Conservation Scholarships | Funding for Conservationists

At Conservation Careers we’re on a mission to help conservationists achieve career success, and create a world where wildlife thrives. We believe all conservationists should be able to pursue the best training opportunities, have the best experiences, conduct meaningful research and lead impactful conservation projects to boost their careers and ultimately help wildlife thrive. 

But we know that, especially early in your career, money can be a big barrier, and sometimes even prevent talented conservationists from pursuing and growing their careers. That’s why we’ve reviewed some of the top conservation scholarships around the world.

Whether your next career step is training, research, an experience or a project, we hope the following list helps you make it a reality.

What do conservation scholarships fund?

Start with your goal to find the right conservation scholarship for you…

Explore funding that helps build your skills or knowledge – 
whether via a short course, undergraduate degree, master’s or PhD.

Explore funding that helps you carry out research or conduct a project – 
whether in the field or at your desk, locally or abroad.

Explore funding that helps you gain real-life experience – such as volunteering, internships, traineeships and expeditions.

Scholarships, bursaries, grants... what's the difference?

With so many different terms for funding – like scholarships, bursaries, grants, awards and more – it’s easy to get confused! Here’s a quick breakdown of what each term usually means:

Scholarship | Scholarships offer financial support to offset the costs of study, training or research. They are usually based on predetermined criteria that are often excellence or talent (e.g. academic achievement), but may also include financial need. 

Bursary | Bursaries are financial support that are usually based on financial need, but may have secondary requirements.

Grant | Grants are financial support to offset the cost of study, training, research or projects. They are usually based on specific criteria (e.g. academic achievement, financial need).

Award | Awards are financial support that is not necessarily for a specific use. They may be based on achievement, performance, or other criteria.

Assistantship | Assistantships are academic jobs held by students, which involves pay for services. For example, graduates and undergraduates may apply for Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships.

Fellowship | Fellowships usually refer to financial support to reduce the cost of a graduate student’s education (study or research). However, in some cases they may be financial support for other projects or training. They may include stipends to cover living expenses.

Prize | Prizes are recognition based on competition or other criteria.

Fund | A fund is a pool of money set aside for a specific purpose (for example, to support projects, provide grants, etc.)

How do I choose the right type of funding for me? We recommend focussing on what you want to do (your goal), and searching for funding that can support it. We’ve split funding opportunities into three goal-based categories: Training & Study, Research & Projects, and Experiences and Expeditions. You’ll likely find that there are many different types of funding that support each goal!

Photo credits: Conservation Leadership Programme.

Search all conservation scholarships

Search all the latest conservation scholarship opportunities on our Conservation Scholarship Database.

How do I stand out when applying for a scholarship?

The cover of The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife Conservationist

The good news is that applying for a scholarship isn’t rocket science, and success doesn’t always require academic genius, a 5-page CV/resume, or world-renowned references. Phew!

But… applying for a scholarship can still be very HARD WORK. It’s a lot like applying for a job – or even a job in itself! It’s best to treat it this way if you want to succeed.

Most of the tips in our proven step-by-step Job Application Guide can help you prepare a stand-out scholarship application, too. Download your free copy here.

However, scholarships also differ from job applications in a few ways, so here are our top tips for success.

1. Plan WAY ahead. Scholarship applications can take several days, weeks, months, or the better part of a year to prepare! We recommend searching our conservation scholarship board and making a shortlist of funding opportunities that can help you meet your personal career goals. Keep track of their deadlines and requirements, so you’re ready to submit a strong application when the time comes.

2. Build your team. If you’re like most people, you might treat your conservation scholarship application as a solo endeavour. But, especially if you’re applying for a bigger scholarship, we recommend enlisting the support of a small team who can help you succeed. Your team might include:

  • Referees. If your scholarship requires referees or reference letters, reach out as early as possible to let your referees know what you’re applying for and what you’ll need, and make sure they’re willing and available to support you.
  • Reviewer(s). We recommend having at least one person, and ideally several, review your application. They can be friends, peers, family members or members of the CC Pro support community (find out more here). Make sure your reviewers have time to review in depth, and aren’t afraid to provide honest, constructive feedback.
  • ‘Insiders’. ‘Insiders’ are people who can help give you insider insights and advice to increase your chances of success. We recommend finding people who’ve successfully applied for the specific scholarship(s) you’re interested in. You might also reach out to contacts at the scholarship institution who can help answer specific questions.

