Commonwealth PhD Scholarships for Indian Students
Written by Ben Taylor
Commonwealth PhD Scholarships offer talented Indian doctoral students the opportunity to complete a funded 12-month placement at a participating UK university. If successful, you’ll receive a tuition fee waiver, travel expenses and a living stipend.
This page will explain how the Commonwealth PhD Scholarship programme works for Indian students, what benefits it offers and how you can apply for funding.
What is the Commonwealth PhD Scholarship India scheme?
The Commonwealth PhD Scholarship India scheme is part of the wider Commonwealth Scholarship programme, administered by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The FCDO funds a number of different PhD scholarship schemes aimed at Commonwealth countries in various stages of development. The one that Indian nationals are eligible for is known as the Commonwealth Split-site Scholarship, which is positioned towards low- and middle-income countries.
These split-site scholarships fund Indian PhD students to complete a one-year study placement at a participating UK university. This placement can be split into two six-month periods.
Your doctoral research will need to be covered by one of the following six development themes, as specified by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC):
- Access, inclusion and opportunity
- Promoting global prosperity
- Science and technology for development
- Strengthening global peace, security and governance
- Strengthening health systems and capacity
- Strengthening resilience and response to crises
For more information on these themes, please visit the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission website.
Who is eligible for an Indian Commonwealth PhD Scholarship?
There are several eligibility requirements you’ll need to satisfy to qualify for an Indian Commonwealth PhD Scholarship. You should be:
- An Indian citizen (or have been granted refugee status by an eligible Commonwealth country)
- Permanently resident in India
- Registered at an Indian university for your PhD by the time the scholarship is due to begin
In terms of the academic requirements, you’re expected to meet one of the following two criteria:
- A 2.1 undergraduate degree
- A 2.2 undergraduate degree and a postgrad qualification like a Masters
It’s also important to make sure that your university in India has a connection (either at a departmental or institutional level) with the UK university you want to complete a placement at.
Commonwealth Scholarships are intended to widen participation to UK higher education and help students who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford the opportunity. This means you may be asked to demonstrate your financial situation during the application process.
You’ll also need to return home to India when your award has finished.
Can you apply for both a Masters and PhD Commonwealth Scholarship?
No, current PhD students are ineligible for the Commonwealth Masters Scholarship.
How much is an Indian Commonwealth PhD Scholarship worth?
These are the main financial benefits you’ll get from a Commonwealth PhD Scholarship:
- Air travel to and from India
- Tuition fee waiver
- Monthly living stipend worth £1,113 (£1,390 if your university is in London)
- Warm clothing allowance
- Study-related travel expenses within the UK
There’s also a family allowance of £485 for your first child if you’re widowed, divorced or a single parent. You can get an additional £120 per month for your second and third children. They’ll need to be under 16 and living at the same address as you in the UK.
How can Indian students apply for a Commonwealth PhD Scholarship?
The first step for Indian doctoral candidates towards getting a Commonwealth PhD Scholarship is to apply for a placement at a UK university that has a part funding arrangement with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC).
Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to apply directly to the CSC, using their online application portal. During the application process, the CSC will assess you on three main criteria.
Your academic merit will be an important factor. The CSC’s selection committee will look at your degree results and transcripts, as well as any prizes you’ve received during your academic career.
The quality of your research proposal will also determine the success of your Commonwealth PhD Scholarship. You’ll need to show that:
- You have a clear idea of what you want to research and how you want to go about achieving your goals
- You’ve engaged with your prospective host supervisor in the UK
- Your research proposal is innovative and related to the CSC’s development themes
- Your PhD project is relevant to the UK
The selection committee will assess the development impact of your research. You’ll be expected to explain how your project relates to development challenges in India. You should also speak about any previous relevant voluntary work that you’ve done.
Applications for Indian Commonwealth PhD Scholarships usually open in December, with a February deadline. Candidates typically find out in June if their application has been successful.
Find out more about doing a PhD in the UK
Read our detailed guide to PhD study in the UK, with advice on applications, funding and more.