How to Apply Online for TWAS-NRF Doctoral Programme 2020

Are you interested to join a doctoral programme abroad? South Africa's National Research Foundation (NRF) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) have invited applications for TWAS-NRF Doctoral Programme 2020. Eligible applicants who are interested to apply can check out all the details in this article.

About TWAS-NRF Doctoral Programme

TWAS-NRF Doctoral Fellowships programme is being offered by the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa and Department of Science and Technology (DST), India jointly. Bot6h organisation will work in collaboration with The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). The main focus of this programme is to make progress of science in developing countries through the funding for Doctoral research. Under this programme, scientists and researchers from developing countries will research at a doctoral level for up to three years.

Partner Organizations: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa and Department of Science and Technology (DST), India.

Fellowship Programme Host: The fellowship programme will be hosted by South Africa.

Programme Duration: The duration of the fellowship will be up to 3 years.

Programme Benefits: Selected candidates will be provided travel expense to and from South Africa by NRF. Besides, they will be provided with a standard monthly allowance including living costs, such as accommodation, food and health insurance.

Research Areas

01-Agricultural Sciences
02-Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology
03-Biological Systems and Organisms
04-Medical and Health Sciences including Neurosciences
05-Chemical Sciences
06-Engineering Sciences
07-Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences
08-Mathematical Sciences

Eligibility Criteria

The candidates must meet the following criteria for the TWAS-NRF Doctoral Fellowship programme:

Educational Qualification:To be eligible for this doctoral fellowship programme, the candidate must hold a Master's degree in natural sciences with at least 65% marks.

Language Proficiency:The candidate must produce an English language proficiency certificate. Fellowship or NRF funds will be released to the candidate only after the submission of this certificate.
The candidate must pass the English Language Proficiency Academic test with the following criteria i.e. IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0) or TOEFL (paper) 575 (TWE 4.5) or TOEFL iBT Test (minimum 20) or Cambridge minimum 58.

Age Limit: The maximum age limit for applying for the fellowship is 32 years by 31 December of the year of application.

Other Requirements:
  • The candidates who are citizens or permanent residents of a developing country except South Africa are eligible for the programme.
  • An applicant should not be currently residing, studying or working in South Africa or any developed country. A candidate if had studied or worked previously in South Africa and after his return to his home country within less than 2 years is also not eligible.
  • The candidate must be registered at South African public university or any South African public research institution in 2021.
  • He/she must submit the proof of evaluation by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) which is a must for all foreign students (from non-South African universities).
  • Apart from this, the candidate must provide proof to ensure that he/she will return to his/her home country after completing the programme.
  • The candidate will not accept any other assignments during the fellowship tenure.
  • The candidates will have to submit an official letter from a host South African institution or department or laboratory.
  • Registration and approval of the detailed research project by the host institution is a must.
  • The candidate has to provide a letter of support from the prospective host supervisor.
  • The candidates will have to bear the expenses of any accompanying family members themselves.

How to Apply

The candidates must visit the official website of TWAS.

Stage 1

Application for acceptance at South African Institutions:
  • To get admission in Doctoral Research Programme in South Africa, the candidate must contact any participating university or institutions in South Africa or potential supervisors.
  • To contact a South African institution, department or laboratory for admission in a doctoral research programme and a supervisor for the study will be the sole responsibility of the candidate. He must receive their acceptance.
  • The research project must be registered and approved by the host institution and a letter of support from the prospective supervisor must be attached to the application.

Participating Countries: There a total of 151 developing countries which are eligible for the TWAS-NRF Doctoral Research Programme. They are Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Rep., Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo Dem. Rep., Congo Rep., Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Rep., Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Eswatini, Kingdom of Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Equatorial, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Isl. Rep., Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea DPR, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Republic of Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip), Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint, Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Taiwan, China, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Foreign Qualification Evaluation by SAQA:Foreign qualification obtained from non-South Africa universities of an applicant must be evaluated by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) and proof of which is to be submitted by the applicant with the application for evaluation at SAQA, without which the candidature will be rejected. For more details, the candidate must access the website of SAQA and read all the instructions carefully.

Stage 2

Submission of Application:
  • The application for the TWAS-NRF Doctoral Fellowship Programme-2021 is to be submitted through the NRF Online application system. For this, the applicants access the website of NRF.
  • Before filling up the application form, the candidate must read the detailed Application and Funding Guide for 2021 academic year.

Points to Remember
  • The applications will be accepted through the online system of NRF and TWAS.
  • The application will be taken only in response to the call for applications.
  • Incomplete applications will be rejected.

What is the Last Date to Apply?

The deadline for applications submission is August 14, 2020, and after the submission deadline, no applications will be considered. Therefore, early submission of application is highly recommended. However, Universities have their rights to fix the deadlines for applications submission and applicants must follow those dates.

Contact Details

TWAS Fellowships Office
ICTP campus, Strada Costiera 11, 34151 Trieste, Italy
Telephone: +39 040 2240 314,
Fax: +39 040 2240 689

National Research Foundation, South Africa
Ms Thandeka Mthethwa
Professional Officer: Grants Management and Systems Administration (GMSA)
Telephone: 012 481 4163
Email address:

For technical Support:
The candidate may contact the NRF Support Desk during office hours from 08:00 to 16:30 Mondays to Fridays (excluding public holidays).
Telephone: +27 12 481 4202;


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