Carnegie PhD Scholarships

The Carnegie PhD Scholarships fund postgraduate research leading to a PhD at an eligible institution in Scotland.


Candidates must have, or be on track to achieve, a first class Honours undergraduate degree from a Scottish institution of higher education.

The scheme is open to students of any nationality who meet the above criterion.

Key Facts

Career stage:Postgraduate research (PhD)
Host organisation:One of the 15 Scottish universities, Glasgow School of Art, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Funding awarded:Stipend for living expenses, UK home-rate tuition fees and research allowance
Duration of award (fulltime study):36 months standard, 42 months in specific cases
Duration of award (parttime study):72 months standard, 84 months n specific cases
Number of awards each year:12-15 PhD Scholarships
Next closing date:28 February 2022, 5pm

Who can apply

You are eligible to be nominated for this award by a Scottish university if:

  • you already hold, or are on track to graduate with a First Class Honours degree from one of the eligible host organisations in Scotland;
  • This undergraduate degree is in a subject related to the academic field of your proposed doctoral research;
  • you have been accepted on a doctoral programme at one of the eligible host organisations;
  • this doctoral programme will start in the coming academic year (2022-23).


  • This scheme is open to students of any nationality who meet the above criteria.
  • Candidates in faculties which do not award Honours, e.g. Medicine, are expected to  have achieved the equivalent standard to a First Class Honours.

Who can’t apply

You are not eligible for nomination if:

  • Your undergraduate degree is not from an eligible host organisation in Scotland
  • You came to Scotland to study for a Postgraduate Masters but completed your undergraduate degree in a different country
  • Your First Class Honours Degree is in a discipline unrelated to the academic field of your PhD.
  • You have already started a PhD or will be starting before academic year 2022-23.


  • The absence of a First Class Honours degree from a Scottish university cannot be compensated by a postgraduate Masters undertaken in Scotland.

The Carnegie PhD Scholarships are tenable at the following institutions:

  • Universities: Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, Highlands and Islands, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, West of Scotland;
  • Glasgow School of Art;
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The Carnegie PhD Scholarship funding package includes:

Stipend: currently £16,800 for the academic year 2020-2021, adjusted annually for inflation.

Tuition Fees: The Trust will cover tuition fees at the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Indicative Fee Level for the relevant academic year (universities are expected to waive any outstanding balance).

Research Allowance: £3,000 for the whole tenure.

The following awards are all administrered as part of this single scheme. Successful candidates will be allocated the most relevant Scholarship to their field of study. The Scholarships are awarded and held under identical conditions.

Carnegie PhD Scholarships

Funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Scholarships are open for doctoral study in any field.

Caledonian Research Foundation (CRF) Scholarships

The Trust administers the CRF Scholarships on behalf of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which received the funding for these awards from the Caledonian Research Foundation. One Scholarship is usually awarded for study in the Life Sciences and another in Arts and Humanities.

Carnegie-Cant-Morgan PhD Scholarship in Botany/Plant Science

Funded by a legacy from Mr Keith Morgan, this scholarship in plant science is awarded every three years. It will next be offered for a PhD starting in 2021-22.

Candidates nominated for these prestigious awards must:

  • Show outstanding ability and potential for research at postgraduate level.
  • Demonstrate academic excellence and a strong performance in their final year dissertation project as well as evidence of consistency and/or increasing levels of achievements throughout the student’s studies.
  • Submit a research proposal that demonstrates excellence, originality and significance.
  • Provide a good fit between the proposed research and the environment and facilities offered by the university in which the PhD will be undertaken.
  • Identify high quality supervision arrangements.

To apply for a Carnegie PhD Scholarship you must be nominated by one of the 17 eligible host organisations.  Each institution has a limited quota of nominations that it is permitted to submit.

Contact the Scottish institutions where you wish to do your PhD in the first instance to enquire about the selection process. You can find the contact details for each eligible institutions under Downloadable documents.

You can only be nominated by one university for this scheme.

Student eligibility

I do not not have a First Class undergraduate Honours degree from a Scottish University but completed a PG Master’s degree in Scotland. Can I still apply?

Under the regulations of the PhD Scholarship Scheme, a First Class undergraduate Honours degree from a Scottish University is a pre-requisite. Students who do not have a First Class Honours degree from a Scottish university are not eligible. This also means that students who have come to Scotland to study for a Postgraduate Master’s after completing an undergraduate degree in different country than Scotland are not eligible.

Are there any nationality or residency restrictions?

