SAAO Prize Scholarship 2024

Deadline: 31st of July, 2023

Outstanding applicants will be awarded MSc and PhD scholarships by the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) for degrees beginning in 2024. The support will be R180,000 per year for MSc students and R190,000 per year for PhD students. Tuition expenses will be paid in addition to this stipend, considerable support for travel and equipment will be offered, and alternatives for on-site housing will be explored. See the student opportunities page for more information about working as a student researcher at SAAO and other funding options.


  • 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.


  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 if you have any general questions about the scholarship.

Selection Criteria:

The selection criteria will be:

  • academic merit,
  • motivation,
  • aptitude for research,
  • transformation considerations,
  • the results of an interview.


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 (MSc or PhD) at which you are applying. Also arrange to have two referees send a reference letter directly to, by the application deadline, and with your name in the subject line.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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