Harvard University President Derek Bok established the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program in 1979 to address the needs of South Africans denied access to advanced education by the apartheid system. The creation of this program was a direct response to the strong movement by Harvard students and faculty during the divestment campaigns of the 1970s. The Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program continues to serve as an intellectual resource for talented South Africans, with the goal of providing a “transformational experience” at Harvard University during the fellowship year.
The program was established, and is still intended, for mid-career professionals educationally disadvantaged by past laws and resource allocations in South Africa. Today, HSAFP seeks to expand its reach to institutions and organizations across South Africa in a continued effort to draw the broadest possible range of candidates for the program. The program is open to all South Africans who qualify. Priority will be extended to mid-career applicants from historically marginalized or underrepresented groups, including applicants from rural areas outside urban centers. HSAFP seeks to expand its reach to institutions and organizations across South Africa in a continued effort to draw the broadest possible range of candidates for the program. In addition, the University – reflecting the current South African constitution – has expanded its applicant pool to extend to all South Africans, regardless of ethnicity or race. Ideal candidates are those who seek to model ethical leadership, knowledge sharing, and serve as a resource to improve and transform their communities and South Africa. Applicants whose interest in the program is only in seeking an advanced degree or professional certification to advance their own career interests are not ideal candidates. Alumni of the program are expected to remain involved after the completion of their fellowship and serve as ambassadors for the fellowship.
Fellowships are for up to one year of study in one of Harvard’s Professional Schools or Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with tuition provided by the participating School. General administrative funds for program management, stipends, and airfare for the fellows are provided by the Office of the President and administered by the Center for African Studies under the directorship of Professor John Mugane. The recruitment and selection interviews for the HSAFP fellows take place annually with the support of the Center for African Studies’ Africa Office in Johannesburg.
Fellowships have been awarded to men and women with careers spanning education, law, public health, the arts and humanities, business and the private sector, and a host of other professions and disciplines. Through their presence in Harvard’s classrooms, seminars, research initiatives, and conferences, HSAFP fellows have introduced knowledge and perspectives to the Harvard campus, the significance of which goes well beyond numbers and publications. Upon their return to South Africa, many of the HSAFP fellows have gone on to play prominent roles in their nation and local communities while remaining engaged with the Harvard community in Cambridge, Africa, and beyond.
Fellows are selected because they have shown considerable skill in their chosen fields, and are expected to benefit from advanced training. Fellowships are for a year of study in one of Harvard’s Professional Schools or Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, with tuition waivers provided by the School once fellows are admitted. General administrative funds for program management, stipends, and airfare for the fellow are provided by the Office of the President, and administered by the Center for African Studies, under the directorship of Professor John Mugane. Since the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program was established 40 years ago, more than 220 Fellows are counted among the alumni of the program, representing leadership positions in all aspects of South African society, including many professors and senior administrators at universities in South Africa, leaders in the private sector, and a host of South Africans committed to public service as officials in government and international organizations
Keep in touch with us
If you are a former Harvard South Africa Fellow join the HSAFP LinkedIn Group so that you can stay in touch with other fellows, both current and past.
Candidates who are selected as finalists must apply and receive admission to their specific Harvard program for the following year. For example, if you apply for a fellowship during the 2022 application cycle and you are selected as a finalist, you must then apply for admission to your program for the following academic year of 2023-2024. If admitted to the program, your fellowship will be awarded for 2023-2024.
If candidates who are selected as finalists do not apply and receive admission to a specific Harvard program, the fellowship is void. While the relevant admission offices are consulted when reviewing applicants to be invited for interview, applicants are advised to consult program websites (see below) to ensure that the program to which they apply matches their academic and professional qualifications as well as career aspirations.
Admission to a formal Harvard degree or other program remains solely within the authority of the Admissions Committee of the particular Harvard school or program and not with the Center for African Studies. Harvard’s Law School, School of Public Health, and Kennedy School of Government all offer one-year master’s degree programs open to holders of the relevant bachelor’s degree. Admissions committees for master’s degrees may require candidates to take the Graduate Records Examination or the equivalent professional test. The deadlines for submission of all admission materials to Harvard vary from mid-December to early January.
