AfAS-2023 MSc and PhD Prizes

Application deadline extended: 08 December 2023

 The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) is the primary pan-African professional society representing astronomers from across the continent. AfAS aims to create and support a globally competitive and collaborative astronomy community in Africa and to be the voice of astronomy in the continent while contributing to addressing the challenges faced by Africa through the promotion and advancement of astronomy. 

The AfAS MSc and PhD Prizes

 Established by AfAS Early Career Science Sub-committee (ECSS), the inaugural AfAS MSc and PhD Prizes aim to recognize and reward the outstanding accomplishments achieved by academically talented African students who recently defended their Master’s or PhD thesis in the field of Astronomy (including Astrophysics and related fields). A total of 8 prizes (4 MSc, 4 PhD) to be shared over 4 African regions (North, South, East, and West Africa) will be conferred each year with a cash prize of $400 for an MSc and $800 for a PhD award, respectively. 


To qualify for the award, you should fulfil the following conditions:

  • Candidates must be a citizen of an African country.
  • Candidates must have conducted their research degree in Astronomy (including Astrophysics & related fields) at an academic or scientific research institute in Africa.
  • Candidates must have successfully completed their degree (graduated or at least received a notification from their university) within a year of the call, i.e. between 01 November 2022 and 01 November 2023, for the 2023 MSc/PhD Prize. Theses which are submitted or in preparation but not yet defended are not eligible. 

Application procedure 

All applications must be submitted online by uploading the following documents to the AfAS submission form available here:

  • A detailed CV including list of scientific publications (maximum 3 pages) and contact details of two academic referees;
  • A one page summary of the most important publications, if applicable;
  • A thesis summary (maximum 2 pages) including  (but are not limited to)  the research title, the scientific rationale, the most significant findings and conclusions;
  • A motivation letter addressed to the AfAS Science Committee explaining why the applicant deserves the prize; 
  • Copies of official academic records (transcripts); 
  • A certified copy of the most recent completed degree.

Applicants should also arrange for signed recommendation letters from two academic referees to be sent directly to Dr Charles Takalana by 08 December 2023. At least one letter must be from the thesis advisor who is familiar with the applicant’s research work. 

Incomplete applications or files submitted after the deadline, as well as applications which do not meet the conditions of eligibility, will not be taken into consideration. 

If you are submitting any supporting documents in your local language, you must upload at least an informal translation into English. 

Selection criteria

Applications will be reviewed and ranked by AfAS PhD Prize Committee based on the following criteria:

  • Excellence of the overall academic performance and achievements;
  • Relevance and originality of the MSc/PhD thesis;
  • Publication track record, commensurate with the applicant’s career stage;
  • Participation in scientific meetings and research presentations;
  • Impact of the research work in the advancement of Astronomy in Africa.

AfAS reserves the right not to award any prize in part or in whole.

Estimated Timeline 

  • Opening of the call: 01 November 2023 
  • Closing of the call:  08 December 2023 
  • Applications review by the jury:  mid-December 2023 
  • Notification of successful applicants:  January 2024



Dr Sthabile Kolwa

Early Career Committee Chair, African Astronomical Society


Dr. Charles Takalana

Head of Secretariat & Assistant General Secretary, African Astronomical Society