The objectives of SANBI’s student and intern programmes are to:

  • provide students with practical experience and on-the-job skills
  • prepare postgraduate students for a career in research
  • expose students to career prospects in biodiversity
  • provide SANBI with the opportunity to observe and track students for permanent positions
  • accelerate the development of designated groups into the mainstream of competitive biodiversity conservation opportunities.

Students and interns benefit from numerous learning opportunities, including orientation, formal and informal training, field work and networking with many specialists.


  • South African citizens only
  • Teamwork capabilities
  • Leadership qualities
  • Academic achievement

A variety of student and intern programmes as well as postgraduate bursaries are made available annually:

1. Work-integrated (experiential) learning

Work-integrated (experiential) learning programmes provide students with opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge and skills in a real work place context. At present SANBI offers work-integrated learning only to students studying Horticulture and Nature Conservation.


Second and third year Horticulture (National Diploma) students can apply for placement at most of our National Botanical Gardens. The duration of the programme is six to 12 months (depending on the requirements of a particular university) and is offered from January – June and July to December.

Placement opportunities are advertised on the SANBI website and at relevant universities.

Nature Conservation

Only final year Nature Conservation (National Diploma) students are accommodated at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The duration of the programme is 12 months.

Placement opportunities are advertised on the SANBI website and at universities

No other work-integrated learning programmes are offered.

2. Internship programmes

SANBI offers a variety of internship opportunities to graduates and postgraduates. Our internship programme was initiated at the Kirstenbosch Research Centre in 2001.The aim of the programme is to offer students the opportunity to contribute towards ongoing research projects and at the same time gain practical experience in various fields of the biological sciences.

Internships are advertised to coincide with specific programmes e.g. NRF Internships and the Joan Wrench Kirstenbosch Scholarship Internships.  The programmes usually run from April to March every year but are dependent on available funding.

3. Postgraduate bursaries

Honours, MSc and PhD bursaries are made available regularly. Students are placed at our centres and co-supervised by our scientists. Research topics, aligned to the SANBI research mandate, cover a wide range of science fields.  The bursaries cover living expenses and university fees.

Duration: Honours – 1 year, MSc – 2 years and PhD – 3 years.

Postgraduate bursaries are advertised between July and September.  Only research topics aligned to the SANBI research mandate are considered.

4. Kirstenbosch Scholarship

The Kirstenbosch Scholarship was established in 1966 to enable suitably qualified candidates to aid in the preservation of the indigenous flora of South Africa. As from 2016, the scholarship includes studies towards a B Tech/Advanced Diploma in Horticulture and is offered for a two-year period. The research project is focused on generating knowledge about propagation, cultivation and conservation of indigenous South African plants. The selected candidate spends two years at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, working on specific research projects.

Applicants must be in possession of a National Diploma Horticulture.

Interested candidates should contact the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management (Africa)

5. Joan Wrench Kirstenbosch Scholarship

The Joan Wrench Kirstenbosch Scholarship was established in 2018.  The Scholarship provides funding for postgraduate research as well as internships, but only at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town.  Funding is only available for students who intend to register at universities in the Western Cape.

Calls for the Joan Wrench Kirstenbosch Scholarship are advertised annually towards the end of July.

 How do I apply for SANBI’s student and intern programmes?

These opportunities are advertised on the SANBI website (Jobs page) and at universities.

What are previous interns saying about their experience?

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