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International PhD Funding for 2020

There are lots of different PhD funding opportunities for international students to study abroad in the UK. Many funded projects are available to students of all nationalities. Government bodies, charities and universities also offer separate international PhD scholarships and grants.

Our guide explains the best ways to fund international PhD study in the UK, with information on all the main options available to you.

We can also help if you aren't sure whether you count as an international student.

PhD projects with international funding

Many UK PhDs are advertised as specific projects with funding already attached. This is very common in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) but some Arts, Humanities and Social Science doctorates also work this way.

Applying for one of these PhDs is a lot like applying for a job: if you are accepted to do the 'work' (the research) you will also get the 'salary' (the funding) which normally covers fees, research expenses and a grant for living costs.

You can use FindAPhD to browse all of our current PhD projects with international funding, or start a different PhD search and filter the results yourself.

Not all projects are available to all students, because some government funding sources (such as Research Council Studentships) are restricted to British and EU applicants.

However, this is set to change in the 2021-22 academic year, when international students will be eligible for Research Council funding. Our blog has the latest details on UKRI funding for international students.

New projects are being added to FindAPhD all the time, so keep checking back. Or just sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you the latest projects in your subject, each week.

Finding PhDs with international funding

You can use FindAPhD to search for advertised PhDs with international funding. The simple walkthrough on our blog explains how.

UK PhD scholarships for international students

Separate international PhD scholarships are available if you're proposing your own PhD, or applying for a project that doesn't have funding available to you.

Lots of different organisations offer these. This section covers general international PhD scholarships from the UK Government as well as large independent charities and trusts. There's information on funding for specific nationalities or for specific universities, further down this page.

Commonwealth PhD scholarships

Commonwealth scholarships are provided by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations.

There are three main Commonwealth PhD scholarships. Which one you apply for depends on where you are from and where you wish to study your PhD.

Commonwealth scholarships (least developed countries)

These scholarships are for citizens of economically underdeveloped or politically unstable Commonwealth countries to benefit from international PhD study in the UK.

  • Value – Full PhD fees, plus return airfare, monthly living stipend and funding other approved expenses.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Kenya, Kiribiti, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwands, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, The Gambia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu and Zambia.
  • Other criteria – You must be a resident in your home country (not already living in the UK) beginning a new full-time PhD in the UK without other means of funding it. Applicants should also hold an undergraduate degree of 2.1 standard (or above) or 2.2. standard plus a relevant Masters.
  • Application deadline – Applications normally close in October for PhD study beginning the following academic year.
  • Find out more – Visit the Commonwealth Scholarships website.

Commonwealth Scholarships (high income countries)

These scholarships are for citizens of wealthier Commonwealth countries to benefit from international PhD study in the UK.

  • Value – Full PhD fees, plus return airfare, monthly living stipend and funding other approved expenses.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of Anguilla, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Malta, New Zealand, Seychelles, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Other criteria – You must be a resident in your home country (not already living in the UK) beginning a new full-time PhD in the UK without other means of funding it. Applicants should also hold an undergraduate degree of 2.1 standard (or above) or 2.2. standard plus a relevant Masters.
  • Application deadline – Applications normally close in September for PhD study beginning the following academic year.
  • Find out more – Visit the Commonwealth Scholarships website.

Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships (low and middle income countries)

These scholarships are for PhD students from specific Commonwealth countries to spend up to 12 months of their doctorate based at a UK university. They don't offer full funding for a PhD in the UK, but can be a way of accessing specific equipment and expertise for your research, as well as gaining new networking opportunities in your field.

  • Value – Full PhD fees at the UK host, plus return airfare, monthly living stipend and funding other approved expenses during your 12 month placement.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of Anguilla, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Malta, New Zealand, Seychelles, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Other criteria – You must be currently registered for a PhD in an eligible country at a university with links to a UK partner.
  • Application deadline – Applications normally close in November for PhD placements during the following academic year.
  • Find out more – Visit the Commonwealth Scholarships website.

Other UK PhD scholarships

There are a number of general funding schemes for PhD study in the UK. Some are specific to international students; others are available to all nationalities.

Newton PhD Scholarships

The Newton Fund is a UK Government scheme to help develop research expertise and infrastructure in 18 partner countries. It is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), with PhD funding supported by Universities UK (UUK).

Newton Fund PhD scholarships operate as separate national schemes, with their own application processes.

