Postgraduate Student Funding
Funding InfoResearch Grants


Funding for postgraduate students can be divided into two main types:

  • Bursaries and scholarships that cover cost of registration / tuition and in some cases accommodation and books
  • Research grants – grants for covering costs of research (for example photocopying and printing, laboratory costs, fieldwork  expenses, consumables, travelling to do field work) and travel grants for attending or presenting your findings at conferences.

Many postgraduate students underestimate the cost of research or do not realise that money to cover research costs is not freely available from the university. While there are numerous bursaries and scholarships covering tuition and registration, most scholarships explicitly exclude funding your research, so you need to find other sources of funding. This is not so easy for postgraduate students – most research grants are only given to established, rated scientists (in other words researchers who already hold a PhD.)


Please note that: 

  • Any correspondence and negotiation with the NRF or with other bursary donors, whose bursaries are administered by the university must go via the Postgraduate Student Funding Section;
  • Postgraduate students who register with Stellenbosch University for the first time must furnish a certified copy of the complete record of previous studies with performance reflected in percentages throughout; and
  • It is university policy for any late applications to be placed on a waiting list and to be considered only if funds subsequently become available.
Postgraduate and International Student Funding

Information on available bursaries can be obtained from the Postgraduate & International Office or at the Enquiries desk:

Postgraduate Student Funding , RW Wilcocks Building, 3rd floor, Room 3015

Tel: +27 21 808 4208

Bursaries based on academic performance
  • The National Research Foundation (NRF) grants bursaries for full-time studies in all fields. Most of these bursaries are made available to professors and other university teachers who hold research grants of the NRF, and who can then nominate bursary candidates. A limited number of prestige bursaries are available to candidates whose academic performance in their previous studies has been outstanding. Enquiries, applications and nominations should be addressed to the Postgraduate Student Funding Section within the Postgraduate & International Office.
  • Postgraduate bursaries are made available by the university for full-time studies in all fields based on previous academic performance.
  • A number of bursaries for postgraduate studies are available from the funds of private donors and trusts that are administered by the university according to the donors. These bursaries are mostly limited to specific fields of study. The Postgraduate Student Funding Section advertises bursaries periodically by means of notices on campus and on the website. Particulars may be obtained from the Postgraduate Student Funding Unit or from Part 2 of the University Calendar.
  • Some departments have funds of their own that may be used for postgraduate bursaries in terms of the university’s prescribed financial guidelines. In this regard, prospective students should consult their supervisors.
Bursaries based on financial need
  • To qualify for a bursary on the grounds of financial need, candidates have to state their personal financial particulars on the prescribed form and attach documentary proof. Only those who are found to be genuinely needy in terms of the means test used by the university qualify for these bursaries.
  • Postgraduate Study Bursaries are available for full-time and part-time studies in all fields of study, on condition that candidates have a satisfactory academic record or are making satisfactory progress with their postgraduate studies.
  • In the award of some bursaries from private sources or trusts, students’ financial needs are also taken into account.
Funding for international students

International Students should note that they only qualify for the Postgraduate Merit Bursary, for which an applicant’s average for their previous degree should be at least 75%.

Funding enquiries and applications

All enquiries may be addressed to the Postgraduate Student Funding Section. Full particulars are given in the University Calendar, Part 2.

Research grants

Ideally you should give the issue of research costs some thought before deciding on a topic. Your research could very well be dependent on the availability of funding. Here are some of the things to consider:

  • Try to join an existing research team that has access to such grant funding through the project leader.
  • Some faculties or departments have small funds available for postgraduate research. Speak to your (prospective) supervisor.
  • If you are employed, perhaps your employer could be convinced to sponsor you, especially if the research benefits them.
  • Depending on your field of study, you might be able to pay for the research expenses yourself, and might in fact be expected to do so.

Departmental Postgraduate Bursaries and Research Grants 2020

BA Honours in Sociology or Social Anthropology

  • 4 Departmental SP Cilliers Bursaries of R51 520 each
  • 6 Indexing Indexing Transformation scholarships of R85000 each
  • 2-4 bursaries of minimum R40 000 each plus research expenses for research projects that contribute to the research programme of the SARChI Chair on The Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development.
  • 2 Honours NRF bursaries of R60 000 each (focus on citizenship, infrastructure, social movements and environmental issues).

MA in Sociology

  • 2 bursaries of minimum R70 000 each plus research expenses for a thesis that contributes to the research programme of the SARChI Chair on The Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development.
  • 10 Indexing Transformation scholarships s of R142 500 each
  • 1 Masters NRF bursary of R90 000 (focus on citizenship, infrastructure, social movements and environmental issues).

