How to apply?

General principles regarding applications for UNESCO Fellowships

The principles and conditions listed on this page refer to those generally applied to fellowships, study and travel grants administered by the Fellowships Section of UNESCO.

The Programme Sectors may apply other conditions and criteria that they deem more appropriate to programmes administered directly by them. These conditions are spelled out in each announcement of a fellowship programme.


Fellowships are not to be interpreted to mean attendance at conferences or seminars of short duration (i.e. one to two weeks). Exceptionally, it may be considered if a case can be made that such attendance is an integral part of the study to be undertaken or would make a direct or significant contribution to the outcome or future development of a project.

Recruitment of Candidates by Member States

  • The selection of candidates devolves on the appropriate authorities of the Member States concerned.
  • All applications must be channeled through the National Commission for UNESCO of the candidate’s country and should be addressed to the Director-General.
  • The UNESCO Secretariat cannot consider individual applications. Such applications are returned to the applicants, who are advised to submit them to the competent national body, e.g., the National Commission for UNESCO in the case of requests falling within the framework of the Organization’s Regular Programme (including the Participation Programme).
  • Candidates for fellowships financed under operational projects carried out with extra-budgetary funds must be officially appointed to those projects by the national authorities responsible for the project’s co-ordination. Once again, National Commissions for UNESCO should be informed of these nominations by the local authorities.
  • Age of fellow: Fellowships are granted only to persons in good health who are not over 45 years of age. Exceptions may be considered when a case can be made. When the age limit is different from that mentioned above, it is specified in the criteria for application included in each announcement of a fellowship programme.
  • It is for each Member State to lay down the recruitment procedures that it considers appropriate. In this connection UNESCO recommends procedures in keeping with the principle of equality of access to education. Such procedures imply that the fellowship offer be made widely known among those concerned and competitive examinations organized if necessary. Any interested person may apply to the appropriate national authority – in some cases, the National Commission – which is alone empowered to submit the application to the UNESCO Secretariat if it deems fit.
  • Applicants who have exceptional merit, and who have demonstrated that they possess outstanding potential to contribute to the social, cultural and/or economic development of their country are the primary targets of UNESCO fellowships.
  • Candidates are usually persons who have already begun their careers, or are at an advanced stage of their university education.
  • In the main, candidates are those pursuing post-graduate studies of short-term duration. UNESCO policy is to make short-term awards, often of 6 months or under, and definitely not exceeding a maximum of one academic year (i.e. nine months). Owing to the paucity of funds, awards to under-graduate students who may pursue studies in their own countries cannot be beneficiaries of UNESCO fellowships.
  • Priority attention is given to the following candidatures:

» Women;
» Youth;
» The disadvantaged;
» From the Least Developed Countries; and
» From Member States of Africa

Preparation and forwarding of candidates’ nominations

Candidates’ files should include:

A UNESCO fellowship application form duly completed in one of the three principal working languages of the Organization (English, French, Spanish), the one preferred by the host country or countries proposed.  A clear, precise and complete answer must be given to each question in order to facilitate the setting up of a programme of study corresponding to the candidate’s needs. It is particularly requested that a full and precise definition be given of the professional activities that are to be carried out by the fellow on returning to the Member State and of the fellow’s current professional activities.

The form is valid only if it bears the signature of the Member State’s competent national authority, such as the National Commission for UNESCO, at the top of the first page or is accompanied by an explicit covering letter from that authority. Priority is given to well-planned programmes, particularly those for which the necessary contacts have been made with the host institution – whose confirmation of the study programme will be indispensable prior to the award of the fellowship.

Under all other programmes, the Member State and the candidate are asked to make any proposals they consider helpful in regard to either the programme or the place of study and institutions for theoretical or practical training they would like to select. This will ensure more efficient placement by UNESCO in a study programme that corresponds to the requirements of the requested training.
Number of Countries of Study: The fellow often studies in just one country, but it may be of benefit for the fellow to study in one or two other countries as well. It is recommended, however, that the number of countries of study be limited to two.

  1. Certified copies of any university degrees or diplomas should be attached. These certificates should be translated into the language of the requested country of study if need be.
  2. Language Certificate
  3. A language certificate in duplicate issued by an official authority (British Council, Alliance Française, or qualified teacher of the language concerned). Inadequate knowledge of the language always leads to failure. No exceptions can be made to this save in the case of short study tours where interpretation services may be provided if a case can be made.
  4. Medical Examination Report. Owing to the fact that the medical examination reports are costly and become invalid after 4 months, it is strongly recommended that the medical examination be undertaken and submitted ONLY once the candidate is informed by UNESCO of her/his selection. Thus,
    • A certificate of good health issued by a doctor accredited with the UNDP Office is necessary for those fellowships or study grants of one month or less,
    • For study programmes lasting longer than one month, a UNESCO medical examination report duly completed within the four months preceding the date of taking up the fellowship, accompanied by a standard-size chest X-ray not more than six months old. An electrocardiogram should be submitted if the candidate is over 45 years of age.
    • Expenses incurred for Medical and Language Certificates: The Member State is responsible for expenses incurred for medical and language examinations. Applying Member States have agreed to cover these expenses when endorsement was made on the relevant Fellowship application forms. (cf. para. 8 under “Preparing yourself for your fellowship”.

Submission of Candidates’ Files

The complete application, duly endorsed by the National Commission for UNESCO, should be sent to:

The Chief of the Participation Programme and Fellowships Section
7 Place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP

For information regarding fellowships, please address correspondence to:

Mr Stoyan Bantchev

Chief, Participation Programme and Fellowships Section
7, place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP
Work Phone: 33 (0) 1 45 68 13 75

Placement of Fellows

Placement is the determining factor in the quality and relevance of the studies. It is therefore in the interest of the beneficiary State and the fellow to give the most ample information possible to enable UNESCO to ensure that efficient placement be effected. Placement may be carried out in one of the two following ways:

  • either the UNESCO Secretariat be responsible for carrying out placement operation in the country of study and in conjunction, go ahead with the necessary arrangements; or,
  • the candidate and/or the government authorities may make preliminary contacts with the institutions of study, provided that the UNESCO Secretariat is kept informed.

Study Abroad

Conditions to be met for travel abroad are as follows:

  • It is essential that the government give the fellow authorized leave of absence for the entire period of the fellowship.
  • On accepting the fellowship, the government undertakes to ensure that the fellow can meet all family obligations during her or his absence. If the fellow is a civil servant, the fellow’s salary should be paid, in full or in part, throughout the whole period of absence, in such a way as to make possible the fulfilment of personal obligation and to be free from any anxiety that might be prejudicial to the success of the studies. The absence of the fellowship beneficiary on study abroad should not adversely affect her/his status, seniority, salary or remuneration, pension and similar rights.
  • Pending formal award of the fellowship by UNESCO, the fellow is encouraged to improve her or his knowledge of the language and to obtain all the necessary information on the country or countries of study.
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