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 2023, 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 upcoming academic year (for the Feb 2023 deadline PhD research must start in academic year 2023-24).


  • This scheme is open to students of any nationality who meet the above criteria.
  • Candidates in faculties which do not award Honours, for example 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 2023-24.


  • The absence of a First Class Honours degree from a Scottish university cannot be compensated for 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:

Annual stipend: currently £17,904 for AY 2022-23, adjusted annually.

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 2023-24.

Candidates nominated for these highly competitive awards must:

  • Display outstanding 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 achievement throughout their studies.
  • Submit a research proposal that exhibits excellence, originality and significance.
  • Ensure a good fit between the proposed research and the environment and facilities offered by the institution in which the PhD will be undertaken.
  • Seek out high quality supervisory arrangements.

To apply for a Carnegie PhD Scholarship you must be nominated by one of the 17 eligible host organisations. As each institution has a limited quota of nominations, each employs its own internal candidate selection process.

As a first step you should contact the Scottish institution where you wish to undertake your PhD to enquire about their candidate selection process. You can find the contact details for each eligible institution in the Downloadable documents section below.

Please note: you can only be nominated by a single eligible institution.

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 fixed pre-requisite. Students who do not possess 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 their undergraduate degree in a country other 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 awarded by a Scottish University, alongside that from the overseas university, then the student would be considered eligible.

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

Yes, students who are expected to achieve a First Class Honours undergraduate degree at a Scottish University but have not yet received their final results may be nominated. If selected for support, such candidates are made conditional Scholarship offers, subject to them gaining  a First Class Honours degree.


Where can the scholarship be held?

PhD Scholarships awarded by the Carnegie Trust can only be held at one of the 17 eligible institutions of Higher Education in Scotland (i.e.: one of the 15 Scottish universities, the 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 permitted.

Scholarships may also be held on an equivalent part-time study basis (at 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 (from a 36 to 42 month duration) 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. Please note: It is not possible to retrospectively request an extension once a scholarship has commenced.

Nomination process

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

It is not possible for students to apply directly to the Trust. Students must be nominated by their prospective supervisor in the department where they wish to undertake their project. Each eligible institution is allocated a fixed number of nominations and will employ an internal selection process to choose the candidates to be put forward to apply 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 the Downloadable documents section of this page.

Can a student be nominated by more than one university?

No, students can only be nominated by a single eligible institution (and by one nominator at that institution).

I have been selected by an eligible institution to be nominated for a Scholarship — what do I do next?

Once selected as a nominee by your institution you will be supplied with a link (by the listed contact at your institution) to the scheme’s online application form. You will be able to access the application portal, using the link, from 1st February.

When will the online application form open?

The online submission process will be activated on 1st February and will remain open for 4 weeks up to the deadline of 5PM, 28th February. For details on the application process please refer to the application guide provided under the Downloadable documents section.

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 application guide within the Downloadable documents section.

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 document must be written by the nominated student, using their 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 application guide under the Downloadable documents section.

I need more space to write my Case for Support, can I exceed the required length?

Please adhere to the instructions for the Case for Support. Exceeding the required length or changing the layout or format may have a negative impact on the assessment of your proposal.


What is the success rate for these Scholarships?

The average success rate over the past few 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 (examples of permitted expenses can be found in the Research Allowance Form appendix).

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

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

Progress reports

PhD Scholars are required to submit annual progress reports to the Trust, approved by their supervisor. Students will receive an email 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

Scholars whose PhD funding is ending i September 2023 may apply for a funded extension to their Scholarship when submitting their annual progress report in Summer 2023 if they meet the following condition:

  • their research was hindered by the pandemic due to various restrictions
  • they recorded the impact of the pandemic in their annual progress report to the Trust.

Download the Covid 19 extension policy

Destination report

A year after the end of their scholarship 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 2023Application portal opens for candidates selected by host organisations
28 February 2023, 5pmDeadline to apply to the Trust
End of May 2023Candidates notified of decisions
1st October 2023New Carnegie Scholars start their PhD

Eligibility Checker

Check the options below that apply to you. Please note that no exceptions are made to the eligibility criteria.

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