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Applying for scholarships for a research degree

Once an application has been considered by the Admissions Committee the sender will be sent a letter offering either enrolment, or enrolment conditional on meeting some further requirement - often evidence of funding. Each of these letters can be used to help a student raise the funds necessary to be admitted on to, or to continue in, the Research Programme.

Students must take personal responsibility for this aspect of their preparations to study with OCMS. It may require dedication of time and energy on their part to find the necessary help. This can, at times, be frustrating and they need to be pro-active and patient to succeed! Every individual is different and there are no guarantees, but there are a few basic things to consider.

1. It is important to prepare a simple 'business plan' for the studies. Financial sponsors need to know what the scholar's plans are, why they believe the study is important and what it will cost over what period of time. Donors want to help motivated people and by laying out the own vision and relating it to a course of study, prospective students will help these people to see the value of supporting this particular piece of research (rather than the hundred others also knocking at their door!).

To prepare a short (one to two page) business case, briefly describe the background and career or ministry goals. Explain why this course will enhance knowledge and skills in relationship to future plans. This needs to be angled at the aims and interest of each potential donor or like-minded groups of donors. What are the specific aspirations of the person applying, and what do they hope to learn from a research degree that will help them fulfill these aspirations, are the kinds of questions they will be wanting answered.

Attach a curriculum vitae (CV) and a budget to the plan. Don't forget to include the cost of international as well as local travel, and any other expenses involved, for instance, fieldwork and visiting archives.

2. Compile a list of possible sponsors. From a personal perspective, this might include:

2.1 Is your own organization or church willing to contribute? Perhaps they would consider helping you buy a computer, or pay for your travel? They may be willing to contribute towards your monthly allowance or a percentage of your fees. Be creative. You will not know until you ask.

2.2 Compile a list of personal contacts whom you could approach to ask for advice. Are any of them in a position to help, even in a small way? Can you ask them for suggestions on others you could approach? Would they be willing to introduce you to someone who may be able to help? Is thee a church or mission leader, for example, who might have international contacts that could be approached.

2.3 Compile a list of organizations, agencies and churches who are active in your area or field of interest. Do a little research on each organization; the internet is a great help here. Do they have a scholarship fund? In what way does your topic of study align with their aims and objectives? Can you identify a person or department that you should contact? In addition to giving them a copy of your business plan, try to give them a specific reason why they, in particular, should sponsor you. If you have a personal contact, ask them informally whether they could help.

As far as the bigger agencies are concerned you will have to follow their protocol. An initial enquiry briefly stating your goal in pursuing research, asking whether they would consider an application for a scholarship, and requesting information on how to apply might save you some time.

2.4 It may be that there are some statutory funding organisations who may help with your fees as well as individuals and/or agencies. See what government funding might be available for your studies. Ask others who have studied (especially those who have completed their research) who helped them, and whether they might help to recommend you to some of their former sponsors.

2.5 Revisit this process every month. You may have been turned down at the beginning of your search but once you have secured some of your funding you may be able go back a second time. It can be more compelling to hear "I have 70% of the funds I need, could you help close the gap?" than "I am just starting out - would you be willing to make the first contribution?".

3. OCMS is willing to write an additional letter if necessary to support your application to a potential sponsor, confirming your acceptance on the course and indicating how we believe this could help further your goals. Please let OCMS have the specific name and address details for each application you wish to pursue. The letter will be sent to you to include with your application.

4. OCMS is an associated institution of Middlesex University and a sponsoring establishment of the Open University, and these are the main awarding institutions for the research degrees that we deliver. Some agencies will only give scholarships for study on a recognized degree programme and it is therefore important to mention the University.

5. If you have been approved for enrolment and are eligible for scholarship, you will be sent a Scholarship Application Form on an annual basis.

We pray that the Lord will grant you what is necessary to accomplish laudable aims. For enquiries concerning admission, please contact rmcintyre@ocms.ac.uk.

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