June 6 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

Who we are

What does the Mastercard Foundation do?

The Mastercard Foundation is a private foundation headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Our work advances youth learning and promotes financial inclusion to catalyze prosperity in developing countries, with a specific focus on Africa. These charitable purposes — education and financial inclusion — define the work we are able to do.

What countries does the Mastercard Foundation work in?

Our projects are global with a focus on Africa. For a list of countries that we currently work in, please visit: http://www.mastercardfdn.org/work/#country

What is the relationship between the Mastercard Foundation and Mastercard?

The Foundation was established in 2006 through a gift of shares from Mastercard International at the time of its initial public offering. Since its inception, the Foundation has operated independently of Mastercard International. The Foundation’s policies, operations and program decisions are determined solely by its Board of Directors and its President and CEO.

Why does a Canadian foundation choose to support Africa when there are people in Canada who need help?

While the Foundation’s focus is on Africa, our projects and partnerships are global. The Foundation has been co-creating a project which will enable Indigenous youth in Canada to complete their tertiary education, develop leadership skills and transition to employment. The Foundation has been consulting closely with experts, funders, educators, Indigenous youth, and Elders to develop its approach for this project. The Foundation will also collaborate with the Rideau Hall Foundation to manage the relationship with universities and Indigenous institutes of higher learning.


Partnering with the Mastercard Foundation

What kinds of organizations does the Foundation partner with?

The Foundation works with a range of organizations with expertise and experience in financial inclusion, youth livelihoods, and education. We consider organizations with a focus on Africa, who are aligned with our vision and values and who embody a spirit of collaboration and openness. Decisions about what types of organizations we partner with are made on a case-by-case basis.

How can I partner with your organization?

We do occasionally release Requests for Proposal (RFP) on our website. The RFP is published in our news release section, so please do check back for more information. We cannot accept unsolicited project or investment proposals or participate in sponsorship opportunities.

How can I review the Foundation’s research?

Foundation-branded publications are available to download: http://www.mastercardfdn.org/learn/#research

The Foundation also collaborates with partners in research projects and the findings can be found on our partners’ websites. For a complete list of our partners, please visit: http://www.mastercardfdn.org/work/#partners


The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

How do I apply for the Scholars Program?

The Scholars Program is implemented through our partner universities and NGOs that serve young people from vulnerable backgrounds. The application process and decision-making is managed individually by each partner in the Program.

If you are interested in becoming a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, you need to apply through the partner(s) of your choice. Once admitted, applicants will be considered for the Program. For a list of partners and more information, please visit: http://www.mastercardfdnscholars.org/becoming-a-scholar/.

Who is eligible to apply to the Scholars Program?

Generally, students considered for the Program are academically strong and have demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.

For an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree, candidates must be 29 or under at the time of applying. For a graduate (Master’s) degree, candidates must be 35 years old or under at the time of applying.

Before being considered for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, every applicant must first meet the admissions requirements of the university. Each partner university has their own eligibility criteria specific to their institution. Please carefully read the application requirements of the partner(s) of your choice on the Program website for more details. http://www.mastercardfdnscholars.org/becoming-a-scholar/

Where are your partner institutions located?

We currently have partners in Africa, North and Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. For a complete list of our partners and more details, please visit: http://www.mastercardfdnscholars.org/becoming-a-scholar/

What does the scholarship cover?

The Scholars Program provides financial, social and academic support to Scholars. Financial support includes, but is not limited to, tuition fees, accommodation, books and other scholastic materials, and a return air ticket if studies are pursued at a university outside of a Scholar’s country of citizenship.

What is the application deadline?

Each partner in the Scholars Program sets their own deadline. Please check the Program website of the partner(s) of your choice for the specific deadline.

How much does the application fee cost?

The Scholars Program is managed individually by our partners; each sets their own admissions fees. Please research the application guidelines and/or contact the partner institution(s) 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.

What majors do the scholarships offer?

The scope of majors and degrees eligible for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program varies by individual partners in the Program. To learn more about the eligible majors at a specific partner institution, please carefully read the application instruction on the Program website(s) and contact the partner institution(s) of your choice if you have any inquiries.

What is the application process?

Each partner in the Scholars Program sets a different timeline and application procedure. Below is the general application process. For specific application instructions, please refer to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program website of our partner(s): http://www.mastercardfdn.org/becoming-a-scholar/

Before you apply:

  • Carefully research the Program website of the partner(s) of your choice to learn specific details about the eligibility criteria, requirements, deadlines, and other application instructions.
  • Select partner institution(s) and program(s) to apply. While there is no limit on the number of schools you can apply to, it is important to note that it takes much effort to prepare a proper and complete application package.
  • Prepare necessary documents to submit. Each partner requires different types of documents as part of the application process. Failing to submit a document on time will result in an incomplete application and it will, unfortunately, not be considered for entry to the Program.
  • 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 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 from an applicant’s referees. Before you apply, ask someone who knows you well to support you with this step (e.g., your teacher, mentor, employer or community leader). 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.

The application process:

  • 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.

After you apply:

  • After the deadline, partners will review and assess applications. This process does take several months to complete. In this phase, it is advised that applicants wait for the result. The selection and decision-making process is made by each partner university. Please contact the partner directly with any follow-up questions you might have.
  • Applicants to the Scholars Program will be notified by the partner university via mail, email, and/or the online application portal, when university admissions and Scholars Program selection decisions have been finalized.
  • If you have not gained admission to the partner university, you are ineligible for the Scholars Program at this university.
  • If you have gained admission to the partner university, you will be considered for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. However, there is no guarantee that you will be selected for the Scholars Program, even if you are admitted to the partner university.
  • If you are selected for the Scholars Program, you will be notified by the partner university. The partner university will provide you with further details on how to accept the scholarship and prepare for the next steps.

I am accepted to one of the partner universities. Does this mean that I get the scholarship?

The scholarship is highly competitive. Gaining admission to a partner institution does not guarantee that you will be selected for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

Does the Scholars Program provide support for Master’s level and PhD students?

At the Master’s level, the Scholars Program provides scholarships at:


Middle East:

North America:


At present, scholarships are not available to PhD students.

For more information on our Scholars Program, please visit: http://www.mastercardfdnscholars.org/becoming-a-scholar/

What can I do if I cannot afford admissions 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.

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) We have partnered with African-based universities that offer undergraduate or graduate programs and do not require SAT or TOEFL scores. We encourage you to also seek an application with one of these universities:

Does the Foundation offer financial support for students outside of the Scholars Program?

The Foundation does not provide sponsorship for students that are not selected to the Scholars Program.

If you are interested in becoming a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, you must apply through the partner(s) of your choice. For a list of partners and more information, please visit: http://www.mastercardfdnscholars.org/becoming-a-scholar/


Careers at the Mastercard Foundation

How can I work for the Mastercard Foundation?

For opportunities available within our Toronto, Canada office, please see the career section of our website here: http://www.mastercardfdn.org/about/#careers

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