Bursaries for Psychology 2024/2025

A Guide to Securing Bursaries for Psychology Studies in South Africa

Pursuing higher education in psychology opens the door to a fascinating career unraveling the mysteries of the human mind and helping improve mental health. However, the costs of quality undergraduate and postgraduate psychology studies can deter many promising students without access to financial assistance.

This is where psychology bursaries become invaluable – by providing you with the funding you need to pursue this rewarding field. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the wealth of bursary options available for psychology students in South Africa. Whether you are pursuing a BA, BSocSci, BSc, MA, or PhD in psychology, read on to uncover where to find bursaries, how to apply successfully, and set yourself up for success.

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Introduction to Psychology Bursaries

A bursary is a monetary award provided to students to help cover educational expenses, without requiring repayment. Bursaries are granted based on criteria like financial need, academic performance, field of study, or other eligibility requirements set by the provider.

For aspirant psychologists in South Africa, bursaries can make the difference in being able to access quality studies to launch your mental health career. The key is finding aligned bursaries and crafting compelling applications.

This guide will explore:

  • Main sources of psychology bursaries in South Africa
  • Crafting outstanding bursary applications
  • Key eligibility criteria and requirements
  • Insider application tips from experts
  • Answers to common bursary questions

Let’s delve into how to secure funding to invest in your psychology education and career.

Main Sources of Psychology Bursaries

Many excellent psychology bursary opportunities exist through government, universities, associations, and more.

Government Bursaries

The South African government offers several programs, including:

  • NSFAS – Financial aid for disadvantaged students pursuing higher education, including psychology.
  • NRF Bursaries – Bursaries from the National Research Foundation targeting science and technology fields like psychology.

Psychology Association Bursaries

Influential psychology associations provide bursaries aligned with their focus areas:

  • South African Professional Society (SAPS) – Clinical, counselling, and educational psychology
  • Association of Educational Psychologists of South Africa (AEPSA) – Educational psychology

University Bursaries

Most major universities offer psychology bursaries based on financial need or academic achievement. Target those where you aim to study.

Research Institutions

Organizations like the HSRC and MRC provide bursaries focused on social science research fields like psychology.

Targeting these sources strategically can uncover funding tailored for you.

Crafting Your Bursary Application

Your written bursary application provides the opportunity to showcase your worthiness for funding. Here are some tips:

Highlight Academic Achievements

Provide details of your stellar academic performance, distinctions, awards and any evidence demonstrating your excellence as a psychology student.

Discuss Your Psychology Interests

Explain what fascinates you about psychology and how your studies will enable your career goals and ability to help people mentally.

Showcase Relevant Experiences

Discuss any psychology-related volunteering, internships or prior experience demonstrating your passion for the field.

Demonstrate Leadership Skills

Share examples of activities and roles exhibiting your teamwork, communication abilities, and other interpersonal strengths.

Proofread Meticulously

Refine your application until it is flawless. Any errors may jeopardize your success.

With diligent preparation and compelling content, you can craft an outstanding bursary application.

Key Eligibility Criteria

Understanding typical requirements will help you determine which bursaries to pursue.

Academic Achievement

Meeting high academic standards is usually required based on matric or ongoing university grades.

Financial Need

Most bursaries aim to assist economically disadvantaged students, so financial means testing is common.

Psychology Focus Area

Some bursaries target specific focuses like clinical, educational or research psychology. Confirm your program aligns.

Association Membership

Bursaries from psychology associations may require you belong to that organization.

While each bursary sets specific criteria, academic excellence and dedication are vital prerequisites.

Insider Tips from Experts

Apply these bursary application tips from the experts:

  • Align with the psychology focus of the provider – e.g. discuss mental health research goals for an NRF bursary.
  • For corporate bursaries, research the company’s engagement in mental health initiatives that you could contribute to.
  • Ask academic supervisors or mentors familiar with your psychology passion for recommendation letters.
  • Be specific in addressing how the bursary will enable your educational goals and future community impact.
  • Follow up politely after submission to confirm your application was received successfully.

With diligence and persistence, you can optimize your chances of winning key funding.

Answers to Common Bursary Questions

Let’s explore some frequent questions psychology students have about bursaries:

How competitive are psychology bursaries?

Competition varies but can be high for prestigious and specialized programs. Craft strong applications and apply broadly.

When should I apply for a psychology bursary?

Begin researching early, 12-18 months before studies commence. Many providers have early deadline cycles.

Can I get a student loan if I secure a psychology bursary?

Yes, combining funding sources is common. Maximize free aid from bursaries first, then supplement unmet costs with loans.

Must I work for the bursary provider after graduating?

Some psychology bursaries require research commitments or community service. Understand any obligations.

The more you understand the landscape, the better prepared you will be to secure valuable funding.


The costs of quality psychology education can seem prohibitive without financial assistance. But by leveraging South Africa’s range of public and private bursary opportunities, aspiring psychologists can gain the skills needed to transform mental health.

Remember to begin your bursary search early, assess eligibility carefully, craft excellent applications, and follow expert tips. With focus and perseverance, psychology bursaries can enable you to gain the knowledge to unlock the mysteries of the mind and create meaningful change.


Where can I find bursaries for specialized postgraduate psychology like clinical psychology?

Great sources are university psychology departments, research institutions like HSRC, associations like SAPS, and aggregators like Bursaries24.

What are the most prestigious psychology bursaries in South Africa?

Some top programs are Rhodes Scholarships, Canon Collins Trust, Fulbright Scholarship, NRF grantholder bursaries, and bursaries from prestigious universities.

If my grades slipped due to personal issues, does that disqualify me?

Not necessarily, though it may be tougher. Explain the situation and emphasize the positive trajectory of your overall academic record.

Should I rely solely on bursaries or also apply for student loans?

Pursuing both can provide your full funding needs. Bursaries help minimize debt, but loans can supplement unmet costs.

Do I need work experience to qualify for psychology bursaries?

Not necessarily, but relevant volunteering, internships or mental health experience can significantly strengthen your application.


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