Study in South Africa
A long history of political shifts and changes has made South Africa’s political history complicated, to say the least, but has nevertheless turned it into one of the most multi-ethnic and multicultural nations. The constitution of South Africa recognises 11 official languages, which is the highest number of any country on Earth.
You’ll also notice in South Africa a unique and exciting array of arts, literature, and music. Nadine Gordimer, J.M. Coetzee, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Oliver Schreiner – just to name a few of artists who’ve received global acclaim.
Why study in South Africa?
1. Education is very important in South Africa
South African authorities regard education as one of the most important social aspects. This is why many resources, time, and effort have been invested into restructuring and improving the education system at all levels. As a result, South Africa's literacy rate is around 87% — one of the highest in the world.
2. Tuition fees are low
You can pay anywhere between 35 to 19,000 EUR per year for a study programme in South Africa. There are many factors that influence these costs:
- type of university (public vs private)
- study level (Bachelor's, Master's, PhD)
- discipline (Engineering, Medicine, Humanities, etc.)
Even so, you will pay a lot less here then you would at a Western university. Also remember that living costs are affordable (around 550 EUR per month), so you won't need to rob a bank to cover your expenses.
3. Enjoy the unique landscape and climate
South Africa has a beautiful and varied landscape; you can enjoy the beautiful beaches or explore its majestic mountains. We recommend visiting sites like the Kruger National Park, Maclear's Beacon, Cape of Good Hope, the Kirstenbosch National reserve, the Boulders Beach, the Table Mountain National Park, etc.
What it is like to study at a university in South Africa?
The universities in South Africa are separated into different categories depending on what you wish to study. They have traditional universities, for more academic and theoretical subjects; technological, for more job-training and vocational courses; and comprehensive, which blends both theoretical and technical training. So, depending on what you’re aiming for, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded students who are there for the same reason.
Furthermore, there are plenty of places to visit and things to do outside of your classes. You have close access to beautiful coastlines, safaris, and mountains. So, once you leave your classes, you’re immersed in natural beauty and a perfectly relaxing environment.
What to Study in South Africa?
You can find any subject, discipline, or degree you’re interested in if you study in South Africa. Brilliant scholars and scientists, along with successful business leaders, have come from South Africa, and have been educated in their higher education system. So, no matter what your career interests are, or where your curiosities lie, you can find plenty of university options and Master’s and Bachelor’s degree options.
Here are some great subjects to study in South Africa:
- Accounting degrees in South Africa
- Health Sciences in South Africa
- Entrepreneurship degrees in South Africa
- Economics degrees in South Africa
- Sociology degrees in South Africa
- International Law degrees in South Africa
Where to study in South Africa?
Throughout South Africa’s naturally beautiful landscape, you’ll also find bustling city life and plenty of places to meet people.
But, for a true, student-oriented experience, we recommend finding your way to Cape Town – a major, multicultural city and named one of the best places to visit in the world.
Which universities and colleges to attend in South Africa?
For the past few decades, South Africa has started expanding its public university system, connecting institutions throughout the country, and de-segregating their courses. As a result, the universities have started to thrive with a unique blend of student populations, classes, and scholars.
Here are some universities to consider enrolling in:
How to apply
Each university in South Africa has its own system on their website that allows future students to apply for and enrol in their degree programmes. So, once you select the university of your choice, you can go through their application and submit your materials there.
Here are some of the basic requirements you’ll need for every application:
- A scan of your diploma (high school or Bachelor’s degree)
- A transcript/record of your previous courses
- A scan of your passport and/or birth certificate
- Your CV
- Testing scores
- Evidence of scholarship or funding
- Letters of recommendation (between 2-3)
- Portfolio and/or writing samples
Helpful ways to make sure you qualify for a university in South Africa
Take Preparation Courses
These kinds of courses enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree programmes.
Try a pre-M.B.A., pre-Law, or pre-Medicine programme, as well as any other foundation or preparation courses that will allow you to study in the degree programme of your choice.
Improve your English through an English-language prep course
If you’re attending a degree programme in South Africa you will need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures; some schools will require Afrikaans, while others will require strong English skills. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.
To apply to study in South Africa, you’ll need to provide proof you have a diploma for your English proficiency.
The certificates generally accepted by the universities in South Africa are:
Still, you should always check on your university’s website, just to be sure what the exact requirements are.
Living in South Africa
Let's take a closer look at the average tuition and living expenses in South Africa:
Tuition fees in South Africa
The cost of studying in South Africa has been a major topic of discussion among students and politicians throughout the country. So, it’s possible we may be able to expect tuition fees to reduce over the years. For now, however, we’ll outline the expected tuition fees in South Africa.
- Bachelor's degrees: 36–7,000 EUR per year
- Master's degrees: 36–19,000 EUR per year
Living costs in South Africa
In South Africa, prices can vary depending on the city in which you choose to live. But the country is generally known for offering cheap prices, which are affordable for the vast majority of international students. The minimum you need to cover living costs is 550 EUR/month.
Here’s a breakdown of living costs in South Africa:
- Rent: 300–730 EUR/month
- Utilities: 100–140 EUR/month
- Monthly transportation pass (metro, train, bus): 38 EUR
- Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 30 EUR
- Milk: 0.81 EUR
- Eggs: 1.54 EUR
- Cappuccino: 1.41 EUR
- Loaf of bread: 0.71 EUR
About South Africa
On dry land, going from west to east, South Africa shares long borders with Namibia and Botswana, touches Zimbabwe, has a longitudinal strip of border with Mozambique to the east, and lastly curves in around Swaziland before re-joining Mozambique's southern border.
In the interior, nestled in the curve of the bean-shaped Free State, is the small mountainous country of Lesotho, completely surrounded by South African territory.
South Africa is a medium-sized country, with a total land area of slightly more than 1.2-million square kilometres. South Africa measures about 1 600km from north to south, and roughly the same from east to west.
Interesting facts about South Africa
- South Africa is home to one of the oldest mountains on the planet: Table Mountain.
- Boulders Beach, Cape Town, is where you can swim with (so-called) Jackass penguins. No, they don’t mind if you call them Jackass penguins.
- South Africa is home to the world’s oldest human remains – more than 160,000 years old. Do you think they dined on Table Mountain?
- South Africa has the fittest population. 1 in 5 adults attends a gym or health club at least once a month. Do they have to rub it in our faces like that?
- Two novel prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – lived on the same street.
Universities, colleges and schools in South Africa
- University of Pretoria (185 PhDs)
- Stellenbosch University (53 PhDs)
Interested in scholarships for South Africa? Check out our scholarship search page.
How to Apply to a Master's in South Africa
If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in South Africa, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.
What documents do I need to provide to apply in South Africa?
To apply to a university in South Africa you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:
- birth certificate;
- recent photos;
- your passport or national identity card;
- one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
- copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
- academic transcripts;
- letter of intent;
- Curriculum Vitae;
- Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.
Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.
The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in South Africa so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.
Prove your English skills
Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.
Application deadlines for South Africa
The deadlines for applying to a Master's in South Africa are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.
To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.