Online postgraduate scholarships
Find out more about the process of applying for an online postgraduate scholarship with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Edinburgh.
Nurturing climate leaders
All Mastercard Foundation Scholars at the University of Edinburgh will participate in a Climate Leadership Programme.
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program aims to make a meaningful impact in addressing the climate crisis.
Our Program is dedicated to nurturing a community of talented, entrepreneurial, and compassionate leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa.
We empower young people with the necessary knowledge, skills, and networks to drive sustainable transitions by offering a range of exceptional sustainability-focused postgraduate opportunities through the Program at the University of Edinburgh.
Find out more about our Climate Leadership Programme:
Applying for an online learning scholarship
We recruit exceptional young people with great academic and leadership experience who have overcome barriers to their education and are diligently committed to pursuing their studies to apply for an Online Scholarship at the University of Edinburgh.
Please note, 2024/25 applications are closed.
Online studies are an excellent way to earn a qualification for those who would like to continue working and prefer to study in their local context (for example, to be closer to their families).
Online qualifications through the University of Edinburgh are equivalent to degrees taught on campus.
Applicants can apply for either:
- Online Masters (part-time over 3 years) OR
- Online Post-graduate Diploma (part-time over 2 years)
Masters programmes normally aim at those who have completed an undergraduate degree and want to develop more specialised knowledge in the same subject or similar career area.
Applicants who already have a postgraduate qualification are not able to apply for this Program.
The Program is designed to cover three years of part-time online study.
Online postgraduate diploma
Postgraduate diplomas are aimed at those who are considering a potential change in their careers and tend to be more vocational.
Candidates with either an undergraduate or Master’s degree from a Sub-Saharan African university are equally able to apply (provided they will graduate from either degree and provide their degree certificates and transcripts by 7 December.)
The Program is designed to cover two years of part-time online study.
We offer scholarships for the following online degree programmes ONLY:
The programme engages with the most pressing issues and challenges confronting people, communities and institutions including climate change and sustainability. Environmental change, climatic change, clashing beliefs and concurrent economic overconsumption and stagnation require new ways of thinking about development and global governance.
Students will get an opportunity to engage, explore and analyse various processes that have led to climate change through examining the history of international development for instance.
How are development challenges defined and turned into practical strategies and who’s interests are served and who is excluded? Students will be able to take courses that grapple with questions like; are those escaping natural disasters helpful or hurtful, how do climate-induced displacement intertwine with migration and mobility policy?
Ultimately, the programme builds and strengthens critical skills for analysing these development processes and inequities, exploring development issues in a range of different social, historical and political contexts.
Find out more about the MSc International Development:
Food security is concerned with the availability, access, and utilisation of safe, nutritious and sustainable food to all, especially vulnerable groups within society.
The MSc Global Food Security and Nutrition programme provides opportunity for students to develop a knowledge and understanding of different food production systems and their ability to meet the food and nutritional needs of the growing Global Population, in the context of climate change, limited resources and sustainable development.
Students get to explore the interconnection and interrelationship of different food systems, the environment, biodiversity and climate change, human and planetary health with consideration to the potential of different solutions that address the challenges that exist.
Find out more about the MSc Global Food Security and Nutrition:
Global Challenges program is directly related to sustainability and climate change through its emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach, addressing root causes, understanding irreversible changes from human activity, recognising inequality and social justice, connecting health and the environment, acknowledging the impacts of climate change and natural disasters, and considering overpopulation and poverty—all of which are key components of the sustainability and climate change agenda.
Find out more about the MSc Global Challenges:
The aim of the Carbon Management (online) MSc is to give students the skills to understand and tackle climate change.
We draw widely on the latest research in several climate change related fields including from an economic, ecological, business and energy perspective. New approaches for adapting to a warmer world and managing resources sustainably will be examined with an emphasis on interdisciplinary analysis.
Students will develop the skills and knowledge to engage critically with climate change discussions and challenges to help transition toward a resilient, low-carbon future.