Unlike most South African universities, Harvard’s MBA is a two-year degree program and, therefore, not available through this fellowship program. Harvard Business School offers Executive Education programs that candidates may wish to consider. It should also be noted that Harvard offers no programs, degree or otherwise, in several areas commonly taught at other institutions (e.g. nursing, library science, social work). Furthermore, the largest Harvard school, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, does not offer a one-year Master’s degree. However, the Graduate School or Arts and Sciences (GSAS) does offer fellowship-eligible non-degree programs: Special Students or Visiting Fellows status. Applicants for either of these programs should submit a well-developed plan that illustrates how access to Harvard faculty, courses, and research resources will further their studies or research.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend HSAFP information sessions towards the end of February and in early March. The first information session will feature CAS program managers and program alumni while the second session will feature program directors of participating Harvard programs to which HSAFP candidates can apply. Both are an opportunity to learn more about the program and application process as well as to ask questions before you apply. To be informed of the information session dates, sign-up for the CAS weekly newsletter HERE, or check the CAS website regularly.
Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page with any questions. Further inquiries about the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program should be addressed to Nthatisi Quella, Africa Office Director.
HSAFP APPLICATION (2023-2024 COHORT) TIMELINE
|February 1, 2022
|HSAFP application opens
|April 30, 2022
|HSAFP applications DUE (at 11:59pm EST)
|May 1 – 31, 2022
|June 30, 2022
|Applicants notified if they have been selected for an interview
|July – August, 2022
|Shortlisted candidates scheduled for interviews
|August 31, 2022
|Interviewed candidates notified if they have been selected as a Harvard South Africa Fellow finalist
|September 2022 – December 2022
|Selected finalists apply directly to the Harvard program they are interested in attending
|January 2023 – April 2023
|Candidates typically hear about their admissions decision from the Harvard School to which they applied
|Beginning July – August 2023
|Most Harvard South Africa Fellows’ academic programs at Harvard begin
|Fellows at Harvard for one-year programs complete their academic year at the University
The HSAFP 2022 Application Form is hosted by Qualtrics and resides in a secure, encrypted environment that requires applicants to register to access the application. The registration is a one-time event with the application link sent to your inbox. Be advised that your application should be done on your regularly used computer to be able to save and return to your application. We strongly recommend that you use current generation browsers whenever possible. Applicants who do not meet minimum requirements for HSAFP will not be able to proceed to the application stage. Google Chrome is the preferred browser for this application. You may preview the application here (Linked).
2022 HSAFP Information Sessions to be hosted in the last week of February and first week of March. Sign-up for CAS weekly newsletter to be informed of session dates and time. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at anytime.
- Complete the application on Qualtrics and upload required documents as prompted. Applicants must register to access the application: HSAFP 2022 Application Registration (Linked)
- Candidates will be asked to enter biographical information and contact details.
- Candidates will be asked to enter academic/leadership/professional honors and detail any work or study completed outside South Africa.
- Candidates will be asked to enter their education history, including name and location of institution, dates of attendance and degree,and field of study.
- Candidates will be asked to enter their work history, including name and location of institution, phone number and website,position, and responsibilities.
- Each answer should not be more than 250 words. The system does not track word limits. Candidates are responsible for ensuring their answers are 250 words or less. Responses longer than 250 words will not be considered. We recommend drafting your short answer texts in a word processor (e.g. Microsoft Word, Google Docs) to confirm word limits before entering the text (copy and paste) into the online application.Questions:
- Ideal candidates for the HSAFP fellowship are those who seek to model ethical leadership, knowledge sharing and serve as a resource to improve and transform their communities and South Africa. Describe what ethical leadership means to you and why ethical leadership is important in the context of South Africa.
- Comment on a time when you have demonstrated ethical leadership.
- Describe a time in which you have demonstrated resilience in your education or professional life.
- Describe your motivation and rationale for applying to this Fellowship.
- Describe your financial need for the program.
- Upload a copy of your most recent CV.
- Upload transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. Transcripts must show the grades and course titles for all your post-secondary coursework. DO NOT upload copies of diplomas/certificates.
- An academic essay and a personal statement must be submitted.
- Personal Statement: Tell us about yourself – in particular, your background, your academic and career trajectory, and why you wish to pursue this program of your choice at Harvard University. Candidates may consider the following questions in preparing their Personal Statement: Where do you come from, and what is your background? What are some of the major inflection points in your life that have shaped who you are? Have you had to overcome disadvantages or hardships? What accomplishments and achievements are you most proud of? What do you strive for, personally, professionally, and in your community? What work do you do in your wider community, and how will you contribute to community development when you get back? Personal statements should demonstrate that the candidate has researched the program to which they are applying and understand how the program will advance their career goals. Maximum 1000 words.
