NRF UNISA Master and Doctoral Scholarships for South African and Foreign Students, 2018



The National Research Foundation (NRF) is inviting applications for master and doctoral scholarships for full-time studies in 2019. This scholarship is available to SA citizens, SA permanent residents as well as a limited percentage of foreign nationals who will register at a South African public university in 2019 on a full-time basis.

The objective of the scholarship is to support the development of a critical mass of globally competitive human resources in prioritized areas;  Promote and advance science, research and innovation.

Brief Description

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is the largest university on the African continent and attracts a third of all higher education students in South Africa. The university has over 300,000 students, including African and international students in 130 countries worldwide, making it one of the world’s mega universities.

Level/Field of study:
  • Scholarships are available to pursue Master and Doctoral degree programme in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities,Including Priority Research Areas* at public universities. The list below presents the breakdown of the broad disciplines supported by the NRF:

Broad disciplines supported for masters and doctoral scholarships:

  • Accounting
  • Actuarial Science
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Astronomy
  • Auditing
  • Bioinformatics*
  • Biotechnology
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Climate Change*
  • Computer Science
  • 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 Science
  • 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
  • Tourism

Host Nationality:

The scholarship is hosted by the University of South Africa, South Africa.

Eligible Nationality:

Scholarship is available to SA citizens, SA permanent residents as well as a limited percentage of foreign nationals who will register at a South African public university in 2019 on a full-time basis.

Scholarship Benefits:

These opportunities has value that includes

Merit Review-value Scholarship: 

  • Master’s – R90 000 for 2 years
  • Doctoral – R120 000 for 3 years

Institutional Nomination Scholarship:

  • Master’s – R50 000 for 2 years
  • Doctoral  – R70 000 for 3 years

Scholarship Number:

The number of offers was not specified.


The following criteria must be met in order for applicants to be eligible for the scholarship:

NRF-TWAS DoctoralExtension SupportMaster’s and Doctoral
Must register at a South African public university in 2019 on a full-time basis.May be based at Science Councils and National Research Facilities.Full-time master’s or doctoral studies in South Africa are eligible to apply.SA citizens, SA permanent residents as well as a limited percentage of foreign nationals who will register at a South African public university in 2019 on a full-time basis.
Citizens and permanent residents from developing countries in and outside Africa. South Africans are not eligible to apply.Applicants applying for extension support at master’s level should have commenced their degree in 2017.NRF master’s scholarship-holders who wish to register for Doctoral degrees in 2019 must apply for funding.
Visa and immigration laws of the applicant’s home country and South Africa must be met by the applicant. The applicant must secure his / her own Visa or study permit under the programme for study in South Africa.Neither NRF nor TWAS will be responsible for assisting with visa requirements.Must be current recipients of NRF scholarships for the current degree in 2018. Extensions will only be provided under exceptional circumstances and will only be granted for six (6) or twelve (12) months as the NRF expects all students to complete their qualifications within regulation time.SASAC doctoral scholarships, details of the proposed research must demonstrate clear alignment with IIASA’s research programmes and national research priority areas (Advanced Systems Analysis; Ecosystems Services and Management; Energy; Evolution and Ecology; Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases; Risk and Resilience; Transitions to New Technologies; World Population and Water.)
Must be thirty five (35) years or younger on the 31st of December of the year of application for the doctoral scholarship.Applicants applying for extension support at doctoral level should have commenced their degrees in 2016.
May not be living, studying or working in South Africa at the time of application.

 Students who are not eligible for support

  • Students who already hold NRF funding for master’s (in 1st year of funding) or doctoral studies (in 1st or 2nd year of funding) must not apply, they should submit a Progress Report (PR) to renew funding for the following year as per the Conditions of Grant.
  • Individuals that already hold a degree at the level at which they intend studying, are not eligible to apply
  • Students who are intending to register for or that are studying for a 100% master’s by coursework, professional master’s or doctoral degree.
  • Students pursuing master’s studies who commenced their degree before 2018.
  • Students pursuing doctoral studies who commenced their degree before 2017.
  • Individuals that will be in full-time salaried, contractual or permanent employment while pursuing master’s or doctoral studies.
  • Individuals that are on sabbatical leave from their employment (including those without paid sabbatical leave).
  • Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

Application Procedure:

All applications are submitted on the NRF Online system.

Late and incomplete applications will be rejected.

You can begin the application by clicking on Online Application and get more details by clicking the Scholarship Link

Application Deadline:

The deadline for the scholarship is June 26, 2018

We recommend other scholarship opportunities.

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