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New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships For Msc & PhD Candidates

Candidates who are from a BSc background and want to apply for scholarship positions abroad, then make sure you check out all the details posted below on New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships:

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New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships are prestigious scholarships that recognise New Zealand’s history and ties to the Commonwealth. Our Commonwealth Scholarships are part of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) – an international programme under which Commonwealth countries offer scholarships and fellowships to citizens of other Commwealth states. The purpose of the scholarships is set out in the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (external link), with the following key principles to:

  1. promote mutual cooperation and share educational experience among all Commonwealth countries
  2. be available across the Commonwealth
  3. recognise and promote the highest level of intellectual achievement.

NZ Commonwealth Scholarships are funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme, the New Zealand Government’s overseas aid and development programme. They are managed by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).


New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships are available for the following postgraduate qualifications:

  • Master’s Degree (1 – 2 years)
  • PhD (up to 3.5 years)

Selection Preferences

When we consider applications, we’re looking for scholars who most closely match our selection preferences.

These include:

  • strong academic ability
  • leadership qualities
  • commitment to the development of their home country
  • aged 39 years or younger when the scholarship starts
  • scholars who want to study in an area that relates to one or more of their country’s priority sectors.

Gender balance will also be a consideration in our selection decisions.

What are we looking for in a candidate?

With these preferences in mind, we look for applicants who can show they have the following attributes:

You have appropriate qualifications and experience

Successful applicants will have an appropriate academic qualification or training background.  They will also have relevant work experience for their proposed field of study. If you’re applying for a tertiary scholarship, you must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement.

You’re ready to move countries

It’s important that you have realistic expectations of the cultural differences you will encounter in your study country, and the life skills you will need to support yourself away from home. We’re looking for applicants who are ready to move to a new country and leave family and community support behind.

Your study aligns to development needs

Your proposed course of study should teach you skills relevant to addressing the development issues of your home country in the relevant priority sector.

Each country and region has its own set of priority sectors that we can help with. Check your country page for priority sectors. Go to list of eligible countries and regions for your country page.

You want to contribute to the development of your country

You will need to show genuine motivation and substantial commitment to return home and contribute to the development of your home country once your course of study is completed.

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You communicate well

We are looking for applicants who can get their message across clearly, listen effectively, and respond appropriately.

You’re an agile learner

You’ll need to demonstrate that you have the intellectual ability and reasoning skills to do well academically. We also want to see that you can apply your learning skills to adapt to life away from home, and to build a successful career after your studies have finished.

You’re good at managing relationships

We give preference to applicants who have the ability to quickly build relationships with fellow students and academic staff. Relationship skills will also be essential for building and maintaining influential relationships in your home country.

You’ve got integrity

A person with integrity is driven by a desire to do the right thing. We want applicants who stick to their ethics and who expect others to as well.

You exercise sound judgement

You’ll need to show that you can apply the right information to make wise decisions based on the people and context involved.

You’re resilient

We’re looking for applicants who can tolerate stress and withstand or recover quickly from difficult life events, even if you are far from your family.

You’ve got self-drive

Successful applicants will show ambition and drive to achieve, and will take responsibility for getting things done. They will also have a long-term vision of what they are working towards.

Priority sectors

We want scholars who are interested in studying subjects that can improve the social and economic development of your country. We’ve chosen priority sectors that can help your country and that New Zealand has expertise in.

If you can show that your study is connected to any of these sectors, you are more likely to be selected.

These are the priority sectors:

Agriculture development

  • Agri-business management: agricultural economics, agricultural systems and management, rural development, logistics, supply chain and distribution management, value chain development, agriculture marketing, international agribusiness
  • Agriculture production: animal science, veterinary nursing, plant science, horticultural science, soil science
  • Agriculture trade and technology: Phytosanitary, bio-security, biotechnology, agricultural trade
  • Post-harvest: food production, food sciences/technology, post-harvest processing, food storage and packaging, food safety
  • Public policy, administration, finance, or governance in one of the above areas

Renewable energy

  • Solar, hydro-electric and wind energy, energy engineering and renewable energy distribution systems,
  • Market reform and sector management, including energy economics and energy efficiency
  • Public policy, administration, finance, or governance in the above areas

Public/private sector management

  • Public administration, public policy and management, public sector leadership and governance, human resource capacity development, information management
  • Sustainable economic development, commerce, executive leadership
  • Public financial management, government budgeting, tax reform, public sector auditing, statistics, demography, political science, social policy

Disaster risk management

  • Reducing risk: hazard and vulnerability assessment, risk management, natural resource management, geology, geotechnical engineering, water resource management
  • Readiness: disaster preparedness at national level or community level including public education
  • Response: disaster response and emergency management
  • Recovery: economic and social recovery from disasters
  • Climate change adaptation: including planning for infrastructure, land use and water use
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  • Early childhood, primary and secondary education, disability education, English language training
  • Education administration, education management and leadership, education planning and curriculum development, assessment and evaluation, education planning, education research, special education, teacher training and upskilling

Read the What You Can Study page to see examples of qualifications for these subjects.

