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Graduate Admissions


You can apply to many funding opportunities through our Graduate Funding Competition. This coordinates funding from multiple sources including:

  • Cambridge Trust
  • Gates Cambridge
  • Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme
  • ESRC and AHRC Research Councils
  • University funding, including The Vice Chancellor's Award and The Cambridge International Scholarship Scheme
  • College partner funding for the above schemes


  1. Complete the funding section on your study application form to be considered for funding through the Graduate Funding Competition.
  2. Submit your study application and supporting documents using the Applicant Portal by the relevant funding deadline. 

If your course has already started, you cannot apply for funding through the Competition.


These deadlines are for courses starting in Michaelmas Term 2020, Lent Term 2021 and Easter Term 2021: 

  • deadlines are 12:00 GMT
  • US citizens resident in the USA, who want to be considered for Gates funding, the deadline is 9 October 2019
  • all other applicants’ deadline is 3 December 2019 or 7 January 2020 depending on the course – check the course directory


The department considers your application and scores it based on strength and academic excellence. High scoring applications are submitted to the funding bodies. 

Due to large applicant numbers we can only notify successful candidates. If you have not heard by the end of July you should assume that you have not been successful in your funding application.

Funding awards

Cambridge Trust

The Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust was established on 1 August 2013 from the merger of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and the Cambridge Overseas Trust. These were established as charities by the University of Cambridge in the 1980s to provide financial support for international students on degree courses at Cambridge. 

The Trust awards approximately 500 scholarships annually, and supports between 1,100 and 1,400 students in residence each year from 85 countries across the world. During its history of over 30 years of offering scholarships at the University of Cambridge, the Trust has awarded a total of nearly 18,000 scholarships to international students.

Today, the Trust is the largest provider of funding for international students at Cambridge, working with partners worldwide to support students of outstanding academic merit under a variety of scholarship schemes.

Awards, which include both full-cost and part-cost scholarships, are offered to selected students at PhD, master's and undergraduate level, in all subjects and at all 31 Colleges of the University of Cambridge.

For further information, go to the Trust's website.

Gates Cambridge

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme was established in October 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge; this is the largest ever single donation to a UK university.

Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time graduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The selection criteria are:

  • outstanding intellectual ability
  • leadership potential
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others
  • a good fit between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and the graduate programme at Cambridge for which they are applying 

For more information, please go to the Gates Cambridge website.

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme

The Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme was established in February 2019 thanks to a generous donation from the David and Claudia Harding Foundation, the biggest single gift made to a university in the UK by a British philanthropist. 

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholarships provide outstanding PhD students with the opportunity to research and study at the University of Cambridge. These fully funded Scholarships are available to the most talented PhD students in any discipline, from all parts of the UK and the world.

For more information, please visit the Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme website.

UK Research Councils

These are a good external funding source for many areas of study for students from the UK or EU (but do check for updates on the eligibility of EU students). Funding is awarded and managed within the University. Funding is usually for PhD level.

Graduate Funding Competition Research Council funding

You can apply for funding from two of the Research Councils through our Graduate Funding Competition, which you choose to be considered for on your study via the Application Portal. 

They are:

The following Research Councils also offer funding, which you’ll usually be considered for automatically through your application to study at the University. Check their websites to make sure you don’t need to submit a separate application:

Applicants should seek out every funding opportunity and not be afraid to talk about their search for funding openly. Many people I spoke to had their own funding experiences and were able to advise me so I successfully found support for my PhD.

Alice, PhD in Clinical Neuroscience