SAAO Prize Scholarship 2023-24 – Apply Now

SAAO Prize Scholarship 2023-24: The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) will award MSc and Ph.D. scholarships to exceptional candidates beginning in 2024. All Ph.D. and MSc. projects listed on the Ph.D. and MSc. projects page for 2024 are available.

South Africa’s national optical and infrared astronomy center was established in 1820. It is primarily responsible for conducting fundamental research in astronomy and astrophysics by providing scientists with a facility of the highest caliber. In addition, the SAAO promotes astronomy and astrophysics in southern Africa by disseminating research findings and discoveries and engaging in outreach activities designed to excite citizens about physics and astronomy.


  • The annual funding amount will be R180,000 for MSc students and R190,000 for PhD students.
  • In addition to this stipend, tuition fees will be covered, generous travel and equipment support will be provided, and on-site housing options can be explored.

Eligibility of SAAO Prize Scholarship 2023-24

  • All nationalities are welcome to apply, but preference will be given to South African citizens and permanent residents.
  • Applicants must be eligible to enroll in an MSc or Ph.D. program in astrophysics at a South African university in the fall of 2024.
  • Candidates with a background in astrophysics are ideal.

Rules for SAAO Prize Scholarship 2023-24

  • Applicants must apply for a specific astronomical project offered by the SAAO and consult with the relevant supervisor before submitting an application.
  • Successful applicants must be prepared to begin their degree program at the start of the academic year 2024. This means that a BSc with honors (or equivalent) is required for an MSc scholarship. In the case of a Ph.D. scholarship, completion of an MSc degree or approval to upgrade to a Ph.D. is required.
  • Each year, a maximum of two scholarships at either level will be awarded. SAAO reserves the right not to grant a prize.
  • Two years are available for an MSc and three years for a Ph.D. The degree must be earned within this timeframe.
  • Proof of registration from the university, as agreed upon with the supervisor, and the signing of the SAAO student memorandum of understanding (MoU) are prerequisites for funding. The student will be required to adhere to the terms of this MOU, the regulations of their host university, and the SAAO code of conduct.
  • The student must submit an annual progress report and participate in the Postgraduate Advisory Committee process established by the SAAO to ensure that sufficient progress is made each year.
  • Scholarship recipients must spend at least 60 percent of their time at SAAO and must visit their host university at least once per year.
  • The finalists will be interviewed in August or September, and the successful candidate will be offered the position by the end of September 2023.

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Selection Criteria

These will be the selection criteria:

  • Academic merit Encouragement
  • Research aptitude Transformation considerations
  • The findings from an interview

How To Apply for SAAO Prize Scholarship 2023-24?

To apply, send the following documents as a single pdf file to via email: a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and academic transcripts.

In the subject line of your email, you should include your last name, the last name of the project’s supervisor, and the level (MSc or Ph.D.) for which you are applying. Also, have two references send a letter of recommendation directly to, with your name in the subject line, by the application deadline.

Application Deadline: July 31, 2023

Applications that are incomplete will not be considered.

Ayesha Habib

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