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Current U.S. Student

United States citizens who are currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs are eligible to apply.If you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a U.S. college or university, you will apply through that institution, even if you are not currently a resident there. Find the Fulbright Program Adviser on your campus.

U.S. Citizen but not a Student

If you are a U.S. citizen, will hold a bachelor’s degree by the award start date, and do not have a Ph.D. degree, then you are eligible to apply. Non-enrolled applicants should have relatively limited professional experience in the fields (typically 7 years or less) in which they are applying. Candidates with more experience should consider applying for the Fulbright Scholar Program.

The Getting Started page will provide information on eligibility and next steps.


The Fulbright U.S. Student Program welcomes applications in the creative and performing arts. Arts candidates for the U.S. Student Program should have relatively limited professional experience in the fields (typically 7 years or less) in which they are applying. Artists with more experience should consider applying for the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Creative & Performing Arts projects fall under the Study/Research grant category and are available in all countries where Study/Research grants are offered.


U.S. Professor/Administrator

If you are a U.S. citizen and a professor or administrator at a U.S. institution and are interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award, you will need to apply through

To support your students in applying for a U.S. Student Program award, please connect with the Fulbright Program Adviser at your institution.

Non U.S. Citizens

If you are a non-U.S. citizen interested in applying for a Fulbright Award to the United States, you will need to apply through the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in your home country. Find out more information on the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program or Fulbright Foreign Student Program.

South Africa

Open Study/Research Award

Accepted Degree Levels
  • Master's
  • Doctoral
Grant Period
Flexible Start
Grant Length
6-9 Months
Award Type
Open Study/Research
Award Profile

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program in South Africa aims to strengthen educational and cultural relationships between the United States and South Africa. It enables U.S. students to immerse themselves in a South African community, conduct in-depth research on a topic of their choice, develop appropriate language skills, and engage in a personal exchange of information about the United States and its citizens.

Applications in all fields of study will be considered. The U.S. Embassy in South Africa supports a balanced countrywide distribution of grants. Priority consideration will therefore be given to proposals involving affiliation with previously disadvantaged host institutions and to those seeking affiliations beyond heavily-subscribed institutions, dependent on the field of study. Institutions in the Western Cape Province are often heavily subscribed, so applying for opportunities in the more rural provinces may make an application more competitive.

Grant Length
6-9 Months
Grant Period
Flexible Start

Fulbright grants start between July 2025 and March 2026, in accordance with the academic calendar of the host institution and subject to the approval of the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria. The South African academic year is usually divided into two terms/semesters. The two terms/semesters run from February to June and from July to early December.  

Pre-Departure and In-Country Orientation

As a condition of their grants, all grantees may be required to participate in a Pre-Departure Orientation during the summer of 2025.

Candidate Profile

Applications in all fields of study will be considered, but preference will be given to students working in areas that strongly align with the current Integrated Country Strategy for South Africa. Applicants must have: strong intercultural and leadership skills;  a well-defined research project that can be reasonably accomplished in 6-9 months; the ability to work independently; a solid foundation in their subject areas; high levels of adaptability and maturity; and the ability to serve as a cultural ambassador. 

Projects can be either full-time study, full-time research, or a combination of independent research and advanced courses. 

For all awards, the U.S. Embassy seeks applicants who: 

  • Demonstrate professional and academic excellence
  • Outline a strong rationale and methodology for pursuing their project in South Africa
  • Possess qualities of a cultural ambassador, show genuine interest in promoting mutual understanding as a Fulbright grantee, and indicate how they will benefit the Fulbright Program in South Africa
What is life like for Fulbrighters in the host country?

Country Overview

South Africa, the southernmost country on the African continent, is renowned for its varied topography, great natural beauty, and cultural diversity, all of which have made the country a favored destination for travelers. Today, South Africa enjoys a relatively stable mixed economy that draws on its fertile agricultural lands, abundant mineral resources, tourist attractions, and highly evolved intellectual capital. 


