Postgraduate Bursary
A Comprehensive Guide to Postgraduate Bursaries in Nigeria

Pursuing postgraduate studies is an investment in your future. However, the costs of tuition, books, accommodation, and other expenses can make this a challenging prospect without financial assistance.

This is where postgraduate bursaries become invaluable for helping you fund your further education and achieve your career ambitions.

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the wide range of postgraduate bursary opportunities available in Nigeria and provide insider tips to help you secure funding. Whether you are pursuing a masters, PhD, or other postgraduate qualification, read on to discover where to find bursaries, how to craft a winning application, and set yourself up for success.

Postgraduate Bursary


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A bursary is a monetary award provided to students to help cover educational expenses. Unlike a loan, it does not need to be repaid. Bursaries are granted based on financial need, academic merit, field of study, or other eligibility criteria set by the provider.

For Nigerian postgraduate students, bursaries can make the difference in being able to pursue further studies locally or internationally. The key is finding ones that match your specific situation and crafting an outstanding application.

This guide will explore:

  • The main sources of postgraduate bursaries in Nigeria
  • Strategies for researching appropriate bursary opportunities
  • How to structure a compelling bursary application
  • Common requirements and eligibility criteria
  • Insider tips from bursary application experts
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about the process

Whether you are looking to fund a masters, PhD, or other postgraduate program, let’s delve into how to secure vital bursary funding.

Understanding Postgraduate Bursary Sources

The first step is understanding the main providers of postgraduate bursaries for Nigerian students.

Your University

Most universities offer some bursaries specifically for their own postgraduate students. These are an excellent place to start your search, as you may be eligible for institutional aid as a continuing student. Many universities also offer needs-based and merit-based postgraduate bursaries.

Government Agencies

The Nigerian government provides a number of bursary programs for postgraduate students through agencies like the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). These include:

  • Postgraduate Needs-Based Scholarship Scheme (PGN-BSS) – bursaries based on financial need.
  • Presidential Scholarship Scheme (PSS) – competitive merit-based bursaries.
  • PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme – funding for international postgraduate study.

Private Companies

Certain private companies and corporations offer bursaries to Nigerian postgraduate students, often in fields related to their industries. These are great options if you are willing to work for the company for a period post-graduation.

Charities and Foundations

There are charity organizations and foundations that provide postgraduate bursaries based on criteria like financial disadvantage, minority status, or field of study. Excellent examples are the Ford Foundation and the Mastercard Foundation.

International Universities

Many international universities offer generous postgraduate bursaries and scholarships to attract top global talent, including students from Nigeria. Competition is often fierce, but this presents an amazing opportunity.

By casting your net wide across these sources, you give yourself the best chance of securing funding.

Strategically Researching Bursary Opportunities

With so many potential bursaries out there, strategic research is key to filtering down to ones that fit your goals and maximize your chance of success.

Start Early

Begin actively looking for and researching bursaries 12-18 months before you plan to begin postgraduate studies. Most bursaries have annual application cycles with deadlines. Give yourself ample time.

Create a Bursary Shortlist

Keep a spreadsheet of promising bursary opportunities with key details like provider, deadline, eligibility criteria, and application link. Continuously add to your shortlist.

Align with Your Field of Study

Look for bursaries targeted to students in your specific academic field, such as engineering, sciences, arts, or humanities. These tend to be less competitive.

Assess Eligibility Criteria

Carefully verify that you meet all eligibility requirements before applying, including academic, financial, and country of origin criteria.

Evaluate Application Requirements

Take note of exactly what materials are required for each bursary application such as transcripts, tests scores, essays, and recommendation letters.

Thorough research will help you focus your time on bursaries you are actually eligible for and ensure you submit complete applications.

Crafting a Stellar Bursary Application

Your written application is your chance to showcase why you deserve the bursary. Here are tips for crafting an outstanding application:

Highlight Academic Achievements

Provide specific details of your academic performance like GPA, scholarships won, and examples of high marks or honors. Quantify achievements.

Demonstrate Financial Need

Give accurate details of your financial situation and how the bursary would enable your studies. Share any hardships or constraints affecting your family.

