Stellenbosch University

About Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University (Afrikaans: Universiteit Stellenbosch) is a public research university situated in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Stellenbosch is jointly the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa alongside the University of Cape Town which received full university status on the same day in 1918. Stellenbosch University (abbreviated as SU) designed and manufactured Africa's first microsatellite, SUNSAT, launched in 1999.



Division for Research Development (of which the Postgraduate Office is a part)

⦁General enquiries Ms Estrelita Thomas (⦁

Postgraduate Office contacts:

⦁Postgraduate Enrolment Support: Cindi De Doncker (⦁

⦁Postgraduate Funding Support: Nugent Lewis (⦁

⦁Postgraduate Research Skills Development and support: Alison Bucholz (⦁

Institutional doctoral studies overview

Stellenbosch University’s (SU) vision by 2040 is to be the leading research-intensive university in Africa, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, where we advance knowledge in service of society.  Our values combined with the fundamental attributes and enablers, supports the mission to attract outstanding students, employ talented staff and provide a world-class environment; a place connected to the world, while enriching and transforming local, continental and global communities.

Given the above-mentioned, SU’s focus on doctoral output is therefore imperative and offers a comprehensive range of doctoral programmes across its ten faculties. All doctoral programmes are offered in English.

Before formally submitting an application to SU, it is strongly recommended that a candidate contact the relevant postgraduate coordinator of the programme of interest for assistance in identifying a potential academic supervisor. In this manner, communication is established between the candidate and supervisor and matters pertaining to related projects, academic support and funding opportunities can be addressed.
All candidates must submit a formal application to SU via their e-application system. Details on the application process and supporting documentation required are available via the Prospective Postgraduate Student website.  
Each new application cycle commences on 01 March annually, with applications subject to faculty specific closing dates

Each of Stellenbosch University’s (SU’s) 10 faculties has their own discipline specific doctoral research development programme, some of which are more structured or comprehensive than others. For example, the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences and Economic Management Sciences have Graduate School programmes which incorporate research related training and suitable support interventions; the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences has an intensive pre-doctoral induction period at the start of each academic year.

In addition to faculty supports, the Postgraduate Skills Development Programme (PG Skills), situated within the Postgraduate Office, offers a range of workshops to help doctoral candidates (and Honours, postgraduate diploma and Master’s postgraduate students) at SU hone their research and thesis writing skills – mostly free of charge. The aim of this programme is to encourage postgraduate students to take responsibility for finishing their degrees on time by equipping them with some tools, skills and strategies to assist them in this endeavour. These supports are supplementary to what the faculties have to offer – enrichment opportunities.

Research development programmes

The Postgraduate Skills Development Programme includes:
A comprehensive website ( that houses a range of information (both about the Postgraduate Skills Development Programme and the other SU support divisions)
A range of workshops, including workshops that address research methodology, grant writing skills, academic writing skills, article writing, as well as technical skills such as using Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint effectively to enhance one’s research impact.
A monthly electronic newsletter, to which postgraduates subscribe. It highlights upcoming opportunities and informs postgraduates on important processes and information relevant to their research journeys.
An interactive research degree toolkit that guides postgraduate students along the various stages of the research journey – it includes links to other useful resources and support services at SU.
A project management tool to manage one’s research degree
A rudimentary online course on Academic Writing Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism which is housed on the University’s e-learning platform, SUNLearn
A few postgraduate community engagement opportunities, such as quarterly Pop Up cafes and weekly Shut Up and Write sessions.
See details of this programme and the offerings mentioned above, here.

SU’s Library has an extensive research support programme for doctoral candidates too, free of charge to registered postgraduate students. Find their wide offering and training calendar here.

SU’s African Doctoral Academy is a specialized offering that has grown exponentially over the years. Read more about this programme here.

Read more about other SU research support programmes or services here. Click on each service on the web page

PhD funding and opportunities

Stellenbosch University International’s Funding Newsletter displays funding and scholarship opportunities and the Postgraduate Times newsletter primarily informs postgraduates of developmental research related opportunities.

The following funding opportunities, primarily for South African citizens are available via the Postgraduate Funding Office:

⦁Support bursaries
⦁Private bursaries (click ⦁here to view listing)
⦁Statutory Council bursaries (National Research Foundation, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, etc.)
⦁Travel grants

PhD resources (templates: thesis, funding application etc)

A few online resources are (links to these and more can be found here):

A Postgraduate Studies Guide
PG Skills website and Facebook page
Enhancing Postgraduate Environments (EPE) website
Data Visualization: a guide to making great scientific figures
Project management: research project management tool/calendar
Research integrity and ethics information
SU Calendars (Yearbooks)
SU Library: Online thesis submission (SUNScholar)
SU Library: Research Blog - helpful research pointers
SU Library Research Support Services
SU Library: Research Process Guide
SU Library: Postgraduate and Researcher guide
Thesis/dissertation layout: Self help guide for formatting in MS Word 2016
Thesis/dissertation using publishing software LaTeX: Download here - see instructions for installing here. How to interpret a Turnitin report
Turnitin resource: The misuses of Turnitin and other text-matching software
Writing Lab: writing style guide

Postgraduate/supervisor Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Template
Thesis/dissertation layout: Example of a SU dissertation                                                                                        
SUNScholar final dissertation format first few pages templates (

Institutional Research focus areas

Research focal areas reside within the following ten faculties at SU:

Arts and Social Sciences
Economic and Management Sciences
Medicine and Health Sciences
Military Science  

Other support services within SU (links to the services are included – hover over the name of the service and right click to read about each one):

African Doctoral Academy (ADA)
African Institute for ATLAS.ti
Careers Office & ⦁Centre for Student Counselling & Development (CSCD)
Central Analytical Facilities (CAF)
Centre for Higher and Adult Education (CHAE)
English for Academic Purposes (EAP): English courses for International Students
High Performance Computing facilities (HPC)
⦁l⦁T Student Support & l⦁T Survey Support
Language Centre and Writing Laboratory
Library Research Support Services
Short Courses
Statistical Consultation Services (CSC)
Unit for Graduand Career Services (UGCS)
USB Executive Development’s postgraduate/research short courses