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Erasmus Mundus Masters Scholarships

by Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier

Every year, new Erasmus Mundus Consortia are awarded funding and nearly 2000 students from around the world benefit from Erasmus Mundus masters scholarships.

What is Erasmus Mundus?

Erasmus Mundus is a programme funded by the European Commission. Its aims are to encourage mobility (long-term and short-term) of students and staff; to attract the best talents to Europe and; to promote European higher education worldwide. Erasmus Mundus also aims to encourage European institutions to team up with other universities in Europe and beyond as well as developing partnerships with other educational organisations and placement providers. It is completely separate from the Erasmus exchange programmes that you may have experienced at undergraduate level. The fundamental differences are that most of the mobility opportunities are for postgraduate students and that the periods of mobility are not just non-graduating but are also for full degrees.

What does it mean for Masters students?

Institutions themselves apply for Erasmus Mundus funding as part of consortia/partnerships which will in time award double, multiple or joint Masters degrees. These groups of institutions have to demonstrate how they can, together, provide an educational experience and training which they would not be able to offer on their own. Once a consortium has been selected, Masters programmes and study abroad (non-graduating) opportunities will be advertised by the consortium directly. Students can then apply to take part as well as applying for scholarships. Self-funded students can also take part in these programmes.

Erasmus Mundus has two streams, the handily-named, Action 1 and Action 2:

Action 1 consists of Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses (EMMC) focusing on a subject area (which can be interdisciplinary) at Masters level. Its characteristics are:

  • Consortium of universities including at least 3 European different countries
  • It can include non-EU partners
  • Scholarships for European students and students from other countries to undertake taught postgraduate programmes

Action 2 is delivered on a wider-scale academic mobility (i.e. it is not linked to a specific Masters degree, but is open to almost all study level) between Europe and “Third countries” within a designated region. Scholarships are available to support both non-graduating/short-term and degree-seeking students.

Advantages of the Erasmus Mundus programme

Action 1 allows Masters students to undertake a structured training programme adapted to their subject area as well as benefiting from teaching, supervision and facilities of at least 3 European countries (also non-EU countries). It includes university partners (not degree-awarding) which will provide dissertation supervision and take part in associated activities. Other partners may include research centers, or industrial partners providing internships or placements. Action 2 aims to offer opportunities to students from defined regions of the world identified by the European Commission. Groups of European and local institutions are created to develop knowledge and research in that region and to develop lasting relationships between institutions. Periods of study abroad (during which the student remains registered at his/her home institution) and full Masters are undertaken in one institution.

Opportunities for Masters studies

Because EMMC include universities across Europe, the duration of these masters courses is generally 2 years. When UK universities (where masters courses are normally 12 months in duration) are involved in the consortium, they will make an exception on the duration of their masters to allow for periods of mobility which would be too short if the masters degrees were delivered over 1 year. For Action 2, the duration of the masters degree will be determined by the host institution (for full-degrees) or by the home institution (in the case of study abroad students). To find out which subject areas benefit from EMMC and which have an open scholarship competition, the best source is the European Commission website

Examples of subject areas include:

  • Social Work – MFamily: European Master in Social Work with Families and Children (including 2 European universities as well as Australian and West African university partners)
  • Archaeology – ARCHMAT: Erasmus Mundus Master in Archaeological Materials Science (including 3 EU universities as well as 5 university partners worldwide and 3 research centers)
  • Engineering - TRIBOS - Joint master programme in Tribology of Surfaces and Interfaces (including 4 EU universities as well as 2 university partners – 1 EU and 1 non-EU – and 4 industrial partners)

Action 1 EMMC programme structure

Scenario I: 2 years Scenario II: 2 years Scenario III: 2 years
Semester 1: University A courses Semester 1: University A courses Semester 1: University A courses
Semester 2: University B courses Semester 2: University B courses Semester 2: University B courses

Summer School

Internship with Industrial partner

Semester 3: University C courses and dissertation preparation Semester 3: University C courses in association with University D (non-EU) and associate University partner 1 Semester 3: University C OR D
Semester 4: Dissertation based at University A, B or C co-supervised by 2 university partners Semester 4: Dissertation based at Universities A-D with co-supervision from other university partners Semester 4: Dissertation based at University C OR D and co-supervised by Universities A & B
Degree awarded by Universities A+B+C Degree award by Universities A, B, C & D Degree award by Universities A, B, C & D

Action 2 programme

A list of programmes in each region is available here.

