Important: The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission sends its deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth PhD Scholarships are for candidates from least developed countries and fragile States in the Commonwealth, for full-time doctoral study at a UK university.
The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) provides the UK government scholarship scheme led by international development objectives. It operates within the framework of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) and offers a vivid demonstration of the UK’s enduring commitment to the Commonwealth. By attracting individuals with outstanding talent and identifiable potential from all backgrounds and supporting them to become leaders and innovators on returning to their home countries, the CSC’s work combines sustainable development with the UK national interest and provides opportunities for international partnerships and collaboration.
Purpose: Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Commonwealth PhD scholarships contribute to the development needs of Commonwealth countries by supporting research that will have a developmental impact. They also enhance individual teaching and research capacity leading to increase institutional capacity in academic and other sectors in Commonwealth countries, and will contribute to UK higher education and research by attracting high-calibre international candidates and encouraging links and collaboration, and are aimed at those who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK.
Intended beneficiaries: Commonwealth PhD scholarships are for high-quality graduates who have the potential to undertake world-class research of a developmental nature and to become influential leaders, teachers, or researchers in their home countries.
To apply for these scholarships, candidates must:
- Be a citizen of or have been granted refugee status by an eligible Commonwealth country, or be a British Protected Person
- Be permanently resident in an eligible Commonwealth country
- Be available to start academic studies in the UK by the start of the UK academic year in September 2023
- By September 2023, hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) honours standard, or a second class degree (2:2) and a relevant postgraduate qualification (usually a Master’s degree)*.
- NOT be registered for a PhD, or an MPhil leading to a PhD, at a UK university or in your home country before September/October 2023
- Be unable to afford to study in the UK without this scholarship
- Have provided all supporting documentation in the required format
The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make change. We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and non-discrimination and encourage applications from a diverse range of candidates. For further information on the support available to candidates with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement.
*The CSC recognises that disabled people have often faced and overcome challenges or barriers in their education journey which have prevented them achieving the academic requirement for a Commonwealth Scholarship. Disabled candidates who can demonstrate their potential to contribute to international development but who do not hold a 2:1 Undergraduate degree may be considered for a contextualised nomination through the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum nominator. For more information, please contact CDPF directly using the details on our NGOs and Charitable Body Nominators page.
The CSC is committed to administering and managing its scholarships and fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For further information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and the guidance on reporting fraud.
The CSC is committed proactively to safeguard and promote the welfare of our beneficiaries, and to protect its staff, Commissioners, beneficiaries and all those with whom the CSC comes into contact. The CSC requires staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Applicants should note the CSC’s Safeguarding Policy which sets out the obligation for staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Any safeguarding concerns should be reported to the Commission at: [email protected]
Commonwealth PhD Scholarships 2023 selection criteria
Applications will be considered according to the following selection criteria:
- Academic merit of the candidate
- Quality of the plan of study
- Potential impact on the development of the candidate’s home country
For further details, see the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships 2023 selection criteria.
Please note that only candidates from the eligible countries listed below can apply for Commonwealth PhD Scholarships (for least developed countries and fragile states) in 2023/24.
How to apply
Applications for Commonwealth PhD scholarships for the 2023/24 academic year are now open.
The closing date for applications (including all supporting documentation) is 18 October 2022 at 16:00 GMT.
Applications must be made using the CSC’s online application system
Candidates must apply to one of the below nominating agencies as well as to the CSC. Nominating agencies will then put forward candidates to the CSC. The CSC does not accept direct applications for these scholarships.
- National nominating agencies – this is the main route of application
- Selected universities/university bodies – which can nominate their own academic staff
- Selected non-governmental organisations and charitable bodies
Each nominating agency oversees its own selection process and may have additional eligibility criteria. Candidates must check with the nominating agency for their specific advice and rules for applying, and their own eligibility criteria. Nominating agencies may set their own closing date for applications.
Candidates must complete an application using the CSC’s online application system, in addition to any other application required to be completed by the nominating agency. The CSC is unable to accept any applications that are not submitted via the online application system.
Agencies will nominate candidates to the CSC by December 2022.
Candidates are advised to complete and submit applications as early as possible, as the online application system will be very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.
Applications must include supporting documentation to be eligible.
Candidates must upload the following documents with the application:
- Proof that the applicant is a citizen or has refugee status in an eligible Commonwealth country: a copy of a valid passport (or national ID card) showing a photograph, date of birth, and country of citizenship
- Full transcripts detailing all higher education qualifications, including to-date transcripts for any courses currently being studied, with certified translations if not in English
- References from at least two individuals on institutional letterhead
- Supporting statement on institutional letterhead from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one of the institutions named on the application form
If any of the required documentation is not provided by the closing date, the application will be considered ineligible.
Candidates can also upload any university admissions letter held for their chosen courses.
The CSC will not accept supporting documentation submitted by nominating agencies or outside the online application system.
Please note that the CSC does not charge candidates to apply for any of its scholarships or fellowships through its online application system, and it does not charge organisations to nominate candidates.
Completing the application form
Applications must be made using the CSC’s online application system.
In the application form, candidates will be asked to:
- List all undergraduate and postgraduate university qualifications obtained
- List up to 10 publications and prizes
- Provide details of employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme to be undertaken in the UK
- Provide a statement on the relevance of previous work experience to the proposed Scholarship
- List names and positions of three referees who are qualified to comment on both capacity to benefit from the proposed Scholarship in the UK and the candidate’s ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One of your referees must be a current employer (if applicable)
- Provide a Development Impact statement in 4 parts.
In the first part you should explain
- development issues at the global, national, and local level
b. development issues connected to your chosen CSC development theme and the wider sector.
- In the second part you should explain how you intend to apply your new skills once your Scholarship ends
- In the third part you should outline what you expect will change in development terms following your Scholarship, including:
- a) the outcomes that you aim to achieve
b) the timeframe for their implementation
c) who the beneficiaries will be
- In the fourth part you should write about how the impact of your work could be best measured
- Confirm what your award objectives are and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
- Confirm what your career plans are for the 5 years following your Scholarship
- Confirm your long-term career plans
- Provide a personal statement to summarise the ways in which your personal background has encouraged you to want to make an impact in your home country. You should indicate areas in which you have already contributed, such as having overcome any personal or community barriers to your chosen career
- Summarise the ways in which you have engaged in voluntary activities and the opportunities you have had to demonstrate leadership (up to 500 words).
- Provide a scan of your passport or national identity card.
Please see this document for an example of the questions asked within the online application system. Do not fill out the document linked here; it is for your information only. Applications can only be accepted through the online application system.
All enquiries about these scholarships should be directed to your nominating agency.
For general enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships; please use the Contact us form.