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

Applications & requirements


The University of Cape Town is committed to broadening access to postgraduate degrees across South African society. We recognise that applying for postgraduate funding is daunting, especially for prospective students who do not have a family background of postgraduate education. This site will give you information about when and how to apply for postgraduate funding. Bear in mind that opportunities for funding are often announced months before deadline to apply for and register for your degree (application for admission to study is a separate process). Please therefore 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) with whom you can discuss your options either in person or email pgfunding@uct.ac.za

Various sources of funding of different values are available for students intending to pursue Honours, Masters and Doctoral degrees at UCT. This website including the e-noticeboard lists a great many funding opportunities for prospective and current students and you are advised to check it regularly. Information on funding for international and refugee applicants can be found here http://www.students.uct.ac.za/students/fees-funding/postgraduate-degree-funding/bursaries-scholarships/international-refugee. Students studying for 4th or later year of Bachelor degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates, and most professional degrees such as the BCom (Hons) in Financial Analysis & Portfolio Management (FAPM), and the second degree at the same level (e.g., a second Honours degree) or any other university-designated part-time programme, the HDE or the LLB and BArch degrees are not eligible for the awards administered via the Postgraduate Funding Office. Some of the programmes mentioned above may be funded through the Student Financial Aid Office.

In general the duration of postgraduate funding awards is strictly one year for the Honours degree, the first two years of the Masters degree, and the first three years of Doctoral degrees. Renewal of awards for Master’s and Doctoral study each year is subject to satisfactory progress and continued evidence of need in the case of need-based bursaries, and subject to the availability of funds. Students must make every effort to complete their studies within these periods

Information regarding postdoctoral fellowships http://www.uct.ac.za/main/research/postdoc-research-fellowships  is also 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 Masters 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 seven months before you intend to begin your degree.

2. Apply for funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF) http://www.nrf.ac.za/  The application deadline for these awards is normally in June/July for Masters and PhD degrees and in October for Honours degrees. NOTE that 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 nine months before the start of the degree.

3.  Apply for other UCT funding opportunities most of these awards can be applied before 31st 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. The main sources of UCT funding take the form of merit awards and need awards. To be considered for a UCT merit award you must have also 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 were 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.

Regrettably 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 demonstratorships, teaching assistantships or research assistantships may be available in your host department. Contact the Head of Department for more information about such opportunities. Note 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 may 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/grantholders.