Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program 2023/24

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) International Scholarship Program is a prestigious initiative that provides financial assistance to outstanding students from select developing countries to pursue higher education at top universities around the world. The program is part of the broader Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and reflects the AKDN’s commitment to improving the quality of life and promoting sustainable development in underprivileged regions.

Here is what you need to know about the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program:



The primary aim of the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program is to assist promising students from developing countries in gaining access to high-quality education. By providing scholarships for postgraduate studies, the program helps these scholars develop the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to the social and economic development of their home countries.

Fields of Study

The scholarship program supports students pursuing a wide range of master’s and doctoral programs in various academic disciplines, including but not limited to education, health, architecture, urban planning, engineering, and social sciences. The specific fields may vary from year to year.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program can be rigorous, and they vary depending on the country and the level of study (master’s or doctoral). Generally, eligible candidates must demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, commitment to community service, leadership potential, and financial need. Additionally, applicants should be citizens of specific developing countries identified by the AKF.

Participating Countries

The scholarship program is primarily targeted at students from a specific list of countries, predominantly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The list of eligible countries may change over time, so prospective applicants should consult the official website of the Aga Khan Foundation for the most up-to-date information on eligible countries.

Scholarship Benefits

The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program provides comprehensive funding that may include tuition and other academic fees, living expenses, travel costs, and health insurance. The scholarship also offers access to a thriving network of scholars, mentors, and alumni.

Selection Process

The selection process for these scholarships is highly competitive. Applications are evaluated based on academic excellence, the applicant’s potential to contribute to their home country’s development, leadership qualities, and the impact of their proposed field of study on the development challenges in their country. Interviews and assessments may be part of the selection process.

Application Procedure

Prospective applicants should visit the official Aga Khan Foundation website to access application forms, detailed instructions, and key deadlines. The application process typically involves submitting academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and other relevant documentation.

Post-Study Commitment

Upon completion of their studies, AKF scholars are generally expected to return to their home countries and contribute to their communities or regions’ development. The goal is to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during their studies to create positive change.

Alumni Network

AKF has a strong alumni network, allowing former scholarship recipients to connect with each other and access various resources and opportunities for professional development and collaboration.

Regional and National Programs

In addition to the international scholarship program, the Aga Khan Foundation also supports scholarship programs at the regional and national levels in specific countries. These programs may have different criteria and eligibility requirements tailored to local needs.

Duration of Scholarships

The duration of the scholarships can vary depending on the specific academic program pursued. Generally, scholarships can be awarded for master’s or doctoral programs with typical durations of one to two years for a master’s and three to four years for a doctoral degree. The scholarship typically covers the entire duration of the study.

Participating Universities

The Aga Khan Foundation collaborates with a network of reputable universities around the world to offer scholarship opportunities. These universities are known for their academic excellence and often have strong programs in the fields of study supported by the foundation. Scholars have the opportunity to pursue their studies at these renowned institutions.

Field-Specific Focus

The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program places a strong emphasis on supporting fields of study that are particularly relevant to the development challenges in the scholars’ home countries. This targeted approach ensures that scholarship recipients are equipped with knowledge and skills that can make a direct impact on the development needs of their communities and nations.

Community Engagement

The scholarship program encourages scholars to be actively engaged in community service and development efforts during their studies and upon returning to their home countries. This community engagement component is aligned with the AKF’s broader commitment to sustainable development.

Professional and Leadership Development

In addition to financial support, AKF scholars benefit from various leadership and professional development opportunities. These can include workshops, seminars, and networking events that help them build essential skills for leadership roles in their fields.

Mentorship and Support

The Aga Khan Foundation often provides mentorship and guidance to scholars throughout their academic journey. This mentorship can be instrumental in helping scholars navigate the challenges they may encounter during their studies.

Follow-Up and Impact Assessment

After completing their studies, AKF scholarship recipients are typically asked to maintain contact with the foundation to report on their post-graduation activities and contributions to their communities. This follow-up process helps assess the impact of the scholarship program.

Gender Equality

The Aga Khan Foundation is committed to promoting gender equality, and the scholarship program actively seeks to support women in their pursuit of higher education. Initiatives are often in place to encourage the participation of female scholars in fields traditionally underrepresented by women.

Collaboration with Other Organizations

The AKF collaborates with other organizations, universities, and institutions to provide a holistic support system for scholarship recipients. These collaborations can offer additional opportunities for research, networking, and professional development.

