Requirements to Study Nursing in South Africa

Requirements to Study Nursing in South Africa
Requirements to Study Nursing in South Africa

Before we begin this article on requirements to study nursing in South Africa, let’s have a brief knowledge about nursing in this country.

Just like studying Medicine in this country, being a nurse is a noble profession and nurses are respected all around the globe. This field of study just as it is respected also involves and requires a lot of hard work from the aspiring nurses.

According to the South African Nursing Council Statistics, the nursing industry in South Africa is fast growing. In the past 10 years, there has been increase in registered nurses by 35% (across all three categories) — that is over 74,000 new nurses registered in South Africa since the year, 2008. Registered nurses have since increased by 31%, while enrolled nurses and enrolled nursing auxiliaries have increased by 71% and 15% respectively.

It is good to know that there is always a job waiting and open for nurses in South Africa. According to the South African Health Review 2017, nurses in this country make up the largest single number of healthcare professionals.

We know some nurses do not like the idea of working in a hospital, are you among this set of nurses? Don’t worry, there are a lot of options available. As a nurse, you can work in schools, universities, out-patient clinics and pharmacies, government institutions, nursing homes, research labs and many other settings.

As you proceed in this article on the requirements to study nursing in South Africa, the information which you will obtain is not only on the qualifications and requirements to study nursing in South Africa based on that qualification but also you will get a knowledge of the types of nurses in South Africa and steps to be a certified nurse.

Things to Know Before Studying Nursing in South Africa

There are few things students need to know before they enroll for any nursing program in South Africa. We’d list out three of these things which should be known and they are:

1.  Time Duration to Study Nursing in South Africa

An undergraduate degree can be obtained within four to five years. Nurses with an undergraduate degree in nursing sciences can also gain a Masters degree in psychiatric nursing, general nursing and midwifery.

This study duration also depends on the kind of programs which the student undergoes in order to become a nurse. Some programs take a year (which we will show to you in this article), others 3 years to complete.

2. Can an International Student study nursing in South Africa?

Before an International student is permitted to undergo any practical requirement, he/she is required to obtain Limited Registration with the South African Nursing Council before he/she are permitted to commence the requirements.

The Department of Nursing Education will facilitate the process with the South African Nursing Council when the registration is completed.

3. What is the Salary of South African nurses?

This depends on the hospital or the organization which you as a health practitioner find yourself but the average salary for a Registered Nurse is R18,874 per month in South Africa.

Three Types of Nurses in South Africa

1. Registered Nurses:

They are in charge of the supervision of enrolled and enrolled nursing auxiliaries.

2. Enrolled Nurses:

They carry out limited nursing care.

3. Enrolled Nursing Auxiliaries:

They have the responsibility of carrying out basic operations and offering general care.

Steps to Become a Certified Nurse in South Africa

For one to become a certified nurse, you have to under go these two processes:

1. You must get a qualification from an accredited school. This school could be a private nursing college or any public schools. So it doesn’t matter which school you go to, they offer the same degrees and diplomas.

2. Registration to the South Africa Nursing Council (SANC) is compulsory. To get registered in the SANC, you have to present some documents which will be verified and approved before you are accepted into the South African Nursing Council. These documents are:

  • A Proof of identity
  • A Certificate of good character and standing
  • A Proof of your qualifications
  • The Receipt of registration fee
  • Further reports and information concerning your application as may be required by the registrar
  • Lastly, the student will have to sit for the SANC-administered nursing exam that suits with the specific qualification you seek. There are exams for the different categories of nursing professions.

Qualifications Needed to become a Nurse in South Africa

1. A 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Bcur)

The bachelor’s degree in nursing generally has a duration of 4 years and this degree is offered by most public universities in South Africa. The degree consists of two components, namely: the compulsory practical clinical component and the theoretical component.

In the practical component, the aspiring nurse will learn how to do the practical work needed to be done as a nurse; While in the theoretical component, the student will learn theory aspect of what it is to be nurse and will study medical, biological and natural sciences, psychological and social sciences and pharmacology so as to have the knowledge to become a competent and successful health care professional.

