National Research Foundation (NRF) Graduate Internship Programme 2021/2022 for young South African Graduates (R72 840 per annum)

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a principal research funding agency of government. The mandate of the Foundation as set out in the NRF Act (Act 23 of 1998 as amended) is to:

(i) support, promote and advance research and human capacity development through funding and the provision of the necessary research infrastructure, in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including humanities, social sciences and indigenous knowledge;
(ii) develop, support and maintain national facilities; support and promote public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and
(iv) promote the development and maintenance of the national science system and support government priorities.

The NRF transformation agenda underpins how the organisation implements its granting function by prioritising transformation of: the equity profile of postgraduate students and researchers; the knowledge enterprise; the relationship between science and society; and the organisation itself.

The Graduate Internship Programme is a two-year work experience programme for bachelor’s graduates who will be pursuing honours studies simultaneously during the internship period. In order to be accepted into the programme, prospective interns should also have been accepted into an honours programme.

Mentors will interview and shortlist potential interns from this pool of students that have been accepted onto an honours programme.

Host institutions will sign a two-year contract of appointment with the approved interns.

In addition, interns’ honours tuition fees will be funded by the NRF up to a maximum of R50 000 over the two-year internship and paid directly to the institution at which they are registered.


  • The Graduate Internship Programme primarily targets students intending to register for an honours degree part-time.
  • The NRF has published a separate call for full-time postgraduate (honours, masters and doctoral) funding for the 2021 academic year.
  • In general, graduate interns will be expected to report for duty during work hours and attend lectures outside of office hours and on weekends. How graduate interns split their time between undertaking work experience at the host institution and their honours studies must be negotiated directly with their mentors and captured in the work plan.
  • The Graduate Internship Programme does not make it mandatory for interns to be registered for honours studies at the same institution hosting them as interns. However, logistically it will be impractical for an intern to be registered to study at a university that is located at a considerable distance from the host institution, especially if contact sessions are required for the honours degree.

The objectives of the programme are to:
 Provide bachelors graduates with work experience, while pursuing part-time honours studies, within the broader Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) disciplines, as well as the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS);
 Establish a pool of skilled honours graduates for the private and public sector, including universities and research institutions;
 Effect transformation in the proportional representation of honours graduates from designated groups viz. black, female, financially needy and persons with disabilities; and
 Support postgraduate training to meet the specific needs of the country in partnership with the higher education system and industry.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants for the Graduate Internship Programme

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate Internship Programme, individuals must:
 Be South African citizens in possession of a valid South African Identity Document (ID);
 Have completed a bachelor’s degree in any SET, HSS or related disciplines prior to commencement of the internship;
 Have obtained a minimum of 65% for major subjects in the final undergraduate year of study;
 Intending to pursue honours studies over the two-year internship;
 Students intending to pursue full-time honours programmes will only be eligible if all lectures and practical sessions are held in the late afternoon and/or on weekends. Applicants must provide a timetable and letter of support from Faculty Deans confirming that the structure of the honours programme is conducive to being undertaken simultaneously with the internship programme.
 Have been funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) for their bachelor’s degree; and
 Be 27 years of age or younger on 31 December of the year of application for the Graduate Internship.

The following candidates are not eligible to apply:
 Candidates who have not previously been funded by the NSFAS or ISFAP for their bachelor’s degree;
 Candidates who intend to register for a postgraduate diploma qualification;
 Candidates who hold a National Diploma; a bachelor honours, BTech or master’s degree; as well as those who are studying
towards a master’s degree;
 Previous beneficiaries of the DST-NRF Internship Programme; and
 Students registered for the second year of their honours studies in 2021.

Areas of Support for Honours Studies
The Graduate Internship Programme supports interns to receive training and work experience in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities.


 Interns will receive a tax free stipend of R72 840 per annum for two (2) years.
 Interns will also receive funding for honours tuition fees, up to a maximum of R50 000 over the two-year internship. Tuition fees will
be paid directly to the institution at which the student is registered for honours studies. In this context, tuition fee is the agreed
institutional fee for the actual programme of study. The registration fee is to be included in the tuition fee. Qualifying NRF-funded
students are not required to pay the registration fee upfront.

Application Process

All applicants must first identify the university where they will be registered for their honours degree before submitting an application to the NRF. All applications for the Graduate Internship Programme must be submitted on the NRF Online Submission System by accessing the
link: To complete the online application template, follow the steps below:
 Register / Login using your ID number and password on the NRF Online Submission System;
 Click on “My Applications” and select “Create Application”.
 Select the Call for which you are applying viz. Internship Programme – Applicants 2021.
 Specify the university at which you intend to register for part-time honours studies.
 Ensure that you attach all the required documents.
 To continue working on the same application which has been saved on the system, please go to “My Applications”, “List of Applications”.
 Ensure that all sections of the application have been completed before selecting “Final Submit” for your application to be submitted to the university Designated Authority (DA).

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the NRF Graduate Internship Programme 2020/2021


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