Student and Postdoctoral Support Programme Frequently Asked Questions

1 For how long does the NRF open the call for applications?

The NRF normally opens a call for applications for two-three months (from mid May to mid August of each year) for students and fellows to apply.

2 How do I apply for an NRF scholarship or fellowship?

From a Masters level upwards, NRF accept online applications through the website at For Honours/B.Tech bursaries, applications are issued by and submitted at Research Offices or Postgraduate Offices of the higher education institutions, on behalf of the NRF.

3 Does the NRF offer bursaries for under graduate studies?

No. Four-year degrees are only funded in their final year of study as this is equivalent to an Honours/B.Tech level.

4 Where can I find detailed information on the type of scholarship, amount, funding duration and study areas suitable for applying?

Where can I find detailed information on the type of scholarship, amount, funding duration and study areas suitable for applying?

5 Can I submit a hard copy application for funding?

No. Unless stated so in the student support manual for a particular programme, applications are submitted online at

6 What are the critical factors to take into account when I am applying for an NRF scholarship or fellowship?

The following factors are considered most important for your application to succeed:A well written research project proposal

  • An official academic transcript
  • A South African identity document
  • List of your paper publications
  • List of conferences attended and presentations
  • List of awards and previous sponsors/scholarships
  • Details of at least two referees to support your application
7 Can I apply for the NRF scholarship in 2010 if I need funding support for the same year?

No. Students and fellows apply a year in advance through the NRF online system.

8 Why do I have to submit my application electronically?

Electronic applications are easy to manage and to send to external reviewers (specialists) who give the NRF feedback on your application.

9 Can I change institutions if granted an NRF scholarship or fellowship? Or, can I migrate with my scholarship or fellowship to do my next postgraduate degree at a different institution?

Yes. NRF encourages students and fellows to change institutions especially from Maters and Doctoral degrees, up to a Postdoctoral research level.

10 Can I change the type of scholarship or fellowship after being granted by the NRF?

No. The funding decisions made by the NRF are final as these are based on, but not limited to, national strategies and priorities such as scarce or innovation study areas, equity and redress targets, etc.

11 What is the difference between the Innovation and the SSDF programmes?

The student support manual (click here for the manual) clearly gives all the information pertaining to the difference between the two programmes.

12 Where can I get a quick overview of the entire NRF funding support programmes? Or, where can I find out about the available support for students with disabilities?

The student support manual (click here for the manual) has all the information about the NRF funding support programmes.

13 Is there any web based computing support if I am battling to upload my application?

The Research or Postgraduate Office at your institution is available to give you computing support and can also assist in uploading your application.

14 What help is available if I would like to improve my research project proposal?

Institutions do offer workshops on proposal writing; contact your Research or Postgraduate Office for more information.

15 I want to send my application early, what do I do?

You can send your application as soon as the NRF call for applications opens online at