Entry Requirements:  To get qualified for a bachelor’s degree in nursing, one has to pass the following subjects with an average grade of (59 -59%). These subjects are:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Life sciences
  • English
  • Additional/Home language
  • Life Orientation.

In addition to these, there is need for a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or any equivalent qualifications at exit level 4.

The Bcur usually prepares students to work in four specific fields;

  • General Nursing
  • Common Nursing
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Midwifery.

Once the student has completed this degree, he/she can be able to register as a professional nurse and midwife with the SANC.

2. A 3 year Diploma in Nursing

The diploma in nursing qualification can be found in Vaal University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, LPUT, TUT and other universities of technology.

This course takes a duration of 3 years to be completed and as the bachelor’s degree program, it has both the practical and theoretical component.

Also during this course, the student will cover similar work to what that would be covered in the Bcur degree. As the course comes to an end or geta shorter, the student will go less in depth with the work in this degree.

The student will learn how to provide nursing care, apply the knowledge gotten in the nursing practice, diagnose and treat minor illnesses and provide reproductive health care.

After obtaining this qualification, the student will be eligible to work as a registered nurse or enrolled nurse.

Entry Requirements: There is a need for a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or any equivalent at ext level 3 or 4 depending on the institution.

However, there is no importance for mathematics and/or any physical science as it is for Bcur but you will definitely need the following:

  • English
  • Additional/Home language
  • 4 other Subjects
  • Life Orientation.

The subjects above also needs an average grade of 50 -59%.

3. A 1 year Higher Certificate in Auxiliary Nursing.

This is a qualification spanning for just a year that is aimed to equip the student with the skills that is needed to provide basic nurse care to individuals.

Upon the completion of this program, the student will be able to work under a registered nurse with a qualification in either a Bcur or a diploma.

This course is aimed to strengthen, and enhance the knowledge in nursing and midwifery. During this course, the student will specialize in either nursing or midwifery.

Unlike other program qualification, this course only offers the theoretical aspect. This course will teach you how to apply tour theoretical knowledge, the practice of basic nursing, how to assess, plan, evaluate and implement basic nursing care for not just individuals but as well as groups.

It will also help the student desire a career in Nursing Management. After the student has obtained this certification, he/she is eligible to work as an enrolled auxiliary nurse.

Entry Requirements: For the student to get qualified to study this program, there is a need to obtain a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or any equivalent at exit level 3 or 4. It is not important if you have taken mathematics, physical science or life sciences.

  • English
  • Additional/Home language
  • Four other subjects
  • Life Orientation.

The above course must also have an average grade of 50 – 59%.

4. A 1 year Post Graduate Advanced Program in Nursing and Midwifery

After completing and obtaining a degree or diploma in nursing, there is a requirement to go for an advanced degree program but only if you desire a career in Nursing Management. Aside having a degree or diploma, the student must have at least 2 years of experience as a midwife or nurse.

You can choose to complete your qualification at either a public university of a private nursing school. These private colleges such as, Mediclinic, Netcare Education or Life College offers the same degrees or diploma as the Universities and universities of technology in South Africa.

Entry Requirements: In order to get qualified and enrol for his program, the following requirements must be met:

  • Bachelor in Nursing Science or (equivalent) or a degree  and comprehensive Diploma
  • Diplomas in Nursing and Midwifery
  • Advanced Diploma in Nursing and Midwifery.

Colleges Offering Nursing in South Africa

The South African Nursing Counsel (SANC) is in charge of courses and institutions in the country. Therefore you will need to get more information from them to find out nursing colleges in South Africa and their requirement form.

SANC will not register a student with a qualification from a school which it has not recognized or approved. To avoid this, there is a need to find out the schools that are accredited by the South Africa National Counsel.


In conclusion, the requirements to study nursing in South Africa are not impossible to acquire neither are they difficult. But with determination, resilience, discipline and hard work, your dream of becoming a nurse in South Africa will materialize. Good luck!