Show Passion for Your Field

Explain what drives your passion and interest in your chosen field of postgraduate study and future goals in that career area.

Write a Unique Personal Statement

Most applications will require a personal statement or essays. This is your platform to shine. Share your story, achievements, and dreams authentically.

Secure Strong Recommendations

Ask professors or employers who know you well for recommendation letters to reinforce your qualities and potential. Follow any guidelines provided.

Explain Impact of Further Study

Discuss the difference your postgraduate education would make to your own career as well as its broader impact on society or your field.

Proofread Meticulously

Refine drafts to perfection. Verify every detail is accurate. Grammar and style errors can cost you. Ask others to review also.

With a strategic approach and compelling content, your application can help you stand apart from the competition.

Common Eligibility Criteria

Understanding typical eligibility requirements will prepare you to target bursaries you qualify for.

Academic Achievement

A minimum undergraduate GPA is often required, usually 3.0 or higher on a 4-point scale. High academic performance boosts competitiveness.

Enrollment Status

Most bursaries are limited to full-time postgraduate students. Confirm enrolment before applying.

Financial Need

Bursaries are intended for economically disadvantaged students. Be prepared to verify financial status.

Field of Study

Some bursaries are for specific majors like engineering, health sciences, education, arts, or business.


Eligibility may be limited to Nigerian citizens or residents in some cases. Other bursaries are open globally.

While each bursary sets its own criteria, expectation of excellence and demonstrated financial need are universal.

Insider Tips from Experts

Take advantage of these insider tips from bursary application experts:

  • Start preparing your application materials at least 3 months in advance of deadlines.
  • Ask an advisor, professor, or mentor knowledgeable in your field to review your draft application.
  • Showcase awards, publications, or anything proving your academic excellence. Quantify achievements.
  • For needs-based bursaries, clearly articulate how funding will concretely enable you to pursue your studies.
  • Follow up politely after submitting your application to confirm it was received successfully.

With proper preparation, stellar content, and persistence, you can maximize your chances of bursary success.

Answers to Common Bursary Questions

Let’s explore some frequent questions applicants have:

How many bursaries should I apply for?

Applying to 5-15 bursaries can give you sufficient options. Balance quantity with tailoring each application.

Can I apply before being accepted to a postgraduate program?

Most bursaries require confirmed enrollment, but some allow applying in advance. Verify requirements.

Is a bursary renewable for multiple years?

Some bursaries are renewable annually if you maintain eligibility. Others are one-time awards.

What is the application schedule?

Applications typically open months in advance of the academic year they will fund. Deadlines are commonly in the spring.

Will a bursary cover all my costs?

Rarely, but it can make a significant dent. Estimate your total costs, then maximize bursary reach.

With some diligence, you can uncover funding to invest in your postgraduate future.


The costs associated with postgraduate study can seem daunting. But with knowledge of the range of bursary opportunities for Nigerian students, and insights to craft targeted applications, you can secure key financial assistance. Whether studying locally or abroad, bursaries enable you to follow your educational passions and accelerate your career.

Remember to begin your bursary search early, assess eligibility carefully, tailor compelling applications, and follow expert tips. With focus and persistence, postgraduate bursaries can help turn your academic dreams into realities. The knowledge in this guide equips you to unlock vital funding and grants to power your postgraduate success story.


What are some reputable online platforms to search for bursaries?

Some top bursary search platforms include AfterSchoolAfrica, Scholars4Dev, and ScholarshipPositions. Also check individual university and funder websites.

Should I get help with my bursary applications?

Seeking feedback from advisors can be invaluable, but avoid using any external services offering to complete applications for you, as this can jeopardize your eligibility.

How do I get strong recommendation letters?

Approach professors or mentors who know your qualities well. Provide them with your resume, transcripts, and any helpful details about your goals and strengths. Give them at least one month notice.

Can I submit the same personal statement to multiple bursaries?

You can reuse content from your core personal statement, but it is best to tailor each application to the specific provider and requirements.

If I don’t get a bursary, can I apply again in future?

Absolutely. Many applicants are successful only after applying across multiple years. Persist, continuously refine your applications, and seek feedback on how to strengthen your case.


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