Call for applications: DSI-NRF postgraduate student funding for the 2025 academic year

  • Applicant closing date: First-time master's and doctoral - 5 July 2024
  • Applicant closing date: Master's and doctoral extension support - 15 September 2024
  • Applicant closing date: Honours call - 22 November 2024 
The National Research Foundation (NRF) has opened the above call for applications. 

  • Click here for the call for applications for the DSI-NRF postgraduate student funding for the 2025 academic year. 
  • Click here for the application and funding guide for extension support for master's and doctoral scholarships 2025. 
  • Click here for the application and funding guide for NRF master's and doctoral scholarships 2025.
  • Click here for the DSI-NRF postgraduate student application and funding framework for the 2025 academic year. 
  • Click here for the frequently asked questions. 
  • Click here for the funding application consent form. 
  • Click here for the DSI-NRF postgraduate funding policy statement of expectations for postgraduate training. 
  • Click here for the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory application guide for postgraduate scholarship applications for 2025 (doctoral level).  
  • Click here for the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory application guide for postgraduate scholarship applications for 2025 (master's level).


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. 

Areas of support 

Postgraduate funding is intended to support honours, master's 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 table below: 

Broad disciplines supported by the NRF for postgraduate studies are:

Accounting, Actuarial Science, Agricultural Sciences, Architecture Astronomy, Astrophysics, Auditing, Bibliometrics and Scientometrics, Science Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Climate Change, Computer Science, Construction management, Cosmology, Data Science, Demography, Dermatological sciences, Drug Discovery and Development, Earth Sciences, Earth Observation, Ecology, Economic Sciences, Economic and Management Science, Education, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Financial Management, Functional Genomics, Geology, Geosciences, Global Change, Society and Sustainability, Higher Education (Policy) Studies, Health Sciences, History and Philosophy of Science, Information Science, Information Systems, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Law, Materials Research, Mathematical Sciences, Marine Sciences, Medicinal Plant, Medical Sciences, Microbiology, Nanotechnology, Nuclear Science, Nuclear Technologies in Medicine and Biosciences, Palaeosciences, Polar Science, Physics, Renewable Energy, Research Evaluation and Research Impact studies, Science Communication, Social Science and Humanities, Sociology of Science and Technology , Space Science, Statistics, Technology and Innovation (Policy) Studies, the Public Understanding of Science and Technology, Transportation Studies and Tourism.



Honours, master's and doctoral

Extension support

  • Applicants for honours funding must be 28 years of age or younger by 31 December 2024. 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 master's or doctoral studies in South Africa are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants for master's funding must be 30 years of age or younger by 31 December 2024.
  • 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 2024. 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 2024. 
  • Minimum average of 65% for master's degree. 
  • Applicants applying for extension support at the master’s level must have registered for their master’s degree in 2023 or July 2022.
  • Applicants applying for extension support at the doctoral level must have registered for their doctoral degree in 2022 or July 2021.

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.  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 master's studies who commenced their degree before July 2023.
  • Students pursuing doctoral studies who commenced their degree before July 2022.
  • Individuals who registered for their honours study before July 2024.
  • 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. 

Financial means test  

Applicants who provide the required consent, will be subjected to a financial means test to determine their financial need status. Applicants for DSI-NRF postgraduate student 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. If proof is not attached at time of application, the applicant will be eligible and considered for PCS. A financial means test is conducted annually by 01 September. Continuing NRF-funded students requesting financial means test should liaise with the institutions and complete the relevant documents to be submitted by the institutions to the NRF by 15 August.

Application process  

All applications are submitted on the NRF Connect system: 
Late and incomplete applications will be rejected.
The master's and doctoral applications will undergo College review/vetting before they can be submitted to the NRF. 

Publish date: 2024/05/30