Higher education in South Africa

Unlike Dutch higher education, South African higher education is not divided into and . South African higher education institutions can offer both types of education. This often means that for each diploma we have to determine whether it is HBO or WO. Below, we describe the diplomas that we often see.

Higher Certificate

  • : 1 year.
  • Content: professionally oriented programmes with general subjects.
  • Admission requirements: one of the following diplomas:
  • Function of the diploma: work and sometimes access to bachelor's programmes.
  • Diploma: Higher Certificate.

We compare a Higher Certificate to 1 year of HBO.

(National) Diploma

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Content: professionally oriented programmes.
  • Admission requirements: one of the following diplomas:
  • Function of the diploma: work. Also, students with a (National) Diploma can often obtain a bachelor degree by studying 1 extra year after completing the (National) Diploma programme.
  • Diploma: (National) Diploma.

We compare a (National) Diploma (duration: 3 years) to 3 years of HBO.

Bachelor’s degree

  • Duration: 3 to 6 years, depending on the study programme:
    • architecture: 5 years;
    • commerce, humanities and science: 3 years;
    • dentistry: 5½ years;
    • law and nursing science: 4 years
    • medicine and veterinary science: 6 years.
  • Content: varies per study programme, sometimes an internship, usually no thesis.
  • Admission requirements: the National Senior Certificate (NSC) with the remark that the minimum requirements for admission to bachelor's degree programmes have been met + extra requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. A (National) Diploma may also grant admission to bachelor's programmes in the same specialisation, with exemptions.
  • Function of the diploma: access to honours bachelor's programmes, sometimes access to master's programmes, and work.
  • Diploma: Bachelor, such as:
    • Bachelor of Arts;
    • Bachelor of Commerce;
    • Bachelor of Engineering;
    • Bachelor of Science;
    • Bachelor of Technology.

We compare a bachelor's degree (duration: 3 years) to 3 years of HBO.

We compare a bachelor's degree in architecture to a WO bachelor’s degree.

We compare a bachelor's degree (duration: 4 years) to an HBO bachelor's degree or a WO bachelor’s degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

We compare a bachelor's degree in dentistry to at least a WO bachelor’s degree.

We compare a bachelor's degree in veterinary science to at least a WO bachelor’s degree.

We compare the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBCh) to at least a WO bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor honours degree

  • Duration: at least 1 year.
  • Content: profession-oriented or research-oriented subjects. Students study further in the field of study of their bachelor’s degree.
  • Admission requirements: a bachelor’s degree.
  • Function of the diploma: deepening the knowledge that students have acquired during the bachelor's degree, access to master's programmes and work.
  • Diploma: Bachelor Honours, such as:
    • Bachelor of Arts Honours; or
    • Bachelor of Commerce Honours.

We compare a bachelor honours degree to an HBO bachelor's degree or a WO bachelor’s degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Master's degree

  • Duration: 1 or 2 years.
  • Content: either research and a dissertation or a package of taught subjects that is concluded with a final paper or research report.
  • Admission requirements: one of the following diplomas:
  • Function of the diploma: access to PhD programmes or work.
  • Diploma: Master, such as:
    • Master of Arts;
    • Master of Commerce;
    • Master of Engineering;
    • Master of Philosophy;
    • Master of Science;
    • Master of Social Science;
    • Master of Technology.

We compare a master's degree to an HBO master's degree or a WO master’s degree. This depends on the content and duration of the study programme.

Doctoral degree (PhD)

  • Duration: at least 2 years.
  • Content: research and a dissertation.
  • Admission requirements: a master's degree and possibly extra requirements.
  • Diploma: PhD and Doctor of Philosophy.