4 Most Popular PhD Scholarships for International Students in South Africa

Getting a PhD scholarship overseas can be very exciting. With hundreds of available universities and courses all over the world, it can be kind of difficult to make the right choice for ourselves. Thinking of getting PhD scholarships in South Africa? Here are a list of scholarships that you can check for your reference.

phd scholarships in south africaSouth Africa is home to countless prestigious universities producing mass amounts of PhD graduates, such as The University of Cape Town (UCT), Stellenbosch University, and University of Witwatersrand (Wits). On top of that, approximately 60,000 international students from all over Asia, Europe, and Africa come to the country to pursue their university degrees.

While South Africa may not be a popular choice compared to fellow countries such as America, the United Kingdom, or Australia, its educational hub is just as booming.  There are plenty of scholarships provided by South African universities that you can choose from. Even though most of these scholarships are mostly dedicated to South African nationals, there are plenty options for students of all nationalities.

If you’re an international scholar aiming for PhD scholarships in South Africa, check out these options below.

TWAS-NRF Doctoral Programme

The TWAS-NRF Doctoral Programme is a three-year fellowship run by South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and Department of Science and Technology. The fellowship is given to future PhD students who come from developing countries (other than South Africa).

Students who are majoring in the field of natural sciences are highly recommended to give this opportunity a chance. Accepted natural science departments include:

  1. Agricultural Sciences
  2. Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology
  3. Biological Systems and Organisms
  4. Medical and Health Sciences
  5. Chemical Sciences
  6. Engineering Sciences
  7. Astronomy, Space, and Earth Sciences
  8. Mathematical Sciences
  9. Physics

Scholarship grantees will earn an all-expenses paid trip to and from South Africa, a monthly allowance to cover living costs over the course of the program.

While slots for this year are closed, you can start preparing for applications from now as there several important requirements. Future applicants of the TWAS-NRF Doctoral Fellowship must oblige to these following criteria (as stated on the official TWAS website):

  1. Be nationals of a developing country* (other than South Africa).
  2. Must not hold any visa for temporary or permanent residency in South Africa or any developed country.
  3. Must be a maximum of 35 years of age by 31 December of the year of application.
  4. Must have obtained an MSc degree in a field of natural sciences.
  5. Must have proof of evaluation of all foreign qualifications (obtained from non-South African universities) evaluated by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) or proof that the applicant has submitted his/her qualifications to SAQA for evaluation. Failure to submit proof will result in the application being rejected.
  6. Provide evidence that s/he will return to her/his home country on completion of the fellowship.
  7. Not take up other assignments during the period of her/his fellowship.
  8. Provide an official letter from a host South African institution, department or laboratory and motivation from the applicant’s host.
  9. Meet the following requirements of the English Language Proficiency Academic test: IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0); or TOEFL (paper) 575 (TWE 4.5); or TEOFL iBIT (min. 20); or Cambridge minimum 58.
  10. Present a detailed research project that must be registered and approved by the host institution and provide a letter of support from the prospective host supervisor.
  11. Be financially responsible for any accompanying family members.
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How to apply: applications are currently closed (when this article published). However, you can visit the official TWAS website for further information regarding applications.

DSI-CSIR Bursary: Inter-Bursary Support Programme

The DSI-CSIR Bursary is an inter-bursary support program initiated by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). This grant scheme is given to students of all nationalities who are currently pursuing their full-time studies at any South African public university.

Students who are majoring in research areas that focus on natural sciences, engineering and technology are recommended to apply for this bursary. Accepted research departments include:

  1. Aerospace
  2. Biotechnology (biopharming, bioprocessing, or biocatalysis)
  3. Composites
  4. Health
  5. Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS)
  6. Information and communications technology
  7. Modelling and digital sciences
  8. Microsystems technology
  9. Photonics
  10. Titanium (manufacturing elements of)

Grantees of the DSI-CSIR Bursary who are pursuing their PhD studies will receive a bursary award valued at R130 000 (USD $78.000), which can be used to fund your respective researches.

In order to sign up for this bursary, there are two requirements: 1) applicants must be between the ages of 20 to 32 years olds, and; 2) applicants must be of either South African nationality or from international countries.

How to apply: fill out the application forms provided by the Postgraduate Funding Office/Research Office of each of the public universities in South Africa. Once the application form is filled, send it to to the IBS administrator via e-mail at HCDINTERBUSARY@csir.co.za.

