How to Apply to a University in South Africa in 2023

Congratulations on deciding to study a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme in South Africa! You’re among the over 30,000 international students who choose to enrol at a university in the Rainbow Nation (a common nickname for South Africa) every year.

But how do you apply at a South African university? What should you pay close attention to? Keep reading as we’ll answer these questions and many others.

Find Master's degrees in South Africa

1. Pick a subject to study in South Africa

On our portal alone, there are over 1,000 Master’s programmes offered by South African Universities. Here are some of the most popular study areas:

Create a Studyportals account to easily compare academic programmes and find out which is the best fit for you.

2. Find a South African university to apply to

According to data from the QS Rankings, the following are the best universities in South Africa:

Check out other universities in South Africa.

Read student reviews of universities

To make a more informed decision, we recommend reading a few reviews left by other students. You can discover important details about the study and on-campus experience or aspects you might easily overlook. Here are a few examples:

  • University of Cape Town review: “Studying at the University of Cape Town is great. The content taught is modern and relevant to a variety range of environments. The research work at the University is exceptional and brings new solutions to the world as we know it.”
  • University of Witwatersrand review: “My experience at the WITs university has been an outstanding one. I have been exposed to high standard of learning and research methodology. My supervisor has been a great push for me in having great understanding. I love WITs university”
  • University of Johannesburg review: “University of Johannesburg is really good. It has not only offered the best lectures and studies, but it has also offered fun arts, and cultural activities for me take part in. It has the best on campus services — e.g. library, bookstores, restaurants, banks etc. — which makes it easier to get things done on campus.”

Cape Town, South Africa

3. Learn where to submit your university application

There is no centralised system that allows you to apply at multiple universities in South Africa. But the truth is few countries implement one. “So, how do I apply?”

It’s simple: on the official university websites. This is quite convenient because you’ll find other useful information on these websites, like a full list of entry requirements, details about the application process, and answers to FAQs (frequently asked questions).

4. Meet the university entry requirements

We’ve listed below the most common documents students are asked to submit. Keep in mind that our list is by no means exhaustive:

  • completed application form
  • proof of paying the application fee (if applicable)
  • high school diploma (to apply for a Bachelor’s)
  • Bachelor’s diploma (to apply for a Master’s)
  • transcript of records
  • passport-sized photo(s)
  • copy of valid passport and/or personal ID
  • motivation letter

One more thing: unless your documents are already issued in English, you need to submit official English translations of all documents and certificates.

Find Bachelor’s degrees in South Africa

5. Find out about the language requirements

To study in South Africa, you will need to prove your English language proficiency. Universities accept one of these English tests:

6. Apply before the application deadlines

Application deadlines aren’t the same for all universities. In some cases, they vary based on the degree type or specialisation. At most higher education institutions, these are the most important dates:

  • End of September: the application deadline at many universities, including the University of Johannesburg, North West University, University of the Western Cape, etc.
  • End of June/July: another common application deadline at University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of Witwatersrand, etc.

Best tips and tricks to ensure you don’t miss the deadlines:

  • Check the up-to-date application deadlines on the official university page
  • Start your application as early as possible
  • Double-check your documents for errors or typos
  • Keep track of your application progress, in case you need to (re)submit documents

7. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter

Interesting programmes for you

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