 3. Be impeccable with details. Most job applications fail not because of suitability or skills, but because applicants don’t follow the application instructions. The same applies to scholarships. We recommend writing yourself a checklist of the full instructions and checking them off one by one.

4. Emphasise your motivation and mission. If you’re applying for funding to support you in your early career development, you’re essentially asking for an investment in your career vision and mission. It’s important to go beyond highlighting your skills and experience, and show that you have a vision, mission and passion that align with the funding organisation’s goals.

FAQs

Here! Search our database for Training & Study, Research & Projects, and Experiences and Expeditions. Not sure what type of scholarship you need yet? Explore all scholarship opportunities on our conservation scholarships database.

It varies! Scholarships can range from small funds (e.g. to cover the costs of an event, short course or travel), to tens of thousands for projects or study.

Many! You can search our Conservation Scholarships Database by Region to find out what scholarships are available in your country or region of interest, or see where most scholarships are available. We’ve listed lots of scholarships in the UK, US and Europe, but you can find scholarships in many countries around the globe.

Generally speaking, the effort required corresponds to the value of the scholarship. For small grants, you may only need to fill in a brief application. For larger scholarships, you may need to go through a more complex or multi-step application process. Depending on the scholarship, these can include application forms, supporting documents (e.g. CV/resume, personal statement, references), tasks, interviews, and more.

Applying for a scholarship is best treated as a job; you’ll need to put in some time and effort to have a good chance of success. 

No. The majority of scholarships, bursaries and grants do not need to be repaid. However, you may need to meet certain criteria, and/or submit reports as part of receiving a scholarship.

Planning, preparation and attention to detail!

Just as for a job application, you’ll have the best chance of success if you prepare well in advance, and follow the application instructions impeccably.

We also recommend enlisting a small support team to help you prepare. Start early and find ‘insiders’ (e.g. people who’ve successfully applied before), plus a trusted person (or team!) who can help review and improve your application.

Download our proven, step-by-step Job Application Guide for steps and tips that can help you stand out from other applicants.

Many different types of organisations offer funding for conservation. These include governments, universities and colleges, charities and NGOs, private businesses, social enterprises, trusts and foundations, societies and professional organisations, and more.

This will depend on the type of scholarship you apply for and the specific call for applications.

Scholarship applications can take several days, weeks, months, or even the better part of a year to prepare! If you’re looking for funding for university study, it’s a good idea to start searching for scholarships the year before you intend to study. For example, a programme that begins in October could easily have application deadlines in December of the previous year.

We recommend searching our conservation scholarship board and making a shortlist of funding opportunities that can help you meet your personal career goals. Keep track of their deadlines and requirements, so you’re ready to submit a strong application when the time comes.

Yes, it’s possible to find fully funded scholarships to study at a university, including to study abroad. You can search these conservation scholarships for Training & Study.

Useful links & free stuff

The cover of The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife ConservationistTo help you navigate your options, please select which best describes you:
  • You want to work in conservation but you’re feeling lost, disillusioned or confused?!? Check out our Kick-Starter training designed to help you understand the job market, to navigate your career options, and to get hired more quickly. It’s designed for students, graduates, job-seekers and career-switchers. We’re proud to say it also has 100% satisfaction and recommendation ratings. We know you’ll love it. Find out more about our Kick-Starter – Online Course.
  • You need answers to top questions about working in conservation? Check out our free Ultimate Guides covering topics like the 15 Key Conservation Job Types, Top Conservation Internships | Paid or Free and Marine Conservation Jobs, and answering questions like How to Switch Careers into Conservation, Do I need a Master’s Degree? and much more! Or download our free guides to keep and read later!
  • You feel ready to be applying for jobs in conservation? Check out our membership packages for job seekers which provide access to the world’s biggest conservation job board – with over 10,000 conservation jobs shared each year – plus a range of other benefits. Check out our monthly memberships here.
  • You’re submitting applications, but failing to get many interviews? Check out our FREE eBook Conservation Jobs: The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife Conservationist – available on Kindle, EPUB and PDF. We can also review your applications, and provide 1:1 advice on how to improve them. Check out our application support here.
  • You’ve got an interview (well done!) and would like our help to prepare for it? We know what employers want, and have helped many people prepare for and deliver successful interviews. Check out our interview preparation here.
  • You’re feeling stuck, struggling with a career decision or something’s holding you back from pursuing the career of your dreams? Our 1:1 career coaching can help you gain clarity about your next steps and form a plan of action. Check out our career coaching here