Top tips for scholarship applications from Chevening Scholar, Muftau

Muftau stands outside the LSHTM entrance on Keppel Street

Nigerian alumnus of MSc Global Mental Health, Muftau Mohammed was successful in two of his scholarship applications to study at LSHTM. We asked him to share his advice on putting together an outstanding scholarship application.

A summary of Muftau's top tips

  • Discover scholarships using simple Google searches including “course of interest”, “scholarship”, and “university name” 

  • Apply for more than one scheme. Muftau applied to four and was successful in two. 

  • Do your homework - review the scholarship website and entry requirements carefully; connect with past winners; consider your skills and past experience carefully; tailor every answer to the requirements and be intentional throughout.

  • Consider whether you are ready to submit your application now, or whether you should use this time to focus on your personal development for success in the next application cycle. 

  • Always remember to proofread before submitting and correct all grammatical errors. Outstanding applications don’t have spelling mistakes! 

Which scholarship(s) did you apply for?  

Scholarship opportunities are often highly competitive; so to increase my chance of winning, I applied for four different schemes: The Chevening Scholarship, the Johnson & Johnson Global Mental Health Scholarship; the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship; and the LSHTM GSK Scholarship for Future Health Leaders. Overall, I was successful with the Chevening and the Johnson & Johnson applications, so 50%! I decided to accept the Chevening Scholarship to study MSc Global Mental Health

How did you find out about this and other funding opportunities?   

I had always considered studying for an MSc in the UK. However, I didn’t take any specific actions toward achieving this until I attended an international conference during which a senior colleague recommended the Chevening Scholarship after a brief discussion about my career plans. Upon checking out this opportunity, I found that applications were open, and I immediately started my application process! I discovered other funding opportunities by simple google searches, entering my “course of interest”, “scholarship”, and “university name”. So, it started with a coffee conversation during a conference and simple Google searches. 

How did you make your application stand out from other applicants, and what do you think makes a strong application?   

Securing funding for postgraduate study can be challenging and very competitive. The scholarship selection panel must often set strict criteria to select the best applicants for the limited number of available opportunities. 

For the Chevening Scholarship, for example, only 2-3% of applicants are eventually selected globally to receive an award. Therefore, applicants must be scrupulously intentional in preparing their applications. I started my Chevening application by doing my homework, visiting the Chevening website and reading everything therein. This action gave me an initial overall picture of the scholarship programme and the details of the processes involved in the application, from eligibility criteria to the final selection of scholars. It further provided me with a solid framework on which to base my application. Apart from listening to past scholarship winners, I spent quality time introspecting and reflecting on the specific aspects of my knowledge, skills and experience that aligned with the requirements of the scholarship scheme and articulated these in a coherent, compelling essay. 

Although I have not sat on a scholarship review panel, I imagine a typically successful application would have demonstrated evidence the application was carefully thought through, with points supporting the applicant's candidacy cascaded throughout the application. Ideally, components of the personal statement will mutually reinforce and confirm other details rather than incoherent, fragmented entities. I think this demonstrates originality, and the scholarship panel would be keen to discuss this further with you at the interview stage! 

Finally, please remember to proofread the application and correct any grammatical or spelling mistakes since these are incompatible with that outstanding and possibly successful application. 

Did you find any aspect of the scholarship challenging?   

I would say the whole application process was challenging, characterised by anxiety and uncertainty, but admittedly also rewarding, enabling you to reflect on your career and achievements and is especially so when you receive that long-awaited success email. Your utter trepidation would immediately transform into immeasurable jubilation.  

I found the interview preparation stage a bit challenging, perhaps owing to the associated heightened state of anxiety, being the final stage of this highly competitive selection process. Overall, it was an exciting learning experience for me. 

I would say the whole application process was challenging, characterised by anxiety and uncertainty, but admittedly also rewarding, enabling you to reflect on your career and achievements and is especially so when you receive that long-awaited success email.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for this scholarship?   

I suggest prospective applicants do their homework and carefully research the scholarship scheme by visiting the website. This strategy gives you all the information and direction for a successful application. It may also guide your decision to go ahead with the application this time or to focus on your personal development to gain the skills and experience needed to put in an outstanding application in the next application cycle. This crucial step, I believe, can avoid vicious cycles of what I call “blind” or “trial” applications, applications that the applicant knows are unlikely to yield positive outcomes or is not confident that they can lead to desired results. 

Completing thorough research on the relevant scholarship, tailoring your application to the outlined requirements and being intentional at every stage of the application process can put you on the path to success. 

What have you enjoyed most about your experience as a scholar at LSHTM?   

The opportunity to network with peers and tutors from diverse backgrounds has been fantastic. In addition, being an official representative of LSHTM as a Student Ambassador, allowing me to interact with prospective students through emails and Virtual Open Day events was very exciting. 

  • Ready to start your Chevening application? Find out how to apply.
  • Got a question for Muftau? You can send him a message via our Student Ambassadors page.
  • Check our master's funding and scholarships page which is updated regularly as new opportunities open. Johnson & Johnson Global Mental Health Scholarship; the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship; and the LSHTM GSK Scholarship are not yet open. Many scholarships open between November-April.
  • Find out more about Muftau's experience of studying MSc Global Mental Health at LSHTM and King's College London in his blog.

Applications for Chevening Scholarships close before LSHTM applications open. You can apply for the Chevening Scholarship first and indicate the programme you wish to study, and then apply for your MSc of choice once our applications open. We recommend that you register your interest to be notified when applications open and submit your application to LSHTM by the end of December.