Deep Dive

Ladies Meeting

Deep Dive: Nationally Competitive Scholarships and Preparing to Apply 

Top undergraduates, graduate students and alumni can pursue nationally competitive awards that will fund study, research and other consequential projects. The Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships (ONCS) is poised to help students and alumni develop excellent applications for these awards. ONCS offers expertise related to the range of available awards, as well as customized 1:1 assistance for applicants and those exploring the prospect of applying. ONCS has a historically strong track record of working with applicants who become scholars, bringing experience and energy to every scholarship competition. 

We can help you through every stage of the process: identifying scholarships that fit your profile and goals, preparing an application, and coaching for interviews. The scholarship application process may initially seem overwhelming, but we are here to help you navigate the terrain as smoothly as possible. 


Nationally competitive scholarships are open to students at universities and colleges throughout the United States and around the world. They are highly competitive and generally provide 1-3 years of funding to undergraduate and/or graduate students. The funding is meant to help students pursue educational opportunities, sometimes abroad, that are related to the missions of the agencies or foundations offering the scholarships. While many students contend for a relatively small number of scholarships, the University of Arizona has a strong record of placing students in these programs.



  • Maintain an excellent academic record that demonstrates diverse interests and rigorous coursework. Don’t be
    afraid to challenge yourself. 
  • Take advantage of volunteer, internship, and research opportunities
  • Get involved in leadership roles with student and community organizations. 
  • Strongly consider language study, especially if interested in study abroad. 
  • Get to know your professors and employers. You will need reference letters for your applications. 
  • Reflect on your long-term goals. How would a scholarship fit into your life plan? 
  • Develop a narrative that shows how what you've done (and what you're doing now) fits in with your long-term goals and commitments and demonstrates your potential to be a leader in your field. 


There are generally three types of nationally competitive scholarships:  

  • Those that fund study abroad experiences, 
  • Those that target candidates with specific backgrounds/interests, and 
  • Those that support postgraduate study.  

For a full list, check out the Scholarship Database