’s degree provided more than the financial support needed to pursue a master’s internationally; it created a space whereby I was supported, by the foundation but also by fellow recipients.

Top tip: Tell the scholarship about your “why”, who you are, and why they need to buy into your vision and plan. The reality is that there are thousands of exceptional applicants who apply year-on-year, but you and your vision will never be the same as the next person. Sell yourself and your story.

From Nigeria to London with Africa Regional and Advisory Board Scholarships


Name: Confidence Uwazuruike

From: Nigeria

School: Imperial College Business School

Program: Full-Time MBA, class of 2024

Scholarship: Advisory Board Scholarship

Job before: Co-founder and director of strategy and business development, Afritondo Media, UK

Although a worthwhile investment, an MBA can be expensive, particularly for a startup founder who must carefully allocate capital to strategic initiatives. A scholarship takes away the pressure of repaying loans. Post-MBA, one can concentrate fully on the next career steps.

Furthermore, a scholarship from Imperial College Business School conveys that a top-10 global university believes that I have something to offer, and that can do a lot for one’s confidence and career prospects.

The business school has also organized a number of engaging events for scholarship recipients, which has been great for growing my network.

Top tip: The first thing is to have the courage to apply and not be put off by competition. You never know what the scholarship board is looking for. Then think about what makes you unique and what you can contribute to the program, the student body, and the university.

Next Steps

So how can you access these opportunities and kickstart your business school journey in Europe? Find out more about the GMAC Study in Europe Initiative..

You can meet business schools at GMAC's MBA + Master's Tour Africa and Middle East.