How to Apply:

The application process for a New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship is different to other New Zealand Scholarships. Applicants must submit their applications to their country’s ‘Nominating Agency’ first. The Nominating Agency then ‘nominates’ two applicants from the submitted applications to send to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Read the Commonwealth section of the How to Apply page carefully before you submit an application.

Applications for a New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship:

The application process for a New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship is different to other New Zealand Scholarships. Applicants must submit their paper applications to their country’s ‘Nominating Agency’ first. The Nominating Agency then ‘nominates’ two applicants from the submitted applications to send to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Read the below information carefully before you submit an application.

Note: Applications will open on 1 February 2018, and will close on 28 March 2018.Applications must arrive at your country’s Commonwealth Nominating Agency by 28 March 2018.

Step 1: Prepare to apply

  • Check that you meet all eligibility criteria.
  • Follow the steps under ‘Getting Started’ above. (The selection process is very competitive and your choice of study must align to one of these sectors to go on to be shortlisted.)
  • If you want to pursue a PhD or a Masters by Thesis you should also start contacting and securing a potential supervisor for your PhD. You will need to have a Letter of Support from a supervisor should you go on to be shortlisted.

Step 2: Complete your application form

The New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships Application Form for 2018 selection will be available to download here when applications open on 1 February 2018. Please use the below Application Form:

New Zealand Commonweath Scholarships Application Form [PDF, 818 KB]

Refer to the Application Guidance page on this website for essential information and helpful tips.

Complete all sections of the application form, and make sure you have attached the additional documents required.

Step 3: Submit your application to your nominating agency

Send your completed Application Form to your country’s nominating agency by 30 March 2018.

For the contact details of Nominating Agencies – see pages 26-30 at the back of the application form.

Note: any applications received directly from applicants will not be considered. (Do NOT send your application to New Zealand). All applications must be sent to your country’s Nominating Agency first. Nominating Agencies play a key role in the application process.

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What happens after I apply?

Nominating Agencies will review all applications received and select the two candidates that best meet the eligibility conditions, preference factors and priority sectors for their country. The Nominating Agencies then send their nominated candidates to us.

In May, we will contact you via email if you have been nominated to let you know that we have received your application as one of the two nominated applicants for your country.

We will then shortlist applications to proceed through to the next stages.

All shortlisted candidates will be assessed, interviewed and undergo reference checks through the New Zealand Scholarships office.

A final decision will be made by mid-October, 2018. Preferred candidates will be notified and go through the placement process at their selected institution. Once successfully placed, they will officially become New Zealand Commonwealth Scholars.

Supporting documents:

At the application stage, we only ask for the following supporting documents:

  • Your academic transcript – it can be an unverified copy at this stage, but it must be in English.
  • The grading key/scale for this academic transcript. Sometimes this is on the same sheet as your academic transcript, sometimes it is on the back. Please make sure you include the grading scale so that assessors understand what an A, B, C means at your academic institution.
  • If you are applying for a PhD or Masters by Thesis, a letter of support from your potential supervisor can be attached, but if you do not have one yet you can still apply. See more information about Guidance for PhD applicants or Masters by Thesis.

If you are successful in reaching the later stages of the selection process, you will be required to provide the following documentation:

  1. One of the following:
    • Verified copy of passport
    • Verified copy of birth certificate
    • Verified copy of other official government issued ID
  2. Verified copies of relevant academic transcripts
  3. Verified copies of relevant completion certificates
  4. Contact details of most recent employer and two most relevant other employers (this does not apply to School Leaver applicants)
  5. A non-verified copy of an IELTS Test Report Form (TRF) or an original copy of a TOEFL test result form, completed in the last 24 months. Native English language speakers will have the opportunity to provide alternative evidence of their proficiency.

Read the Selection process timeline for more information about the later stages of our selection process and when you need to provide certain documents.

Any questions?

Please check our frequently asked questions before making an enquiry.

Applications will open on 1 February 2018, and will close on 28 March 2018.

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