Fully Funded Commonwealth PhD Scholarships for Full-Time Doctoral Study at a UK University 2023/2024

Fully Funded Commonwealth PhD Scholarships for Full-Time Doctoral Study at a UK University 2023/2024

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) is offering Commonwealth PhD Scholarships for citizens of developing Commonwealth countries to pursue full-time doctoral study at a UK university. The scholarships are fully funded and aim to contribute to the development needs of Commonwealth countries by supporting impactful research. 

Overview of the Scholarships

The Commonwealth PhD Scholarships are offered under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), which demonstrates the UK government's enduring commitment to the Commonwealth. The scholarships attract talented individuals from all backgrounds and support them to become leaders and innovators in their home countries after completing their studies.


The scholarships are fully funded by the UK government's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). They aim to develop individual and institutional teaching and research capacity in Commonwealth countries and encourage collaboration between UK and international universities.

The CSC invites applicants from least developed and fragile Commonwealth countries as classified by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).


Eligible Countries

The following least developed and fragile Commonwealth countries are eligible for the 2023/2024 Commonwealth PhD Scholarships:

– Bangladesh

– Cameroon  

– The Gambia

– Kenya

– Kiribati

– Lesotho

– Malawi

– Mozambique

– Nigeria

– Pakistan

– Rwanda

– Sierra Leone

– Solomon Islands

– Tanzania

– Togo

– Tuvalu

– Uganda  

– Zambia

The scholarships target high-achieving graduates with the potential to undertake advanced research and become influential development leaders, teachers or researchers in their home countries.

Applicants should demonstrate relevant work experience and a commitment to contributing to the development of their home countries after completing their studies.

Application Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the PhD scholarships, applicants must:

– Be citizens or have refugee status of an eligible Commonwealth country.

– Permanently reside in an eligible country. 

– Be available to commence studies in the UK by September/October 2024.

– Hold at least an upper second-class honors degree or a master's degree by September 2024.

– Not already be registered for a PhD at a UK university before the scholarship start date.  

– Be unable to afford studying in the UK without this scholarship.

– Provide all supporting documents by the application deadline.

The CSC aims to support applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have overcome barriers to accessing education. There are no age restrictions.

Value of the Scholarships 

The Commonwealth PhD Scholarships provide full funding for three years of doctoral study at an approved UK university:

– Return airfare to and from the UK.

– Full tuition fees paid directly to the university. 

– Monthly living allowance of £1,347 (or £1,652 in London).

– Additional allowances for warm clothing, study-related travel, and overseas fieldwork. 

– Paid return trip to the home country during studies.

– Allowances for accompanying spouses and children.

– Additional support for scholars with disabilities.

Scholars are expected to cover any remaining costs from their own funds.

Application Process

Eligible applicants must submit their scholarship application through one of three nominating agencies:

1. National nominating agencies in their home country – This is the main application route. Applicants must check entry requirements and deadlines, which may differ across countries.

2. Selected UK universities that accept direct applications from academic staff.

3. Selected non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charitable bodies.

The CSC does not accept direct applications. 

Applicants must take the following steps:

– Research preferred universities and doctoral programs in the UK.

– Submit university applications well in advance of the scholarship deadline. 

– Secure admission offers before applying for the scholarship.

– Obtain references from referees on official letterhead.

– Get a supporting statement from a proposed UK supervisor. 

– Complete the online CSC scholarship application form including personal statements, research proposal, development impact plans, and award objectives.

– Upload all supporting documents including transcripts, references, English language test scores (if applicable), and proof of citizenship.

Nominating agencies will review and select applicants based on academic excellence, quality of research proposal, and potential development impact. They will nominate shortlisted candidates to the CSC by December 2023.

The CSC makes the final selection decisions by July 2024.

Assessment Criteria 

Applications are assessed based on:

– Academic merit and qualifications.

– Quality and feasibility of the research proposal. 

– Relevance to economic and social development of the home country.

– Leadership potential and contribution to the UK university and research community.

Terms of Award

The scholarships are tenable for three years of full-time PhD study only. Scholars must:

– Study at an approved UK university agreed upon with the CSC.

– Remain in the UK for the duration of the award, only travelling overseas with prior approval. 

– Not undertake paid employment during their studies without CSC approval.

– Return home for at least two years after completing their award.

– Comply with all CSC terms, conditions, policies, and codes of conduct. 

– Not transfer to another degree program or extend their studies beyond three years.

The CSC reserves the right to terminate scholarships for unsatisfactory conduct, progress, or attendance.

How to Apply

Applications for the 2023/2024 Commonwealth PhD Scholarships are open from August to October 17th, 2023. Eligible applicants must submit their completed online application along with all supporting documents to their chosen nominating agency before the deadline.

The application portal can be accessed through the CSC website here. Guidance is provided on creating an account, completing each section, and uploading documents. 

Applicants should ensure they meet all the eligibility criteria before applying. Competition is high so candidates should submit a strong application demonstrating their academic and professional achievements, research ability, leadership potential and commitment to development. 

The nominated scholars will be selected by July 2024 to commence their three-year doctoral studies in September/October 2024.

Additional Information 

Full details on the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships can be found on the CSC website at cscuk.fcdo.gov.uk. The website covers:

– Eligible countries, universities and courses.

– Advice for creating a strong application.

– The assessment and selection process.

– Terms and conditions of the award.  

– Current application and Handbook guidelines.

– FAQs and contact details for any enquiries.

The attached document from Opportunities For Africans provides a useful summary of the key features including applicant eligibility criteria, application procedure, benefits and application links.

Wrapping Up

The Commonwealth PhD Scholarships provide a prestigious opportunity for citizens of developing Commonwealth nations to access fully funded doctoral education at leading UK universities. 

The scholarships enable recipients to gain skills, knowledge and global connections to drive development in their home countries and make a meaningful contribution as leaders in their fields. 

The application process is highly competitive so applicants should carefully review the requirements and submit a high-quality proposal aligned with the program's objectives.

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