Commonwealth PhD Scholarships: Eligibility and How to Apply

Full-time Commonwealth PhD Scholarships at a UK university are available to candidates from Commonwealth countries with low levels of economic development.

The goal is to support research that will positively impact the development of Commonwealth countries. The Commonwealth PhD Scholarships will also enable commonwealth countries to increase their institutional capacity in terms of quality and research.

Who can apply for the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

The intended beneficiaries of this grant opportunity are university graduates capable of undertaking world-class research of a developmental nature and becoming influential leaders, teachers, or researchers back at home.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) provides funding for the Commonwealth PhD. Scholarships are also intended for talented and motivated individuals unable to afford to study in the UK.

How to apply for the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

Please note that the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) does not accept direct applications for these scholarships. Your best opportunity as a prospective candidate is to apply to one of the following nominating bodies on the first instance.

  • National nominating agencies – this is the primary route of application
  • Vetted universities/university bodies
  • Vetted non-governmental firms 

Each nominating agency is responsible for its selection process and may have additional eligibility criteria. You should consult your nominating agency for specific advice, application rules, eligibility criteria, and application deadline.

Remember to apply using the CSC’s online application system, including any other application required to be completed by the nominating agency. The CSC cannot accept applications not submitted via the online application system.

If you are applying for the Commonwealth PhD Scholarship, please note that you should include your supporting statements along with your application. You should complete and submit your application as soon as possible, as the online application system is often busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.

Which supporting documentation is required for the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

You must submit a list of supporting documentation to ensure your application is eligible. You should have:

  • Evidence that you are a citizen or refugee from a Commonwealth country. 
  • A copy of your valid international passport or national ID card is uploaded to the online application system.
  • All transcripts showing your higher education qualifications, including recent transcripts uploaded to the online application system
  • References from at least two professionals – submitted directly by the referees (referees will receive an email request to submit online)
  • Your proposed supervisor in the UK should submit a supporting statement via the online application system. Your proposed supervisor will receive an email request online.

Please note that the CSC does not charge students to apply for fellowships or scholarships.

Who is eligible for the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

To be eligible for these scholarships, you must:

1. Proof that you are a citizen or refugee from a Commonwealth country. 
2. Be a permanent citizen from an eligible Commonwealth country.
3. Be ready to start your studies in the UK by the start of the next academic year, usually in September.
4. Hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) or a lower division second class degree (2:2) and a relevant Master’s degree qualification. The CSC rarely funds a second Master’s degree in the United Kingdom. If you are applying for a second UK postgraduate degree, you must justify why you wish to pursue this program.
5. You should not have commenced a PhD in your home country or at a UK university.
6. Be unable to afford to pay tuition fees in the UK without this scholarship.
7. Have submitted all the required documents in the required format.

Which countries are eligible for the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

Please note that only students from the following countries can apply for Commonwealth PhD Scholarships.

  • Bangladesh
  • Cameroon
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Rwanda
  • Sierra Leone
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tanzania
  • The Gambia
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Vanuatu
  • Zambia

What is the duration of the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

The CSC has committed to providing partial funding for a particular programme for three years of full-time study. The CSC will provide funding for one degree; the nominating university will extend its funding. You are also not allowed to pursue any other course during this time.

You should provide clear information on which course you want to apply for. This will enable the CSC to place your application in the correct category. Your application will be eligible if you do make this clear.

You should also propose at least three universities and supervisors that you believe are relevant for your study in order of preference.

You should create this list because the CSC will not change your supervisor or your proposed university after the selection process unless critical information becomes available which could not have been anticipated during the application process.

Benefits of Commonwealth PhD Scholarships?

Each award comes with the following benefits:

  • Airfare to the UK and return at the end of your award. Note that the CSC will not reimburse the cost of airfares for dependents nor the charge of journeys made before the confirmation of your award.
  • Tuition fees
  • A living allowance of £1,236 per month or £1,516 for students attending universities in the London Metropolitan area.
  • Provision of fieldwork funds.
  • Payment for a return flight to your home country for a mid-term visit (unless you have received or intend to receive spousal and child allowances during your scholarship).
  • As long as you and your spouse live together at the same address in the UK, you are eligible for a monthly spouse allowance of £266 for a maximum of nine months (unless your spouse is also in receipt of a scholarship, other conditions will apply).
  • If your spouse and children accompany you, your spouse will receive £266 per month for the first child and £131 per month for the second and third child, who should be under the age of 16.

Before You Go…

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) is committed to overseeing transparent fellowship and scholarship applications. Please note that the CSC’s terms and conditions are subject to change.

You are not only expected to stay in the United Kingdom throughout your award but also not allowed to undertake paid employment without CSC’s approval.

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