Becoming a Mastercard Foundation Scholar

Who is eligible?

For an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree, candidates must be 29 years old or under at the time they apply. For a graduate (master’s) degree, candidates must be 35 years old or under at the time they apply.

In addition, each university has its own eligibility criteria. Carefully review the application requirements at the institution to which you are interested in applying.

Becoming a Scholar

To be considered for the program, students must be academically strong and have demonstrated a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. The Scholars Program is implemented through our partner universities and non-governmental organizations. The application process and decision-making are managed individually by each partner. If you are interested in becoming a Scholar, you must apply through the university of your choice.

Partner institutions have their own deadlines and admission fees. We recommend that you research the application guidelines or contact the institution of your choice for more information. For schools that require application fees as part of the admissions process, the fees will be reimbursed if the student is selected for the Scholars Program.

View participating universities >

Before you apply:

  • Carefully research the Program website of the university of your choice to learn the specific details about eligibility criteria, requirements, deadlines, and other application instructions.
  • Select the institution and program you want to apply to. While there is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to, it is important to note that it takes a great deal of effort to complete an application package.
  • Prepare the necessary documents to submit. Each institution requires different types of documents as part of the application process. Failing to submit a document on time will result in an incomplete application.
  • If applicable, take the required tests a few months before starting your application. Before being considered for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, every applicant must first meet the admissions requirements of the university. For some partners, tests like the SAT and/or TOEFL or IELTS are part of the standard requirements for all international students. Other university partners do not require these to be completed.
  • Ask for references. Most universities will require recommendation letters. Before you apply, ask someone who knows you well, such as your teacher, mentor, or community leader, to support you with this step. Some universities will require the recommendation to be submitted online. In this case, it is the applicant’s responsibility to follow up with his/her referees about the online submission.

When applying:

  • Follow the application instructions on the university program. Some partners only accept online applications; some others require paper-based applications.
  • Take note of the deadline and avoid waiting until the last day to submit your application. Check your application package to make sure that you have submitted all the required documents. A late or incomplete application will not be considered for the Scholars Program.

What if I cannot afford the admission fees?

Admission fees are required by many of our implementing partners as part of the application process. North American universities require TOEFL and/or SAT scores as part of their application process for international students. Understandably, these costs can be a barrier for many potential Scholars. Although we are unable to change these admission requirements, we have found the following options to be helpful to some applicants.

  • In some cases, the university to which you are applying may be able to assist with the completion of tests. If you are confident that you can fulfill the requirements of the SAT and TOEFL, ask your counsellor or principal to provide you with a letter of support or similar documentation that expresses their confidence in your academic achievements. Share your story and your letters of support with the admissions office of the university to which you are applying.
  • Some students have also had success by working through Education USA. Their advisors may be able to help you find support to cover the costs of the SAT or TOEFL.
  • We have partnered with Africa-based universities that offer undergraduate or graduate programs and do not require SAT or TOEFL scores.