Find out more about the MSc Carbon Management:
One Health sits at the interface between human, animal and ecosystem health. As such, it is a fast-evolving subject area, well suited to preparing professionals looking to address the wide range of intractable and complex health challenges of the 21st Century.
Through the MSc, you will develop a range of the essential One Health competencies essential for working across disciplines.
The interactions between climate change, loss of biodiversity, disease emergence and other key issues affecting health and sustainability are discussed throughout the MSc, making graduates very well placed to work in these fields.
Find out more about the MSc One Health:
The circular economy has an emphasis on resource efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction, sustainable consumption and production, integration of renewable energy, closing material loops, and promoting long-term resilience—all crucial aspects of addressing the sustainability and climate challenges we face.
Find out more about the MSc Circular Economy:
The climate emergency brings an urgent awareness of the inter-relationships between land and human development. The pervasive exploitation of natural systems means populations face fundamental challenges for their future. Sustainable Lands and Cities brings together people who are committed to creating, shaping, and conserving sustainable communities.
Find out more about the MSc Sustainable Lands and Cities:
Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity, from which no one is immune.
The MSc Social Justice and Community Action programme positions climate change as a social injustice, explores the emerging discourse of climate justice, and the convergence of action on climate, sustainable development, and social justice.
To do this work, students connect climate justice to ideas of liberty, equality, citizenship, and democracy, and to real world practice contexts located in grassroots activism, sustainable community development, public policy development and implementation, and organisational management.
Find out more about the MSc Social Justice and Community and Action
Apply for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program before applying to the University
If you are only applying for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program please apply for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program first, only once you have received a Program offer should you apply to any of the above programmes through the University of Edinburgh admissions process.
Only in the case of applying for other scholarships should you consider applying to the university first.
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. 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 will have faced significant barriers to education (social, financial, personal, practical or health related).
- Applicants must have graduated from an undergraduate study by September 2023 and must have a degree certificate and official final transcript to upload alongside their application by 7 December.
- Applicants must be residents and citizens or hold refugee status in a Sub-Saharan African country.
- Applicants must have faced barriers to education and early career
- Applicants must demonstrate a track record of leadership and service within their community.
- Applicants must demonstrate experience, or at least ambition, in making a meaningful impact in addressing the climate crisis
- Applicants must be 35 or under as of 1 September 2024
- Applicants should not have previously completed a postgraduate degree and should not be enrolled (or apply to enrol) at a separate university whilst on the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship.
- If applying for the online Masters programme: Applicants should not have previously completed a postgraduate degree and should not be enrolled (or apply to enrol) at a separate university whilst on the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship.
- If applying for the online Postgraduate Diploma: Applicants can either have an undergraduate or Master’s degree from a Sub-Saharan African university (provided they will graduate from either degree by 7th December 2023). If you have a Master’s degree, our admissions team will review your first degree (undergraduate) to meet the postgraduate diploma entry requirement. The Scholars Program will review your Master’s degree transcripts to confirm your university’s graduation date and location.
- We particularly welcome applications from female Scholars, Scholars from refugee and displaced backgrounds, and Scholars with disabilities (see FAQs below for further information)
- Covers full approved tuition fees: scholars will not pay for any part of the tuition fees.
- Academic stipend to allow for access to high-quality internet, and laptop.
- The opportunity to attend an in-person gathering.
- Participation in activities as part of the wider Climate Leadership Programme at the University of Edinburgh, including regular online workshops, online coaching and support.
- A dedicated Online Coordinator
- Additional support is offered to Scholars with disabilities based on an assessment of needs.
Application timeline 2024/25
|23 October 2023 (10am UK time)
|1 December 2023 (5pm UK time)
|All applicants must have completed the first stage of the application – the Eligibility Assessment. The SM Apply system will not permit new applications after 1st December at 5pm GMT.
|7 December 2023 (5pm UK time)
Early February 2024
|Online Distance Learners (ODL) Interview shortlisting begins; both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified.
|Mid to Late February 2024
|ODL interviews take place.
|By mid March
|ODL Interview outcomes will be announced.
|March - July 2024
|Support provided through admissions processes.
|Academic program starts.