  • Value – Usually full funding, including tuition, living costs, visa fees and other expenses.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
  • Other criteria – Funding is primarily available for STEM subjects. Candidates should be accepted for an appropriate project at a UK university.
  • Application deadline – Depends on national scheme and university.
  • Find out more – Universities UK offers a Student Support Service for people considering applying to the Newton Fund.

Carnegie PhD Scholarships

The Carnegie Trust is a charity that funds PhD research at Scottish universities. All nationalities can apply for a scholarship, but your undergraduate degree must be from a Scottish university.

  • Value – PhD fees at the domestic rate (the university must waive any international fees) plus an annual stipend (currently £16,800) and £3,330 for research expenses.
  • Eligibility – All nationalities may apply.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must have (or expect to receive) a first-class undergraduate degree from a Scottish university, in a subject related to their PhD.
  • Application deadline – Universities nominate students for scholarships once they have accepted their PhD application.
  • Find out more – Visit the Carnegie Trust website.

Wellcome Trust doctoral Studentships

The Wellcome Trust is a charity that funds Social Science or Humanities research related to health (including public health and social or cultural responses to disease).

  • Value – Awards cover PhD fees at the domestic rate, unless you are from a low- or middle-income country, in which case the Trust will pay international fees. Studentships also include an annual stipend of £19,000+ (rising each year) plus money for additional research expenses and up to £5,000 for conference attendance during your PhD.
  • Eligibility – All nationalities may apply.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be accepted for a three-year, full-time Humanities or Social Science PhD related to health. You should also hold a Masters degree or have equivalent research experience in your field.
  • Application deadline – Applications must be completed by March of the year in which you intend to study.
  • Find out more – Visit the Wellcome Trust website.

Gen Foundation grants

The Gen Foundation is a charity set up to promote cross-cultural exchange between Japan and the rest of the world. It funds PhD research in Food Science and Technology, as well as related areas of the Natural Sciences.

  • Value – The value of each grant is decided per application, but is usually between £500 and £5,000.
  • Eligibility – All nationalities may apply (Gen Foundation grants are not restricted to Japanese or UK students).
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be accepted to study for a PhD in the Natural Sciences, particularly Food Science and Technology.
  • Application deadline – Applications usually take place between November and February.
  • Find out more – Visit the Gen Foundation website.

In most cases you can only apply for one of these PhD scholarships after your main PhD application is successful (funding won't usually be available to someone who hasn't been offered a PhD place yet).

Country-specific funding

A large number of international PhD scholarships are designed for students of certain nationalities.

Often these are exchange schemes, established to send PhD students from a partner country to the UK (and sometimes vice versa). Some are charitable initiatives intended to expand education in specific countries. Others are set up by national governments or education ministries to help their citizens receive international research and training opportunities.

Either way, often the best way to look for international PhD funding is to explore scholarships for your specific nationality.

Here are some PhD funding courses for international students from different countries:

Australia

Australia Day Foundation UK Trust

The Australia Day Foundation promotes strong links between Australia and the UK. It offers grants to young Australians studying at UK universities.

  • Value – The maximum value for each grant is £10,000, to be used for fees and course materials, but not living expenses.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be young Australian citizens, studying in the UK.
  • Application deadline – Applications are usually open between November and April.
  • Find out more – Visit the Australia Day Foundation website.

Bangladesh

CWBT Doctoral Bursaries

The Charles Wallace Bangladesh Trust (CWBT) is part of the wider Charles Wallace Trust, a charity funded by the legacy of a nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian businessman. Its doctoral bursaries are available to Bangldeshi students in the final year of a UK doctorate.

  • Value – Up to £1,000
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Bangladeshi citizens in the final year of a UK doctoral degree.
  • Application deadline – Applications must normally be made by mid-November each year.
  • Find out more – Visit the Charles Wallace Trust website.

Burma

CWBT Academic Grants

The Charles Wallace Burma Trust (CWBT) is part of the wider Charles Wallace Trust, a charity funded by the legacy of a nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian businessman. Its academic grants provide funding for students from Burma / Myanmar during a PhD in the UK.

  • Value – Up to £1,000
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Burmese citizens enrolled on a postgraduate course (including PhD study) at a UK university.
  • Application deadline – Varies.
  • Find out more – Visit the Charles Wallace Trust website.

Canada

Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund

The Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (CCSF) supports Canadian students to study postgraduate courses in the UK.