Impact on Development

Over the years, the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program has made a significant contribution to the development of scholars’ home countries. Many AKF alumni have gone on to hold influential positions in academia, government, civil society, and other sectors, contributing to their nations’ progress.

International Scholarship Programme

The Aga Khan Foundation’s International Scholarship Programme (ISP) was established by His Highness the Aga Khan. The ISP aims to support gifted, outstanding students from developing countries, who have no other means of financing their studies, to pursue full-time postgraduate studies at reputable higher education institutions of their choice.

Selection Criteria

Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to apply for the programme:

  • Excellent academic records.
    Genuine financial need. Financial assistance is provided according to the needs of students, but the ISP must be considered a resource of last resort. Applicants must demonstrate that they have explored and secured multiple sources of funding. The award funding need is determined individually, by deducting from the eligible student expenses, the total of other grants, loans (if any), parental contribution and student employment income. All students are encouraged to try to reduce the amount requested from the Foundation by applying to other sources of assistance as well.
    Admission to a reputable postgraduate institution of higher learning. The programme gives priority to Master’s degree courses but also considers applications for PhD studies. Local/regional universities and distance learning programmes are acceptable for ISP funding, if the quality of the courses is maintained.
    Strong professional experience, extracurricular achievements, volunteer contributions and leadership skills.

Application Process

Award recipients are selected through an annual competitive application process. At present, the ISP is available in: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada*, Egypt, France*, India, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Portugal*, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and the USA*. [*Note: in Canada, France, Portugal and the USA, applications are accepted from those who are originally from one of the above developing countries, are interested in development-related studies and who have no other means of financing their education.]

Applicants must be a national residing in one of the aforementioned countries. As applications are handled by local entities, interested individuals must liaise with the appropriate country-based unit (contact details provided below). E.g. applicants residing in India must apply via the local office in India, while those residing in Kenya must apply via the local office in Kenya, and so on. The Foundation only accepts applications of eligible nationals listed above who are residing in one of the countries where there are local Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Aga Khan Education Services (AKES), or Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) offices that process applications and interview candidates.

As the ISP must be considered a lender of last resort, preference is given to those who have been able to secure funding from alternative sources. Applicants are requested to make every effort to obtain funding from other sources, so that the amount requested from the Foundation can be reduced to a minimum. While not exhaustive, the following list of other scholarships and financial assistance programmes may be of interest to applicants.

Preference is given to young professionals under 30 years of age.

Application Timelines

The 2023-2024 cycle is now closed. The 2024-2025 cycle will open in January 2024. Interested students must contact the local office for application forms, deadline dates and application requirements, as these may vary by country.

Completed applications must be submitted to the agency from which the ISP application form was obtained. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Local scholarship committees may interview applicants about their financial situation, academic performance, extra-curricular achievements and career plans. As this is a global, competitive award, final decisions are made by an international selection panel in July. Students who are part of the final, global round will be informed of the outcome of their application shortly thereafter.

Award Conditions

The ISP awards are structured as a half grant and half loan (i.e. 50 percent of the award amount needs to be paid back by the applicant). Scholarships for Master’s studies are granted for the entire duration of the degree course. For PhD students, scholarships are awarded for the first two years, after which students are expected to find funding from alternative sources.

A cumulative service charge of five percent per annum is levied on the amount of the loan. The student’s head of family or another guarantor is required to co-sign the loan agreement.

The repayment period is five years, starting six months after the earlier of the following events: a) graduation, b) termination of studies or c) the withdrawal of support following failure to meet the academic standards expected of ISP students. Those who pursue further education after completion of an ISP-funded programme are also eligible for a moratorium. Graduates who return to work in a developing country, and remain there, are eligible for a moratorium of two years. The award covers tuition fees and living expenses for the student. The award does not cover living expenses for family members or the cost of international travel.

The Aga Khan Foundation’s commitment to providing educational opportunities for talented individuals from developing countries is a testament to its dedication to improving the lives of those most in need. The foundation’s emphasis on quality education, community engagement, and post-graduation impact underscores its mission to create lasting change and empower scholars to be leaders in their fields and nations. Prospective applicants should carefully review the eligibility criteria and the application process outlined on the official Aga Khan Foundation website for the latest information on the scholarship program.

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