Postgraduate Student Funding

Funding for postgraduate students can be divided into two main types:

  • Bursaries and scholarships that cover cost of registration / tuition and in some cases accommodation and books
  • Research grants - grants for covering costs of research (for example photocopying and printing, laboratory costs, fieldwork  expenses, consumables, travelling to do field work) and travel grants for attending or presenting your findings at conferences.

Many postgraduate students underestimate the cost of research or do not realise that money to cover research costs is not freely available from the university. While there are numerous bursaries and scholarships covering tuition and registration, most scholarships explicitly exclude funding your research, so you need to find other sources of funding. This is not so easy for postgraduate students - most research grants are only given to established, rated scientists (in other words researchers who already hold a PhD.) 

Download "A Guide to Postgraduate Student Funding" for more information on avbailable bursaries and scholarships administered by Stellenbosch University.

Bursaries based on academic performance

  • The National Research Foundation (NRF) grants bursaries for full-time studies in all fields. Most of these bursaries are made available to professors and other university teachers who hold research grants of the NRF, and who can then nominate bursary candidates. A limited number of prestige bursaries are available to candidates whose academic performance in their previous studies has been outstanding. Enquiries, applications and nominations should be addressed to the Postgraduate Student Funding Section within the Postgraduate & International Office.
  • Postgraduate bursaries are made available by the university for full-time studies in all fields based on previous academic performance.
  • A number of bursaries for postgraduate studies are available from the funds of private donors and trusts that are administered by the university according to the donors. These bursaries are mostly limited to specific fields of study. The Postgraduate Student Funding Section advertises bursaries periodically by means of notices on campus and on the website. Particulars may be obtained from the Postgraduate Student Funding Unit or from Part 2 of the University Calendar.
  • Some departments have funds of their own that may be used for postgraduate bursaries in terms of the university's prescribed financial guidelines. In this regard, prospective students should consult their supervisors.

Bursaries on the grounds of financial need

  • To qualify for a bursary on the grounds of financial need, candidates have to state their personal financial particulars on the prescribed form and attach documentary proof. Only those who are found to be genuinely needy in terms of the means test used by the university qualify for these bursaries.
  • Postgraduate Study Bursaries are available for full-time and part-time studies in all fields of study, on condition that candidates have a satisfactory academic record or are making satisfactory progress with their postgraduate studies.
  • In the award of some bursaries from private sources or trusts, students' financial needs are also taken into account.

Funding for international students
International Students should note that they only qualify for the Postgraduate Merit Bursary, for which an applicant's average for their previous degree should be at least 75%.

Funding enquiries and applications
All enquiries may be addressed to the Postgraduate Student Funding Section. Full particulars are given in the University Calendar, Part 2.

Please note that:

  • Any correspondence and negotiation with the NRF or with other bursary donors, whose bursaries are administered by the university must go via the Postgraduate Student Funding Section;
  • Postgraduate students who register with Stellenbosch University for the first time must furnish a certified copy of the complete record of previous studies with performance reflected in percentages throughout; and
  • It is university policy for any late applications to be placed on a waiting list and to be considered only if funds subsequently become available.

Postgraduate Student Funding
Admin A Building
postgradfundingatsun [dot] ac [dot] za

Research grants
Ideally you should give the issue of research costs some thought before deciding on a topic. Your research could very well be dependent on the availability of funding. Here are some of the things to consider:

  • Try to join an existing research team that has access to such grant funding through the project leader.
    Some faculties or departments have small funds available for postgraduate research. Speak to your (prospective) supervisor.
  • If you are employed, perhaps your employer could be convinced to sponsor you, especially if the research benefits them.
  • Depending on your field of study, you might be able to pay for the research expenses yourself, and might in fact be expected to do so.

Visit for announcements on research and travel grants.