- Academic Essay:Candidates are asked to submit an academic essay reflective of innovative ideas that propose solutions to issues facing contemporary South Africa in your field of interest. Include references cited. References do not count towards the word limit. Successful candidates typically provide an essay that explores an opportunity or challenge facing South Africa, engaging with the relevant literature in their field to propose a theoretical framework or strategy to address this issue. Essays should not read as an op-ed or opinion piece. Maximum 2000 words.Applicants seeking admission into the Special Student or Visiting Fellow GSAS Programs should use this academic essay to describe their research and attach a description of their relevant coursework. Applicants seeking admission to the HSPH MPH program should tell us about a public health problem or challenge that you seek to address as part of your studies in the program and/or upon completion of your MPH degree program. Applicants to the HLS program should provide a cogent legal essay that describes either an important issue in your field of interest or a current legal problem facing a particular country, region, or the world, and then propose a theoretical framework or a legal analysis or strategy to address this issue.
- The Academic Essay and the Personal Statement should be typed in a standard font and font size (10 to 12 point). Essays should also be double-spaced.
- Include your full name on the top of each page and your signature at the end of the Academic Essay and the Personal Statement.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
- Two letters of recommendation must be submitted by recommenders through Qualtrics. You will be required to enter the names, affiliations, and contact details of your referees. After you submit your application, referees will recieve an e-mail to the address provided to submit their letters of recommendation. Note that recommenders will only receive a prompt email once you submit your application. Reach out to your recommenders and notify them as soon as you decide to apply and notify them once you submit your application. Please confirm with your recommenders that they have recieved this communication. Alternatively, recommenders can e-mail the letters directly to Nthatisi Quella, Africa Office Director. All emailed letters should contain HSAFP Recommendation and full name of applicant in the subject line.
Letters should be written by people who know you well or by people whom you have worked in a professional capacity—not family or friends. Applicants for programs at HSPH, HKS, and HLS are strongly encouraged to include at least one reference from a professor or faculty member who is familiar with your academic work. Applicants seeking admission into an Executive Education program should include a reference from a current employer. Applicants seeking admission into the GSAS programs should include a letter from their supervising professor or dean.
Make sure you provide plenty of time for your references to write your letters. Ask them in advance so that they review all instructions, including the deadline (April 30, 2022), on the website before completing their letter. Please ensure the e-mail address of your recommender is correct. After submitting your application, a RECOMMENDATION FORM AND LETTER will be sent as a link to your reference for submission of your letter of recommendation.
You can send the following link to your recommender to submit your recommendation here: HSAFP Recommendation Form and Letter (Linked)
HSAFP was established to provide educational enrichment for educationally disadvantaged South African midcareer professionals. Individuals who have shown considerable skill in their chosen fields stand to benefit from advanced training, and, it is hoped, can use that advanced training to further South African political, social, and economic progress. Thus, candidates who have just completed, or who have not yet completed, a first degree are not selected unless this degree is being pursued concurrently with, or subsequent to, experience in the workplace. Fellows usually range from 30- to 45-years-old.
The program is open to all South Africans who qualify. Priority will be extended to mid-career applicants from historically marginalized or underrepresented groups, including applicants from rural areas outside urban centers. HSAFP seeks to expand its reach to institutions and organizations across South Africa in a continued effort to draw the broadest possible range of candidates for the program. In addition, the University – reflecting the current South African constitution – has expanded its applicant pool to extend to all South Africans, regardless of ethnicity or race. Ideal candidates are those who seek to model ethical leadership, knowledge sharing, and serve as a resource to improve and transform their communities and South Africa. Applicants whose interest in the program is only in seeking an advanced degree or professional certification to advance their own career interests are not ideal candidates. Alumni of the program are expected to remain involved after the completion of their fellowship and serve as ambassadors for the fellowship.
Fellowship applications are submitted directly to the Center for African Studies, and a committee of HSAFP alumni, Harvard University faculty, and Center staff interview short-listed applicants in South Africa. Successful candidates must then apply and be admitted to the specific Harvard school where they intend to study. Admission to any Harvard program, including for HSAFP finalists, remains solely within the authority of the Admissions Committee of each Harvard school or program—not with the Center for African Studies.
Applicants must determine well in advance whether, if awarded a fellowship, they can be granted leave by their employers to study at Harvard for the duration of their intended program dates. Most graduate programs run from August until May; however, some programs require fellows to begin residence as early as the end of June. Executive education programs at Harvard Business School can require a mix of both on-campus and off-campus modules over the course of several months. No candidate should accept an interview unless they have been assured that such leave will be granted.
