University of Edinburgh Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program(Fully-funded On-Campus Scholarships)

The Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh will provide 1 year postgraduate on campus scholarships to students living or working in Africa with great academic and leadership potential but...

Dec 16, 2022 - 12:56
Dec 16, 2022 - 12:56
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University of Edinburgh Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program(Fully-funded On-Campus Scholarships)

The Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh will provide 1 year postgraduate on campus scholarships to students living or working in Africa with great academic and leadership potential but few educational opportunities.

On top of the full scholarship (tuition fees, accommodation, travel and living costs stipend), the Scholars Program facilitates a transformative leadership programme to inspire and support Scholars in making change in their communities and countries on their return home.

Scholarships are available for the following on-campus postgraduate programmes only: 


You must meet the eligibility criteria to apply:

  • Applicants must qualify academically for admission to the University of Edinburgh for a relevant degree programme listed above. You will generally need to have achieved the equivalent of a UK Second Class (Upper) Bachelor’s (Hons) degree or higher. Find out more about the postgraduate entry requirements for your country
  • Applicants must have graduated from undergraduate study before December 2022 and must be in possession of a degree certificate and official, final transcript to upload alongside their application
  • Applicants must be residents and citizens of a Sub-Saharan African country
  • Applicants must be without the financial means to study oversees independently
  • We particularly welcome applications from female scholars, scholars from refugee and displaced backgrounds, and scholars with disabilities (see FAQs below for further information)
  • Applicants must demonstrate a track record of leadership and service within their community
  • Applicants should not have previously completed a postgraduate degree and should not be enrolled at a separate university while on scholarship
  • Applicants must be 35 or younger on the 1 September 2023

How to apply

You must qualify academically for admission to the University of Edinburgh. We prefer that applicants apply to this scholarship before applying to the University. 

If you believe you meet all the eligibility criteria please apply.

Applications for our 2023 online Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, for postgraduate degrees only, will open on Thursday 15 December at 10am UK time and will close on Friday 27 January at 5pm UK time.

Please review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section for further details. If you have any queries regarding the Mastercard Foundation Scholarships which are not answered in the FAQs, please contact us at:

We will also host online Information Sessions on 11 and 16 January from 4-5pm UK time for those interested in finding out more about the program and application process. If you would like to attend please sign up to the session using this form. We will provide a recording of the 11 January session on this page on 12 January.

Apply to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

Application timeline 2023

15 December 2022 (10am UK time)Applications open
11 and 16 January 2023 (4-5pm UK time)Application Information Sessions – Register for the session
27 January 2023Applications close
27 – 30 March 2023On-campus Interview shortlisting begins; both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified (Please note references will be requested for applicants invited for an interview)
3 – 21 April 2023On-campus Interviews take place
Early May 2023On-campus interview outcomes will be announced
May – August 2023Support provided through admission and immigration processes
September 2023Academic program starts

Frequently Asked Questions 

To help you in your application, we have put together some frequently asked questions on the application process including: which program to apply to, English language tests, qualifications, the interview process, references, entry tests and receiving an offer.  

Application stage

Where do I apply for a scholarship?

The link will be made available on this webpage on 15 December 2022 to both the online and on-campus scholarship application forms.

When does the next round of applications open?

Applications for our online Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, for postgraduate degrees only, will open from 15th December 2022 and close on 27th January 2023. There is no competitive advantage from applying to the scholarship early.

Which postgraduate degrees are covered on this scholarship?

We offer scholarships for the following online degree programmes:

  • International Development (Masters route only)
  • Global Food Security and Nutrition (Masters or Diploma)
  • Global Challenges (Masters or Diploma)
  • Carbon Management (Masters route only)
  • One Health (Masters or Diploma)

We offer scholarships for the following on-campus postgraduate programmes               

  • Africa and International Development                                                                 
  • Food Security                                                                             
  • Sustainable Energy Systems                                                                                
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation                                                            
  • Data, Inequality and Society (while there is the option for students to take this Masters in a hybrid format the stipulation for those on an MCF Scholarship and for Tier 4 visa regulations means you will need to undertake the programme in person for the full year)

No other academic programs at the University of Edinburgh are eligible for this scholarship. You are welcome to apply to any academic program but only those listed above will make you eligible for a Mastercard Foundation scholarship.

