SAAO Calls for Applications for SALT Prize Scholarship


The South African Astronomical observatory (SAAO) will award MSc and PhD scholarships for degrees starting in 2023 to outstanding candidates. The funding amount will be R167,000 per year at the MSc level and R175,000 per year at the PhD level. In addition to this stipend, SAAO will cover the tuition and provide generous support for travel and equipment. Also, options for on-site accommodation can be explored.

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


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 2023 academic year. Ideal candidates will have a background in astrophysics.

How to apply

The application deadline is 31 July 2022.

To apply, send the following documents, and nothing else, as a single pdf file by email here: a cover letter, CV, and academic transcripts.

  • A cover letter;
  • Your CV; and
  • Your 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 here by the application deadline with your name in the subject line.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Available projects

All the MSc and PhD projects advertised on the 2023 PhD and MSc projects page are available.

Requirements for application

  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 2023 academic year. For an MSc scholarship, 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 within this time.
  5. Funding is contingent on proof of registration from the university agreed upon with the supervisor and the 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. Students of the SAAO are expected to have an up-to-date Covid-19 vaccination status.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Short-listed applicants will be interviewed in August or September, and an offer will be made to the successful candidate by the end of September 2022.
  10. Please contact us if you have any general questions about the scholarship.

See the student opportunities page for more information on working as a student researcher at SAAO and other funding opportunities.


The Southern African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, is housed at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), which is the nation’s top astronomy research facility. The national centre for optical and infrared astronomy in the nation was established in 1820 and is called SAAO. By providing young scientists with world-class facilities, SAAO’s primary responsibility is to ensure that fundamental astronomical and astrophysical research is successfully carried out. SAAO also keeps up its promotion of astronomy and astrophysics within the nation, which it does by taking part in outreach initiatives and disseminating its many discoveries and findings.

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