Each year, many public, private and non-governmental organizations offer postgraduate bursaries to African students who have completed their undergraduate degrees and are wishing to start postgraduate studies. These funding opportunities are given to students who have performed well in their undergraduate degrees but lack finances to further their education ambitions in various programs and would benefit from a bursary opportunity.

How to get a postgraduate bursary in South Africa?

If you desire to further your education, either with part-time or full-time study but don’t know how to get a bursary or financial assistance, read the following information and you will get all the answers you need.

The process of application 

Each entity offering bursary lists the application process in the bursary application form. Some require you to apply online, while others don’t mind if you submit your application in hardcopies. You only apply for bursary in the field and level of study you desire to pursue. You should be keen on each unique application requirement listed by the issuing body. Generally, each bursary will require you to follow the following steps.

You must fulfill all application requirements to be eligible:

  • Have all the supporting documents to your application
  • Ensure you either apply online or submit hard copies if that is allowed.

The most crucial documents you must have will include the following plus any other document you might be asked to submit.

  • You must have a certified copy of your SA identification document
  • Prepare a certified copy of your academic qualifications and if you are about to complete your undergraduate degree, provide proof that you are enrolled in university
  • A letter showing that you have applied to be admitted for a postgraduate degree or a letter of admission for a postgraduate degree in a South African university.
  • A letter of motivation detailing why your bursary application should be approved
  • Proof that you come from a financially challenged family
  • If a bursary requires you to provide proof of residence in a specific region, you must provide proof

How much postgraduate bursary will I get?

The amount of bursary depends on the organization that is offering it. Some give full bursaries meaning they pay full tuition fees, accommodation, transport, and a small stipend to help with living costs. Other organizations just cover tuition only and so on. One general thing you should note is that if you have a family that you need to support, the bursary cannot cater to your education needs and your family.

Postgraduate Bursaries 2023 – 2024

Several South African organizations are giving bursaries for postgraduate education and if you are seeking to apply for a bursary or scholarship opportunity, check the following organizations (take note of the closing dates!):

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Most common bursaries for postgraduate education 

The following are the most listed study fields for postgraduate bursaries. However, there is an increasing number of bursaries available for those choosing degree programme which covers scarce skills in current environment.

Criteria for qualification of postgraduate bursaries 

One certain thing is that the rush for bursaries is high and opportunities are available to highly motivated postgraduate students. Organisations and Institutions will have different requirements and will also depend on the grant offered. Qualification is purely dependent on the offering organization but high achievers with a strong academic history are more likely to qualify than low achievers. Scholarships and bursaries have different sources of funding and therefore have different criteria in terms of gender, age, field of study, disability, and area of residence.

  • To qualify for any bursary, the following general qualifications are important.
  • You must be an ambitious student
  • Must have passed your final exam
  • Your academic record must be clean and must show you have been consistently performing well
  • Must be a South African citizen (or permanent resident with some exceptions)
  • Must be qualified to study in the specific field, meaning you have applied for admission or you are already enrolled in the university
  • You must be financially needy

The organizations offering scholarships aim to ensure the future of South Africa is bright by having an educated generation. Most of the organizations offer employment opportunities to the successful candidates they sponsor and if there are no job openings, they give internships.

Applying for the postgraduate bursaries 

Before you apply for any bursary, first confirm if it covers the field you want to study. The conditions are clearly listed including the field of study, what the bursary will cover and the academic years it will cover. It is important you first understand the minimum requirements because you will get disqualified if you omit or overlook any.

If you qualify to apply for any bursary, read the application procedure carefully and do not jump to the registration until you understand the process for applicants. Confirm that you have on your table all the documents required for submission and then fill in the online application form. In some rare instances, some bursaries require hardcopy applications.

Do not forget to provide your day telephone contact and a valid email address. Take note of the communication channels provided by the organization and save the email addresses and phone contacts in case you might do a follow-up later.