How is disability defined?

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

How is youth who are displaced defined?

Along with the Mastercard Foundation we understand that there are many reasons why young people may be forcibly displaced. If this is part of your story, please articulate it in a way that feels authentic to you in your application. You may have a legal status or another experience of displacement that has created barriers to access to education. We will consider this as we review your application and will be proactive in creating scholarship opportunities for young people who have been displaced.

Can I be considered if I do not meet the criteria? 

Due to the large volume of applications and for transparency purposes, we are unable to extend any exemptions. You must meet all the eligibility criteria.

What documents do I need to apply for this Scholarship?

Postgraduate entry: Your final official university degree certificate and final official transcript. You will need to have these to upload this as part of your application.

If you do not yet have these documents by December 2022 you will not be able to proceed with the application. The only exception is if you are a current MCF undergraduate scholar at the University of Edinburgh.

What is involved in the application process?

In the first stage you will be asked a series of questions to determine whether you meet all the eligibility criteria for the scholarship. If you do not you won’t proceed to the next stage. If you do meet the eligibility criteria you will be invited to answer a series of short essay questions outlining your personal story, your academic and leadership experience and your future ambition. These responses will then be submitted for review by the Scholarship Application Review team to short list applications for a university admissions review and then a scholarship interview.

What essay questions will I be asked in the application form?

Once you have completed the eligibility stage of the application, you will be asked to complete the following essay questions (which should be 50-250 words long):

  1. Reflecting on your life so far, tell us how you meet the key selection criteria for the Scholars Program. You should include information on your academic achievements and barriers to education you have faced. ​​​​​We are particularly welcoming applications from those who identify as women, refugees (or displaced), and/ or those with disabilities as we understand that these groups face barriers to education. If you identify with any of these characteristics, please reflect this in your answer, with as much detail as you are comfortable sharing
  2. We want to learn about your track record as a transformative leader. Tell us about one current idea or project you are working on, which clearly demonstrates this.
  3. We aim to award Mastercard Foundation scholarships to individuals who will benefit most from the opportunity. How would being a Mastercard Foundation Scholar support your development (personally and professionally)?
  4. We would like to find out more about your interest in further academic study.  Please explain how the degree programme you have chosen to study here relates to your future goals.  What specifically about this course will be useful for you? If choosing an online degree programme, please reflect on how you will manage your part-time study with other commitments.
  5. The Mastercard Foundation is a growing network of diverse scholars. One of the key attributes of this network is a commitment to inclusion.  What experience do you have promoting social inclusion? What have you learnt?

 Online applicants will also be asked to answer an additional question based on the degree programme they want to apply to:

  • ​​​​​International Development
    • Please tell us about a recent trend in development that seems most exciting to you, and explain why you would want to study it. Please draw on your own professional or personal experience to answer.
  • Global Food Security and Nutrition
    • We are interested in your passion for food or agriculture. Please tell us what excites you about food, and the experiences you have had around food or farming that relate to your desire to study food security.
  • Global Challenges
    • Please tell us about a global challenge that seems most interesting to you, and explain why you would want to study it. Please draw on your own professional or personal experience to answer.
  • Carbon Management
    • Please tell us about a particular technique or development in carbon management that interests or concerns you, and explain why you would want to study it. Please draw on your own professional or personal experience to answer.
  • One Health ​​​​​​
    • What does One Health mean to you and why do you think an interdisciplinary approach to health is important? Please draw on your own professional or personal experience to answer.

Should I apply to the scholarship or for admission to the degree first?

If the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the only scholarship you are interested to apply for in the University of Edinburgh, please apply for the scholarship only.

If you are also applying for other scholarships at the University of Edinburgh, please apply directly for the degree programme of your choice.

More information on how to apply can be found on each individual degree programme web page, which can be found on the University degree finder.

If you have already secured a place on an eligible degree programme, please then apply for the MCF Scholarship and indicate in your application form that you have already secured a place on the degree programme.

I have applied for other MCF scholarship programs, can I submit the same application for all?

All MCF scholarship programs have similar, although not identical eligibility criteria. We would encourage you to take your time to tailor your application to each individual institution and think carefully about why you would like to study at each institution you’re applying to and shape your responses accordingly.