PhD Sociology or Social Anthropology

  • 1 bursary of minimum R100 000 each plus research expenses for a dissertation that contributes to the research programme of the SARChI Chair on The Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development.
  • 1 Doctoral NRF bursary of R120 000 (focus on citizenship, infrastructure, social movements and environmental issues).
Application procedure:

Once accepted into one of our programmes, you will receive more information on the particular departmental bursary or research grant.

Closing date for Departmental bursaries is 15 November 2019.

For Indexing Transformation Scholarships at the Honours and Masters level, we require a 200-300 word statement of scholarly research interests, which you should relate to the question of transformation, broadly construed.

Send the statements, together with an academic record, including the latest results from 2019 academic year (if applicable) to

For further information on departmental bursaries: please contact Genay Dhelminie at

For further information on SARChI bursaries: please visit the programme website or contact Prof Cherryl Walker at

For further information on NRF bursaries: please contact Prof Steven Robins at

Please indicate your interest in one of the above on our Postgraduate-Information-Form-2018

Send Postgraduate Information Forms to

Students are also invited to apply for other bursaries or loans from Stellenbosch University and for teaching and research assistant positions. For more information:


  • The number and value of SP Cilliers Honours Bursaries for 2020 have been set at four bursaries of R52 520 each.
  • The deadline for submission of applications from students is 15 November 2019. 

Details about the Bursary and the application procedure follow below.

General criteria

The SP Cilliers bursary is a departmental bursary for students enrolled in its Honours programmes (Sociology and/or Social Anthropology). It is intended to support students who have demonstrated academic ability, i.e. meet the general admissions criteria for the programme, but are struggling financially and need financial support to be able to pursue fulltime studies at Honours level.

Additional considerations

In awarding the bursary, the Department recognises as a basic point of departure that historical disadvantage in the form of institutionalised racial discrimination in South Africa before 1994 is frequently, but not automatically nor exclusively, linked to current economic disadvantage.

Students who are not South African citizens and meet the general criteria are eligible to apply.

The Department reserves the right not to make an award in any given year.

The application process

Students who wish to be considered must submit an application consisting of 1) a motivation, 2) a financial disclosure statement (sworn avadavat) and 3) at least two references from reputable persons. The selection panel may decide to interview applicants as well.

Late applications will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, upon motivation to the Department Chairperson by the applicant.

1) Motivation

Applicants must write a motivation of between one and two typed pages (up to a thousand words) in which they set out why they think they should be considered for an SP Cilliers Honours Bursary, taking note of the general criteria and additional considerations for the award of the bursary.

In the motivation they should discuss their interest in doing an Honours degree in either Sociology or Social Anthropology in the Department, and give relevant information concerning their financial circumstances, including that of their family or sponsors if they are financially dependent on them.

Applicants are free to attach any supporting documentation they consider relevant to their application, at their discretion, but are advised to keep supporting documentation to a minimum.

2) Financial disclosure statement

Applicants must include a brief financial disclosure statement in which they list other sources of funding or potential funding for their studies, including paid work, sponsorships, student assistantships and other bursaries or scholarships that they have been awarded or have applied for.

It is possible to hold the SP Cilliers Bursary with other sources of financial support, including other bursaries and scholarships, depending on the amounts and the specific conditions involved in each case. However, the Department requires full disclosure of other sources of financial support to award a SP Cilliers Bursary. Failure to meet this requirement may result in an applicant’s eligibility for the bursary being revoked.

3) References

Applicants must arrange for reference letters to be sent to the Department from at least two reputable persons who know them well and can attest to their personal qualities and financial circumstances. (Note that these are not academic references, as the Department will already have the necessary information on applicants’ academic performance.)

Applicants should endeavour to get their referees to submit their letters to the Department directly, by the submission deadline. Applicants must also provide contact details for their referees with their application (telephone numbers, postal address, e-mail address where available) for follow-up by the Department if necessary.

Referees’ letters should preferably be e-mailed to or faxed to the Department at 021 808 2143 or posted to: The Chairperson, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag XI, Matieland 7602.

Payment of the bursary

Payment of the bursary is done in accordance with Stellenbosch University’s financial systems and procedures for managing grants for postgraduate studies from departmental funds.

Payment is made directly into students’ Stellenbosch University accounts; if there is a balance after all debits have been settled, funds can be paid into the student’s personal bank account if requested.

Revoking the bursary

The Department reserves the right to revoke the bursary if a recipient fails to perform satisfactorily during the course of his/her studies (by maintaining an average of 60% or higher and completing the programme timeously) and/or abandons his/her studies and/or is found guilty of a serious disciplinary charge and/or misrepresents his/her financial position. Any action taken by the Department in this regard will be in accordance with Stellenbosch University policies and procedures.