Applications have opened for the 2022-2023 Fulbright Foreign Student Program and, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic and revised academic calendar, will close on May 14, 2021.

Fulbright is a competitive scholarship program that offers South African citizens and permanent residents the opportunity to complete a master’s or doctoral degree at any accredited tertiary institution in the United States.

Fulbright scholarships cover the full cost of tuition and living expenses in the US for up to two years.

Applicants are encouraged to start the application process as soon as possible, as the application has several components. South Africans wishing to pursue a master’s degree must have completed a four-year B-Tech degree or a three-year bachelor’s degree with an Honours degree.

Prospective doctoral students must have successfully obtained a Master’s degree. Medical and MBA studies are not funded by the Fulbright scholarship.

“In 2020, nine South African students received fully-funded Fulbright scholarships to complete post-graduate studies at American academic institutions,” cultural affairs officer for exchanges Kerri Spindler-Ranta said.

“These talented South Africans are pursuing studies in fields ranging from law and communications to history and public health. The cohort also includes four South Africans who are pursuing doctoral degrees at, among others, The University of Illinois and The University of Arkansas,” she said.

“The safety of exchange participants remains a top priority for our Mission and the whole US government, and we work with host institutions and students to make sure all Covid-19 travel regulations are strictly followed.”

In partnership with the National Research Foundation (NRF), Fulbright scholarships are also available to NRF-funded South African PhD students, who are enrolled at a South African university or tertiary institute, and who intend to conduct one year’s research at a tertiary institute in the United States.

Since 1953, more than 2,100 South African students and scholars have pursued studies and research in the US through the Fulbright program.

This flagship education exchange program seeks to increase mutual understanding between the people of the US and other countries. It currently operates in South Africa and more than 150 other countries worldwide.

The US government strongly encourages applications from students with disabilities and from underserved areas.


  • Be a South African citizen OR a permanent resident with a minimum of 5 years of permanent residency status in South Africa (Please note: S.A. nationals with dual citizenship from the U.S. are not eligible for the program);
  • For Non-Degree (Visiting Student Researcher) studies: Must be registered for a PhD with a South African university;
  • Have a four-year bachelor’s degree, or a three-year bachelor’s degree plus honours year, or a four-year B-Tech degree when applying for master’s;
  • Have a master’s degree when applying for a Doctoral degree.

What does the scholarship cover?

  • Master’s or doctoral degree: 2 years of funding towards one degree. For doctoral degrees, at least 2-3 years of study are required beyond the initial two years.
  • Doctoral candidates need to secure their own personal or other funding to continue studying in the United States.
  • Non-Degree: Participation in a visiting research program for one academic year (9-10 months).

Fully funded awards generally cover the following, but can vary according to each grantee’s program:

  • Travel allowance and transportation from South Africa to the authorized US destination;
  • Health benefits;
  • Settling in allowance upon arrival in the US;
  • Monthly maintenance allowance (to cover living expenses);
  • Tuition and fees;
  • Book and computer allowance;
  • J-1 visa sponsorship.

Read: Multichoice is offering over 230 bursaries to students in South Africa – here’s how to apply