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Masters and Doctoral funding

Available bursaries: National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

For a list of under- and postgraduate bursary opportunities, please click here.

CPUT Postgraduate Bursary Applications for 2023

CPUT bursary applications for postgraduate students at the master's and doctoral levels for study in the 2023 academic year have closed.

For any bursary-related questions, please contact Ms Mtembukazi Sibindlana at

DSI-NRF Postgraduate Funding for 2024


APPLICANT CLOSING DATE (First-time Master's and Doctoral): 11 JULY 2023
APPLICANT CLOSING DATE (Master's and Doctoral Extension Support): 18 AUGUST 2023

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has opened the above call for applications, kindly bring this to the attention of Honours, Masters and Doctoral Students in your College.


DSI-NRF Postgraduate Scholarship Framework for 2024
ISFAP - Application Consent Form
NRF Statement of expectation for Postgradute Training 2023
Frequently Asked Questions Postgraduate Funding


The National Research Foundation (NRF) is mandated by an Act of Parliament, the NRF Act (Act No. 23 of 1998, amended) to: “contribute to national development by promoting and supporting research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities, in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of research, including indigenous knowledge and thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all the people of the Republic.” In giving effect to its mandate, the NRF is guided by a Transformation Framework that identifies the specific need to focus on transformation of the equity profiles of the South African research workforce; of the knowledge enterprise; of the relationship between science and society; and the building of a diverse and fully inclusive learning organisation. 


Postgraduate funding is intended to support honours, masters and doctoral candidates to pursue full-time studies at South African public universities, in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences (80%) and Humanities (20%) including Indigenous Knowledge Systems, focusing on research aligned with one of the National Priority Research Areas. Please see the below table:

Broad disciplines supported by the NRF for Postgraduate studies are:

Accounting, Actuarial Science, Agricultural Sciences, Astronomy, Auditing, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Climate Change, Computer science, Cosmology, Demography, Drug Discovery and Development, Earth Sciences, Earth Observation, Ecology, Economic Sciences, Education, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Financial Management, Functional Genomics, Geology, Global Change, Society and Sustainability, Health Sciences, Information Science, Information Systems, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Law, Mathematical Sciences, Marine Sciences, Medicinal Plant, Medical sciences, Nanotechnology, Nuclear Technologies in Medicine and Biosciences, Palaeosciences, Polar Science, Physics, Renewable Energy, Social Science and Humanities, Space Science, Statistics, Transportation Studies and Tourism.


Honours, Masters and Doctoral

Extension Support

  • Applicants for honours funding must be 28 years of age or younger by 31-December-2023. Only South African citizens and permanent residents are eligible for honours bursaries.
  • Average ≥ 65% Mark for major subjects in the final year of undergraduate study.
  • Only students pursuing full-time Masters or Doctoral studies in South Africa are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants for masters funding must be 30 years of age or younger by 31-December-2023.
  • Minimum average of 65% all subjects at Honours level; OR Postgraduate diploma; OR final year subjects of a four-year degree.
  • Applicants must be NRF scholarship-holders in 2023. Extensions will only be granted under exceptional circumstances and will be for either six (6) or twelve (12) months as the NRF expects all postgraduate students to complete their qualifications within the NRF funding period.
  • Applicants for doctoral funding must be 32 years of age or younger by 31-December-2023.
  • Minimum average of 65% for Masters degree.
  • Applicants applying for extension support at the master’s level must have registered for their master’s degree in 2022 or July 2021.
  • Applicants applying for extension support at the doctoral level must have registered for their doctoral degree in 2021 or July 2020.

Additional eligibility criteria for NRF-SARAO applicants;

Students who wish to pursue postgraduate-level research relevant to the scientific and technical goals of the SKA and MeerKAT radio telescopes, are eligible to apply for the NRF-SARAO scholarships. Only applicants who are South African citizens or permanent residents or citizens of Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia are eligible for NRF-SARAO postgraduate scholarships. 

The NRF has phased out the block grant nomination process as well as the grant-holder linked modalities of funding postgraduate students in 2020. All the postgraduate students will be expected to apply on the NRF Connect System by accessing the link: . No manual applications will be accepted.

Refer to the attached framework documents for detailed eligibility.

Students who are not eligible for support

  • Individuals that already hold a degree at the level at which they intend studying, are not eligible to apply.
  • Students who will be in their pre-proposal year in 2024 should not apply for NRF Postgraduate Funding for the pre-proposal year. In case where a master’s or doctoral programme includes a pre-proposal registration year prior to the first year of the programme, the NRF will not fund the pre-proposal year. The pre-proposal year will not be counted as a first year of registration for the degree.
  • Students who intend to register for, or who are studying for a 100% masters by coursework, professional masters or professional doctoral degree, may not apply for NRF Postgraduate Funding.
  • Students pursuing Masters studies who commenced their degree before July 2022.
  • Students pursuing Doctoral studies who commenced their degree before July 2021.
  • Individuals who registered for their honours study before July 2023.
  • Individuals who will be in contractual or permanent employment, whether salaried or unpaid, that exceeds 12 hours of work per week, while pursuing honours, master’s or doctoral studies may not hold DSI-NRF Postgraduate Student Funding for full-time studies. The above-mentioned 12 hours of work per week only applies to the institutional students’ services such as teaching, tutorials and assistance or demonstration duties during the year of study.
  • Individuals that are on sabbatical leave from their current employment may not apply for NRF Postgraduate Funding. 


Applicants will be subjected to a financial means test to determine their financial need. Applicants for DSI-NRF postgraduate funding who were previously supported by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) will not be subjected to a financial means test, however, they must attach proof in the form of an official university stamped financial statement or signed agreement with NSFAS or ISFAP.


All applications are submitted on the NRF Connect system at

Late and incomplete applications will be rejected.