South Africa has nine provinces, which vary considerably in size. The smallest is tiny and crowded Gauteng, a highly urbanized region, and the largest the vast, arid and empty Northern Cape, which takes up almost a third of South Africa’s total land area. Each province has its own Legislature, Premier and Executive Council. 

  • Eastern Cape 
  • Free State 
  • Gauteng 
  • KwaZulu-Natal 
  • Limpopo 
  • Mpumalanga 
  • Northern Cape 
  • North West 
  • Western Cape 

Official Languages

South Africa is a multicultural society that is characterized by its rich linguistic diversity. Language is an indispensable tool that can be used to deepen democracy and contribute to the social, cultural, intellectual, economic and political life of the South African society. The country is multilingual with 12 official languages, each of which is guaranteed equal status. Most South Africans are multilingual and able to speak at least two or more of the official languages: 

English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, Afrikaans, Siswati, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, and South African Sign Language. 

Religious Beliefs

Religious beliefs in South Africa include Christianity; Islam; Traditional African religion; Hinduism; Buddhism; Bahaism; Judaism; Atheism and Agnosticism.

Educational Landscape

The South African Department of Higher Education and Training, DHET oversees universities and other post-secondary education in South Africa. Higher education was segregated under Apartheid. However, since 1994, students have been free to enroll in any institution, and institutions have worked hard to increase the diversity of both the students and staff. The South African higher education system, while not without its problems and challenges, is recognized as the best on the continent, with several institutions comparable to the best globally in a variety of international rankings.  

There are three main institutions of higher education: universities, universities of technology and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. Universities offer degree courses that take a minimum of three to four years to complete. Universities of Technology offer mainly diploma and certificate courses, but also offer degree courses that take about three years to complete. A University of Technology places emphasis on innovative problem-solving and career-directed courses, in addition to the basic responsibilities of a university. TVET colleges provide students with skills that would lay a foundation for higher education and facilitate the transition from school to work.  

The South African academic year is usually divided into either two terms or four terms. If two terms, they are from February/March to June and from July/August to early December. If four terms, they are from Jan/Feb to March/April; April/May to June; July to September; and Sept/Oct to Nov/Dec. 


Public and private healthcare is available throughout the country. The quality of private medical care in South Africa is similar to that in the United States, but the costs are considerably lower. This is true of dental services as well. Most, but not all, common medications available in the United States are also available in South Africa.


In general, public transportation is limited in South Africa, with some bus and train services in larger cities. There are also minibus taxis that travel the main arteries of major cities, but they are usually filled to capacity and considered unsafe. Public transport in major cities include the Gautrain between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the Bus Rapid Transport System in major cities.

U.S.-South Africa Relations

Since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994, the United States and South Africa have built a solid bilateral relationship. South Africa is a strategic partner of the United States, with strong collaboration in the areas of health, education, environment, and digital economy. 

The United States first opened a consulate in Cape Town in 1799 and, in 1929, established formal diplomatic relations with South Africa after the United Kingdom recognized South Africa’s autonomy within the British Empire. In 1948, the South African government instituted apartheid, a system of governance that formalized the political subjugation of the majority non-white population. U.S.-South Africa relations eventually became severely strained by South Africa’s racial policies; the U.S. Congress ultimately passed the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which imposed sanctions on the apartheid South African government. 

The United States played an important role in support of South Africa’s 1994 democratic transition. In October 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton received newly elected President Nelson Mandela on his first state visit to the United States with a State Dinner and public appearances. In 1995, the U.S.-South African Binational Commission was launched to support the rebuilding of South Africa, and President Clinton paid an official visit to South Africa in 1998. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both visited South Africa during their presidencies; President Obama delivered a eulogy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013. The United States and South Africa share vibrant educational and people-to-people ties, significant economic and political interests, as well as common development objectives throughout Africa. As a strong democracy and sub-Saharan Africa’s most advanced economy, South Africa plays a key economic and political role on the continent. The United States seeks opportunities for increased U.S.-South African cooperation on regional and international issues. 

Read the U. S State Department's country information page for additional details about travel to South Africa.  

