Bursary or scholarship (bourse)?

Sometimes it's hard to know whether "bourse" in French is a scholarship or bursary.

Scholarships are generally awarded for academic achievement or other types of merit (community service, athletic excellence and so on).

Bursaries, on the other hand, are associated with either financial need or a neutral criterion like being a first-generation student in a family or a student with disabilities.

Consider this excerpt from the Ontario Student Assistance Program website:

Grant/Bursary: A grant or bursary is an amount of money you receive to help finance your education that you typically do not have to pay back. A grant or bursary is usually awarded based on financial need and other factors. Some are designed for special student groups, like students studying in French.

Scholarship/Fellowship: A scholarship or fellowship is money you receive that helps finance your education and that you typically do not have to pay back. It is usually awarded based on academic merit and other factors. 

The French equivalents in most cases are:

  • bourse d'excellence (scholarship)
  • bourse d'études or bourse d'aide financière (bursary)
Back to top