Writing a Winning Scholarship Proposal – Part 4 – The Closing

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Although this article is primarily aimed at university students writing proposals for scholarship applications – many of these principles and techniques are applicable to other types of proposals, as well. 

In the first post of this series I talked about the outline for the typical scholarship proposal:

We covered the first three topics in posts 1 to 3 of this series.  If you missed any of them, then I suggest you go back and read those first.  Just click on the relevant item in the list above to jump back to those posts.

The last item in the list is the topic of today’s post and, in some ways, it’s the hardest to write.  In addition, as with the conclusions to a paper or report, it’s usually the part that receives the least attention despite its importance.  It’s understandable – fatigue usually kicks in near the end of anything you write.  That’s actually good news for you; if most people are doing it poorly, doing it well yourself will put you ahead of the competition.  

Why is the closure so important?  Well, in fact, it’s a lot like sales.  You may give the greatest sales pitch in the world, but if you can’t close the deal, you don’t make the commission.  A good “closer” in the sales world ends up convincing the customer to actually pull out their credit card or checkbook.  Writing a scholarship proposal is no different – you are selling yourself and your research plan.  At the moment the reviewers finish reading it – you want them to be so pumped about it that they’d reach for their own wallet to give you money.

So, what do you put in these paragraphs to “close the deal”?  It’s quite simple – you describe in specifics how this project will advance the state-of-knowledge in this field.  If you’ve done your job well in the pitch paragraph, the groundwork for this is already there. Remind them of the project’s value and importance that you presented earlier (using very different words, of course).  The thing you must add here is what the impact of this new knowledge will be.  Who specifically will use this knowledge and how will they use it?  Will lives be saved? Will the secrets of the universe unfold?  Will someone’s (or some group’s) quality of life be improved?  The key here is to be very specific.  Most people use blanket ‘motherhood’ statements and generalities here – to stand out from the crowd you have to present specific impacts.  If you can quantify them – even better!

One beneficial outcome that many students neglect to mention is the impact on their own knowledge and experience.  Many granting agencies place a lot of weight on the quality of the student training experience in adjudicating grant proposals – it makes sense that these same granting agencies should place equal weight on this in the scholarship competitions.  If you can effectively express how this project will increase your skills and knowledge – and why it is important to have those new skills and this knowledge, then it can only strengthen your application.

One final word of advice in terms of being competitive in the scholarship competition.  Publish early and publish often.  You should be presenting papers (or posters) in at least one conference per year throughout your graduate program.  Strangely, although conference papers don’t count for much in assessing professors (except in some select research areas) they do matter a great deal to graduate students competing for scholarships.  For example, if you can have a few conference papers to your credit from your Masters or early on in your PhD program, you will be far more likely to get scholarships later on.  If you can get a journal paper or two out during your Masters or PhD, you’ll be considered a star in many fields of research.  This will also set you up well for your post-doctoral career.

Good luck – and let me know if you get the scholarship! 🙂

If you found this series useful – please use the comment feature to let me know. 

If there’s a topic you would like to see covered on this blog, again please let me know by commenting below.


14 thoughts on “Writing a Winning Scholarship Proposal – Part 4 – The Closing

    Dr. Khaled Edris said:
    January 21, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Thanks, the four parts are very useful.
    I wish I read them long time ago.

      Faye Hicks responded:
      January 31, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Thanks! so glad you found them useful!

    Vivian John said:
    February 8, 2014 at 12:57 am

    So glad I found this page. I wish I did during my masters. Anyway, I’m glad I did now. Thank you Faye. Appreciated.

      Faye Hicks responded:
      February 8, 2014 at 1:59 am

      Thanks Vivian – I’m happy that you found it useful. 🙂

    gabriel said:
    September 25, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I like your writing, really ease to read and very useful. great help

    ika said:
    October 11, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    thank you, this article is usefull

      Faye Hicks responded:
      October 12, 2015 at 4:38 am

      You’re welcome – I’m so glad you found it helpful! 🙂

    mark said:
    January 16, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    Thank you very much Mr. Hicks for being helpful to me. Best greetings from Brazil.

      Faye Hicks responded:
      January 18, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Mark – best of luck!

    Mark Okyere said:
    July 13, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Thanks so much for this post. I submitted an application for a PhD scholarship in one of the European countries but was unsuccessful. Although after finding out about the reason for the negative decision about my application, I learnt that other candidates scored higher although my scores were not less than 80 over 100 in each of the three categories that the scholarship was evaluated. Concerning publication, I have written one which is still being reviewed by peer-reviewers and I hope to publish more in the coming years. Reading this post about “writing a winning scholarship proposal” I have learnt a lot and will apply them to my next application. I hope I will be able to secure a scholarship in the coming academic year. It’s always good to have someone with an experience to give you an insider information regarding where you are heading and what the requirements are to get in there.

      Faye Hicks responded:
      July 21, 2017 at 6:42 am

      Thanks – good luck!

    Tobi Kareem said:
    November 1, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Kudos!!! How do I get a sample of grant proposals. Thanks.

      Faye Hicks responded:
      November 10, 2017 at 3:51 am

      Thanks very much and so sorry for the delay responding. I am working on some examples now and will be posting links to them soon. 🙂

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