Residency in host country NOT permitted in year prior to grant
Indicate how many months is considered residency:
12 Months
Dual citizens of this country are NOT eligible

Permanent residents of South Africa are not eligible to apply for this award.  

Students who have not resided in South Africa in the year prior to their grant start date will be given priority. 

Degree Level of Applicant
  • Master's
  • Doctoral
Special Application Instructions

Research Clearance

Applicants should discuss research clearances or any other permissions (if any is required) with their potential host institutions. 

Foreign Language Proficiency
Not Required

Additional Information: All instruction will be in English; proficiency in another language is not required. However, applicants are strongly encouraged to consider whether a language other than English will be necessary for the successful completion of their projects.

Fulbright Proposal Types
Independent Study/Research:
Graduate Degree Enrollment:
Independent Study/Research:
Letter required for independent study or research at deadline

Applicants must identify and initiate contact with an educational institution, research facility, or other appropriate institution for their projects. They are required to include affiliation letters and/or research clearance letters with their applications. Affiliation is possible at any of the 26 universities or technical universities in the new higher education structure in South Africa: 

  • Limpopo: 
    • University of Limpopo, University of Venda 
  • Eastern Cape: 
    • Nelson Mandela  University, University of Fort Hare, Rhodes University, Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science 
  • North West: 
    • North West University 
  • Mpumalanga: 
    • University of Mpumalanga 
  • Northern Cape: 
    • Sol Plaatje University 
  • Gauteng: 
    • University of South Africa, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Pretoria, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Vaal University of Technology 
  • Free State: 
    • University of the Free State, Central University of Technology 
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal: 
    • Durban University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Zululand, Mangosuthu University of Technology 
  • Western Cape: 
    • Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch, University of the Western Cape 

NOTE: The names of host institutions are listed by geographic area of the main campus for Limpopo, Eastern Cape, North West, Gauteng, Free State, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape. Applications can be submitted to any campus for these institutions, including campuses in a city or province other than the main campus location. 

Affiliation with other public or private institutions will also be considered. Applicants are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy’s Fulbright Office if they have general questions at The Embassy is unable to provide assistance with affiliations.  

Affiliation Fees/Tuition
Affiliation Fees/Tuition not covered in grant benefits
Award Benefits
  • A stipend broadly based on the cost of living in the host country. These funds may be used by the grantee to support housing, meals, and incidental costs during the grant period.
  • International travel benefits
  • Accident & sickness health benefits
  • 24/7 mental health support line for urgent and non-urgent situations
  • 12 months of non-competitive eligibility (NCE) hiring status within the federal government
Stipend Amount

This is an estimated amount and is subject to change. The financial terms of the grant will be confirmed in the grant document issued after selection.

3,415 monthly stipend amount in
$ [US Dollar]
One-Time Allowances

This is an estimated amount and is subject to change. The financial terms of the grant will be confirmed in the grant document issued after selection.

3,550 in
$ [US Dollar]
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Research/Materials allowance
  • Settling in allowance
Additional Grant Benefits
  • Diplomatic pouch
Estimated Cost of Living

Consider using cost of living comparison websites to gain a better understanding of the potential costs in your host country.

The estimated monthly costs for a single person are $566.20 (±R10,399.94), rent not included. 

The cost of living in South Africa is, on average, 53.2% lower than in United States. Rent in South Africa is, on average, 75.3% lower than in United States. 

Dependent financial support is available
Housing Arrangements

Fulbright Grantees are responsible for finding their own housing and transport. Unfortunately, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates do not have sufficient staffing resources to assist in securing housing for Fulbright grantees. Grantees must arrange at least temporary housing prior to arrival in South Africa. The U.S. Embassy will provide grantees with advice and a list of resources prior to arrival; additional support in finding housing may be provided by the grantee's host institution. Some higher education institutions have housing for enrolled students, but this housing is often limited and quite competitive. More resources will be provided to successful candidates at their pre-departure orientation.

Fulbright Program Management Contact
Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy Website
Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy Contact
Fulbright Office, U.S. Embassy Pretoria: