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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 can be consdiered tricky as there is currently no facility for government funding, however if you do your research you should be able to find some financial assistance.

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 study visa.

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, whether you are a home student, an African student or an international student.


How to find out about bursaries and scholarships 

Social media – a good place to start your search for South African bursaries and scholarships is on social media, particularly with 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.

Law firms, businesses & charities – many organisations and businesses offer scholarships, and for LLM students, in particular, it’s well worth checking with the many charitable trusts and law firms, such as the Norton Rose Fulbright Scholarship, that has been set up to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds find funding. It's a good idea to check with any religious organisations or other charitable groups that you have been involved with.

Scholarship websites – 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.

South African Bursaries and Scholarships

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.

The University of the Witwatersrand Postgraduate Merit Award is designed to help graduates to complete bachelors, masters, or PhD degrees by research for full-time study only. These scholarships are based on academic merit, and to qualify as a Master of Laws student you must have a 75% average in your bachelors degree. No formal application is required for the Postgraduate Merit Award, instead provisional offers will be sent to eligible students. LLM specialisations available at the University of Witwatersrand include General (Law); Commercial and Business Law; Corporate Law; Environmental Law; Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation; Information and Communications Law; International Law; International Law and Economics; Labour Law; Pension Funds Law and Tax Law.

International LLM students are often 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 £2,000 towards your studies.

LLM scholarships for African students

There are plenty of scholarships for students from South Africa and other African countries wishing to study their Master of Laws in Souith Africa – here are some examples:

National Research Foundation (NRF) Scholarships

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a government agency responsible for promoting and supporting research in South Africa through funding, human resource development and providing necessary research facilities. As its aim is to promote and support research in all fields of knowledge and to improve the quality of life for all South Africans, the NRF provides various scholarship opportunities for South African students undertaking postgraduate study, including Master of Laws programs at universities in South Africa. For example, the NRF Freestanding Scholarships are for bachelors, masters and PhD students in all fields of study.

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation Scholarship

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship supports postgraduate students from across Africa to help them study at a university in South Africa institution. This scholarship focuses on leadership development, reconciliation, entrepreneurship and education by combining financial support together with a leadership program. The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship covers tuition for a two-year Masters degree in any field at a recognised South African institution of higher education. Costs covered include tuition and registration fees, allowances for study materials, research and medical aid, accommodation and meals. Successful applicants will also receive a personal allowance and economy class travel to and from their home country to the South African university at the beginning and end of the LLM degree. Find out more.

Canon Collins Trust Scholarships

The Canon Collins Trust is a charitable organisation that supports higher education and human rights in Southern Africa. Established in 1981, the trust provides scholarships and funding postgraduate students from Southern Africa – including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi – who demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to social justice and human rights.

Canon Collins Sol Plaatje Scholarships are for students from South Africa, Namibia or Zimbabwe applying to study justice, law, education, humanities or journalism at a university in South Africa. The value of the scholarship package will range from R20,000 to R100,000 depending on the individual student's circumstances. It supports both full and part-time masters and PhD study, and distance learning students will also be considered. Find out more.

Canon Collins RMTF Scholarships for Postgraduate Study are open to postgraduate law and humanities students and provide a maximum of two years masters funding (and three years PhD). To be eligible to apply for this scholarship students must be a national of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland or Zambia and be applying to study their masters at a South African university. The value of the scholarship package will range from R20,000 to R100,000 depending on student circumstances. It supports both full and part-time study and will consider applications from those who wish to study by distance learning. Find out more.

LLM Scholarships in South Africa

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 need to provide for an LLM scholarship?

Most South African bursaries and scholarships are awarded on the basis of the students academic excellence and their financial need so LLM students will 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 or busrary is dependent on a student's nationality, you will have to provide proof of residency of the elgible country. 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. 

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.

Find an LLM in South Africa

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