Do I need to take an English language test?

Depending on where you did your undergraduate studies you may be required to undertake an English language test as part of the admissions process, unless you already a valid English language test that meets the university’s minimum requirements.

There will be no fee for this test for MCF applicants and all testing takes place via video or web link. The English test assesses applicants on reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Please note this only applies to this specific program at this University. For other scholarships at the University of Edinburgh, or for other Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programs at other Universities, it is possible you will need an English language qualification prior to receiving an offer of admission.

What happens during the review of applications period?

Each submitted application is read and assessed by representatives from across the University of Edinburgh. This includes a further assessment undertaken by Admissions staff to determine the academic suitability of each application for the specific degree chosen by the applicant.

I have completed and submitted the application, when will I hear back?

We will inform candidates whether they have been shortlisted for an interview from 31st March for on campus applicants and from 14th April for online applicants.

Can I apply for both the online and on-campus Mastercard Foundation Scholarships at University of Edinburgh?

Applicants are only able to apply for either the online (Master’s or Diploma) OR on-campus (Master’s) programmes and not both. As we want to ensure candidates are fully invested and interested to pursue a particular study route.

Interview and reference stage

How will I hear about being invited to interview?

From 31st March, on campus applicants who have been shortlisted will be invited to interview. From 14th April, online applicants who have been shortlisted will be invited to interview.

You will receive an email to the address you registered with asking you to choose a convenient time slot for you. Interviews will usually be held via video connection e.g. MS Teams/ Zoom.

If undertaking your interview via a video connection is not possible, we will work with you to find a solution. We will also request a reference for all short-listed applicants at this stage.

Why do you request a reference?

We are keen to know as much as we can about each of our short-listed applicants. A reference is important to ensure we are awarding the scholarship to applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and who will benefit most from the experience at Edinburgh.

What should the reference include?

The reference request will be sent directly to your chosen referee. The referee will be provided with guidance on how to complete the reference for you. Reference requests will only be sent out for those shortlisted for an interview.

How and when should my reference be submitted?

Referees will be provided with instructions on how to submit a reference.

What will my interview be like?

All interviews should last approximately 30 minutes. We will ask you questions directly related to the scholarship and it’s our opportunity to get to know you better.

There will also be a chance for you to ask questions.

What happens if I have technology or connection issues and cannot attend the interview?

Applicants should undertake reasonable preparations to ensure the interview goes smoothly. This includes a quiet environment with a good connection for you to concentrate and for us to hear you.

We understand that sometimes unavoidable technical difficulties can affect the interview and we take this into consideration. As a last resort, we may have to reschedule your interview if we are not able to connect with you at all.

When will I hear about the result of my interview?

We aim to notify all short-listed applicants of the outcome of their interview as follows:

  • On-campus applicants by mid- May
  • Online applicants by the end of May

If you are successful, the outcome will be both an offer of scholarship as well as for admission to the University.

Please note that your offer of admission to the University is likely to be conditional at this stage. Over the next few months, the MCF team at Edinburgh will support and guide you so that your offer becomes unconditional. Common conditions linked to an offer can be the confirmation of your university qualification, and successfully demonstrating your English language proficiency.

Offer stage

Is my offer binding?

We expect applicants who accept their offer to take up their place on the MCF Scholars Program. Once your offer is unconditional the scholarship and admission to the University of Edinburgh is binding.

What happens during the Confirmation of Admission to the University of Edinburgh period?

We will notify shortlisted on-campus applicants by mid- May, and shortlisted online applicants by the end of May whether they have successfully been offered the scholarship.

As much as we are confident you will also gain admission to the University of Edinburgh, for most applicants, the offer is still conditional at this stage and could still be subject to the conditions mentioned above.

What do I do if I have a question which is not answered above?

Please ensure you have read all the guidance provided to you via this website and the application form. If you are still unable to find an answer to your query, please contact the MCF team at: Please note however that the MCF office is closed between 16 December and 4 January for the holidays. We will endeavour to respond to your query as soon as possible in early January. Please also follow us on Twitter  Instagram and LinkedIn where we will be sharing content to help support those in the application process. 

Find out more information on criteria and how apply for online studies (MSc & PG diploma)

For out more information on criteria and how to apply for on-campus studies

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