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.
Purpose: To contribute to the development needs of Commonwealth countries by supporting research that will have a developmental impact. These awards will 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.
Intended beneficiaries: 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.
Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Commonwealth PhD Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, and are aimed at those who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK.
These scholarships are offered under six CSC Development themes.
How to apply
Applications for Commonwealth PhD Scholarships for the academic year 2022/23 are now closed. The application information below is for advice only and is correct as of 1 November 2021.
If you have already submitted an application which you need to access, you can reach the login page here.
Candidates must apply to one of the following nominating bodies in the first instance – 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 body is responsible for its own selection process and may have additional eligibility criteria. Candidates must check with the nominating body for their specific advice and rules for applying, their own eligibility criteria, and their own closing date for applications.
Candidates must apply using the CSC’s online application system, in addition to any other application required to be completed by the nominating body. The CSC is unable to accept any applications that are not submitted via the online application system.
If you have submitted an application, please note that references and supporting statements must be submitted by 16:00 (GMT) on 22 November 2021. The nomination deadline is 22 December 2021.
Candidates are advised to complete and submit applications as soon as possible, as the online application system is very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.
You must submit a list of supporting documentations to ensure that your application is eligible. You must have:
- Proof that you are a citizen or have refugee status of an eligible Commonwealth country: a copy of your valid passport
- (or national ID card) showing your photograph, date of birth, and country of citizenship– uploaded to the online application system
- Full transcripts detailing all your higher education qualifications including to-date transcripts for any qualifications you are currently studying (with certified translations if not in English) – uploaded to the online application system
- References from at least two individuals – submitted directly by the referees to the online application system (referees will be sent an email request to submit online)
- Supporting statement from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one of the institutions named on your application form -– submitted directly by your proposed supervisor to the online application system (supervisors will be sent an email request to submit online).
If any of the required documentation is not provided by the dates specified above, your application will be considered ineligible.
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
You may find the following resources useful when researching your choices of institution and course of study in the UK:
- Study UK – British Council website, with guidance for international students and a course and institution search
- Steps to Postgraduate Study – a guide to asking the right questions about taught postgraduate study in the UK
- Postgrad.com – information for postgraduate students, with a course search
- Prospects – information on postgraduate study in the UK
- Research Excellent Framework 2014 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 apply for these scholarships, you 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 your academic studies in the UK by the start of the UK academic year in September 2022
- By September 2022, 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). The CSC would not normally fund a second UK Master’s degree. If you are applying for a second UK Master’s degree, you will need to provide justification as to why you wish to undertake this study
- 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 2022
- 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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 2022.
Completing the application form
Applications must be made using the CSC’s online application system which can be found under the ‘How to Apply’ section of this page.
In the application form, prospective Scholars will be asked to:
- List all undergraduate and postgraduate university qualifications obtained (if applicable)
- List up to 10 publications and prizes (if applicable)
- Provide details of your employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme you wish to undertake in the UK (up to 100 words per employment)
- Provide a statement on the relevance of your previous work experience to the proposed Scholarship (up to 300 words)
- List names and positions of three referees who are qualified to comment on both your capacity to benefit from your proposed Scholarship in the UK and your ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One of your referees must be your current employer.
- Provide a Development Impact statement in 4 parts. In the first part you should explain how your proposed Scholarship relates to:
a. development issues at the global, national, and local level
b. development issues connected to your chosen CSC development theme and the wider sector.
(up to 200 words)
- In the second part you should explain how you intend to apply your new skills once your Scholarship ends (up to 100 words).
- 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
(up to 250 words)
- In the fourth part you should write about how the impact of your work could be best measured (up to 100 words).
- 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 (up to 500 words).
- 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.
Each year, the CSC invites selected nominating bodies to submit a specific number of nominations. The deadline for nominating bodies to submit nominations to the CSC is 22 December 2021.
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 2022 selection criteria.
Tenure and placement
Awards are tenable at any approved UK university or higher education institution with which the CSC has a part-funding agreement (as mentioned previously) for a specific programme of research for 36 months of full-time study only.
Awards are to obtain one degree; funding will not be extended to enable candidates to complete a qualification in addition to or higher than that for which the selection was made. Awards are made in respect of full-time study only and no other course of study may be undertaken at the same time.
You must make clear in your application which qualification you are applying for. This will enable the CSC to consider your application in the correct category. Applications which do not make this clear may be considered ineligible.
You are advised to list three universities and supervisors that you think are the most appropriate for your study, in order of preference, and to explain your reasons. This is important because the CSC will not change the university or supervisor (or the order of preference) of a provisionally selected candidate after the point of selection, unless exceptional information becomes available that could not have been foreseen at the time of application.
You may propose to study at one university for a four-year PhD, but this must be based in a recognised Doctoral Training Centre. You must research this option thoroughly and justify its added value compared with a three-year PhD. As the CSC will fund only a limited number of four-year PhDs, if you do choose this option, you are strongly advised to also propose at least one three-year PhD choice.
The CSC will make the final decision on institution of study, and reserves the right to overrule any preferences indicated by the candidate. The CSC will consider the suitability of the course and its value for money when deciding on any overrule.
You must take the necessary steps to apply for admission to your preferred universities in advance of your scholarship application. Many courses have strict admission deadlines, you should check admission requirements carefully when applying. If you are selected for a Scholarship and have not applied and been accepted for the course(s) for which you are selected it may not be possible to proceed with your Scholarship.
