SAAO Prize Scholarship

A prestigious scholarship

The South African Astronomical observatory (SAAO) will award an MSc and PhD scholarship, for degrees starting in 2024, to outstanding candidates. The funding amount will be R180,000 per year at MSc level, and R190,000 per year at PhD level. In addition to this stipend, tuition fees will be covered, generous support for travel and equipment will be provided and options for on-site accommodation can be explored. For more information on working as a student researcher at SAAO and other funding opportunities, see the student opportunities page.

The selection criteria will be academic merit, motivation, aptitude for research, transformation considerations, and the results of an interview.

Who can apply?

The SALT-SAAO scholarships are open to candidates of any nationality, but preference will be given to South African citizens and permanent residents. Applicants must be eligible to register for an MSc/PhD degree in astrophysics at a South African university at the start of the 2024 academic year. Ideal candidates will have a background in astrophysics.

How can you apply?

The application deadline is 31 July 2023.

To apply, send the following documents, and nothing else, as a single pdf file by email to scholarship@saao.ac.za: a cover letter, CV, and academic transcripts. The subject line of your email should contain your surname, the surname of the supervisor of the project you are applying for, and the level (MSc or PhD) at which you are applying. Also arrange to have two referees send a reference letter directly to scholarship@saao.ac.za, by the application deadline, and with your name in the subject line.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

What projects are available?

All the MSc and PhD projects advertised on the 2024 PhD and MSc projects page are available.

What are the rules?

  1. Applicants must apply for a particular astronomical project offered at the SAAO, and discuss their application with the relevant supervisor before applying.
  2. Successful applicants must be ready to start their degree at the beginning of the 2024 academic year. For an MSc scholarship this means that a BSc Honours (or equivalent) degree must be completed. In the case of a PhD scholarship, an MSc degree must be completed, or approval to upgrade to a PhD granted.
  3. At most two scholarships at either level will be awarded each year. SAAO reserves the right not to make an award.
  4. Funding is limited to 2 years for an MSc and 3 years for a PhD. The degree must be completed in this time.
  5. Funding is contingent on proof of registration from the university agreed upon with the supervisor, and signing of the SAAO student memorandum of understanding (MoU). The student will be expected to abide by this MoU, the regulations of their host university, and the SAAO code of conduct.
  6. An annual progress report should be submitted, and the student should participate in the Postgraduate Advisory Committee process put in place by the SAAO to ensure that sufficient progress is made each year.
  7. Holders of these scholarships must spend a minimum of 60% of their time at SAAO and will be required to visit their host university at least once a year.
  8. Short listed applicants will be interviewed during August or September, and an offer will be made to the successful candidate by the end of September 2023.
  9. Please contact scholarship@saao.ac.za if you have any general questions about the scholarship.