The scheme is open to applicants of any nationality as long the candidate holds a First Class Honours degree from a Scottish University. However, the Trust only covers the costs of tuition fees at the RCUK Home rate and expects the university to waive international fees.

The student I wish to nominate has done a dual degree with two years at a university abroad and two years in Scotland. The degree will be awarded by both universities. Is this student eligible?

Yes, as long as the final degree is a First Class Honours degree from a Scottish University alongside that from the university overseas, the student is eligible.

The candidate I plan to nominate is on track to achieve a First Class Honours but the final results are not known yet. Can I still nominate this student?

Yes, students who are expected to achieve a First Class undergraduate Honours degree at a Scottish University but have not received their final results may be nominated. If selected, a conditional Scholarship offer will be made subject to the award of a First Class Honours.


Where can the scholarship be held?

The Carnegie PhD Scholarships can only be held at one of the eligible institutions of Higher Education in Scotland (e.g.: a Scottish university, Glasgow School of Art or the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).

What is the length of tenure?

Awards are made for the standard length of a PhD degree: 36 months (3 years) and up to 42 months if a suitable case is made at the time of application. Shorter periods of tenure are not possible.

The Scholarships can also be held for part-time study with a minimum of 50% of full-time.

My PhD project is highly likely to require an additional 6 months. Is it possible to apply for a longer period of tenure?

A case for extending the scholarship for 6 months may be made at the time of nomination by the academic nominating the student. This must be approved by the Trust if an award is made. It is not possible to request an extension once an award has started.

Nomination process

I have applied to do a PhD and I am now looking for funding. How can I be nominated for this award?

Students must be nominated by their prospective supervisor in the department where they wish to undertake the project. It is not possible to apply directly to the Trust. There is a fixed number of nominations for each university, therefore an internal selection process will take place at each university to select the candidates whose nomination will be put forward to the Trust.

How do I find out about the internal selection process at the university where I wish to study?

A list of contacts for each university can be found in the list of contacts and in the Guide for applicants, under Downloadable documents.

Can a student be nominated by more than one university?

No, students can only be nominated by one university and one nominator at a time.

I have been selected by a Scottish university to be nominated for a Scholarship — what do I do next?

Once selected by their university a nominee will be given a link by the university to the online application form.

When will the online application form open?

The online submission process will open 2-3 weeks before the Trust’s deadline.

Does the candidate need to provide a reference?

In addition to the nominator’s statement of support, one reference is required, from an academic familiar with the student’s academic record to date and potential for research at postgraduate level. References are confidential and should be uploaded by nominators when completing their part of the application. More details on the reference can be found in the guide for applicants.

Completing the online application form

What do you mean by relevant employment history?

This section should only be used to list any employment that may be relevant to the topic of the proposed research or helps demonstrate the candidate’s suitability for research.

Who should write the case for support?

The case for support must be written by the nominated student, using his or her own words. Proposals for projects written by the supervisor or another academic will not be accepted.

Can I insert a list of works cited or a bibliography?

Yes, works cited or a bibliography should be included as part of the case for support. A detailed guide on what to include in the case for support can be found in the guide for applicants.

I need more space to write my case for support, can I exceed the required length?

Please stick to the instructions for the case for support. Changing the lay out may have a negative impact on the assessment of your proposal.


What is the success rate for these Scholarships?

The success rate over the past couple of years for students nominated by their university has been 25%.

Research Expenses

All Carnegie scholars may claim up to £3,000 over the tenure of their scholarship to cover expenses directly linked to their research.

Expenses must be approved by the scholar’s supervisor and by the Trust.

To claim expenses, download a copy of the Research Allowance Form and email it back to the Trust.

Progress reports

PhD Scholars are required to submit a progress report, approved by their supervisor. Students will receive an email about 1 month before the deadline with a request to complete their report by the deadline of 15th July. Supervisors are asked to complete part of the form with comments on the Scholar’s progress to date.

Scholars should use this progress report template.

Covid 19 extension policy

Final year Scholars whose progress has affected by the pandemic may apply for a funded extension to their Scholarship when submitting the progress report in the Summer of their final year. Details of our Covid Extension policy are available for download.

Destination report

A year after the end of their tenure, PhD Scholars will be asked to complete an end report to update the Trust.

Destination report

Award Timeline

December - February Eligible host organisations select their candidates
1 February 2022Application portal opens for candidates selected by host organisations
28 February 2022, 5pmDeadline to apply to the Trust
mid-May 2022Candidates notified of decisions
September 2022New Carnegie Scholars start their PhD

Eligibility Checker

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