Civil Society Leadership Awards

There are presently no open calls for submissions.


Application Deadline: July 15th, 2017

Program Description

The Civil Society Leadership Awards (CSLA) provides fully-funded scholarships for 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 Award Structure

CSLA grantees will receive financial and administrative support for the following:

  • Pre-academic preparation via summer schools;
  • Program-related travel;
  • Tuition and mandatory university fees;
  • Monthly stipend for room, board, and other living expenses;
  • Accident and sickness insurance during the program;
  • Funds for educational materials and professional development;
  • Attendance at a regional Scholarship Programs conference;
  • Accommodations during the application process and the duration of the grant for applicants with disabilities.


Interested applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of an eligible country;
  • Demonstrate maturity, flexibility and civil society leadership potential;
  • Have a bachelor's degree awarded before July 15, 2017 and an excellent academic record;
  • Demonstrate professional experience in a relevant area;
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the language of instruction (English, German or French) at a level required for admission by host universities;
  • Be able to participate in an intensive pre-academic summer school in July or August 2018 and start their degree program in August or September 2018;
  • 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.

Eligibility – Citizenship

Civil Society Leadership Awards are available to citizens of the following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Laos
  • Libya
  • Myanmar/Burma
  • Republic of Congo
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria*
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

* Please note that applicants of Syrian nationality may need to undergo additional scrutiny due to current applicable laws and regulations.

Eligibility – Field of Study

Awards are available for study in the following areas:

  • Communications, Journalism & Media
  • Culture, History & Society
  • Development Studies
  • Economics
  • Education Management & Leadership
  • Environment & Natural Resource Management
  • Gender Studies
  • Human Rights
  • Law (including Human Rights law)
  • Politics & International Studies
  • Public Health Policy & Health Management
  • Public Policy & Administration
  • Social Work & Social Policy

The following fields of study are NOT eligible:

  • Business administration or management
  • Engineering
  • Foreign language teaching
  • Finance
  • Medical sciences
  • Physical sciences


The Civil Society Leadership Award does not support:

  • Dependent family members;
  • Those currently enrolled in an international Master’s degree program with support from a scholarship or fellowship; and
  • Employees involved in the administration of the Civil Society Leadership Award or their family members.

CSLA Host Universities

CSLA partners with universities worldwide to host grantees for 1- and 2-year master’s level programs. Finalists are matched with universities according to their chosen area of specialization, academic profile, and professional aspirations. Final decisions concerning host university placement are made by the program selection committee, which includes university admissions staff and faculty. CSLA and university staff will be in touch with successful candidates to communicate any additional university admission procedures that need to be completed.

A list of current CSLA host universities partnerships can be found here and includes institutions in Europe, the UK, the US and some parts of Asia. 

Selection Process

Competition for the Civil Society Leadership Awards is open and merit-based. Selection is based on an applicant’s fit with the program’s objectives as well as 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 an international selection committee. The proposed field of study should be logical for the goals expressed, and the application itself should be organized and complete. Compelling candidates will be interviewed by a selection committee comprised of university representatives, CSLA staff, and partner organization representatives, such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Selection & Notification Cycle

  • Applications must be submitted by midnight July 15, 2017 Eastern Standard Time;
  • Applicants will be notified of their status via email in September 2017;
  • Applicants selected as semi-finalists will be invited for an in-person, Skype, or telephone interview to be held in October or November 2017;
  • Semi-finalists will be required to take an official language test by the end of November 2017. All candidates invited to an interview are entitled to one (1) language test, arranged and paid for by CSLA;
  • CSLA will have a final selection meeting in November 2017, and results will be sent via e-mail by mid-December 2017.
  • Finalists will be notified of their recommended host university placement; some finalists may be asked to submit separate applications to potential host universities at this time;
  • CLSA will confirm placement of finalists at a CSLA host university and the CSLA grant will be offered via email in Spring 2018.

Equal Opportunity

Scholarship Programs are committed to equal opportunity, and exercise that policy in relation to all admissions processes. The CSLA program does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

Unsuccessful Applications

Please note that decisions made by CSLA staff are final. If your application is unsuccessful at any stage in the selection process, we shall notify you by the email address you included in your Submittable account. In the event that we do not have an email address for you, we will send try to contact you via phone and finally, if we are unable to reach you, via letter.