How to apply
You must qualify academically for admission to the University of Edinburgh. We require that applicants apply for this Program before applying to the University.
The Program will not accept applications submitted outside the online application system.
Please review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section, below, for further details.
If you have any queries regarding the Mastercard Foundation Scholarships, which are not answered in the FAQs, please contact us at: email@example.com
2024/25 applications have now closed.
The selection process for applications is based on the following criteria:
- Academic merit of the candidate that qualifies for admissions to the University of Edinburgh
- Track record as a transformative leader and service within their community
- Quality of application in line with the Scholars Program theme of climate justice.
- Potential impact on the development of the applicant’s home country.
- Applicants who have faced significant barriers to education (social, financial, personal, practical or health related).
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 Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program only first. If you receive a sholarship offer from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program then you can apply for the academic programme.
If you are also applying for other scholarships at the University of Edinburgh, please apply directly for the degree programme of your choice as well as the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship application. (Please also read the information about the Program application fees below).
If you have already secured a place on an eligible degree programme, please indicate in your Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program application form that you have already secured a place on the degree programme.
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.
Where do I apply for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program?
The link will be made available on this webpage on 23rd October 2023 to both the online and on-campus scholarship application forms. Before then, we encourage you to familiarise yourself with the information provided on this site, including all FAQs, and the site of your desired degree programme.
When does the next round of applications open?
Applications for our Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, for postgraduate degrees only, will open from 23rd October 2023 at 10.00am and close on 7th December 2023 at 5pm BST. There is no competitive advantage from applying to the scholarship early.
Please note that all applicants must have completed the first stage of the application – the eligibility assessment – by 1st December at 5pm BST. New applications will not be permitted by the SM Apply system after said date.
Please do not apply for your degree programmes.
Which postgraduate degrees are covered on this Program?
We offer scholarships for the following online degree programmes:
- International Development (Masters route only)
- Carbon Management (Masters route only)
- Social Justice and Community Action (Masters route only)
- Global Food Security and Nutrition (Masters or Diploma)
- Global Challenges (Masters or Diploma)
- One Health (Masters or Diploma)
- Circular Economy (Masters or Diploma)
- Sustainable Lands and Cities (Masters or Diploma)
We offer scholarships for the following on-campus postgraduate programmes.
- Africa and International Development
- Climate Change Finance and Investment
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Food Security
- MSc Environment & Development
- MSc Environmental Sustainability
- Planetary Health
- Sustainable Energy Systems
- 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 Mastercard Foundation 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 the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.
Can I apply for a degree programme which varies from the subject of my BA degree?
It is possible for applicants to apply for programmes which vary from their bachelor’s field. We advise that you take the opportunity in your application to demonstrate genuine interest in the programme and how it links to your current and future goals.
To guide you in making the strongest possible application, we would also recommend that you review the eligibility requirements of the programme in which you are interested.
Do I need to identify as a woman, refugee, displaced, or as having a disability in order to qualify for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program?
Applicants need not identify as women, refugee, displaced, or with a disability to apply for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. Our eligibility information states we ‘particularly welcome applications’ from these groups as we hope to encourage as diverse and inclusive an application pool as possible.
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.
- According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
Who is a youth?
Young people and youths are individuals between the ages of 15-35 years
-According to Africa Youth Charter
How is displacement 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 all 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 to be considered for the Mastercard Foundation scholarship.
We are unable to make exceptions on eligibility requirements.
What documents do I need to apply for this Program?
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 have these documents by the application deadline (7th December 2023), you will not be able to proceed with the application.
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 will not 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.
I have applied for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at other institutions, can I submit the same application for all?
All Mastercard Foundation Scholars 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 are applying to and shape your responses accordingly.
You are, therefore, most welcome to apply if you meet all required eligibility conditions.
Do I need to take an English language test?
