Top Universities for Masters Studies in South Africa 2024

If you seek an enriching experience in one of the world’s most diverse and intricate nations, opting to pursue education in South Africa could be an appealing choice. The country has made notable strides in fostering a democratic society that values diversity as a key element of its national identity. A growing number of students worldwide have contributed to the transformation by selecting South Africa for their studies, attracted by the nation’s breathtaking scenery, reasonable tuition fees, reputable universities, and affordable living expenses. There are top universities in South Africa for both national and international students. They can pursue postgraduate degrees from these top universities. 


Benefits of studying in South Africa

Educational standard in Africa: 

South African universities are recognized for their high standards of academic excellence and abundant opportunities. If you’re considering studying in South Africa, you can choose from 26 public universities on the African continent that offer top-notch degree programs. The academic year begins in early February and ends in late November, typically divided into two semesters with a break from early June to mid-July. Most Bachelor’s programs require three years of study, with an additional year as an option for those pursuing a research thesis. Many international students choose to spend a full academic year immersing themselves in the culture, learning a new language, and completing a comprehensive year of coursework.

Affordable Tuition Fees and Living Expenses: Despite the high quality of education in South Africa, the tuition fees are remarkably reasonable. The University of Cape Town, the country’s top university, charges approximately $3,200 per year. On average, undergraduate programs range from $2,500 to $4,500, while postgraduate programs typically cost between $2,700 and $3,000. These fees are modest when compared to global counterparts of similar ranking. For example, the University of Alberta in Canada, which shares the 136th position globally with the University of Cape Town, has tuition fees ranging from $7,000 to $29,000. Additionally, the cost of living in South Africa is also economical, with a budget of $6,000 to $7,500 being sufficient for an academic year.

Language immersion: South Africa boasts 11 official languages and numerous dialects. Although English is commonly used, immersing yourself in the country provides an excellent opportunity to learn languages such as Afrikaans, Zulu, and Xhosa, among others. 

Networking and career opportunities: The strong connections that South African universities maintain with local and international businesses offer students extensive networking opportunities and promising career prospects. Studying abroad in South Africa not only adds value to your resume but also opens doors to potential future employment.

Availability of Student Loans and Scholarship Programs: The government in this nation strongly backs students pursuing education, leading to the introduction of diverse scholarship programs by both government and private educational institutions. Additionally, there have been adjustments to the regulations governing student loans and grants, including the sassa grant, to provide more accessible financial support for both local and international students.

Skill Development-Based Programs: South African educational institutions prioritize the development and refinement of students’ skills. Whether at the primary, secondary, or higher education levels, there is an emphasis on an outcomes-based approach, establishing a connection between education and the real world.


Top Universities for Masters Studies in South Africa 2024
Top Universities for Masters Studies in South Africa 2024

Top Universities for Masters Studies in South Africa

1. University of Cape Town 

The University of Cape Town stands as one of the premier public institutions in Cape Town, South Africa, securing the #173 spot in the QS World University Rankings for 2024. It is the top ranked universities in South Africa. Established in 1829, UCT proudly holds the title of the oldest university in South Africa, boasting a rich legacy of academic distinction and groundbreaking research from its esteemed faculty and students.

Not only renowned for its academic prowess, but UCT is also celebrated for its picturesque setting. Nestled at the base of Devil’s Peak on Table Mountain, the campus offers a stunning panoramic view. The university is dedicated to elevating the standards and recognition of teaching and learning, fostering a community that includes exceptionally skilled students, educators, and researchers, along with a diverse array of professional, administrative, and support staff.

(Source: University of Cape Town)

2. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

The University of the Witwatersrand, situated in Johannesburg, South Africa, is recognized as one of the top public universities, holding the #264 position in the QS World University Rankings for 2024. It is the second top university in South Africa. As a leading research-intensive institution, 

Wits is renowned for its impactful contributions in deep-level mining, science, health sciences, accountancy, law, governance, and the humanities, among other fields. With five faculties comprising 34 schools, the university offers approximately 3,600 courses to a student body of around 32,500 full-time attendees, with nearly a third being postgraduate students and 55% representing female enrollment. Notably, almost 65% of doctoral candidates and half of all enrollments are concentrated in the Science, Engineering, and Technology disciplines. Over its 93-year history, Wits has produced around 130,000 graduates, with an impressive 87% of publications appearing in accredited international journals.

