What to Study after Matric

What to Study

What to Study after Matric



Young people who have studied after school stand more chance of getting a job than those who do not. In addition to better prospects for employment young people who have studied earn higher wages and stand a better chance of getting promoted sooner and higher.



A university is normally associated with an academic education offering different types of bachelor degrees. A bachelor degree, also known as a Baccalaureate Degree, is a first degree or undergraduate degree. A degree usually takes three years complete. Whilst there are many different degrees available, most careers can be followed via nine common fields of study:  

For a list of Universities available in South Africa visit, Universities

  •                 Arts (BA)
  •                 Commerce (BCom)
  •                 Sciences (BSc)
  •                 Education BEd
  •                 Engineering (BEng)
  •                 Building Science (including Architecture)
  •                 Agriculture
  •                 Medicine
  •                 Law (LLB)

Requirements for degree studies?

You need to pass your National Senior Certificate (NSC) with the following: 

  • Pass at least 6 out of 7 subjects
  • Must pass at least 40% for your Home Language
  • Must obtain at least 50% for four other subjects excluding Life Orientation
  • Must obtain at least 30% in the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) of the tertiary institution you are applying to study at.

A number of universities in South Africa require that you also do the National Benchmark Test (NBT’s) to assess your academic readiness for university. The test does not replace or duplicate your National Senior Certificate results. Universities use the NBT’s to help interpret your National Senior Certificate results and help them to make decisions about your access to university. This means that your NBT results, in combination with your NSC results, are used to determine whether you are ready for academic study. 

University of Technology

A University of Technology is associated with various national diploma programmes which usually take three years to complete. Universities of technology offer a more practical education than universities, meaning that the study is directly related to particular work area. The advantage of this is that graduates come out with knowledge that is career-focused and immediately relevant in the workplace.

For a list of Universities of Technology available in South Africa visit, Universities

There are various campuses spread across South Africa, offering degree, diploma and certificate courses in 6 major fields, namely:

  • Engineering
  • Applied Sciences (agriculture, chemistry, biomedical technology, environmental science, food science, nature conservation, etc)
  • Commerce (finance, accounting, business management, human resources, marketing, etc.) 
  • Health (including chiropracting, dental technology, emergency care, nursing, opthalmic sciences, podiatry, somatology)
  • Design including (graphic design, industrial,  architectural, fashion, interior, jewellery, mulit-media, photography, film, etc) 
  • Education 
  • IT


Requirements for diploma studies

  • You need to pass your National Senior Certificate (NSC) with the the following:
  • Must pass at least 6 out of 7 subjects 
  • Must obtain at least 40% for your Home Language 
  • An achievement rating of 3 (Moderate Achievement, 40-49%) or better in four subjects (excluding Life Orientation)
  • Must obtain at least 30% in the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) of the tertiary institution you are applying to study at.


TVET Colleges

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET’s) previously known as FET colleges offer both academic and hands-on skills-based programmes designed in cooperation with industry. The programmes can be divided into four main sections:

National Certificate Vocational NC(V) programmes (L1-L3) equivalent to the NSC (matric). 

National Certificate and Diploma programmes (L4 - L6) or Nated programmes which start after the matric equivalent certificate.

Artisan and apprenticeship programmes. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration  from between 18 months and 4years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification. Qualified artisans such as boilermakers, toolmakers, electromechanicians, millwrights, electricians and others are in high demand. Read more, What is an Artisan?
The minimum entry requirement to enter a TVET College is a Grade 9 Certificate. TVET's are conveniently situated all over the country including in rural areas. TVET's offer the most affordable fees in the country and loan finance and bursaries are available through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for learners who meet the criteria. 

 For a list of TVET Colleges available in South Africa visit, TVET's

Private college

Private colleges offer a variety of degree, diploma and certificate programmes that vary considerably in offerings, quality and price. This makes it difficult to choose which private college  to go to but there are a number of well-known private college brands.

It is not uncommon for private institutions to be more expensive than public institutions. The reason for this is that public education institutions get money from government whilst private education institutions do not.

Ensure that the qualification for which you register is accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority(SAQA) or by the  Council on Higher Education (CHE). Phone (012) 392 9100 or visit www.che.org.za

 For a list of private colleges available in South Africa visit, Private Colleges

Distance Education

Distance education is offered by a number of universities and colleges providing education on various media platforms including video, internet, or CD. The most well-known distance education institution in South Africa and Africa is the University of South Africa (UNISA). In most cases, exams are written at exam centres. Because distance study requires a lot of self- motivation there is often a high drop-out rate.

It is important to apply to more than one institution so that you have a fall back if you are not accepted at the first institution. It is acceptable to apply to two or three institutions at the same time. Apply early! It is important to ensure that the study institution you are applying to is accredited with the Council for Higher Education and that the qualification you intend to enroll for is registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Avoid unscrupulous institutions who are not registered.

Due to the high costs of study and transport, more and more students are considering distance learning which requires no commuting and therefore saves you time and money. You can study from anywhere in the world and pursue your choice of distance education course studies. Unfortunately, distance learning has a number of drawbacks associated mainly with the effects of social isolation - more often than not, you study alone and distance learning students often times feel isolated and miss the social interaction that accompanies the traditional classroom setting on campus.

You do not get the stimulation of direct interaction with fellow students. You do not always get to engage in verbal interaction with fellow students and professors, missing the opportunity to work on oral communication skills. This leads to a high drop-out rate of students.

Cost of study?

The most important rule of thumb when choosing where to study is: what’s convenient and what’s affordable? It does not help to study far from home if you can’t afford the accommodation and transport costs. In difficult economic times find cost-effective ways to study. Students can apply for financial aid through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Students should contact the Financial Aid office at the institution to which they are applying for more information. Read up more on the cost of the study

For information on bursaries visit, www.gostudy.net/bursaries

Quality of Education

The quality of South African universities is high when benchmarked internationally. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rank the top 11 universities in South Africa and include five South African universities in its list of over 800 universities worldwide as follows:

University of Cape Town (ranked 171)

Stellenbosch University (ranked 302)

University of the Witwatersrand (ranked 331)

University of Pretoria (ranked between 501 - 550)

University of KwaZulu-Natal (ranked between 551 - 600)

University of Johannesburg

Rhodes University

University of the Western Cape

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

University of the Freestate

North West University (ranked 701)

Source: www.topuniversities.com

For a list of private colleges available in South Africa visit, http://www.gostudy.net/institutions

Get some guidance!

Making a career decision is a bit like starting a journey. At first it may be quite exciting because there are so many possibilities to choose from. However, it may also be quite scary not knowing where to start and which path to take because there are so many option available to choose from. If you need some career guidance you should take our assessment. It’s free of charge and will help you to identify a field of interest, www.gostudy.net/questionnaire .  In addition you may want to consider getting some professional advice. 


For a full list of universities and comprehensive institutions in South Africa visit, http://www.gostudy.net/institutions

For more information of closing dates to apply to university read, University Closing Dates.