NRF Bursary Application 2024

NRF Bursaries South Africa 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a top-performing postgraduate student pursuing critical research addressing South Africa’s development challenges? Does your financial situation make further studies difficult? If so, then the National Research Foundation’s wide range of bursaries and scholarships warrants your attention!

In this detailed guide, I provide extensive information on the NRF funding programmes to empower your postgraduate journey. Covering application timelines, eligibility criteria, selection factors, required documents, additional tips and more, read on to understand why you should submit an NRF funding application in 2024!

NRF Bursaries South Africa

About The National Research Foundation (NRF)

Firstly, an introduction to the NRF. The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a key public entity responsible for supporting and promoting research in South Africa. Their mandate from government is to build knowledge generation capacity aligned to innovation and socio-economic growth priorities.

As a premier science grant-making organisation, the NRF provides infrastructure, human capacity development and critical research funding across all knowledge areas – from aerospace to renewable energy, genetics, nanotechnology and more.

By offering competitive bursaries and scholarships, the NRF enables thousands of master’s and doctoral candidates annually to pursue uninterrupted postgraduate studies critical for an inclusive knowledge economy.

So in applying for NRF funding, you align with South Africa’s apex research organisation driving progress!

Types Of NRF Bursaries & Funding Priority Areas

The NRF offers various postgraduate funding programmes focused on human capacity development through research:

DSI-NRF Postgraduate Student Funding

  • Their flagship funding programme – open to all research fields/topics
  • Covers full cost of study for master’s and doctoral students

NRF Freestanding Honours Scholarships

  • Targets top honours students intending to continue postgraduate studies
  • Serves as a recruitment pipeline for master’s and doctoral programmes

DST-NRF Centre Of Excellence Scholarships

  • Supports students enrolled at specific Centres of Excellence
  • Covers master’s and doctoral students

NRF-Affiliated Scholarships

  • Jointly offered with strategic partners – e.g. Mandela Rhodes Foundation, Fulbright Commission etc.
  • Check NRF website for associated scholarship calls

When selecting your research area, consider national priorities like food security, biotechnology, climate change, space science etc. to amplify impact.

What Expenses Do NRF Bursaries Cover?

As comprehensive bursaries, NRF funding packages cover:

Full-Cost Bursaries

  • Tuition + registration fees
  • Accommodation + living allowance
  • Book allowance
  • Computer allowance
  • University research costs

Partial-Cost Bursaries

  • Specific expense allocations depending on funding source

This enables you to fully focus on your research and postgraduate studies without financial burdens holding you back.

Am I Eligible To Apply? Requirements Checklist

To assess if you should apply for NRF postgraduate funding in 2024, you must:

Meet General Eligibility

  • South African citizen OR permanent resident
  • Registered at accredited public university
  • Not receiving income exceeding max threshold

Check Qualification Age Limit

  • Honours – 28 years old or younger
  • Master’s – 30 years old or younger
  • PhD – 32 years old or younger

Have Good Academic Achievements

  • Minimum 65% average OR merit achievement

Submit Research Proposal Aligned To National Priorities

So carefully validate if you satisfy ALL general and funding programme-specific requirements before applying!

What Is The Application Process?

Here is an overview of the standard NRF bursaries online application process:

Step 1: Check Funding Calls

  • Funding cycles and priority focus areas differ yearly
  • Consult NRF website for latest calls – open May-June generally

Step 2: Prepare Application

  • Write strong research proposal
  • Gather supporting documents

Step 3: Complete Online Application

  • Submit via NRF Online Submission System
  • Follow listed instructions carefully

Step 4: Follow Up

  • Track status online after verification
  • Submit additional info if required

Step 5: Evaluate Outcome

  • Receive application results via system

Be sure to submit your application before the advertised closing date!

What Information Must I Include?

Alongside your online application form, the key attachments required include:

  • Certified copy of ID or passport
  • Academic transcripts
  • Research proposal
  • Proof of registration
  • Letters of reference
  • Motivation letter
  • Ethics clearance letters (if required)

So prepare all these in advance to streamline your submission.

How Are Applicants Selected? Key Criteria

The NRF selection panel evaluates applications based on:

  • Quality of research proposal
  • Academic performance demonstrated
  • Alignment with national priorities
  • Development impact of research
  • Strength of reference letters
  • Scarce skills focus (where relevant)

They specifically aim to identify top candidates with potential to excel academically and inject new insights through research addressing critical issues.

Additional Pointers For Applying

Keep these extra suggestions in mind when crafting your application:

  • Start early – speak to your supervisor for direction
  • Ensure your research topic has important knowledge gaps to fill
  • Clearly state key research questions and objectives
  • Back up claims in proposal with recent authoritative sources
  • Show why your methodology is rigorous yet feasible given scope
  • Get multiple reviews of your full proposal before submission
  • Follow instructions very carefully for each specific call

Investing attention in these aspects will further amplify your submission quality.

Where Can I Find More Information?

For comprehensive details on NRF funding opportunities, visit:

Website –

Online System –

Or contact the NRF directly via:

📧 Email: [email protected]

☎️ Call: +27 12 481 4000

I hope this detailed guide gives you all the insights you need to submit an exceptional NRF funding application as a postgraduate student committed to high-impact South African research. Best of luck furthering national knowledge and innovation through your studies ahead!


In closing, NRF bursaries and scholarships enable some of South Africa’s best future researchers and scientists to pursue uninterrupted quality postgraduate degrees critical for economic inclusion and advancement.

Given national development priorities and the competitive selection process, being awarded NRF funding also serves as career-elevating recognition of your past academic excellence and future potential.

So be sure to strategically apply for NRF financial support during your honours, master’s or PhD journey if you have the drive, vision and aptitude to advance African knowledge frontiers with your research!


Here are quick answers to some common NRF bursary questions:

Do I need to study at a specific university?

No, you can study at any local public university provided they offer your approved postgrad programme.

Can I hold another bursary too?

Unfortunately you cannot hold multiple bursaries simultaneously – so choose the best fit for your specific situation if offered more than one.

Is NRF funding a loan or free bursary?

NRF monies constitute free bursary funding not loans – so no payback requirements apply. But you must complete your qualification.

Can I still work part-time if receiving the bursary?

You may work outside your academic activities provided it does not impact your full-time studies. But income thresholds apply.

Please contact the NRF directly for any other questions!


Postgraduate Bursary – Application Guide

Bursaries for 2024 Undergraduate South Africa 


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