PhD Fellowship (Female only) deadline of 31 July 2015 at the latest.


PhD Fellowship (Female only) deadline of 31 July 2015 at the latest.

July 22, 2015
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PhD Fellowship

Through its Postgraduate Training Fellowship programme, OWSD helps young women to earn their PhD in a field of the natural sciences.

Postgraduate Training Fellowships for Women Scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDC) at Centres of Excellence in the South. The Fellowship is offered to women scientists to pursue postgraduate research in a field of the natural sciences. Deadline for applications: 31 July 2015.

Programme Details

This fellowship programme is for female students from Sub-Saharan Africa or Least Developed Countries (LDCs) who wish to pursue postgraduate training leading to a doctorate degree at a centre of excellence in the South outside their own country.

  1. Please read the following information carefully before applying.
  2. Only women scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa and/or one of the Least Developed Countries can apply.
  3. Host institutions must be located in a developing country.
  4. Applications that are incomplete or illegible cannot be considered. Please make sure all the requested enclosures are submitted together with your application.


With funds generously provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), OWSD has instituted a fellowship programme for female students from Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who wish to pursue postgraduate training leading to a PhD, at centres of excellence in the South (developing countries), outside their own country.

The general purpose of the scheme is to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of women leaders in science and technology, and to promote their effective participation in the scientific and technological development of their countries.

The specific aims of the scheme are:

  • To improve access to educational and training opportunities in science and technology for young and talented women graduates from Sub-Saharan Africa and LDCs.
  • To increase the scientific productivity and creativity of women scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa and LDCs.
  • To empower a new generation of talented women to assume a leadership role in science and technology and their application to sustainable development.


The scheme provides fellowships to young female students from Sub-Saharan African countries and/or LDCs, to enable them to pursue postgraduate studies leading to PhD degrees at centres of excellence (renowned research institutions/universities). The institute must be in a developing country other than the applicant’s home country.

The fellowship is offered to carry out postgraduate research in the natural, engineering and information technology sciences. Each fellowship will be offered for up to three years and will cover the following:

  • Travel expenses to and from the host institute;
  • A monthly allowance to cover accommodation and meals while in the host country, the amount of which will be determined in consultation with the host institution;
  • Refund of visa costs;
  • A contribution for medical insurance.
  • Attending one international conference during the period of the fellowship;
  • On a competitive basis, attending of scientific communication and proposal writing workshop; and
  • On a competitive basis, attending the Fifth OWSD General Assembly and International Conference scheduled for 2014.

An applicant who has already registered or who wishes to register as a PhD student at her home institute can choose a sandwich option, whereby part of the research programme is undertaken at a host institute in another developing country. In this case the fellowship provides support (travel, accommodation and living expenses) only while at the host institution. The minimum period abroad is six months. The fellowship does not provide support while the applicant is at the home institute.

Alternatively, an applicant can enroll as a full-time research student at an institution outside her country, in this case the fellowship will provide support (travel, accommodation and living expenses) for 3 years.

The host institution will be expected to provide the necessary facilities such as tuition, training, supervision, laboratory supplies etc.

Accompanying persons are not eligible for support.

Host Institution

This is a South-South fellowship scheme, promoting scientific exchange among young researchers from developing countries. While applicants must come from a more restricted list of least developed countries (see list above), host institutes can be located in any developing country.

N.B. To be considered for selection, applicants must provide a preliminary acceptance letter from at least one host institute (see sample in the application form).

  • Applicants should select up to three host institutes outside their home country that are centres of scientific excellence in the applicants’ chosen field. The three host choices must be located in different countries (e.g. three host choices all located in South Africa would not be eligible).
  • A list of recommended institutes by scientific field is available on or by email request to
  • Institutes not on the OWSD list may also be considered if there are supporting letters and recommendations.
  • To be eligible to apply, applicants must identify a prospective supervisor willing to work with them and apply for preliminary acceptance at the chosen host institute. See “guidelines for selecting a host institute” on page 9.
  • To request preliminary acceptance at the chosen host institute(s), applicants should contact the chosen host institute(s) or prospective host supervisor with the following documents:
  1. Updated CV;
  2. Short research proposal (2-3 pages);
  3. Sample preliminary acceptance letter (see sample o page 10), requesting admission at the host institute under the OWSD fellowship;
  4. For sandwich option only: No Objection certificate from the Head/Director of their home institute (see sample on page 11).

Acceptance could be facilitated by selecting from one of the institutions that has an agreement of collaboration with OWSD:

a) The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China. For a full list of CAS institutes see;

b) The Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GSCAAS), China,;

c) Xidian University, China

d) Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia, Departments/schools of natural sciences are eligible;

e) Rhodes University, South Africa, Departments/schools of natural sciences are eligible;

f) University of Cape Town, Departments/schools of natural sciences are eligible;

g) Other institutes that will be added to the OWSD website when agreements are finalised.

Please note: applications cannot be accepted without the preliminary acceptance letter from a host institute.


  • Open to qualified young women science graduates (generally below 40 years of age) from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (see list below).
  • The minimum qualification is an MSc degree (or equivalent), or an outstanding BSc honours degree in the natural sciences, engineering or information technology disciplines (see list below).
  • Host institutions must be located in a developing country. This must be a different country from the applicant’s home country.
  • Students from eligible countries already enrolled on a PhD programme in their home country can apply for the sandwich option. This gives them access to expertise and resources that might not be available at the home institute.
  • Applicants already on site in the host country will not be considered eligible since this implies that they have already secured sufficient funding for their studies.
  • The applicant must be willing to return to her own country after completion of the fellowship.
  • Accompanying persons are not eligible for support.

Eligible Scientific Fields:

Agricultural Sciences; Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biological Systems and Organisms; Medical and Health Sciences; Neurosciences; Chemical Sciences; Engineering Sciences; Information Technology; Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences; Mathematical Sciences; Physics

Please note that applications from students in the Basic (or ‘pure’) Sciences, such as Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry are encouraged.

Eligible Countries*:

Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros Islands, Congo Dem. Rep., Congo Rep., Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kenya, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Réunion, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uganda, Western Sahara, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

* The list is in alphabetical order and includes all Least Developed Countries (LDC) and ALL sub-Saharan African countries. The LDC countries are defined by The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).


The fellowships are highly competitive, and the selection will be based on scientific competence and merit.

The applications will be reviewed by a panel of eminent scientists, appointed by the Executive Board of OWSD.


Applicants should complete all parts of the application form, and enclose copies of all university degree certificates, and the university-issued transcripts, which should include grades, courses taken, etc.

If the applicant has already gained admission at an institution of excellence in the South (i.e., in a developing country), a copy of the letter of acceptance from the institution must be enclosed.

If the applicant is registered for a doctorate degree at an institution in her home country, and wishes to pursue part of her research at another institution under a “sandwich programme”, a letter of recommendation from the home institute supervisor must be enclosed.

Applicants must also submit a research outline for their proposed PhD programme (see sample below). In the case of sandwich option applicants, the outline must make it clear which parts of the work will be carried out at the host institution.

Two reference letters from senior scientists familiar with the applicant’s studies must be enclosed with the application in sealed envelopes OR must be sent by email to The subject line of the email must contain: OWSD/PG/candidate’s surname. Only signed reference letters can be accepted.

Applications must be clearly typewritten in English and completed in all parts; OWSD will not process incomplete and/or illegible applications. OWSD will inform the applicant as soon as the application is processed.

The application form is available as a MS Word document here below.

Applications should be submitted by email only to and should reach the OWSD secretariat by the deadline of 31 July 2015 at the latest.

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