Please take note of the NRF Postgraduate Scholarships applications for 2021

Please carefully read the funding guides, framework documents and FAQs downloadable from this page before commencing an application. Incomplete applications and applications submitted after the internal closing date will be rejected.

The DSI and NRF are pleased to announce a call of new applications for NRF Postgraduate Student Funding for the 2021 Academic year. All continuing students who are eligible for a second or third year of funding must submit a Progress Report and not a new application.

The NRF minimum academic requirement for postgraduate funding is 65%. Applicants for honours, masters and doctoral funding must be 28, 30 and 32 years of age or younger respectively in the year of application. Successful applicants will be funded either at Full Cost Study (FCS) or Partial Cost of Study (PCS). The FCS funding will be awarded to South African citizens and permanent residents only, who are either financially needy (i.e., those whose combined household family income is less or equal to R350 000 per annum), living with a disability or exceptional academic achievers. However, the PCS funding will be awarded to 5% of international students including South African citizens and permanent residents who could not be funded under FCS but meet other minimum requirements for the NRF scholarship funding criteria.

Scholarships are intended to support honours, masters and doctoral candidates to pursue studies in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences, and Humanities.

The NRF has phased out the block grant nomination process as well as the grant-holder linked modalities of funding postgraduate students in 2020. As from 2021 funding year, all the postgraduate students will be expected to apply on the NRF Online Submission System by accessing the link:

Additional notes:

1. For Honours, Masters and Doctoral students: Applications without the required attachments as specified in the “NRF postgraduate scholarship application and funding guide 2021” will be rejected (see pgs. 25-27). Please also note that all documents must be certified where required and uploaded as a single PDF file.

2. All Masters and Doctoral applicants must consult with their supervisor/prospective supervisor before submitting an application.

3. For Masters and Doctoral applications only: Importance of supervisor/referee responses (see pgs. 28-29 and 34 of “NRF postgraduate scholarship application and funding guide 2021”)

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the following:

  • Identify a suitable supervisor and co-supervisor;
  • Masters Students (2 reports): ensure that letters of support (i.e. referee reports in the reference section of the application) from the identified Masters supervisor and referee are submitted on the NRF Online system by the internal deadline date; and
  • Doctoral students (3 reports): ensure that letters of support from the Masters Supervisor, identified Doctoral supervisor and referee are submitted on the NRF Online system by the internal deadline date. Applications with outstanding referee reports will be rejected. After the application is submitted, applicants are requested to immediately inform their referees to expect an email link from the NRF system in order to complete the referee report (automatically generated). Applicants are able to check whether a referee has responded by viewing the status under the reference section of the application.

4. The definition of the various application categories are summarized on pg. 12 of the funding guide.

5. Carefully read through the eligibility criteria in the Framework document (point 4) before starting an application.

6. Please note: The FAQ’s document and SARAO call documents can be accessed by clicking on the following link: . Due to the file sizes of these documents, it could not be attached to this email.

Internal deadline dates are as follows:

Honours Applications: 31 August 2020

Masters Applications: 10 July 2020

Doctoral Applications: 10 July 2020

Masters and Doctoral Extension Support Applications: 10 July 2020

Doctoral Abroad (Nuffic) Applications Split - Site:  20 July 2020

Doctoral Abroad (Nuffic) Applications Single - Site:  13 May 2020

For Honours related enquiries, please contact:

Mr Jolindon Petersen

Email Address:  


Ms Tozama Mnonopi

Email Address:

For all Masters and Doctoral Programme related enquiries, please contact:

Ms Terry Adams



Ms Thembeka Sdinane



Mr Imtiaz Khan



Nelson Mandela University wants to contribute in a positive way to your professional and personal development by offering you access to a wealth of study opportunities.

If you need to discuss your study career with somebody, please do not hesitate to contact the Office for Mature and Postgraduate Student Markets. The main purpose of the Office is to assist you in identifying the study programme most suitable to you and to put you in contact with the right people – be it with a faculty officer, a programme coordinator, an academic expert or one of our support services.

We are also available to visit workplaces and community groups to discuss professional development opportunities by means of formal studies.

The Office is based on the first floor of the Administration Building, North Campus, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth. Appointments Monday to Friday, from 07:30 – 16:00.

To find out what we have on offer, download our latest
Postgrad Guide 2020


Contact information
Mr Andrew Kock
Senior Marketing Practitioner: Postgraduate & Mature Student Markets
Tel: 041-504 2162