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Photo of South Africa

Study in South Africa

Everything you need to know about studying in South Africa as an international student.

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Why study in South Africa?

South Africa is a popular tourist destination and one of the best places to study as an international student in Africa. The country has a diverse makeup, with different cultures, religions and languages.

South Africa offers the best universities and education on the African continent. Some South African universities rank in the world's top 200, with study in Zoology and the environment particularly well regarded.

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What are the best programs in South Africa?

Undergraduate degrees in South Africa fall into these main categories:

  • Bachelor’s degree

    This is a three-year degree in a specific field. Graduates can either join the workforce or move on to pursue postgraduate study.

  • Bachelor’s degree with honors certification

    If students choose to continue their studies without moving on to a master’s degree, they can do research specific to their bachelor’s degree topic for an additional year.

Some South African universities focus on specific subjects such as business schools, medical universities and engineering universities.

Whether you’re looking to study for a BA, BSc, MBA or doctorate degree, Studee can help you find the perfect place to study in South Africa.

How Studee can help you

  1. Universities & programs

    Find the right program for you and your career aspirations

  2. Application assistance

    Be guided through your application process

  3. Visa & embassy guidance

    Maximise your chances of being granted a visa

  4. Enrollment & travel advice

    Get support all the way to your first day at university

Speak to a personal advisor (free service)

What is the cost of studying in South Africa?

South African tuition fees for international students range between $7,000 - $15,000 per year. To cover living costs, students would need an additional $5,000 - $10,000 a year.

Living in South Africa is generally cheaper than in countries like the UK and the United States, but it does depend on the standard of living you are used to. Rural areas tend to offer cheaper living but have a quieter pace of life.

Key facts

  • Rand R Currency
  • 1 million Student population
  • Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu Languages
  • 26 public universities Universities

Where can you study in South Africa?

The largest cities in South Africa are usually the most popular with students. Studying in Johannesburg will feel completely different to studying in Cape Town, so make sure you choose the right city for you when assessing your options.

Throughout South Africa the lingua franca is English.

Many cities do not have an integrated public transport system, so you may find yourself wanting to buy your own car or have a driver to help you travel around.

Universities in South Africa

What are the requirements to study in South Africa?


As an international student it’s down to the university as to the level of qualification you need to enter into a program. You are able to get your qualifications assessed by the government through SAQA to get an idea of what the South African equivalent is. There is a fee for this service.

English language tests

International students applying to universities in South Africa will need to prove their English Language skills with either a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Advanced Placement of English as an International Language (APIEL), or IELTS score. Not all universities accept all three tests, so ensure you know which one is preferred by the universities you are applying to. You may not need an English language certification if you have previously studied with English as the language of instruction.

South Africa student visa

Visa entry requirements for South Africa vary depending on your nationality and where you are living. Most cases require you to get a study permit if your program lasts longer than three months.

In order to apply for a study permit, you will need to contact your nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad. A full list of these offices can be found online. It’s a good idea to start this process around three months before your program start date.

In addition to an application form you will need to send a number of supporting documents, from proof of finances to medical certificates.

How to study in South Africa

  1. Find a program and university for you in South Africa
  2. Fill in an online or printed application form. This will include personal data, educational background, and letter of intent, and any country-specific requirements
  3. Submit or upload supporting documents such as translated and official transcripts, a copy of your passport, bank statements, references, and a CV
  4. Pay your application fee and submit an application
  5. Submit qualification evaluations (if required). An SAQA evaluation certificate evaluates your qualifications according to the South African education standards
  6. Attend an interview if necessary for the program
  7. Receive an offer from the University
  8. Accept your offer and pay any necessary fees or deposits
  9. Apply for your study permit for South Africa

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