How to Win a UBC Major Entrance Scholarship

If you’re looking to attend university in Canada, you’ve likely come across the University of British Columbia! In addition to being ranked among the top three universities in Canada, UBC offers many scholarships for prospective students. Here at GrantMe, we’ve helped many students apply to and win scholarships to UBC (check out Paige, Ripdaman, and Amisha’s stories). Here’s our top advice on how to win UBC scholarships. 

Presidential Scholars Awards

The Presidential Scholars Awards are the most prestigious UBC scholarships! If you plan to attend the Okanagan campus, you could receive a renewable award totalling $40,000 over the course of your degree! If you plan to attend the Vancouver campus, you could receive an $80,000 award over four years!

It’s open to all high school and CEGEP students who are Canadian citizens and permanent residents. These awards recognize students who excel across the board and who have demonstrated academic and leadership achievements in the arts, community, athletics, and school.

The application to apply for the Presidential Scholars Award is the same application to apply for admission—so no extra applications required! You’re assessed based on your Academic Profile (transcript and grades) as well as on your Personal Profile. 

Check out our blog post on the UBC Personal Profile for a guide on how to submit a winning application!

Be sure to apply by December 1 to be considered!

Centennial Scholars Award

The Centennial Scholars Awards are the other main category of UBC scholarships. This award assists students who would not be able to attend UBC without significant financial assistance. If you are academically qualified and have an interest in contributing to the UBC community, this award is for you!

Unlike the Presidential Awards, this scholarship is open to both high school students and students transferring from another post-secondary institution. 

Successful applicants can receive up to $80,000 over four years. This will cover your full tuition and living expenses!

Three things are needed to apply for this scholarship:

  1. A description of your circumstances
  2. Financial information from your parent(s)/guardian(s)
  3. A reference (check out our blog on getting a stellar reference!)

Your description of circumstances is a 1,000-word statement outlining your personal, family, and financial situation that makes it necessary for you to apply for this award. 

The prompt states:

You must explain your involvement and contribution to your school, community, or family, and your interest in joining and contributing to the UBC community. You must also describe how receiving this award will impact your personal situation, now and in the future. There are a number of donor-funded awards designed to support post-secondary participation of underrepresented groups of people within the Canadian population. If you self-identify with one of these groups please indicate this in your Description of Circumstance.

Here’s how you can structure your statement!


Start with an introduction paragraph! Stand out from the crowd right away by beginning with a hook. A hook is one to two sentences at the start of your essay that capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading. A great way to write a hook is to use a personal story or a powerful statement! Tell them your story and give a snapshot of your character. What specific event, person, or experience motivated you to be who you are today? For more on hooks, check out our article here!

Body Paragraphs

Next, add 1-2 paragraphs describing your contribution to your school, community, or family. To help you clearly and powerfully communicate your experiences, use STAR structure! STAR is a 4-part acronym that will help you powerfully describing a specific volunteer or extracurricular experience. 

  • S — Situation (who, what, when, where)
  • T — Task (your objective)
  • A — Actions (what you did, how you did it, skills you used)
  • R — Result (qualitative or quantitative proof of your success) 

For more help using STAR, check out our article here!

You’ll then want to include a paragraph on how you plan to contribute to the UBC community! How will your past experiences help you make an impact on campus? What clubs or groups do you want to join? How will you bring a new perspective or new initiatives to them? What new clubs or projects do you want to initiate yourself on campus? Be specific and really demonstrate how you will add to UBC. 

Lastly, include 1-2 paragraphs describing your financial situation. When describing your financial need, think of your financial situation over the last four years. How does your family make their income? What does it go towards? Describe any challenges or adversity you and/or your family has faced. Consider what financial adversity may have prevented you from doing. What has it held you back from?

Consider also describing some of the below points if they apply to your situation:

If you:

  • Are living in a rental home
  • Have limited financial support from parents
  • Plan to enrol in a degree that is longer than a bachelor’s degree
  • Are subsidizing your education costs through employment
  • Are part of a family that considers themself “low income” 
  • Have more than one sibling that needs their education paid for
  • Are only supported by one family income
  • Have any medical expenses or family member’s medical expenses. 

Really emphasize how this award will help you—now and in the future!


Finally, end your essay with a conclusion paragraph. This usually includes a reflection on your goals and what you hope to accomplish. 

Follow these steps, and you’ll submit a stellar application for the Centennial Scholars Award!

Remember—the application for UBC scholarships is due on December 1! Apply these tips as you write your application and you’re sure to find success. 

If you want even more support, GrantMe can help you stand out. We provide personalized scholarship matches, essay editing, and mentorship from past winners to maximize your success. Complete our short scholarship eligibility quiz to learn more about how GrantMe can help you achieve your post-secondary goals. 

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