Finding funding for postgraduate studies is time-consuming. It is important that you understand the deadlines, requirements and application process of each funding opportunity.
Some funding is only available if you are a first-time applicant in your first year of study.
Some funding is renewable, and some is not.
We guide you through how to apply for the most common funding opportunities. These include:
- The National Research Foundation (NRF)
- UCT Merit and Need Awards
- International/Refugee Scholarships
- Prestigious Fellowships Administered by UCT
- Independently Administered Awards
- UCT-Administered Departmental Awards
- Conference Travel Awards
It is important that you understand all steps involved in applying for funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
For more detailed information, download the most recent Financial Assistance for Postgraduate Study and Postdoctoral Research Handbook.
Visit the Find Funding page to find the funding opportunities most relevant to you.
What to do if you are not awarded funding
If you applied for funding – and followed the correct guidelines – you may not have been granted funding.
Under exceptional circumstances, you may appeal that decision. These circumstances include:
- Request re-assessment based on changed financial circumstances
- Exemption from rule to hold awards concurrently
- Extension of funding tenure
- Request to hold funds that exceed maximum award limit
- Deferral of award
- Change to programme of study
- Late applications with legitimate documented reasons (e.g. medical reasons)
If you need to appeal your funding decision, submit a Financial Aid Appeal form with relevant documents to: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Research Foundation (NRF)
The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a government-mandated body that promotes and supports research through funding for honours, master’s and doctoral students.
If you want to apply for a UCT Merit and Need Award, you must apply for the NRF scholarships available to you. If you are not given an NRF award, you will be considered for UCT Merit and Need Awards.
- Honours applicants: 31 October 2019 for study in 2020
- Master’s applicants: 1 August 2019 for study in 2020
- Doctoral applicants: 5 July 2019 for study in 2020
UCT will reject NRF applications submitted after UCT’s deadlines.
Important to note:
A small number of NRF applications from non-South Africans are accepted.
If you are awarded funding, you will only be allowed to work 12-hours per week once you register.
NRF funding may only be held for one year of an honours degree, two years for a master’s degree and three years for a doctoral degree.
Renewal for master’s and doctoral funding is contingent on a satisfactory progress report (see Managing Funding).
The NRF accepts applications to extend funding (i.e. third year of a master’s degree and fourth year of a doctoral degree), however, this funding is not guaranteed.
The start of funding is linked to a student’s first date of registration.
The NRF considers a full year as starting before 1 July. If you register after this date, you may be eligible for NRF grant-holder linked bursaries. However, the NRF will still consider this the first year of study and the above-mentioned restrictions will apply.
How to apply:
Applications are made online via the NRF website.
UCT Merit and Need Awards (Form 10A)
UCT’s merit and need awards are applied for using Form 10A. Only South African and permanent resident students are eligible for this funding.
Merit awards are for students who obtained a grade point average of over 60% in their final year of study for their last qualification.
Need awards are for students who demonstrate a financial need.
If you qualify for both merit and need awards, UCT may consider you for a full-cost award.
This is applicable to honours, masters and PhD students.
A small number of academically excellent students are also eligible for full-cost awards, if they do not receive a Merit and Need Award.
You only need to submit one Form 10A application in order to be considered for most UCT-administered awards. This includes Merit and Need Awards, and other awards.
You will automatically be considered for all awards within the sections where you are eligible.
If you want to apply for UCT Merit and Need Awards, you must apply for an NRF award, if you are eligible.
UCT-administered awards may only be held for one year of an honours degree, two years for a master’s degree and three years for a doctoral degree.
Visit our frequently asked questions on Form 10A here.
31 October 2020 for study in 2021
Important to note:
Priority for need funding is given to black South African students. If you are South African and do not qualify for financial need, but do meet minimum merit criteria, you may be eligible for partial funding. Partial funding does not cover cost of attendance.
You are not eligible if you work more than 20-hours a week.
In no circumstance will incomplete or late applications be accepted.
How to Apply:
Applications are made by submitting a hard copy of Form 10A with the required supporting documentation to the Postgraduate Funding Office.
Honours, master’s and doctoral students can download Form 10A here.
International/Refugee Scholarships (Form 10C)
International and refugee students are eligible for funding from UCT. These scholarships are applied for using Form 10C.
International/Refugee Scholarships are supplementary and do not cover the full cost of study. They are awarded on a competitive basis.
These scholarships may only be held for one year of an honours degree, two years for a master’s degree and three years for a doctoral degree.
30 September of the year preceding study
Important to know:
International/refugee funding is available for postgraduate studies only. The scholarships are renewable for the entire course of study, depending on a satisfactory progress report (see Managing Funding).
Your country of origin has no bearing on whether you are awarded an international/refugee scholarship. However, proof of refugee status is required if you are applying as a refugee.
How to apply:
Applications are made by submitting the form and required documents to: email@example.com
A Referee Report is required along with your application.
The Referee Report is to be sent via email to the Postgraduate Funding Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line of emailed Referee Reports should read: ‘Student Name - 10C referee report’
Form 10C can be downloaded here.
Master's by Research or Doctoral applicant who have a prospective/established supervisor are required to complete Section E.
Prestigious Fellowships Administered by UCT
UCT administers prestigious fellowship awards from external donors. These are available to honours, master’s and doctoral students.
Prestigious Fellowships are full-cost and often include travel and research allowances. If you are awarded this funding, you will be required to organise a seminar based on your research.
Each fellowship has its own specific eligibility criteria and application procedure. For the full details of each fellowship, download the most recent Financial Assistance for Postgraduate Study and Postdoctoral Research Handbook.
Varies by fellowship. Consult the Postgraduate Funding Office for the relevant closing date.
How to apply:
Application and required supporting documents must be addressed to: Senior Manager, Postgraduate Funding Office, UCT and emailed as one pdf to: email@example.com.
Independently Administered awards
You are encouraged to apply as widely as possible for awards granted by independent bodies.
Some independent awards are listed on the Postgraduate Degree Funding Noticeboard.
UCT does not have detailed information and application forms for these awards. You should contact the organisations directly for full details.
For more information on the process of applying for independent awards download the most recent Financial Assistance for Postgraduate Study and Postdoctoral Research Handbook.
Varies by funding opportunity.
How to Apply:
Varies by opportunity.
You must speak to your supervisor or the head of the department where you intend to register to find details about Departmental Awards.
A list of the specific research programmes and projects that receive departmental funds can be found in the most recent Financial Assistance for Postgraduate Study and Postdoctoral Research Handbook.
Varies by funding opportunity
Important to Know:
If you apply for UCT Merit and Need Awards using Form 10A, you will automatically be considered for some departmental awards.
Departmental Awards are given for honours, master’s and doctorate study.
How to Apply:
To be considered for a departmental award, you must apply for an NRF award, if you are eligible, and submit Form 10A.
Conference Travel Awards
There are three sources of conference travel awards that are administered by UCT:
- UCT travel awards
- NRF travel awards
- Supervisor funded travel awards
There are various calls for conference travel awards that are posted throughout the year. Find these posted on the Postgraduate Degree Funding Noticeboard.
For more details visit this page.