  • Value – £2,000-5,000
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Canadian citizens enrolled for at least two years of postgraduate study at a UK university (including PhD research).
  • Application deadline – Applications usually close in March for awards in the following academic year.
  • Find out more – Visit the CCSF website.

Canada-UK Foundation UK Doctoral Studentships

The Canada-UK Foundation supports research on topics of Canadian interest at UK universities. Students of all nationalities may apply, but the awards may be particularly relevant to Canadian PhD researchers.

  • Value – £2,000 per year towards full-time tuition fees (pro rata equivalent available for part-time students)
  • Other criteria – Nominated students must be researching topics with a substantial Canadian element. Topics are typically in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences areas, but relevant STEM research may also be supported.
  • Application deadline – Your university must nominate you for an award and apply to the Canada-UK Foundation for support with your PhD.
  • Find out more – Visit the Canada-UK Foundation website.

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships

Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) provides funding for PhD research at universities around the world.

  • Value – Up to CAD $20,000 per year, for up to four years.
  • Other criteria – Students must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, without other PhD funding from the Canadian Government.
  • Application deadline – Applications made directly to SSHRC must normally be completed by mid-October.
  • Find out more – Visit the SSHRC website.

China

GBCET Chinese Students Awards

The Great Britain-China Educational Trust (GBCET) is a charity set up to support Chinese students studying in Britain and British students studying in China. They offer Chinese Student Awards for the final year of PhD study in the UK.

  • Value – £1,500-3,000.
  • Other criteria – Students must be Chinese citizens in the third year of a PhD at a UK university.
  • Application deadline – Applications must be made in time for one of the GBCET's two annual meetings in May and November.
  • Find out more – Visit the GBCET website.

China Scholarship Council

The China Scholarship Council (CBC) is the main source of government funding for Chinese citizens to study a PhD abroad. Awards are usually offered jointly with universities and targeted at specific research areas.

  • Value – Varies, but will normally cover tuition fees, living costs and return travel.
  • Other criteria – Students must be accepted for PhD study at a parter university and intending to return to China once their degree is complete.
  • Application deadline – Universities must nominate students for CSC awards, applications for funding must then be made to the CSC in April.
  • Find out more – Visit the CSC website.

India

CWIT Long-Term Grants

The Charles Wallace India Trust (CWIT) is part of the wider Charles Wallace Trust, a charity funded by the legacy of a nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian businessman. Its long-term grants provide funding to Indian students for up to a year of study in the UK, usually in Arts and Heritage Conservation fields.

  • Value – Funding covers accommodation and living costs, as well as contributing towards international tuition fees.
  • Other criteria – Students must be Indian citizens, aged between 35 and 38 and living in India. Your PhD must relate to Arts Heritage and Conservation.
  • Application deadline – Applications must usually be made by the end of December, with interviews taking place in the following February.
  • Find out more – Information on CWIT funding is managed on the British Council website.

CWIT Final Year Doctoral Grants

The Charles Wallace India Trust (CWIT) is part of the wider Charles Wallace Trust, a charity funded by the legacy of a nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian businessman. Its final year doctoral grants provide support for Indian students completing a UK PhD.

  • Value – Roughly £500-600
  • Other criteria – Students must be Indian citizens, aged between 25-38, in the final year of a UK PhD related to Arts, Heritage Conservation and general Humanities (particularly History and Literature). You must also be normally resident in India and planning to return there after your PhD.
  • Application deadline – You should apply by email with an explanation of your situation and need for the grant.
  • Find out more – Information on CWIT funding is managed on the British Council website.

Inlaks Scholarships

The Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation is a philanthropic body that funds educational opportunities for young Indians. Its scholarships are available for PhD study in selected fields at selected institutions.

  • Value – Full tuition fees, plus travel, health and living expenses.
  • Other criteria – Students must be Indian citizens, aged under 30, who have been continuously resident in India for six months prior to their scholarship application, and who will be studying their PhD at an eligible university.
  • Application deadline – Applications are open between January and March.
  • Find out more – Visit the Inlaks Foundation website.

Israel

Kenneth Lindsay Scholarship Trust

The Kenneth Lindsay Scholarships are offered by the Anglo-Israel association to support students from Israel for one year of academic study in the UK.

  • Value – £500-2,000.
  • Other criteria – Students must be Israeli citizens, studying full-time in the UK.
  • Application deadline – Applications must be made by the end of April each year.
  • Find out more – Visit the Anglo Israel Association website.

