SALT-SAAO Prize Scholarship

A prestigious scholarship

The South African Astronomical observatory (SAAO) will award a maximum of one PhD and one MSc scholarship, for degrees starting in 2021, to outstanding candidates. The funding amount will be R175,000 per year at PhD level, and R167,000 per year at MSc level. In addition to this stipend, tuition fees will be covered, and generous support for travel and equipment will be provided. For more information on working as a student researcher at SAAO and other funding opportunities, see the student research 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 a PhD/MSc degree in astrophysics at a South African university at the start of the 2021 academic year. Ideal candidates will have a background in astrophysics.

How can you apply?

The application deadline is 31 July 2020.

To apply, send the following documents, and nothing else, as a single pdf file by email to 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 (PhD or MSc) at which you are applying. Also arrange to have two referees send reference letter directly to, by the application deadline, and with your name in the subject line.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

What projects are available?


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What are the rules?

  1. Applicants must apply for a particular project, 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 2021 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 one MSc and one PhD scholarship 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 2020.
  9. Please contact if you have any general questions about the scholarship.