English Language Test results are not a requirement when applying for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.
However, depending on where you did your undergraduate studies you may be required to undertake an English language test as part of the admissions process to the University of Edinburgh, unless you already have a valid English language test that meets the University’s minimum. The English test assesses applicants on reading, writing, speaking and listening. Some of the test providers are IELTS and TOEFL.
Is the support and program offered only in English, or is it available in another language as well?
The support and the study programme is provided entirely in English ONLY.
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 Scholars Programs at University of Edinburgh?
Applicants are only able to apply for either the online (Master’s or Diploma) OR on-campus (Master’s) programs and not both. As we want to ensure candidates are fully invested and interested to pursue a particular study route.
Can I apply for the scholarship if I have a Masters already?
Masters program applicants should not be planning to or have completed a graduate/postgraduate degree already. However, PG-Diploma scholarship applicants can either have an undergraduate or Master’s degree from a Sub-Saharan African university
Do I have to pay for the application fee to my degree programme if applying for an Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program?
Your degree programme application fee will be waived ONLY if you are accepted to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program - please do not contact Fees or the Admissions office to request a waiver. If you are successfully awarded the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, the Program team will support your application to your degree programme and the application fee will then be waivered. If the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the only scholarship you are applying to at the University of Edinburgh, you do not need to apply to your degree programme as part of your application to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, you will be supported to apply to your degree programme, ONLY if you are awarded the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.
If you are applying to multiple scholarships at the University of Edinburgh, please check the Program application requirements as some may request that you apply for the degree programme as well as the completing a sholarship application (whereas Mastercard Foundation doesn’t, as explained above). If this is the case, you will have to pay for the application fee to your degree programme.
Is there flexibility in the duration for completing a postgraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh under the scholarship program?
The period for completing a postgraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh is fixed and we adhere to the outlined degree programme guidelines.
How can I ensure I have successfully completed and submitted my application?
Whether you are using a phone or a computer to make your application, ensure you complete and click the ‘submit’ button for you to advance to the next stage of your application.
Will the scholarship support my family and dependents as well?
The Program only covers costs for an individual, and we are unable to provide financial or practical support for family members and other dependents. The University accommodation we provide is also for individuals and cannot be used by family members.
In principle, a successful candidate could travel with one or more family members, but covering the costs in such cases would be the sole responsibility of the Scholars. Unless family members already have the right to work and live in the UK, obtaining a visa for them is likely to be difficult and usually requires applicants to show evidence of having a significant amount of money available to cover life in the UK.
For further details, please see the UK government website.
Interview and references stage
How will I hear about being invited to interview?
From 1st February 2024, on campus applicants who have been shortlisted will be invited to interview. From 8th February 2024, 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?
You will not need to instruct your referees what to include in their reference letter. The reference letter request will be sent directly to your chosen referee. The referee will be provided with guidance on how to complete the reference for you.
We would encourage you to ensure your chosen referee is aware you have nominated them and that they have explicitly agreed to oblige, as and when requested.
How and when should my reference be submitted?
We do not request reference letters at the application stage, you will simply need to provide their name and email address. When required, 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 Program and it is our opportunity to get to know you better. Depending on the number of applicants, we may opt for group interviews.
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 the end of February 2024
Online applicants by the start of March 2024
If you are successful, the outcome will be a conditional offer of the scholarship. You will then be required to apply to the University of Edinburgh. Over the next few months, the Program team at Edinburgh will support and guide you so that your offer becomes unconditional.
What happens when I do not hear about the status of my application?
Applicants will receive emails from SM Apply directly. These emails sometimes end up in the junk mail folder by default. To ensure you receive timely updates and notifications regarding your application, we strongly advise marking these emails as 'safe sender' or 'not junk' and regularly checking your junk folder throughout the application process.
Is my offer binding?
We expect applicants who accept their offer to take up their place on the Mastercard Foundation 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 end of February, and shortlisted online applicants by the beginning of March 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 Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program team at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn where we will be sharing content to help support those in the application process.