The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) Sylff logo

Postgraduate Scholarships


Postgraduate research, Humanities, Social Sciences, Leadership

Level of study

Master’s and Doctoral research candidates studying at any New Zealand university


The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) was established in December 1991 from an endowment of the Nippon Foundation to Massey University. Sylff is a global programme aimed at nurturing leaders who initiate action, overcome differences and address contemporary issues facing our world. Massey University is one of 69 Sylff institutions globally and The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowships offered by Massey are for New Zealand postgraduate research students studying at any of the country’s 8 universities.

The Fellowships aim to:

·         provide study opportunities for postgraduate research students who demonstrate leadership qualities or display high potential for future leadership in either public or private life

·         support research in the broad fields of Humanities, Social Sciences or interdisciplinary studies that incorporate Humanities and Social Sciences by focusing on complex, wicked problems (e.g., sustainability, poverty).

Value and tenure

The value of a Master’s scholarship will be $31,000 per annum for up to 12 months of full-time study. The value of a Doctoral scholarship will be $42,000 per annum for up to 36 months of full-time study. The scholarship values are intended to support study and living costs for recipients; there are no additional fees payments or research costs covered by the scholarships. The tenure of a Master’s scholarship will commence in the award year for up to a maximum of 12 months. The tenure of the Doctoral scholarship will commence in the award year for up to a maximum of 36 months.

Sylff fellows become part of a national and international network with access to support programmes offered by the Sylff Association including opportunities to apply for Sylff Research Abroad, Post-Doctoral Fellowships, Sylff Leadership Initiatives, Sylff Project Grants, Sylff Leadership Workshops, Local Association Networking Support and Sylff Disaster Relief Fund.

Typical number on offer

One Master’s scholarship is offered annually and one Doctoral scholarship is offered every 3 years.

The 2021 award year is open for Master's thesis applications only.


Applicants must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of an age that they have not passed their 35th birthday by the time of application.

All applicants should be enrolled or intending to enrol in a research degree in Humanities, Social Sciences or/and interdisciplinary that incorporates Humanities and Social Sciences at a New Zealand university.

Master’s thesis applicants must be eligible to enrol full-time in a 120 credit research programme (over a 12 month period) towards a Master’s degree at any New Zealand university.

Doctoral applicants must be enrolled full-time.

Doctoral applicants should have a conditional or unconditional admission offer of place in a doctoral programme at a New Zealand university, or, be enrolled in the provisional year of a doctoral degree at the time of application closing date (prior to confirmation of registration). 

Selection criteria

Scholarships are awarded based on academic merit and evidence of leadership qualities or high potential for future leadership in either public or private life. Applicants submit a statement of their proposed research programme and an outline of past and current leadership activities and future leadership aspirations. Shortlisted applicants may be invited to present their proposed research to the selection panel as part of an interview.

Selection panel

The selection panel is comprised of members of the Sylff Steering Committee.

Conditions of the Scholarship

·         Master’s scholarships may not be held concurrently with other scholarships.

·         Doctoral scholarships may be held in conjunction with other scholarships up to the value of $10,000.

·         Scholarships will commence upon confirmation of enrolment in the research.

·         Fellows are encouraged to participate in and contribute to the national and international Sylff Association.

·         Recipients are expected to provide an annual report on research and leadership activities undertaken during the year.