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Is it Hard to Get Swedish Institute Scholarships?

Is it hard to get Swedish Institute Scholarship, really? I would say I am so grateful that I got selected as one of the SISGP holders. I remember three years ago when some colleagues laughed and told me to revise my study in Sweden goal. Like, why would I leave my full-time job with an above-average salary (at least in my country), to deal with journal articles and nonstop reading demands, and still have no guarantee of where I would end up working. Well, high education was not a privilege for everyone in Indonesia, and going abroad for study? That is a luxury! I remember my parent had to squeeze their sweat just to put me and my sister graduate high school. Massive population, expensive education and limited job vacancy were not really an appealing combination back then. However, after working in the same company for years, something called me… But wait! This is not a post about my drama history. Would write that separately (or not) and let’s back to SISGP.

As an Indonesian, I am eligible among 33 other countries to be granted this scholarship in 2020 enrollment. For 2021 enrollment, they expanded the eligible countries to 42. But, what is SISGP, and is it as hard as it became a legend (at least among my peers)? Here’s from my point of view. SISGP (Swedish Institute Scholarship for global professionals) is a fully-funded master’s degree program from the Swedish Institute, a public agency that belongs to the government of Sweden. This scholarship is dedicated to those who have experience in the workforce and willing to take part in a better future developing and participate in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainability Development. Of course, when you talk about Sweden, the sustainability concept is always appealing. The complete procedure of how you can apply here. There were more scholarships they offered in 2020 enrollment. However, choices are reduced to only SISGP and SIS for Africa here.

I remember there were around 7.000 participants who applied, yet only less than 350 awarded the scholarship in 2020. In 2021, the quota was not much increased despite more eligible countries added. So it is pretty competitive obviously. The selection process begins after the university acceptance is announced. That being said, no chance if you are not accepted to any Swedish universities. But what should we put on our paperwork to get through? I have never talked to the committee, nor I have the syllabus, but here are things I pointed out from my document-making process.

1. Motivation Letter

SISGP motivation letter template only allows us to answer two questions with a maximum of 1000 characters for the first question, and a maximum of 800 for the second question. Yes, you read me, characters, not words. That means punctuation like dot also counted as characters. I am sure you would tell tons of talent or achievements you had, but limits are real. The questions may differ in every application year but you may get a big picture from my case.

The first question about your motivation for the program. I answered by writing what exactly I expected from the program I choose and how I can contribute to myself, family, and society once I graduate in regard to correlating with the knowledge I would get from the Master’s program. I was tempted to include a hard-time-drama of past time story, but again I have this 1.000 limitation of characters. I chose to present my plan for the future rather than my past time misery. It works! Anyway, it is the Swedish Institute Scholarship for Global Professionals. Professionals should always march forward, not stuck with the past time right?

In the second question, with almost 800 characters, I related my goals in the first question with one of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 11 SDGs that cover all aspects of life, and I believe it is very important to understand them completely. So I suggest reading all of those 11 SDGs one by one then you may have an idea in which field your goal towards. I took my time to understand it completely so I don’t choose an unmatched goal. SDGs are very important for Sweden as this country is one of the pioneers in sustainability. If I were a country of Sweden, I would absolutely love all of your ideas and ambitions towards sustainability. Updates: in 2021 enrollment, this question is terminated.

2. Letter of Reference.

SISGP requires two reference letters from different referees. As they suggest on their website page if we can get one out of the two referees from an organization or community outside our work. My first referee was my supervisor in the company, the other was a senior teacher during my teaching voluntary work. I tried to correlate the reference from community or civil organization as a reflection of my willingness which of course, in line with my goal passion. Little tips, don’t forget to brief the referee thoroughly. I explained to my referees about my goals of the study and how the program I choose is related to making it come true. Also, explained how this path I chose would contribute to the 2030 UN’s SDGs. Hence, my referees emphasized my personality needed to support the goals, and achievements they think relevant. The reference letters they made were not just a general thought and were in line with my motivation letter. We indeed can not control the referee’s words, but the referees would get a picture in a way that your attempt is positive, need their support, and would explain about you accordingly.

3. Other required documents and its details.

So, is it hard to get Swedish Institute Scholarship? It will depend on how much effort you put. There are more than just reference letters and motivation letters required like proof of work and identity documents. Full requirement click here. Furthermore, all of the documents are essential for our judgment. Even if (for example) I wrote a spectacular motivation letter, but failed to provide English proficiency (IELTS or TOEFL), you probably are not reading this right now. Because I am not eligible to be judged as I can’t apply to any university without an English proficiency certificate anyway. So make sure to complete all the administrative requirements, and make sure it all valid.

4. Preparation and Time management.

I had been observing the application process since 2017, and yet document preparation was never as simple as reading a novel on a weekend. Don’t worry, it is not rocket science either (unless you apply for one). Before I start to make all the documents for 2020 enrollment, I read the whole procedure and process in order to manage the schedule. Schedule for what? Schedule of when I should start to write this or that, and specify my time allocation, how many days I should finish which document, which document should be prioritized. Trust me, this is essential. Read all the procedures and requirements completely, understand them, plan, then execute. Don’t just skim read one or two paragraphs and rush to make a document. There are many details you need to put attention to. How do we make sure we meet the requirement? How do we make sure our documents are eligible? Read and Read. The more we read, the more we will understand.

And make sure you start as early as possible. This application won’t be perfect overnight or even a week!!


I believe many SISGP applicants are either used to work or still actively working. For me, I was full-time public relations when I applied. So time was not abundant as I had to share with the demanding workload. So if you are like me, start reading early. Yes! like now! I applied in February 2020 for the academic year of 2020 but had been following the SISGP recruitment since 2017. Why didn’t I apply in 2018 enrollment? Well that’s another story. The application was not smooth for me. I failed to achieve a minimum TOEFL score on my first attempt in June 2019, and of course, need time to drill my English skill and finally get band 7 on IELTS in January 2020. I can’t imagine procrastinating not to improve my English score. Can you? When it comes to English certification, it demands time management as well. You probably good at English writing, but you will fail without success to meet the time limit.

Lastly, beyond all the experiences I shared, I believe it is very important to first know what we want and be sincere in your application. When we know what we want, what program to choose, what we want to achieve after graduation, why, and how to get it, it would naturally be reflected in your essays. And the question of “is it hard to get a Swedish Institute Scholarship?” Will be able to be answered by yourself later on.

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  • Reply Irene January 7, 2021 at 7:21 am

    Hi, I need to ask 1 question and I have done my research for this but didn’t find a simple, straightforward answer.
    For SISGP need of TOEFL / IELTS result, do we need to submit it 15 January or 1 February?


    • Reply Rusy K. June 11, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      Hi, pardon my late response, but I hope you got the answer already.
      Those date was different in my year of application, so I don’t know. But document should be submitted before the deadline of application, which usually later after deadline of choosing university programs.

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