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Research Funding

In line with the Wits philosophy of ‘thinking beyond the NRF’ here is a link to a funder database called RESEARCHConnect ( If you are interested in using this search tool AND have a Wits email address please send an email to Robin Drennan for help in getting registered.

National Research Foundation (NRF). The mandate of the NRF is to promote and support research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge, and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans.

NRF Funding Opportunities

Research grants:

Grants for researchers employed full time at higher education institutions (permanent or a fixed contract covering the duration of the grant). These are usually 3 year project grants and typically offer funding for direct research costs, low value research equipment, sabbatical funding (once-off during grant cycle) and conference (must present). Admin cost, computers, office equipment and furniture are not funded. Researchers are also able to request postdoctoral funding within some of these funding streams. Other funding includes large research equipment (NEP/NNEP), KIC - once-off funding to attend a conference, international collaboration grants (only where the NRF has partnerships with science councils of other countries);    

Click here for a full list of NRF funding opportunities.

Postgraduate Scholarship

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the NRF have announce a new applications process for NRF Postgraduate Student Funding from 2021. The NRF has phased out the block grant nomination process as well as the grant-holder linked modalities of funding postgraduate students in 2020. As from 2021, all the postgraduate students will be expected to apply on the NRF Online Submission System by accessing the link:, no manual applications will be accepted. 

The NRF minimum academic requirement for postgraduate funding is 65%. Applicants for honours, master's and doctoral funding must be 28, 30 and 32 years of age or younger respectively in the year of application. Successful applicants will be funded either at Full Cost Study (FCS) or Partial Cost of Study (PCS). The FCS funding will be awarded to South African citizens and permanent residents only, who are either financially needy (i.e., those whose combined household family income is less or equal to R350 000 per annum), living with a disability or exceptional academic achievers. However, the PCS funding will be awarded to 5% of international students including South African citizens and permanent residents who could not be funded under FCS but meet other minimum requirements for the NRF scholarship funding criteria.

Scholarships are intended to support honours, master's and doctoral candidates to pursue studies in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences, and Humanities.

Universities set their own internal cut-off dates for applications and the applicants must abide by those dates. Refer to the application and funding documents when completing the online application form at every step of the process.

View information about the NRF Postgraduate Scholarship Call and Wits internal closing date.  

The Call documents are available here

Wits Postdoctoral fellowships

View Information about postdoctoral fellowship funding opportunity at Wits

MRC funding

View information about MRC Scholarships and Research Grant funding


View information about CANSA Research funding and Grants

International scholarship opportunity

There are a number of scholarship opportunities currently available for South African students to undertake studies, research and exchanges in other countries. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) coordinates several such scholarships, while others are managed by other international, national and provincial departments or government agencies.

View information about international scholarship opportunities and research exchanges for South African students


Erasmus+ aims to modernise and improve higher education across Europe and the rest of the world.

It gives students and staff opportunities to develop their skills and boost their employment prospects. Good practices will be shared between universities and businesses in Knowledge Alliances.

Higher education institutions from participating European countries can work with those from neighbouring countries, non-EU Balkan countries, Asia, Africa and Latin America to develop their educational systems.

View information about Erasmus+

Wits funding opportunities:

Freidel Sellschop Research Award

The University puts out a yearly call to encourage young exceptional researchers to apply for research grants made available by the University Research Committee (URC). An award of R 145,000 p.a. over three years is made available. The award covers running costs, capital equipment and/or books, overseas laboratory visits, conference attendance where normal sources of support are unavailable and funds for collaboration.

View information about Freidel Sellschop Research Award 

Research Equipment Grant

Access to appropriate research equipment does not only enable, but also promotes good research, especially in the fields of the experimental sciences. To this end, the University invests about R15 million per year in the purchase of research related equipment.  Two calls for proposals are published during the year: During the March – April season a call is placed for minor items of equipment worth less the R500 000 and medium items of equipment between R500 000 and R1000 000. The call for major items of equipment is placed in the August – September period and coincide with the NRF NEP call. Please visit the Research Support page to see the advertised calls for proposals.

Vice Chancellor Research awards

The Vice-Chancellor makes three awards each year to recognize outstanding achievements in the areas of (i) research, (ii) innovation and (iii) social impact. More can be read about these awards at (i) VC Research Award Criteria.doc, (ii) VC's Innovation Award.docx, and (iii)​ VC's Social Impact Research Award.docx. A call for applications is made in August/September each year.