In response to the multitude of questions I’ve gotten on how I received the British Chevening Scholarship, I’ll be explaining the scholarship application process here using my own application as a guideline. I hope this helps and I sincerely hope you apply.
What is Chevening?
Chevening is the UK government’s most prestigious scholarship award coordinated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and managed by the British High Commission across the Commonwealth countries.
The selection criteria for Chevening Scholarships are aimed to identify “high-caliber graduates with the personal, intellectual and interpersonal qualities necessary for leadership.” You will need to be able to demonstrate all of the following mentioned skills at each step of the application:
- Personal, intellectual and interpersonal qualities necessary for leadership in home country.
- Motivation to develop career in order to establish a position of leadership within 10 years.
- A clear post Scholarship plan, outlining career objectives and how to achieve them.
- Commitment to networking to find global solutions.
- Commitment to networking within Chevening community, and alumni network in home country.
- Use studies and experience in UK to benefit themselves, their country and the UK.
- Able to successfully complete proposed course of study in the UK.
Specific selection criteria varies from country to country.
Selection Criteria for Pakistan
By researching the Chevening alumni and the list of awardees for this year, I have found that the subject areas most favored in Pakistan are:
- Cultural studies
- Environment and sustainability
- Law; human rights
- Medical sciences; healthcare
- Science and Technology
Specifically these are the courses that this year’s awardees are studying:
- Computer Science
- Conflict Security and Development
- Counter Terrorism
- Development Administration and Planning
- Development Studies
- Economics Politics and Public Policy
- Education and International Development
- Financial Management
- Gender Studies and Law
- Global Health
- Global Political Economy
- Governance Development and Public Policy
- Innovation Management
- International Accounting and Financial Management
- International Development
- International Planning and Sustainable Development
- International Relations and Security
- LLM Human Rights
- Media Practice for Development and Social Change
- Public Administration
- Public Financial Management
- Public Policy
As evident, law and development studies are some of the most popular choices.
You must remember that Chevening focuses on developing international relations amongst the Commonwealth countries so your chosen course of study must align with that goal. It can’t be something like a Masters in Fashion Designing or Architecture. Chevening focuses on building future leaders who can come back to their home country and work to bring change and instill development.
So first things first; decide what you would like to study, how your past experience supports that, and how it aligns with your future goals.
This is the part I get the most questions about.
‘Is two years’ work experience mandatory?’
‘I’ll have two years of experience by the March next year, will that be okay?’
‘How did you get the scholarship if you only graduated last year?’
‘Does voluntary work count?’
‘I was a member of the OC teams at my universities MUN and other events, does that count?’
Yes, work experience counts. Yes, minimum of two years’ work experience is mandatory!
There’s a part in the application where you have to enter the exact number of hours you have worked, there’s no skipping that part.
Now the kind of work can vary. It doesn’t have to be two full years at one work place. It can be different kinds of work for different periods of time but they must all join up to make two years’ worth of experience.
According to the Chevening website:
“The types of work experience that are eligible for Chevening can include:
- Full-time employment
- Part-time employment
- Voluntary work
- Paid or unpaid internships
- Work experience can be completed before, during, or after graduating from your undergraduate studies.
Employment undertaken as part of your undergraduate or postgraduate course are not eligible.”
While you can’t count work you did at your university (class projects, school events/conferences/MUNs), you can mention them in your essays. For example, I mentioned being the Director of Broadcasting of the Job Fair and being a member of the various MUNs in my leadership and networking essays but I did not count them as my work experience.
What will make your application stronger is if your work experience and all your extracurriculars support your desired course of study.
It’s true I only graduated last year. It’s true I only worked an ‘office job’ for 3 months after I graduated. So how did I magically get the scholarship despite no work experience? That’s because my intended course of study was ‘entrepreneurship’ and I had two entrepreneurial ventures to back it up. Spatula in my Pocket and Nuts about Donuts may sound like just another Facebook page to some, or just a hobby to others but they are purely entrepreneurial in nature; started by me, run by me. And that’s how I built my application based on two of my own ventures.
You need to realize that if you run a Facebook page too, featuring your photography or your arts and crafts, but you’re applying to study law or environment sustainability you cannot use those pages to support your application. Your work experience must support your study goals.
In the end, what will make your application stronger is when your work experience and all your extracurricular activities support your desired course of study.
Here are my tips for getting started with your application:
1.Decide on your course of study and then research the heck out of it. All the universities that offer it in the UK, the faculty, the modules, electives, entry requirements… everything.
Find out what matters to you, what you want to do in your life. You need to choose three courses. All three of your courses can be from the same university or you can choose the same course at three different universities.
Also, don’t forget to research the city as much as the university itself. Would you be comfortable living in a big and expensive city like London or do you prefer something smaller like the quaint city of Bournemouth?
I chose University of Manchester as my first choice because:
- The Entrepreneurship program here is ranked as number one in the entire UK
- Manchester is known as the city of innovation
- Manchester is also known as the student city of UK since there are SO many students all from diverse backgrounds
- You get the true “international” experience
- It is relatively cheaper than other cities like London
2.Gather all your work experience details and extracurricular activities in one word document. This should include everything you have done in your life that matters; any events you may have participated in, any conferences/workshops you may have attended or helped organized during your college years or after. Were you a teacher’s assistant, a class representative (CR), best intern, employee of the month…any of these, just write them down.
3.Start working on your essays as soon as possible. Do not leave them for the week before the deadline. It takes time to perfect them and trust me these essays count ALOT. Write, edit, review, get someone else to review them too.
More information can be found here >> http://www.chevening.org/apply/eligibility-criteria
Some additional questions:
Can PhD students apply?
PhD students can unfortunately not apply.
The courses you choose must be:
- Start in the autumn term (usually September/October)
- Taught master’s (i.e. not research-focused MRes programmes)
- Lead to a master’s degree qualification
- Based in the UK
Courses cannot be:
- Distance learning
- Less than nine months in duration
- More than 12 months in duration
- PhD or DPhil are not permitted
- Taught with more than one month of study outside the UK
Do you need to have a good GPA?
I think Chevening focuses more on the experience and the skills. A good GPA does help but a 4.0 isn’t necessary.
Is the scholarship fully funded?
Yes it is. It comprises of:
- Payment of tuition fees (see point 1.2.a in relation to MBA fee caps)
- Economy travel to and from your country of residence by an approved route for you only
- An arrival allowance
- The cost of an entry clearance (visa) application for you only
- A departure allowance
- A contribution of up to £75 for TB testing, where this is required
- A travel top up allowance
- A monthly personal living allowance (stipend) to cover accommodation and living expenses.