South Africa | International Credentials Equivalencies

Minimum GPA
2nd Class Upper Division or 70/100
A Minus GPA
First Class or 75/100
B Plus GPA
2nd Class Upper Division or 73/100
Instruction Languages
Afrikaans, English
Bachelors Equiv.
Bachelor Honours Degree* (4-year)
Masters Equiv.
Grad Sample
First Degree Sample
Grading System

75-100 First Class
70-74 Second Class Div. 1 (Upper)
60-69 Second Class Div. 2
50-59 Third Class
0-49 Fail

Recognized Universities

Port Elizabeth University
Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education
Rand Afrikanns University
Rhodes Univ.
Stellenbosch University
Univ. of Cape Town
Univ. of Natal
Univ. of Orange Free State
Univ. of Port Elizabeth
Univ. of Pretoria
Univ. of South Africa
Univ. of the Western Cape
Univ. of Zululand
Witwatersrand Univ.

Notes for South Africa

Bachelor degree
Bachelor degrees are usually three years in duration. The programme consists of taught courses and end of term of examinations. Programmes are general in nature and provide theoretical training in preparation for Honours level study or entrance to the workplace. The Bachelor degree also provides entry to Postgraduate Diploma programmes. It does not provide entry to a Master’s degree.

Bachelor degrees in education, such as the Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts / Science in Education, are typically four years in duration but are classified as general Bachelor degrees. Unlike professional Bachelor degrees, they do not prepare students for Master’s level study.

Typical degree titles at this level include Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce. Latin titles are common on degree certificates, such as Baccalaureus Artium (Bachelor of Arts) Baccalaureus Commercii (Bachelor of Commerce) and Baccalaureus Scientiae(Bachelor of Science).

Professional Bachelor degree
Professional Bachelor degrees are four or more years in duration. Programmes consist of both general theoretical training and specialised professional training. They generally include a work-integrated learning component. Professional Bachelor degrees are offered in subjects such as agriculture, engineering, law, pharmacy and technology. The professional Bachelor degree provides direct entry onto a related Master’s degree programme.

Most professional Bachelor degrees are regulated by statutory councils or other professional bodies and lead to professional registration.

The Bachelor of Technology is typically offered as a one-year extension to a National Diploma programme. The Bachelor of Education is not classified as a professional Bachelor degree.

The most common professional Bachelor degree titles include the Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Pharmacy and Bachelor of Technology. Latin titles are frequently used on degree certificates: e.g. Baccalaureus Curationis (Bachelor of Nursing), Baccalaureus Ingeneriae(Bachelor of Engineering), Baccalaureus Legum (Bachelor of Law), Baccalaureus Pharmaciae (Bachelor of Pharmacy) and Baccalaureus Technologiae (Bachelor of Technology).

Four-year Bachelor of Science (Baccalaureus Scientiae) degrees in agriculture, allied health subjects (such as occupational therapy or physiotherapy) and engineering are usually classified as professional Bachelor degrees. This is not always the case, however.

Bachelor degrees in medicine and veterinary science
Bachelor degrees in medicine and veterinary science are six years in duration. Bachelor degrees in dentistry typically take five years to complete. These degrees have a credit load that significantly exceeds what is normally required for professional Bachelor degrees. These programmes typically have very high entry requirements.

Graduates from these programmes may gain full registration as an independent practitioner with the respective professional body after a post-degree internship lasting two or three years. Bachelor degrees in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science provide direct entry to doctoral studies at some universities.

Bachelor Honours degree
The Bachelor Honours degree is a one-year postgraduate programme requiring a Bachelor degree or an Advanced Diploma for entry. The Honours degree prepares students for research-based postgraduate study and requires the completion of a piece of supervised research worth at least 30 credits. The completion of a Bachelor Honours degree meets the minimum entry requirements for admission to a Master’s degree.

Master’s degree
There are two types of Master’s degree available in South Africa: a general Master’s degree and a professional Master’s degree.

Both Master’s degrees typically require one to two years study comprising a minimum of 180 credits. A minimum of 120 credits must be obtained in level 9 courses. The entry requirement for both types of programme is a Bachelor Honours degree, a professional Bachelor degree or a Postgraduate Diploma.

The main purpose of a general Master’s degree is to provide education and training to researchers so that they can contribute to the development of knowledge at an advanced level.

The general Master’s degree can be studied in two ways: by research requiring the completion of dissertation only; by research requiring the completion of coursework and a dissertation.

Typical degree titles of a general Master’s degree include:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Commerce (MCom)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Master of Science (MSc).

The MPhil degree title is also awarded upon completion of advanced training in a medical sub-specialty. Please see below for more details.

A professional Master’s degree is similar to the general programme in that it requires the completion of coursework and the submission of a piece of research. However, it has a more professional orientation, and in some cases, it may be designed in consultation with a professional body to meet the requirements of professional registration.

The completion of a dissertation is not mandatory in a professional Master’s degree, although the degree must contain an independent study component. This independent study component can be in the form of a single research project or a series of smaller projects demonstrating innovation or professional expertise.

Typical degree titles of a professional Master’s degree include:

  • Master of Applied Commerce (MappCom)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master of Laws (LLM)

Master of Medicine/ Dental Surgery/Veterinary Medicine
The Master of Medicine (MMed), Master of Dental Surgery (MDS / MChD) and Master of Veterinary Medicine (MMedVet) degrees represent further specialisation in their respective fields. They are not designed to provide research training in preparation for doctoral studies. Rather, they lead to professional registration as a specialist. The entry requirements for these degrees are threefold:

  • A first degree in medicine, dental surgery or veterinary medicine
  • Completion of the prescribed two- to three-year internship period
  • Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (for medicine or dentistry) or the South African Veterinary Council (for veterinary medicine).

Programmes can last anything from two to six years. At least four years are required for most medical specialisms. Programmes typically consist of case studies, clinical placements, institutional training, presentations and seminars.

Other Master’s degrees in the fields of allied health and medicine, with the exception of the MPhil (see below), are essentially professional Master’s degrees and are awarded under titles such as Master of Medical Science (MMedSc), Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Optometry.

The Doctorate is awarded for a minimum of two years’ research after the award of the Master’s degree. The Doctorate provides training for an academic career and involves the submission and acceptance of a thesis which makes an original and significant contribution to the frontiers of a particular field of research.

Professional Doctorates, in fields such as education, engineering and law, provide training for careers in the professions and involve a combination of coursework and advanced research. The final thesis must comprise at least 60% of the degree.

Some universities also offer a Higher Doctorate. Award of the Higher Doctorate is based on a distinguished record of published works judged by international experts to make an exceptional contribution to a particular field of study.

Last Update: September 13, 2020

Last modified: September 13, 2020