The Commonwealth Distance Learning programme is one of three Master’s programmes offered by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission.
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 Distance Learning Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to access training and skills required for sustainable development not available in their home countries.
Intended beneficiaries: Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are for candidate from eligible low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to undertake part-time taught Master’s study with UK universities while remaining in their home countries.
These scholarships are offered under six CSC Development themes.
How to apply
Applications for Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships for the 2023/24 academic year are now closed.
Candidates can expect to be notified of the outcome of their applications in July 2023.
Candidates must apply and secure admission to study an approved Master’s course at a participating UK university in addition to applying for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship via the CSC’s online application system.
Candidates can apply for more than one course and to more than one university, however they may only accept one offer of a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship. Note that Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are only for Master’s courses and not for undergraduate or PhD study. Please check with the chosen university for their specific advice on when to apply, admission requirements and rules for applying.
The CSC is unable to accept any applications that are not submitted via the CSC’s online application system.
Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship applications will be shared with UK universities, who will nominate their chosen candidates to receive a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship in May 2023. The CSC then checks that the candidates nominated meet the CSC’s eligibility criteria. Universities inform candidates if they have successfully been awarded a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship in July 2023.
Candidates are advised to complete and submit their Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship application as early as possible as the CSC’s online application system will be very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.
Applications must include supporting documentation to be eligible.
Note that candidates are required to collect references, on institution letterhead or an email clearly showing the sender’s details, from referees and then upload them to the application system in PDF format with their other supporting documentation. This is a change from previous years when referees would receive a separate email requesting their statements.
The references must be uploaded to the application system by the deadline for applications and we are unable to accept references any other way or after this date.
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 or an email clearly showing the sender’s details
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 letters held for their chosen course.
The CSC will not accept supporting documentation submitted 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.
Choosing a university/course
A list of eligible courses for 2023 can be found on the how to apply tab, sorted by CSC Development Theme.
Candidate’s may find the following resources useful when researching their choices of institution:
- Study UK – British Council website, with guidance for international students and a course and institution search
- Postgrad.com – information for postgraduate students, with a course search
- Research Excellent Framework 2021 results – results of a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions
- UCAS Postgraduate – guidance on how to find and apply for a postgraduate course
- Unistats – the official website for comparing UK higher education course data
- UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) – advice for international students on choosing a course of study
The CSC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
To be eligible for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship, candidates should:
- 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 a developing Commonwealth country
- Hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) standard. A lower qualification and sufficient relevant experience may be considered in certain cases.
- Be unable to afford to study the programme without this scholarship.
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 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 to proactively 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@example.com
(Please see list of eligible countries below as stated in the DAC list published in January 2022)
Papua New Guinea
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Completing the application form
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 their employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme to be undertaken
- Provide a statement on the relevance of their previous work experience to the proposed Scholarship
- List names and positions of two referees who are qualified to comment on both the candidate’s capacity to benefit from the proposed Scholarship in the UK and their ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One referee must be a current employer (if applicable)
- Provide a Development Impact statement in 4 parts.
The first part should explain how the candidate’s proposed Scholarship relates to:
- Development issues at the global, national, and local level
- Development issues connected to your chosen CSC development theme and the wider sector.
The second part should explain how the candidate intends to apply their new skills and qualification after returning home.
The third part should outline what the candidate expects will change in development terms following the Scholarship, including:
- The outcomes they aim to achieve
- The timeframe for their implementation
- Who the beneficiaries will be
The fourth part should outline how the impact of the candidate’s work could be best measured. It should:
- Confirm what the candidate’s award objectives are and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
- Confirm what the candidate’s objectives are for the next five years and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
- Confirm what the candidate’s objectives are in the longer term and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
- Provide a personal statement to summarise the ways in which the candidate’s personal background has encouraged them to want to make an impact in their home country. Candidates should indicate areas in which they have already contributed, such as having overcome any personal or community barriers in the chosen career
- Summarise the ways in which the candidate has engaged in voluntary activities and the opportunities where they have had to demonstrate leadership
Each participating UK University will conduct its own recruitment process to select a specified number of candidates for Distance Learning Scholarships. Universities must put forward their selected candidates to the CSC by 9 May 2023. The CSC will then confirm that these candidates meet the eligibility criteria for this scheme and universities will inform candidates of their results in July 2023.
Selection criteria include:
- Academic merit of the candidate
- Potential impact of the work on the development of the candidate’s home country
- A Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship covers tuition fees and study grants where required. Other scholarships, awards, or bursaries that cover the same costs may not be held concurrently.
- For the CSC to administer submitted applications effectively and efficiently, it will be necessary to create a record in each candidate’s name. Where a candidate is nominated for an award to the CSC, their details will be kept on file. Basic anonymised demographic data for all applicants will be kept for analytical research. The CSC is committed to protecting candidates’ and scholars’ personal information and to being transparent about the information we are collecting about them and what we do with it. Personal information will be used to conduct necessary due diligence checks to the CSC’s satisfaction, before the CSC proceeds with any type of formal agreement or contractual relationship. In most cases, the due diligence checks will be straightforward, however further information may be requested, so we ask scholars for full co-operation to speed up the process. If scholars do not agree to personal data being used for the purpose of conducting due diligence, the CSC will not be able to proceed further with the application process. To find out more, see our privacy notice.
- If an application is successful, the candidate’s university will notify them that they have been selected university via email.
- The CSC does not require any candidates to take an IELTS (English language) test. Please note, however, that, as a further condition of a Scholarship, candidates may be required by their university to provide evidence of a particular level of English language proficiency.
- The CSC will not be able to offer Scholarship to candidates if it would contravene the terms and conditions of another Scholarship that they have previously held.
- When terms of admission to the university have been agreed, the university will send a formal Notification of Award letter.
- Scholars will be expected to abide by the Commission’s Code of Conduct for Award-Holders and Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. Your award may be terminated at any time for reasons of unsatisfactory conduct, progress, or attendance, or if your registration is suspended or terminated by your university for any reason.
- Candidates are not eligible to apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowship if they; are an employee, a former employee, or relative of an employee of the Government of the United Kingdom; or a staff member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities or the British Council; or a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner, former Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner or a relative of a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner. Former employees of the organisations listed above are eligible to apply three years after ceasing their employment with them.
- In line with the UK Bribery Act 2010, any applicant convicted of bribery will be banned from reapplying for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowship for a period of up to five years.
- Applicants and Scholars will be expected to abide by the Commission’s Code of Conduct for Award Holders and Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. Awards may be terminated at any time for reasons of unsatisfactory conduct, progress, or attendance, or if a candidate’s registration is suspended or terminated by their university for any reason.
- The CSC is committed to administering and managing its Scholarships and Fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For more information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and procedure at and the FCDO guidance on reporting fraud.
- All conditions of award are subject to UK local law and practices and are subject to change by the CSC.
All enquiries about nomination for Scholarships should be directed to candidates’ UK university.
For more information on other Scholarships offered by the CSC, visit the CSC Scholarships and Fellowships page.
For general enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships, please use the Contact us form.