Scholarship Opportunities in Saudi Arabia
The following is a list of scholarship opportunities for Saudi high school students intending to pursue their undergraduate degree.
The KAUST Gifted Student Scholarship (KGSP) is an undergraduate scholarship intended for Saudi students interested in pursuing
a degree in the STEM fields. The scholarship offers students an opportunity to study their undergraduate degree in the US in
exchange with completing their Master’s degree at KAUST.
KGSP students are chosen through an intense application process. Mawhiba first nominates students to KAUST and
then those nominated are sent an invitation to apply to the KGSP program. The application asks students for numerous
standardized test scores, such as Qudorat, Tahseeli and SATs (the exact requirements are on the website).The application process usually includes an interview conducted at KAUST in Thuwal and other supplemental information. The program has been known to accept non-nominated students if they show enough interest and promise.
KGSP students, once admitted are placed into one of their paths: either they are sent straight to an undergraduate institution (if they already have admissions into a KGSP approved university). Otherwise, they are placed into a Foundation Year (a pre-college program that focuses on applying to colleges and college prep) in the States, or an ESL (an English as a Second Language program focused on teaching English to promising KGSP students).
Benefits of the KGSP program include:
An intense preparatory program that helps with college admissions.
Various internship and research opportunities
It should also be noted that the program has recently entered into a contract with Aramco in which Aramco would sponsor and guarantee employment for outstanding KGSP students. This program is meant to ensure female applicants of job perspectives after joining KGSP.
Although the scholarship has many great benefits, it also has the highest GPA requirement (between 3.3 and 3.5) for all the majors in Saudi scholarship programs. Also, the program is relatively new and has been known to have administrative problems.
Aramco’s major scholarship program, the CPDNE (more commonly known as CPC), is a scholarship offered by Aramco to pursue an undergraduate degree in the US or UK in exchange for services equal to the amount of years spent in the program. Admission for the scholarship
starts at the end of the school year. Student must first meet certain criteria to register for the CPC exams. The following are the criteria:
A score of 80 and above on the Saudi Qudorat test (for students studying under the "American Diploma system, it is possible to submit a SAT score rather than Saudi Qudorat test: the minimum is 650 in math)
An average of 90% and above for all science and math grades in high school
An average of 90% cumulative final grade percentage or GPA (it is possible to apply even below a cumulative 90% if and only if you have a score of 85 or above in the Tahseli exam)
Once applicants meet these requirements and are registered, they are given two CPC exams that test their math and English skills. After the test, the applicants are assigned majors based on their preferences and other factors. Most of the students admitted into the program enter the College Preparatory Program in Dhahran. The students are given courses based on their majors and are allowed to take Advance Placement (APs) courses.
Benefits of the CDPNE program include:
An intense preparatory program that helps with adjustment into college
Guaranteed employment upon graduation
The time spent since entering the program (including college) is counted towards years of service in the company
The major downside to the program is the five-year commitment of employment upon graduation. Once a student completes his/her undergraduate degree, they are forced to serve the company for the amount of time they were sponsored. Also, the intense preparatory program has been known to make applying to schools difficult due to the major time commitment of the program in courses that are not related to the application process.
The SABIC scholarship program is the flagship scholarship of the SABIC Corporation. The program offers students the opportunity to pursue their undergraduate degree either abroad or in the Kingdom (in King Saud or King Fahad universities).
The application process starts at the end of the school year and applicants go through a two-step application process:
First, students apply through the website and if their scores are above a certain mark, they are invited to an interview
with members of the SABIC Corporation. During the interview they are administered an English language exam.
Accepted students are then given an offer and assigned a major based on their preference. However, it may not be
the same one.
SABIC students are then sent to study English at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Dhahran for approximately three months. Upon completion of three months, they are sent to the US to complete a year and a half long Foundation Year program at one of their FY universities (UPenn, BU, or UT Austin).
Benefits of the SABIC Scholarship program include:
An intense preparatory program that includes English language courses for the first three months
Guaranteed employment upon graduation
Upon employment, years of service are counted more towards experience
The major downside of the SSP is the same as that of CPP: the long commitment after college. The SSP also has a highly restricted approved school list, which does not include top schools such as UCLA and UCSD.