Jewish Widows' and Students' Aid Trust

The JWSAT provides funding for Jewish students to study a Masters or PhD in the UK.

  • Value – Support for one year of study per award, but students may reapply later in their degree.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Jewish Israeli students, aged under 30.
  • Application deadline – NA.
  • Find out more – Information on JSWAT funding is available on the Union of Jewish Students website.

Japan

Japan IMF Scholarship Program for Advanced Studies

The Japan IMF Scholarship Program for Advanced Studies (JISP) is provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It supports Japanese citizens for up to two years of PhD study in Macroeconomics.

  • Value – The JISP covers tuition fees, health insurance, living costs and other expenses (including travel) for up to two years.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Japanese citizens who will be 34 or younger on completion of their PhD. Your research must be in Microeconomics and you must apply to work at the IMF once your doctorate is completed.
  • Application deadline – Applications must be made by the end of December in the year prior to your PhD beginning.
  • Find out more – Visit the IMF website.

JSPS Overseas Challenge Program for Young Researchers

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) is supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). It provides some funding for Japanese researchers to spend time abroad during a PhD.

  • Value – The JISP covers travel and maintenance support for 3-12 months of PhD study in the UK (or elsewhere abroad).
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Japanese citizens, working towards a PhD at a Japanese university.
  • Application deadline – There are calls for applications in September and April.
  • Find out more – Visit the JSPS website.

Mexico

Postgraduate Scholarships Abroad

The Mexican Government provides some scholarship funding for citizens to complete a postgraduate degree abroad.

  • Value – Funding for tuition fees up to ₱300,000 (roughly £11,000) per year, along with support for living costs and medical insurance.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Mexican citizens studying a PhD abroad for up to 48 months at a recognised university.
  • Application deadline – Varies.
  • Find out more – Visit the Conacyt website.

Pakistan

HEC Overseas Scholarships

Pakistan's Higher Education Commission provides funding for citizens to study abroad in the UK and elsewhere.

  • Value – Varies.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Pakistani citizens, accepted for either a PhD or an MPhil leading to PhD in the UK (or other host country). Your research should normally be in a subject related to Engineering or Technology.
  • Application deadline – NA.
  • Find out more – Visit the HEC Pakistan website.

Punjab CMMS PhD Foreign Scholarships

The Punjab Educational Endownment Fund (PEEF) administers scholarships on behalf of the Government of the Punjab, 10% of which are reserved for Pakistani citizens.

  • Value – Full funding, covering tuition fees, living costs, healthcare and travel.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be accepted for a PhD at one of the top 50 world universities according to the latest QS rankings. You must also be aged under 35 with grades exceeding 60% in your undergraduate programme.
  • Application deadline – Applications should normally be made by mid-May.
  • Find out more – Visit the PEEF website.

CWPT Doctoral Bursaries

The Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust (CWPT) is part of the wider Charles Wallace Trust, a charity funded by the legacy of a nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian businessman. Its doctoral bursaries provide additional support to Pakistani students completing a PhD in the UK.

  • Value – Up to £1,000
  • Other criteria – Students must be Pakistani citizens, currently completing a UK PhD in Humanities, Arts, Creative Industries, Social Sciences, Life Sciences or Medicine.
  • Application deadline – There are two annual deadlines in May and November. You must be within 15 months of the completion date for your PhD.
  • Find out more – Visit the Charles Wallace Trust website.

Palestine

Higher Education Scholarship Palestine

The Higher Education Scholarship Palestine (HESPAL) supports Palestinian citizens to gain postgraduate Masters or PhD qualifications in a range of subjects.

  • Value – Funding for tuition fees and living costs, as well as expenses whilst studying in the UK. Scholarships do not cover visa and language test fees, or air travel to and from the UK.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be resident citizens of the Palestinian Occupied Territories, employed and nominated by a Palestinian university to which they intend to return to work following their PhD.
  • Application deadline – Varies.
  • Find out more – Information on HESPAL funding is available on the British Council website.

Russia

Global Education Program

The Global Education Program (GEP) is a Russian Government initiative to support international educational opportunities for Russian citizens.

  • Value – ₽2,76m (approximately £30,000) per year.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Russian citizens studying at an approved university.
  • Application deadline – Several per year.
  • Find out more – Information on GEP funding is available on the Russian Global Education website.