PhD Scholarships in South Africa: University of Pretoria Commonwealth

The University of Pretoria Commonwealth Scholarship is a scholarship initiated by the University of Pretoria, a South African university well-known for their intensive research. This scholarship is especially granted to students coming from Commonwealth countries (excluding South African students.)

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Unlike the previous programs, this scholarship accepts any students coming from different fields of research. However, there are several selection criteria that future applicants must abide. This scholarship will be awarded to students based on:

  1. Academic performance.
  2. Potential to undertake advanced research activities.
  3. Leadership qualities.
  4. Evidence of research accomplishment at the masters’ level by means of publications or other appropriate products of the work undertaken.
  5. Prizes and honours received.

Grantees of the University of Pretoria Commonwealth Doctoral Scholarship will receive an allowance of R170 000 (USD $11.800) that will be used on student costs, such as accommodation, fees, medical aid, books/stationery. However, the University of Pretoria will pay for flight ticket, application fees, and visa costs. As for the student’s research costs, it will be covered by their own respective supervisors.

Besides that, there are also several administrative matters that future applicants must abide in order to receive this scholarship, which include:

  1. The UP Commonwealth Doctoral Scholarship will be awarded to applicants who are citizens of Commonwealth countries.
  2. Applicants must conduct their studies at the University of Pretoria to commence in 2020.
  3. Applicants must have completed the degree that will give them admission to a doctoral programme no more than two years prior to their application for the University of Pretoria Commonwealth Doctoral Scholarship.
  4. Applicants must not be older than 35 years of age at the time of application.
  5. PhD and Masters students currently registered at the University of Pretoria are not eligible for the Doctoral Scholarship.

How to apply: applications are currently closed for this year. However, you can check out the official University of Pretoria Commonwealth Doctoral Scholarship website for further information regarding applications.

SA-GER CDR PhD Scholarships in South Africa

The SA-GER CDR Scholarship for Sub-Sahara Africans is a program that’s initiated by the South African-German Centre for Development Research. Recipients of this scholarship are required to have a citizenship/dual citizenship from any of the Sub-Sahara countries in Africa.

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Scholarship recipients will take their scholarship at the University of the Western Cape. This scholarship is only available for PhD students who are pursuing the degrees in Development Studies, Public Policy, or Public Administration.

PhD scholarship grantees of the SA-GER CDR Scholarship will receive a month allowance of 900 Euro plus travel expenses. In addition, all tuition and registration fees will be paid for by the scholarship program.

In order to apply for the SA-GER CDR Scholarship, there are several entry requirements that must be obliged:

  1. Applicants must be from Sub-Sahara Africa.
  2. The study must have been completed at an internationally recognized university.
  3. The previous degree should have been an academic discipline which is related to development or public administration.
  4. South African students are required to have achieved at least an average of 70% in previous postgraduate studies.
  5. Applicants must provide evidence of proficiency in both written and spoken English. This can be proven by TOEFL test scores or a similar standard test or a letter from an academic institution.
  6. Applicants should preferably have been involved in development organisations, as interns, volunteers, or employees.
  7. Applicants should apply within three years of completing their previous degree, unless they have a good reason for having been academically inactive for a period.
  8. Women are encouraged to apply
  9. Applicants must be able to study full-time at the University of the Western Cape for the required period.
  10. PhD candidates can submit their scholarship application without needing to apply for admission at the University of the Western Cape.

How to apply: visit the official SA-GER CDR Scholarship for Sub-Sahara Africans website for further information regarding applications.

Applying for a PhD scholarship can be a very tedious task at times, especially as an international student. Besides having to maintain a well-rounded academic reputation, there are a lot of administrative matters that must be taken care of to ensure that the applications can be accepted.

But not to fret! Here at Scholarship Story, we’ll make sure we give you the latest information about PhD Scholarships in South Africa. Stay tuned to our future articles at www.scholarshipstory.com.

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11 thoughts on “4 Most Popular PhD Scholarships for International Students in South Africa

  1. I Want to this PHD the last of 2020 b/c this now I ama finishing of My MBA Process
    please give me this scholarship the last of 2020.

  2. I want to study PhD in numerical anaysis (mathematics). Department of mathematics, Dilla University, Ethiopia.

  3. my name is Ahmye Dereje . I am interesting to learn PhD in developmental economics. please help me.

  4. iam Lemlem hailu & iam from Ethiopia . I have a second degree in road & transport engineering .so if you are willing to give me the chance to study the PhD program iam ready at any time thank you for your information.

  5. my name is Melese Beredo from ethiopia
    i am interesting to learn my phD in business administration
    please help me

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