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Postgraduate degree funding
Home > Fees & funding > Postgraduate degree funding > Applications & requirements

Applications and requirements

The University of Cape Town is committed to broadening access to postgraduate education across South African society. Applying for postgraduate funding can be daunting, especially if you do not have a family background of postgraduate education. The page provides information on when and how to apply for postgraduate funding.

Opportunities for funding are often announced months before the degree application deadline. Begin your funding search well in advance. You may have many questions and there are dedicated staff to help you in the postgraduate funding office (in the Otto Beit Building on Upper Campus). They are available to discuss your options either in person or by email.

Various sources of funding of different values are available for students intending to pursue honours, master's and doctoral degrees at UCT. The e-noticeboard lists a great many funding opportunities for prospective and current students and you are advised to check it regularly.

International and refugee applicants can find information on this scholarships page.

Students in the following programmes are not eligible for the awards administered by the Postgraduate Funding Office:

  • fourth or later years of bachelor's degrees
  • postgraduate diplomas and certificates
  • most professional degrees such as the BCom(Hons) in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management (FAPM)
  • second degrees at the same level (eg, a second honours degree)
  • any other university-designated part-time programme
  • the HDE, LLB and BArch degrees.

Some of the programmes mentioned above may be funded through the Student Financial Aid Office.

The duration of postgraduate funding awards is strictly 1 year for an honours degree, the first 2 years of a master's degree, and the first 3 years of a doctoral degree.

Annual renewal of awards for master’s and doctoral study is subject to:

  • satisfactory progress
  • continued evidence of need in the case of need-based bursaries
  • availability of funds.

Students must make every effort to complete their studies within these periods

More information regarding postdoctoral fellowships is available.

Funding application procedure

In order to obtain funding for your postgraduate studies you should:

  1. Contact the head of department and potential supervisors in the department in which you intend to register. They may be able to inform you of departmental and/or project-linked funding not listed on this website. For a research master's or doctoral degree you will need to identify potential research projects with your prospective supervisor in order to apply for funding. Ideally, you should do this at least 7 months before you intend to begin your degree.
  2. Apply for funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF). The application deadline for these awards is normally in June/July for master's and PhD degrees and in October for honours degrees. You will not be considered for UCT merit awards (applied for via the Postgraduate Financial Assistance Application Form) unless you have also applied to the NRF.

    Apply for any prestigious fellowships for which you may be eligible. Other opportunities will be listed on the e-noticeboard. These awards are more prestigious and often more generous than government or internal UCT funding. Deadlines can fall as much as 9 months before the start of the degree.

  3. Apply for other UCT funding opportunities. The deadlines for most of these awards are before 31 October. However, some UCT-administered awards do differ from this. Consult the e-noticeboard and the booklet on financial assistance for postgraduate study and postdoctoral research for more information.

UCT funding takes the form of merit and need awards:

  • To be considered for a UCT merit award you must have also have applied for funding from the NRF. You cannot hold both an NRF award and a UCT merit award so these scholarships serve to support academically strong students who are unsuccessful in their application to the NRF.
  • Need awards are assigned based on the financial resources of the applicant. It is possible to hold a UCT need award to supplement an NRF award or a UCT merit award.

Most UCT and NRF awards are supplementary and do not cover the full cost of study (fees and living expenses). Students are permitted to undertake limited part-time work to supplement their income from these awards. Some part-time positions such as demonstrator-ships, teaching assistantships or research assistantships may be available in your host department. Contact the head of department for more information about such opportunities.

There are rules governing the concurrent holding of certain awards.

Conference travel awards and funding for students to undertake research at institutions abroad are available to current UCT master’s and doctoral students on a competitive basis. You can also find information about external funding for South Africans to pursue postgraduate degrees at other institutions.

This site also contains information about departmental scholarships and is relevant to both students and their supervisors/grant holders.