Sudan

Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund

The Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund awards grants for Sudanese and South Sudanese citizens to study postgraduate courses in the UK.

  • Value – Varies.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be Sudanese or South Sudanese citizens, who have recieved an offer of a place on a UK postgraduate programme and intend to return home after their studies.
  • Application deadline – Applications must be submitted online between December and February.
  • Find out more – Visit the Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund website.

Thailand

OEA Scholarships

The Thai Office of Educational Affairs (OEA) provides some funding for Thai citizens to study postgraduate courses in the UK.

  • Value – Varies.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be suitably qualified Thai citizens, willing to work for the Thai Government for at least two years following their PhD.
  • Application deadline – Varies.
  • Find out more – Information on OEA funding is available on the Thai Royal Embassy website.

USA

Marshall Scholarships

The Marshall Scholarships were established by the British Foreign Office to recognise aid received from the USA following the Second World War. They offer a flagship scholarship scheme that provides funding for American students to study any postgraduate subject in the UK.

  • Value – Scholarships cover tuition fees, living costs and other routine study expenses for either one or two years (awards may be extended).
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be citizens of the United States of America and have graduated from their first degree after April 2018 with a minimum GPA of 3.7.
  • Application deadline – Applications, including endoresements from your UK university, must normally be submitted by early October.
  • Find out more – Visit the Marshall Commission website.

Fulbright Postgraduate Student All Disciplines Award

The US-UK Fulbright Commission encourages and supports cultural exchange between the USA and UK. Its postgraduate funding assists American students to study Masters or PhD qualifications at British universities.

  • Value – Awards provide a full tuition fee waiver, plus living cost stipends and funds for other expenses.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be citizens of the United States of America (including those with dual citizenship) who do not currently live in the UK and hold a relevant Bachelors degree.
  • Application deadline – Applications for Fulbright funding must be made by October. You will need to have been accepted for PhD study at a UK university in order to apply.
  • Find out more – Visit the Fulbright Commission website.

Can't see a scholarship for your country in the list above? That doesn't necessarily mean support isn't available. It might be a good idea to contact your own Ministry of Education and see if they offer funding for you to study a PhD abroad.

University-specific scholarships

Individual UK universities often provide their own postgraduate grants and scholarships.

These may be provided by the universities themselves, in which case you should check out our guide to PhD funding from UK universities. Other funding is offerd by external charities for study at specific universities. Some of the biggest are listed below.

Saïd Foundation PhD Scholarships

The Saïd Foundation is an independent charity supporting educational opportunities for young people.

  • Universities – University of Cambridge, University of Oxford
  • Value – Scholarships cover full fees, plus maintenance grant and travel expenses.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon or Palestine.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must hold a teaching post at a university in their home country and have applied for a PhD or DPhil at the University of Cambridge or University of Oxford.
  • Application deadline – Applications open between August and November.
  • Find out more – Visit the Saïd Foundation website.

Gates Cambridge Scholarships

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds an international PhD scholarship at the University of Cambridge.

  • Universities – University of Cambridge
  • Value – Covers the composition (tuition) fee and provides a maintenance allowance of £17,500 per year for up to four years. Awards also cover travel to and from the UK as well as visa and healthcare expenses.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of any country outside the UK.
  • Other criteria – Applicants must be applying to study a full-time PhD (or other eligible postgraduate degree) at the University of Cambridge.
  • Application deadline – Applications open annually in September.
  • Find out more – Visit the Gates Cambridge website.

Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships in the Humanities

The Wolfson Foundation is a UK charity that supports research in History, Literature, Languages and related subjects.

  • Universities – University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, University College London, Durham University, University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of St Andrews, University of Warwick, University of York
  • Value – Funding for full fees and living costs, plus an additional travel allowance.
  • Eligibility – Citizens of any country.
  • Other criteria – Students should apply to participating universities and follow their selection process.
  • Application deadline – March.
  • Find out more – Visit the Wolfson Foundation website.

Other options

All of the funding covered on this page is specifically for international students, but you may also be able to apply for other sources of support. Examples include:

  • Charities and trusts – many independent funders support PhD students from all countries
  • Universities – we've covered some of the 'big' university scholarships, above, but there are lots of others available at specific universities

Finally, PhD funding options change a lot more regularly than you probably realise. Follow our blog and newsletter for the latest updates.

Last updated - 24/08/2020

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