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  • Thabiso Mnisi

Mastercard Foundation Master’s Scholarships at the University of Edinburgh

Updated: Oct 2, 2019


The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at The University of Edinburgh believes that all young people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to gain a quality education and pursue their aspirations to improve the lives of others.  We are delighted to announce the launch of 2020/21 applications for postgraduate MasterCard Foundation Scholarships at the University of Edinburgh. Applications will go live on 1 October and close on 29 November 2019. Successful applicants will start at the University in September 2020.

MasterCard Foundations scholarships are fully-funded educational opportunities, grounded in transformative leadership.

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at the University is supported by a small team based at Edinburgh Global and the Centre of African Studies. It is a highly collaborative initiative with many partnerships within the University, the city, in Africa and with other MasterCard Foundation partners. As well as the opportunity to learn at a world-class university, each Scholar is supported in their journey as a transformative leader, providing opportunities for them to develop skills and experiences to enhance the change they seek to create in the future.

For more information on eligibility and selection criteria, as well as how to apply, please review the attached document and visit our website at


In partnership with the Foundation, Edinburgh will provide a total of 200 full scholarships to educate and support bright, young African students with great academic potential but who have experienced challenges accessing education. Over the course of the seven-year program, full scholarships will be offered to 80 undergraduate and 120 postgraduate African students who will study on degrees across the University.

For 2020 entry, applications are invited from individuals who choose to study for a full-time, on-campus master’s degree in the following programmes:

  • MSc Africa and International Development

  • MSc Environment and Development

  • MSc Global Health Policy

  • LLM Human Rights

  • MA Design for Change

  • MSc Sustainable Energy Systems

  • MSc Carbon Finance

  • MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation

A strong expectation of the Scholars Program is that successful applicants who are awarded the Scholarship return to their home countries to invest their gained skills and education in their country’s social and economic growth.


The MasterCard Scholarships are awarded based on several key criteria:

  • Applicants must qualify academically for admission to the degree of their choice

  • Applicants must be a national and reside in (except for educational purposes) of a Sub-Saharan African country.

  • Applicants should not have completed a postgraduate degree previously

  • Applicants must demonstrate a track record of leadership and service within their community, and;

  • Applicants are able to present economic circumstances which show they lack the financial means to pursue higher education in their home country or elsewhere,

  • We particularly welcome applications from nationals of Malawi, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and also from applicants who have had access to education limited due to disability or as a refugee.

The scholarships are competitive and awarded broadly on the basis of academic merit. Applicant’s financial, personal, and family circumstances will also be taken into account. Applicants must also be committed to returning to Africa following their graduation to give back to their home community and country.

As well as receiving an excellent education at one of the top ranked universities in the world, Postgraduate Scholars will:

  • Receive comprehensive support, mentoring, and reflective opportunities through the Scholars Program,

  • Complete an Edinburgh Award in Transformative Leadership, a scheme for learning from and receiving credit for community service,

  • Undertake a work-based placement in their home region, a project that forms part of their dissertation, develops research skills, and helps develop professional contacts;

  • Participate in two Scholars Retreats, one designed to nurture transformative leadership skills; and a second to receive support on dissertation writing.


  1. Costs incurred for visa application processing;

  2. Costs incurred for English language tests;

  3. Economy class air tickets to and from Edinburgh for awardees who are citizens and residents of a Sub-Saharan country;

  4. Full tuition fees at the Overseas rate;

  5. University self-catered accommodation;

  6. A food stipend to cover the costs of food expenses;

  7. A general stipend to cover basic living costs, including an academic allowance towards prescribed textbooks, printing and school supplies.

  8. Costs related to community activities as prescribed by the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program;

  9. Access to work-based placement opportunities and a small work-based placement fund; and

  10. Participation in the Scholars Retreats.

Awards are tenable for the duration of the postgraduate programme of study, and at the end of the award candidates will be expected to return to Africa.


Applications for 2020 entry to the MasterCard Foundation Scholar Programs at the University of Edinburgh will open at 09:00 GMT on 1 October. The deadline for all applications will be 14:00 GMT on Friday 29 November.  The application form can be accessed via our website at

All applicants are advised to apply for the scholarship first through our online application form and, if successful, will be assisted in the process of applying for admission to the University.

Interviews via video or phone will be held during February and March 2020, with final decisions made by April. All successful applicants will join the Program in September 2020. Please note that applicants are entitled to make one application per year to the Program.

All applicants, once registered, should have read and understood the Application Guidance before submitting an application to the Program to avoid any errors or incorrect information. The University of Edinburgh and the MasterCard Foundation reserve the right to cancel incomplete and/or late applications, to effect changes to the conditions of the scholarships or to make no awards at all.


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