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South African Bursaries & Scholarships For LLM Programs

South African bursaries and scholarshipsFor students wishing to study an LLM in South Africa, funding your LLM program is a rather contentious issue, as there is currently no facility for government funding.

If you are one of the lucky international students, then you might find that you are not searching for funding as you will of done all of the work before you applied for your studyvisa.

Otherwise, searching for South African bursaries and scholarships is a big part of being a student in South Africa, especially a postgraduate LLM student. 

Here’s our roundup on how to go about finding South African bursaries and scholarships as an LLM student in South Africa.


South African Bursaries and Scholarships

How to find out about bursaries and scholarships 

A good place to start with South African bursaries is social media and the South African law school that has offered you a place. All of the law schools in South Africa have social media accounts or websites dedicated to scholarships and bursaries. The dates for applying for these can go on throughout the year, so keep an eye out while you are studying.

Many organisations and businesses offer scholarships, and it’s a good idea to check with any religious organisations or other charitable groups that you have been involved in or even your bank to see if they can help you. For LLM students, in particular, it’s well worth checking with the many charitable trusts, such as the Norton Rose Fulbright Scholarship, that has been set up to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds find funding.

There are plenty of websites that are dedicated to keeping track of scholarships and bursaries that are available, so it does no harm to sign up for their email lists and keep checking for updates.

Bank bursaries for postgraduate law students in South Africa

Some of the banks in South Africa offer bursaries to postgraduate law students. This table illustrates examples of what some of the South African banks have on offer to postgraduate students.

South African Bank



First Rand

Laurie Dippenaar Scholarship


Standard Bank

Derek Cooper Scholarship

Tuition Fees


ABSA Bursary

Tuition Fees


What information do you usually need to provide?

Most South African bursaries and scholarships are awarded on the basis of the students academic excellence and their financial need. LLM students need to provide evidence of their financial situation along with their grades. These will sometimes have to be continually submitted even once a student has been awarded the scholarship or bursary. Many scholarships also want evidence of the tuition fees that the student is expected to pay and so most universities will be happy to issue a pro forma tuition fees invoice when asked. If the scholarship is from a religious organisation, then you might find that you need to provide evidence that you are involved in the particular church or religion in some way. 

Popular South African scholarships

For many research postgraduate students, one of the popular scholarships is through the National Research Foundation who support many students in their postgraduate research. Currently the Law Society of South Africa only offers bursaries to undergraduate law students, but many law firms will sponsor their students through an LLM course.

University scholarships and bursaries

The South African bursaries and scholarships available through the law school or university are usually the most popular way for South African LLM students to find additional funding  so trawl their websites to find out what's on offer. Universities and law schools in South Africa tend to award financial aid on a case-by-case basis, with those students with the highest grades and most need for funding taking priority. There is a great deal of competition for funding from law schools, so it's important to apply on time and keep your academic results as high as you can.

Scholarships and bursaries found through the law school in South Africa are usually some of the most competitive scholarships around. There will be scholarships that all students entered onto the LLM course are eligible to apply for, such as the ones at the University of Pretoria for all their postgraduate students, but students are not automatically considered for any scholarships or bursaries when they apply to the course. This means that students need to keep a good look out for all of the scholarships and bursaries that their law school is offering.

International LLM students are usually advised not to apply for any scholarships or bursaries within South Africa and instead to try and find their funding from their home nation. And don’t forget that it is a requirement of the study visa that international students have all of the funding in place before making the application for the visa. 

And don't forgert, once you have been accepted onto an LLM program in South Africa you are eligible to apply for e Global LLM Study Bursary worth £500 towards your studies.

Other sources of LLM funding

Law firm sponsorship – many LLM students are already working as lawyers in South Africa and are completing an LLM to improve their knowledge and understanding of a specific area of the law. As a result of this many law firms in South Africa will sponsor their employees to study an LLM. Of course, this might mean that students will be required to work for a set number of years after graduating or to study on a part-time basis whilst working for the law firm.

Private student loans – approaching a bank for a private student loan is more common in South Africa than in many other countries. There are a number of popular banks to apply for a student loan including Nedbank, Fundi, Standard Bank and First National Bank. They all operate on a similar basis with students often needing to offer up a parent with an income (if they don't have one themselves) to pay the interest on the loan while they are studying. Once the student has completed their studies, they will usually have to pay back the loan in monthly instalments.

Working part time and savings – if you're a lucky (or wise and careful) student, then you could well have built up the savings to cover your studies as well as your loss of earnings. If this is not the case, working part time while you are studying is a popular way to earn a little extra money. Many universities actively recruit students to work part-time on campus. If you're an international student, then you will find most student visas issued in South Africa allow students to work for 20 hours a week. But it is important to make sure that your work doesn’t interfere with the success of your LLM studies.

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