Applications are opened annually in January to citizens and permanent residents of South Africa, with applications due in April. The Center for African Studies conducts an administrative review to ensure candidates have submitted a complete application; applications that are missing required components, have circumvented word limits, and/or otherwise failed to follow application instructions are disqualified. Following administrative review, candidate applications are shared with the portfolio/program directors of the participating schools. In consult with the portfolio/program directors, the Center for African Studies Oppenheimer Faculty Director, CAS Executive Director, and HSAFP Program Director identify a short-list of candidates to be interviewed.
Short-listed candidates are invited to participate in an interview with a Selection Committee comprised of the HSAFP Faculty Director, the CAS Faculty Director, the CAS Executive Director, the HBS Africa Research Center Executive Director, and HSAFP program alumni. Interviews are typically 30 to 45 minutes in length and provide an opportunity for the Selection Committee to learn more about the candidate beyond his or her application as well as for the candidate to ask any questions they have about the program and Harvard. Beginning with the 2020 application cycle, interviews were moved to a virtual format (Zoom) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate that 2022 interviews will also be conducted virtually.
The Selection Committee, under the direction of the HSAFP Faculty Director John Mugane, makes the final deliberation on which candidates will be offered a fellowship. The Selection Committee evaluates its decisions based on a candidate’s academic strengths, disadvantages faced or adversity overcome, financial need, chances of admission and ability to succeed in the program, and the expected impact a candidate will have on South Africa upon his or her return. Candidates are evaluated in their entirety; that is, there is no single factor or distinction by which decisions are made.
Following selection, candidates who are awarded a fellowship will be invited to apply for admission to the graduate or professional school. Candidates who are not awarded a fellowship but who are shortlisted for interviews will be provided with summary feedback from the Selection Committee. Candidates who were not selected are eligible to reapply to future cohorts. Beginning with the 2021 application cycle, CAS will also share summary candidate profiles and review comments with members of our Africa Advisory Board and Leadership Council, who serve a role in promoting the fellowship and recruiting applicants.
For the 2020 application cycle, a total of 71 applications were received, 12 candidates were shortlisted for interviews, and five candidates were awarded fellowship slots, pending their admission to the participating graduate and professional schools. For the 2021 application cycle, we anticipate awarding one fellowship for HKS-MC/MPA, one fellowship for the GSAS (either Special Student or Visiting Fellow), one fellowship for HSPH-MPH, one fellowship for HLS-LLM, and two fellowships for HBS (either HBS-AMP, HBS-GMP, or HBS-PLD).
Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page with any questions. Further inquiries about the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program should be addressed to Nthatisi Quella, Africa Office Director with the subject line “HSAFP Query.”
The fellowship provides for payment of all tuition for the full period of enrollment at Harvard. The fellowship also funds round-trip airfare between the fellow’s city of residence and Boston. A monthly stipend is provided to fellows, with the exception of those enrolled in the Executive Education Programs, to cover the cost of housing and other living expenses. Housing is usually in university graduate dormitories. Please note that housing costs in the Boston/Cambridge area are extremely high, and the stipend only covers bare necessities. The monthly stipend must also be used to pay other expenses such as medical and dental insurance, medicine, taxes, food, winter clothing, books, and supplies. Fellows are held personally responsible for the payment of all bills other than tuition fees and airfare. Fellows should also be aware that their stipends will have a significant amount of taxes taken out before they receive the funds.
Please be advised that Harvard will require fellows to purchase American medical insurance. This insurance does not cover the range of services covered in South Africa. Separate insurance must be purchased for dental coverage. Charges for non-covered expenses and prescription drugs are very high.
A full monthly check is provided for each month or partial month during which the fellow is officially registered at Harvard. The fellow will have higher “start-up” expenses in September and substantial expenses at the end of the period of study. Fellowship funds do not allow for family support, whether or not family members join the fellow at Harvard.
Fellows are strongly discouraged from bringing their family with them to Harvard. The cost of housing a family in Boston or Cambridge is considerably in excess of the rental charge for one individual in a graduate dormitory, the rate used in calculating the monthly stipend. Applicants for the fellowship must therefore consider seriously whether they are prepared to spend an academic year at Harvard apart from their families. The Executive Education Programs, in particular, will not allow a student to live with his or her family during the several months of the programs.
Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page with any questions. Further inquiries about the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program should be addressed to Nthatisi Quella, Program Manager in the Africa Office.
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