South Africa

Study in South Africa

Higher Education in South Africa

Higher education and training encompasses both undergraduate and graduate degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Both public and private higher education institutes exist, including universities, universities of technology, and comprehensive institutions. The universities offer traditional theoretically and research-oriented degrees; the other institutions focus on professional and vocational education and training.

Why Study in South Africa?

In addition to the opportunity to study in English within a multicultural environment, South Africa has many world-class schools of higher education that include state-of-the-art research along with high-quality master’s degree programs. South Africa has three universities in the top 400 universities world-wide, as ranked by the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Universities in South Africa

South Africa has 23 state funded higher education institutes that offer master’s degrees, including 11 universities, 6 universities of technology, and 6 comprehensive institutions. Private institutions exist as well, totaling 115. Programs are offered in most academic disciplines, and master’s degrees in business administration, economics and finance are especially popular. International students are welcome and use the same application procedures as South African nationals.

Tuition and Program Duration

Annual tuition for master’s studies varies widely by program and school, but is generally low in state schools, from about $1,500 to $5,000 (US); private schools are somewhat higher. Master’s programs also range in duration, but are typically 1-2 years.

Academic Year

The academic year runs from February through December and includes two semesters. Each semester typically consists of six weeks of classes, a one-week break, then seven weeks of classes, and finally one week for studying (called swot week) and then exams.

Post-Graduate Opportunities

Many multinational corporations operate in South Africa, and graduates with master’s degrees will find numerous opportunities for employment, whether they are South African nationals or expats. Industry sectors that are currently growing include automotive, information technology, communications, mining, banking and services. The vast majority of jobs are concentrated in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria, and Johannesburg. To obtain a work permit, an international student must usually first have a job offer for a position that cannot be filled locally. However, students with skills in specialized areas or highly qualified experts in certain fields may be able to obtain work permits even without a specific job offer.

Visa Requirements

International students studying in South Africa are required to have a study permit before they enter the country to attend school. A visitor’s permit cannot be exchanged for a study permit after arrival. Once a student has been accepted at a university, they can apply for a study permit at the South Africa office in their home country.

Health Insurance

International students are required to obtain South African health insurance, even if they are covered by health insurance in their home country. Proof of this coverage is required when applying for the study visa. Students must pay for the entire academic year in advance; monthly or other payments are not allowed.


Although English in the predominant language for public exchanges and business in South Africa, the country has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans (a derivative of Dutch), Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. Students may encounter indigenous languages throughout the country; however, most South Africans can speak more than one language and English is widely understood.

Sports are very popular in South Africa, with the major sports being soccer, rugby and cricket. Other sports with significant followings and international presence include swimming, golf, boxing and tennis.

About South Africa

South Africa, on the continent's southern tip, is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and by the Indian Ocean on the south and east.Its neighbors are Namibia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, and Mozambique and Swaziland in the northeast.The kingdom of Lesotho forms an enclave within the southeast part of South Africa.

South Africa is located on the most southern tip of the African continent where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.It shares borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique.In addition, the small country of Lesotho is completely contained within South Africa.South Africa is home to more than 50 million residents who come from a wide variety of cultures and religions and who speak a multitude of languages.South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa.The unit of currency is the South African Rand (R), which has an exchange rate of about 0.1 USD.

South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite those of the northern hemisphere – summer is in January and winter is in July. The South African coastline is more than 2,500 km in length, but much of the land adjacent to the coastline is mountainous, which then turns into a high plateau in the interior. The northern part of the country becomes a desert.

Overall, South Africa has a relatively dry climate, and temperatures tend to be somewhat lower than countries at similar latitudes due to the mountainous terrain and high interior plateau. Interior temperatures rarely rise above 30 degrees C in the summertime. In Cape Town, the maximum summer temperatures are about 26 degrees C and minimum winter temperatures are about 7 degrees C.

South Africa boasts a wide variety of lifestyles and scenery with something for everyone, from cosmopolitan urban environments and quiet historic cities to mountains for climbing and hiking to deserts for safaris and beaches for surfing and scuba diving. In addition to cultural establishments such as art museums and art galleries and events such as theater, dance and festivals, a major stop for visitors is the Apartheid Museum located in Johannesburg. The museum provides a powerful insight into the country’ s sometimes-violent past and the journey to recovery and reconciliation.

South African cuisine is heavily meat-based and barbecue is a favorite method of preparation. South Africa is also increasingly known as a producer of fine wines.

Cost of Living
The cost of living in South Africa is relatively low compared to other highly developed countries but varies between rural and urban centers.  Students can expect to find a variety of housing options in a range of prices.  South African currency is called the Rand, which is generally weaker than the American dollar, British pound or the Euro.  Students can expect to pay higher prices for imported goods, but South African produced products, especially food, are readily available and of high quality.

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