Each programme will have defined numbers of studentships for all target groups and for EU or Third country students. Action 2 may provide:

  • Opportunities for Masters students from nominated institutions in a defined region of the world to come to Europe or EU students to study in that region. (Target group 1). These students attend institutions which are part of a consortium to complement their training and experience via periods of study abroad (6-12 months)
  • A small number of full Masters opportunities (up to 24 months) in the EU for students from that region but who are not in the nominated institutions (Target group 2).
  • Opportunities to help people "from candidates in vulnerable situations, resulted from social and/or political reasons" (Target group 3).

How to apply – A step-by-step guide

For Action 1 and 2, eligible candidates must apply through individual programme websites. Once you are selected, you will be contacted by the lead university of the consortium (in the case of EMMC) or your host university (in the case of Action 2).

Step 1: Choose between Action 1 (EMMC) or Action 2
Action 1 Action 2
Step 2: Identify the right programme for you (subject area and participating universities) Step 2: Check your eligibility to take part.
Step 3: Find out what the application guidelines and selection criteria are. Step 3: Find out which types of mobility are available.
Step 4: Find out about scholarships. Step 4: Select a host university
Step 5: Make sure you fulfill the academic requirements. Step 5: Find out what the application guidelines and selection criteria are.
Step 6: Apply online (via the programme application form or the lead university's). Step 6: Find out about scholarships.
  Step 7: Make sure you fulfill the academic requirements.
  Step 8: Apply online (via the programme application form or the lead university's).
If you are successful, you may also have to apply formally for admissions at the university(ies) you will be studying.

Scholarships and self-funding options

Masters scholarships will be available and deadlines are normally around November-February prior to the year you intend to start. Students do not have to pay for tuition fees and if an EMMC student is studying in institutions with different fee rates, this will not have any effect on the scholarship awarded. The scholarships will include:

  • Tuition fees, participation costs (including insurance coverage)
  • Travel cost contribution
  • Installation cost contribution
  • Monthly allowance (corrected for each country the students go to, to allow for differences in local cost of living)
  • If applicable, additional funding may be available for students who bring their spouse and children with them

Self-funded students are also able to take part in EMMC but must consider the additional costs involved in such schemes (for example, travel costs and attendance at compulsory events/courses)

Training, periods of mobility and language of instructions

Students will be provided with a learning agreement which is specific to them and covers everything from the duration of mobility, lead university, examination procedures to the learning outcomes and language of instruction. Erasmus Mundus Masters programmes are normally taught in English but may include opportunities to acquire other languages, either related to the subject area or to the countries where the universities are based. For Action 2, the courses may be taught in the official language of the country where the host university is located so it is worth checking the language requirements on the programme’s website or that of the host university you have selected.

Erasmus Mundus programmes focus on providing expert knowledge which will fill a gap in the market and on training individuals aware of the benefits of transnational education. These programmes also include aspects of transferable skills and research training aspects, as well as consortium activities such as conferences, summer schools or group meetings, providing a well-rounded education, supported by groups of experts in the field and by resources relevant to the subject area across several institutions.

Alumni

Alumni within each programme (which last for up to 5 years) will benefit from being part of a group united around a subject area (and may become colleagues in the future) or a community with experience of a region/country. Some programmes will host oral dissertation examinations from exiting students in the presence of the students starting the programme so that each new cohort can meet students from the previous year.

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