Study in South Africa: the ultimate guide for an Online Programme in 2024
South Africa

The Ultimate Guide to Studying in South Africa in 2024

Browse all online studies in South Africa

  • Feb-Nov Academic Year
  • 17 Listed Institutes
  • 36,000 Int. Students
  • 1,184,000 Students
  • 60,756,000 Population

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.

Students who decide to pursue a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree in South Africa will find an exciting environment full of inspiration, cultural history, artistic talent, and natural beauty.

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:

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 its 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 university application in South Africa:

  • 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
  • Student visa

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.

English-language tests

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



Cape Town







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.

Interesting programmes for you

Find Distance Learning Programmes in South Africa

Online Degrees in

Study a master programme from the comfort of your own home. The Studyportals platform offers the largest overview of online and blended study opportunities from all over the world. You now have the possibility to follow your dream study programme at one of the best universities in the world without having to relocate.

Distance education is the perfect solution for professionals looking to further their career. It offers the possibility for additional qualification while keeping the current job. With flexible schedule and resources available online, distance study programmes can be the key to your career development and a job promotion.

Online study is also a money saver, as the student does not have to spend money on moving or on a possibly expensive day to day life in a new country. So if you are in search for the best education, but do not want to relocate, give up your current life style or disrupt the comfort of your family, distance learning is the solution for you.

Looking at a growing demand for these study opportunities, combined with a lack of transparency in this quickly growing and exciting study mode, we decided to open up our portals and to also offer you information about these education options offered globally.

Please note, that for the time being this section does not yet include any on campus programmes offered in these parts of the world.

Learn below about the different countries and choose your online study from a growing selection of online studies offered by accredited institutions.

Distance Learning

Distance learning is a mode of study that allows the student to study most or all of a course without attending at a campus-based institution. The distance can refer to both material and interaction. Distance learning provides access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both.

The programmes often include a computer-based training system and tools to produce a virtual classroom. The tuition fees for distance learning vary from institution to programme to country. It is certain that the student saves expenses related to accommodation and transportation, because you can maintain the current living expenses. Distance learning is also a great solution for people that already have a job, and still want or need further education.

Discover other countries

The Netherlands is a very popular study destination. Internationals choose this beautiful country because Dutch universities are some of the best in Europe, the living standards are high, foreigners are always welcome, and you get to live in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world. The Netherlands is also renowned for innovative technologies and engineering solutions, which is reflected in the wide range of Engineering degrees offered by universities. English is spoken by around 90% of Dutch citizens, so forget about language barriers. Also, bike lanes and the “cycling culture” will help you to stay fit and healthy, and there are diverse job opportunities and internships for international students.
Finland is an excellent choice for all internationals and especially for EU/EEA students who can study at local public universities for free. The beautiful Nordic country has one of the best education systems in the world and ranks among the safest and happiest nations in the world. You can also choose from over 400 English-taught programmes. In your spare time, you can explore the breathtaking Finnish nature and landscapes, as well as the numerous lakes that give the country the nickname ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes.’ From here, you can easily travel to neighbouring countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, or Estonia.
Ireland is among the top countries in the world in terms of quality of life, peace, safety, and development. It represents an appealing blend of beautiful landscapes, English-speaking environments, and a strong, welcoming, and rich culture — of which the Irish people are very proud. International students also enjoy the full support of Irish universities, which hire and train staff that are able to help with accommodation, studies, visa details, or any other challenge.
Norway is a paradise for anyone who wants to study abroad for free. Public universities don’t charge any tuition fees. This policy applies to all international students, regardless of their nationality. The academic standard is very high, and professors are easy to approach, always willing to go the extra mile for their students. Additionally, classes are organised in small groups, which further improves learning and cooperation. You can choose from a wide range of English-taught programmes, and you don’t need to worry about language barriers outside of classes either, because most Norwegians speak English as a second language. Internationals should find it easy to adapt to Norway’s society, which is based on equality and fair opportunities — reflected both in the legal system and in people’s behaviour.
Greece is the cradle of European civilization and the birthplace of philosophy. Greek universities and colleges have a long history in academics, attracting international students from all over the world. Classes are not typically formal, so you can expect open discussions between students and professors, in line with the classical philosophical debate tradition. EU/EEA students don’t pay any tuition at public universities, while non-EU/EEA citizens pay low fees. In Greece, you’ll also enjoy the well-known local hospitality and the wonderful Mediterranean climate. There are many landmarks and monuments waiting to be explored, including the Acropolis, Delphi, the Parthenon, and many others.
Sweden is a very ambitious, eco-friendly, and visionary country. For example, by 2040, it aims to produce all its energy from renewable sources. Universities play an important role in achieving development goals, thanks to their world-class research facilities. If you’re from the EU/EEA, you can study at public universities for free. As a student, you will discover and easily adopt the three main values of Swedish society: freedom, equality, and sustainability. These values are reflected in every aspect of the local society, and you’ll quickly learn to appreciate them. Language barriers are also almost non-existent since around 80% of Swedes speak English.
Switzerland has one of the most advanced free-market economies, which is reflected in the high living standards and the satisfaction of people living here. In terms of higher education, Swiss universities are constantly ranked among the best in Europe, and they shine in areas like Business, Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Engineering. When compared to Western universities, tuition fees in Switzerland are affordable, and all studies — especially PhD programmes — are world-class. You’ll have the opportunity to develop in a multilingual environment and try learning international languages like German, French, or Italian. If you settle down here, the unemployment rates are low, and salaries are well above the European average.
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Universities in the UK are some of the most highly regarded in the world, and for good reasons. Some of the world's most highly regarded research takes place in British universities, which are regularly featured in international rankings. While studying in the UK, you will be able to develop in a highly multicultural environment with high chances of pursuing lucrative careers after graduation. The teaching in the UK is designed to encourage new idea generation, encouraging individual research and group cooperation, through class discussions and creative assignments.
Canada is one of the most popular study destinations in the world due to its high focus on the quality of its universities and its emphasis on attracting international students who can later immigrate. Canadians are very welcoming to international students and they invest a lot into making sure students are safe, treated fairly, and enjoy their stay in the country. Study in one of the strongest economies in the world while enjoying a high living standard and a flexible study environment. Classes have smaller student groups ensuring everyone gets the attention they need, and encouraging group assignments and debates.
United States
United States
The United States is home to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world. With over 150 universities featured in international rankings, the U.S. has some of the best business schools, medical schools, and engineering schools. Universities and colleges in the U.S. are well known for academic flexibility and ways to customize your study experience with optional studies and extracurricular activities. Depending on where you will be studying, you will be able to visit iconic places like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Goldengate Bridge, The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, and much more.
Israel attracts international students through high standards of education and a wide range of English-taught degrees. Local universities shine in areas like Technology, Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship. In fact, Israel is a renowned land of innovation, having earned itself the nickname ‘Start-Up Nation’. While living and studying here, you will discover a wonderful culture developed throughout 4,000 years of history; different cultural influences are noticeable everywhere, especially in Israeli food, art, and history. In major cities, English is widely spoken, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. In your spare time, you can visit one of the over 400 nature reserves and 80 national parks.
By studying in Australia you will take advantage of the great student environment both inside and outside classrooms. In addition to some of the best business and engineering schools in the world, you will be able to explore a greatly developed country that still retains its wild side with its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and the Great Outback, with over 500 national parks. Many Australian universities provide internships and work placements, preparing students early on for the job market.


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