Civil Society Leadership Award (fully funded graduate program scholarship abroad)

The Civil Society Leadership Awards (CSLA) provide fully funded master’s degree study to individuals who clearly demonstrate academic and professional excellence and a deep commitment to leading positive social change in their communities.

CSLA directly assists future leaders in countries where civil society is challenged by a deficit of democratic practice in local governance and social development. Awards are available for master’s degree study in the following fields at universities participating in the CSLA program:

  • Development Studies;
  • Public Health & Health Management;
  • Education Management & Leadership;
  • Law & Human Rights;
  • Public Policy & Administration;
  • Environment & Natural Resource Management;
  • Social Work & Social Policy;
  • Politics & International Studies;
  • Other select Humanities & Social Sciences.

Please see the accompanying guidelines for a full list of eligible fields of study at participating universities.

Eligibility Criteria

CSLA does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

The awards are available to citizens of the following countries:

  • Azerbaijan;
  • Belarus;
  • Cambodia;
  • Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • Egypt;
  • Equatorial Guinea;
  • Eritrea;
  • Ethiopia;
  • Laos;
  • Libya;
  • Republic of Congo;
  • South Sudan;
  • Sudan;
  • Syria;
  • Turkmenistan;
  • Uzbekistan.

 Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of an eligible country;
  • Demonstrate maturity, flexibility, and civil society leadership potential;
  • Have excellent academic records and an earned bachelor’s degree before applying;
  • Have proficiency in the language of instruction (English or French) at the desired university program, as evidenced by standardized language test scores;
  • Be able to participate in an intensive academic writing program in July or August 2015 and start their degree program in August or September 2015;
  • Be able to receive and maintain a visa or study permit as required by the host country; and
  • Demonstrate a clear commitment to return to their home country or region to continue supporting open society development.
Ineligibility Criteria

The award does not provide:

  • funding for applicants from any country not listed above;
  • funding for foreign language teaching degrees, business administration, physical sciences, engineering, or medical degrees;
  • funding for courses or universities not listed in the full guidelines;
  • funding for dependent family members;
  • funding for individuals receiving other Open Society–funded individual grants during the fellowship period;
  • funding for employees of Open Society Foundations directly involved in the administration of scholarship programs.
Purpose and Priorities

Competition for CSLA scholarships is open and merit-based. Selection is based on an applicant’s fit with the program’s objectives as well the graduate admissions criteria of the participating universities. Academic excellence, professional aptitude, leadership potential in the field of specialization, proven commitment to open society values, and appropriate language proficiency are all important factors in evaluation.

All eligible applicants will be reviewed by the selection committee; applicants are evaluated for a clear demonstration of intellectual potential and commitment to positive social change. The proposed field of study should be logical for the goals expressed in the essays, and the application itself should be organized and complete.

Compelling candidates will be interviewed by a selection committee comprised of university representatives and Open Society Foundations/CSLA staff.


Interested applicants must complete and submit an online or paper CSLA application in English to be considered for CSLA support. Please note that some universities require a separate application for graduate study at that institution. In these cases, the Open Society Foundations will notify candidates and assist with the university application process.

Online Application

All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for the CSLA scholarship online. Please register for the online application form, then follow the instructions.

Paper Application

Paper applications can be found in the Download Files section of this page. More instructions on how to submit the application are included in the complete guidelines.

For more info and to download the application form and guidelines, visit the original website.

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