Montreal, Canada



Mastercard Foundation - Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program 2020/2021 Movemeback African initiative cover image


In 2013, McGill University began its partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to offer the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at McGill. This program provides academically talented young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with access to a world-class university education. The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at McGill will welcome 91 Scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa, including 24 at Master’s level, over a ten year period. Unique to McGill, some Scholars are from French-speaking countries and receive intensive English language training before starting their degree programs.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at McGill delivers tailored programming that resonates with Scholars’ leadership framework and empowers Scholars through the many transitions they face at McGill and beyond.


Program Components:

Leadership development

  • Mastercard Foundation Scholars are selected because of their demonstrated intention to carry out positive change. Our programming serves to complement the active and passive leadership development that is provided to all McGill students, with a special focus on Scholars’ particular leadership framework.​ All programming is cohort-based, with Scholars supporting each other’s leadership development.


  • The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program supports Scholars for up to two internships in their home countries, typically from May to August. These internships provide an opportunity for Scholars to maintain personal connections and to explore the African professional world. While on internship, Scholars expand their professional networks and harness practical skills related to their studies and future employment.
  • Scholars have been involved across the spectrum of Africa’s economic, intellectual and social life. From the mines of Ghana to the hospitals of Tanzania; working with Rwandese youth and Malawian app developers; living in thriving metropolises, rural settings and company towns, the diversity of McGill’s Scholars is matched by the range of their internship experiences.

Peer mentorship

  • Peer Mentorship is a 2-to-2 relationship between upper-year McGill students and Scholars. That is, two mentors are matched with two Scholars in their first year to create a Peer Mentorship Circle. This format aims to expose both mentors and Scholars to a wider network of people, interests, and backgrounds. Peer Mentors provide guidance on life at McGill in a manner that facilitates the Scholars’ transition and success. Each Scholar and each Mentor is different, but they all share a dedication to academic achievement, leadership development and an ethic of giving back to one’s community.

Faculty Mentorship

  • Every Scholar in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is matched with a Faculty Mentor: a professor from their program or faculty of study.


To be eligible for consideration for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Master’s Program at McGill, you must:

  • Be admissible to one of the eligible programs at McGill University
  • Have never registered for, or completed any graduate studies
  • Be nominated by a current McGill Professor or Staff Member from the department you wish to apply to
  • Be a citizen of and have lived a significant part of your life in a Sub-Saharan African Country
  • Have an exceptional record of service and activity in your school and/or community
  • Have an intent to return to your country immediately upon the completion of your degree with the goal of transforming your community through social and economic development
  • Demonstrate that your financial status is in the lowest two quintiles of your country
  • Must be less than 35 years old at the time of application


  • The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at McGill delivers tailored programming that resonates with Scholars’ leadership framework and empowers Scholars through the many transitions they face at McGill and beyond
  • A central goal of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is to create a globally educated and highly qualified group of future leaders, who, upon graduation, can return to Africa to help foster the region’s development 
  • McGill complements Scholars’ education with a comprehensive support system that includes mentorship, tailored support services, community service opportunities and sustained programming relevant to their personal development
  • Scholars also receive guidance and funding for two internships in their home countries during their studies. These internships aim to sustain the Scholars’ connection with their home countries and build a path toward meaningful employment post-graduation

About Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation is tackling the youth employment challenge in Africa. The Mastercard Foundation believes that employment is a leading pathway out of poverty for young people and their families. The Mastercard Foundation works with forward-looking organisations to provide greater access to education, training and financial services for economically disadvantaged people in Africa. As one of the world's largest private foundations, its mission is to advance education and promote financial inclusion in order to forge an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation is based in Toronto, Canada, and has operated independently of Mastercard International since its inception in 2006.