The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) provides a diverse array of postgraduate programs in English, ranging from bachelor’s degrees to PhDs. Tuition fees vary based on the specific degree program and the student’s nationality.

(Source: University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

3. Stellenbosch University

Established in 1918, Stellenbosch University (SU) is committed to advancing knowledge, research, and innovation to contribute to societal improvement. As a distinguished institution, we provide a top-tier educational environment that combines global significance with a dedication to uplifting and transforming local communities. Our initiatives are guided by core values and traits, supported by exceptional faculty and students, efficient operational systems, and a profound sense of purpose.

SU accommodates a diverse academic community of more than 32,500 students, including over 3,700 international students from 104 different nations. Stellenbosch University offers a comprehensive array of postgraduate programs (diplomas, honors, master’s, and Ph.D.) across its ten faculties or through the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, with all postgraduate programs delivered in English.

(Source: Stellenbosch University)

4. University of Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is a globally inclusive academic institution known for its commitment to transforming lives and diversifying professions. Positioned as a leading force in Africa during the 4th Industrial Revolution, the university actively envisions the future across various disciplines. It is ranked #306 in the QS World University Rankings 2024. 

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) takes pride in its top-notch, globally acknowledged academic offerings that reflect the latest advancements in both undergraduate and postgraduate education. Across its nine faculties, UJ’s curriculum is crafted to equip students for both professional endeavors and global citizenship. Currently, the university achieves an impressive 83.4% success rate for graduates, with an annual output exceeding 11,400 students.

(Source: University of Johannesburg)

5. University of Pretoria:

Located in the central part of South Africa’s capital city, the University of Pretoria (UP) stands as one of the country’s major educational institutions. Renowned for its substantial contributions to research and community engagement, UP is a dynamic and diverse leading research-focused university that addresses societal needs by providing practical solutions to actual challenges. With a comprehensive selection of undergraduate and postgraduate study programs, UP is positioned at #=323 in the QS World University Rankings for 2024.

(Source: University of Pretoria)

6. University of Kwazulu Natal

Formed on January 1, 2004, through the merger of the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal, the University of KwaZulu-Natal is positioned at 621 in the QS global rankings 2024. Distinguished as the preferred South African university, it excels academically, explores innovative research, promotes entrepreneurship, and engages actively with society in a critical manner. The university encourages prospective students to apply for its globally recognized postgraduate programs and provides various forms of academic and other support to facilitate their postgraduate journey, empowering them to contribute meaningfully with their knowledge and skills

(Source: University of KwaZulu-Natal)

7. North-West University (NWU)

The NWU is dedicated to operating as a unified, integrated, multi-campus university that promotes equity, redress, and globally competitive teaching and research across its three campuses. Our primary endeavors, encompassing teaching-learning, research, community engagement, and innovation, are integrated into the activities of our eight faculties, many of which cater to both distance and contact students. Beyond providing education, we provide individuals with a sense of belonging in the world. Academically, students enjoy a wealth of options and flexibility, empowering them to realize their potential and initiate preparations for their future careers.

(Source: North-West University)

8. University of the Western Cape

UWC stands as a research-oriented African university that prioritizes learning and teaching. It has a rich history of social justice, community engagement, and graduate employability. As a national institution, it remains attuned to both its African and international surroundings, aspiring to be a hub of quality and growth. The university is dedicated to achieving excellence in teaching, learning, and research, embracing the cultural diversity of South Africa, and addressing the evolving needs of a society in transition in both critical and creative ways. Across its seven faculties, the University of the Western Cape provides an extensive array of over 600 postgraduates.

(Source: University of the Western Cape)



Pursuing education in South Africa offers a unique and enriching experience, combining high academic standards with a diverse cultural environment. The country’s top universities, such as the University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria, University of KwaZulu-Natal, North-West University, and University of the Western Cape, provide excellent opportunities for skill development and networking. With affordable tuition fees, reasonable living expenses, and a commitment to diversity, South Africa stands out as a compelling choice for students seeking a transformative educational journey. The nation’s rich history, breathtaking scenery, and strong emphasis on societal contributions further enhance the appeal of studying in this dynamic and vibrant country.