With most undergraduate degrees consisting of 3 years of study (the exceptions are professional programs such as medicine, law, engineering, architecture etc.) admission into a graduate program in South Africa would require completion of an Honors Program. These programs are generally one year in length and require a pass rate of 68% in the final year of a 3-year degree in order to gain admission. Places in the Honors Program are limited and competition is keen.
Masters Degrees in most fields consist of a Dissertation/Thesis and depending on the program range in length from 1 to 2 years.
Higher Education Reform
Like all other sectors in South Africa, higher education has already undergone mammoth post-apartheid change, inspired first by the 1975 Report of the National Commission on Higher Education and then by the 1997 White Paper. Both articulated the vision of creating out of a fragmented past a single, coordinated tertiary system that would meet the country’s development needs. Since the mid-1990s South Africa’s government-financed tertiary institutions have been open to students of all races.
In 2004, South Africa started reforming its higher education system, merging and incorporating small universities into larger institutions, and renaming all higher education institutions "university" and incorporating several technikons (technical universities). As of January 2011, South Africa now has 11 traditional universities, 6 technikons and 6 “comprehensive” institutions, which offer a mix of academic and vocational courses.
Restructuring higher education through mergers is laying the foundations for future change, and along with government strategies to deliver the first four goals – access, equity, diversity, and growing research - will drive South African higher education in the future.
South African academic life follows the European tradition, a mixture of lectures and seminars with individual laboratory time and library work. Students specialize early and study one or two disciplines for three or four years. In most subjects, assessment is based on continuous evaluations with assignments, orals, presentations, one mid-semester test and a concluding examination. Regular class attendance is compulsory. Please note that students who make travel arrangements that clash with their lectures, tests and examinations, will not receive a final mark for their courses or an academic transcript to take back to their home institution.