Civil Society Leadership Awards, Provides Fully Funded Master’s Degree Study for future leaders in select countries, Open Society Foundations

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    Craig Zelizer

    Civil Society Leadership Awards

    The Civil Society Leadership Awards (CSLA) provide fully funded 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 directly assists future leaders in countries where civil society is challenged by a deficit of democratic practice in local governance and social development.

    Awards are available for master’s degree study in the following fields at host universities across the world:

    • communications and media
    • culture, history, and society
    • development studies
    • economics
    • education management and leadership
    • environment and natural resource management
    • human rights and/or gender studies
    • law (including human rights law)
    • politics and international studies
    • public health policy and health management
    • public policy and administration
    • social work and social policy

    Please see the complete guidelines for a full list of partnering host universities eligible for CSLA awards.

    Eligibility Criteria

    CSLA does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.  

    The awards are available to citizens of the following countries:  

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

    Applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • be a citizen of an eligible country
    • demonstrate maturity, flexibility, and civil society leadership potential
    • have excellent academic records and an earned bachelor’s degree before applying
    • have proficiency in the language of instruction (English, German, or French) at a level required for admission by partner universities, as evidenced by standardized language test scores
    • be able to participate in an intensive academic writing program in July or August 2017 and start their degree program in August or September 2017
    • be able to receive and maintain a visa or study permit as required by the host country
    • demonstrate a clear commitment to return to their home country or region to continue supporting open society development
    Ineligibility Criteria

    CSLA does not support:

    • fields of study not listed above
    • applicants from any country not listed above
    • study in foreign language teaching, business administration or management, physical sciences, engineering, or medical sciences
    • dependent family members
    • those receiving individual grants from CSLA-affiliated entities during the fellowship period
    • applicants who are employees of CSLA-affiliated entities directly involved in the administration of scholarship programs
    Purpose and Priorities

    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 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 in the essays, 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).


    Interested applicants must complete and submit an online or paper CSLA application in English to be considered for CSLA support. Please note that some universities require a separate application for graduate study at that institution. In these cases, Open Society will notify candidates and assist with the university application process.

    Online Application

    All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for the CSLA scholarship online. Please register and then follow the instructions.

    Paper Application

    The application and reference forms can be found in the Download Files section of this page. Please download the application form before completing or printing.

    Electronic applications and all supporting materials by September 15, 2016. More instructions on how to submit the application and references are included in the complete guidelines and frequently asked questions. Please submit any queries using the inquiry form.

    for more info see

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