You must provide a supporting statement from a named supervisor from at least one of the UK universities to which you are applying. Applications without any supporting statements will be considered ineligible. You are strongly advised to provide a supporting statement from a supervisor at your first choice university. If you do not, the CSC reserves the right to select you for placement at another university for which you have provided a supporting statement.
Each scholarship provides:
- Approved airfare from your home country to the UK and return at the end of your award (the CSC will not reimburse the cost of fares for dependants, nor the cost of journeys made before your award is confirmed)
- Approved tuition fees
- Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of £1,133 per month, or £1,390 per month for those at universities in the London metropolitan area (rates quoted at 2021-2022 levels)
- Warm clothing allowance, where applicable
- Study travel grant towards the cost of study-related travel within the UK or overseas
- Provision towards the cost of fieldwork undertaken overseas (the cost of one economy class return airfare to your fieldwork location), where approved
- Paid mid-term visit (airfare) to your home country (unless you have claimed (or intend to claim) spouse and/or child allowances during your scholarship, or have received a return airfare to your home country for fieldwork)
- Family allowances, as follows (rates quoted at 2021-2022 levels):
- If you are accompanied by your spouse but no children: spouse allowance of £244 per month for a maximum period of nine months, if you and your spouse are living together at the same address in the UK (unless your spouse is also in receipt of a scholarship; other conditions also apply)
- If you are accompanied by your spouse and children: spouse allowance of £244 per month and child allowance of £244 per month for the first child, and £120 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if your spouse and children are living with you at the same address in the UK (unless your spouse is also in receipt of a scholarship; other conditions also apply)
- If you are accompanied by your children but no spouse: child allowance of £485 per month for the first child, and £120 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if your children are living with you at the same address in the UK
If you declare a disability, a full assessment of your needs and eligibility for additional financial support will be offered by the CSC.
The CSC’s family allowances are intended to be only a contribution towards the cost of maintaining your family in the UK. The true costs are likely to be considerably higher, and you must be able to supplement these allowances to support any family members who come to the UK with you.
For more information, see the current Handbook for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows, available on the CSC website under Handbook, Policies and Forms.
Please note that the conditions outlined in the Handbook are subject to change.
- A Commonwealth Scholarship covers fees, approved fares, and personal maintenance. Other scholarships, awards, or bursaries that cover the same costs may not be held concurrently.
- For the CSC to administer your application effectively and efficiently after you have submitted, it will be necessary to create a record in your name. If you are nominated for an award to the CSC, your 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 your personal information and to being transparent about the information we are collecting about you and what we do with it. To find out more, see our privacy notice.
- If your application is successful, the CSC will notify you that you have been provisionally selected (selected for an award subject to the CSC agreeing your terms of admission to the university).
- The CSC does not require any candidates to take an IELTS (English language) test. You should note, however, that, as a further condition of award, you may be required by your university to provide evidence of a level of English language proficiency.
- The CSC will not be able to offer you a scholarship if it would contravene the terms and conditions of another scholarship that you have previously held.
- When terms of admission to the university have been agreed, the CSC will send you a Notification of Award (formal offer of a scholarship).
- When all conditions of the Notification of Award have been met, the CSC will send you a formal Confirmation of Award.
- You will be required to submit a Health and Disability Form before your Confirmation of Award can be issued.
- You will be required to sign an undertaking to return to your home country as soon as possible after the end of your award.
- You are expected to start your award on the date stated in your Notification of Award.
- If you require a Student visa to come to the UK to study, you must meet all relevant immigration requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration. You should check the GOV.UK website for updated information.
- All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration and are subject to change. The CSC has no control over these regulations.
- You will be selected for an award based on the plan of study outlined on your application form, which is not expected to change significantly during your award. Any such changes must be agreed by the CSC.
- You are expected to reside in the UK throughout your award, and to seek approval from the CSC in advance of any overseas travel.
- You must not undertake paid employment during your award without approval from the CSC in advance.
- Collaboration is a feature of doctoral research. The CSC expects that participants in collaborative projects will develop a collaborative agreement to clarify the contributions and rights of each partner. The CSC will not get involved in negotiating an exploitation agreement but will need to be assured that an arrangement acceptable to all parties exists. Arrangements should be made to identify, protect, and value any arising intellectual property and to secure a suitable return to the institution and the investigators through exploitation. The CSC considers the intellectual property ownership to lie initially with the student; however, many universities have their own locally applicable policy. In many cases, it is in the best interest of a student for ownership to be vested with the university, which will have greater negotiating powers and will be likely to be able to seek the best returns in any exploitation agreement. Award holders are expected to notify the CSC when CSC-funded intellectual property is exploited.
- The CSC cannot provide a letter of support or permission for you to remain in or return to the UK after your award to enable you to work or undertake postdoctoral study.
- 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.
- 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 are expected to adhere to the CSC’s Code of Conduct for award holders
- 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 terms and conditions of award are subject to UK local law and practices, and are subject to change by the CSC.
- For more information, see the current Handbook for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows.
Please note that the conditions outlined in the Handbook are subject to change.
All enquiries about these scholarships should be directed to your nominating body.
For any questions relating to the Commonwealth PhD scholarship programme 2022, please visit the FAQs page.
For general enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships; please use the Contact us form instead.