Schools and Universities in South Africa that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs

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South Africa is home to a wide range of educational institutions that offer master’s degree programs for students with HND certificates, second class and 3rd class degrees. These include both public and private universities, as well as distance learning institutions. There are many different specializations available, including business, engineering, education, and more. And with many of these institutions offering online courses, it is easier than ever to get a quality education in South Africa. 

So, whether you are located in Cape Town, Johannesburg, or elsewhere in South Africa, there are plenty of options available to you.

Eligibility Criteria for Masters Programs in South Africa 

Below are the general eligibility criteria that candidates must meet or consider when applying for Master’s programs in South African schools and universities:

  • Completion of a Postgraduate Diploma: Some institutions may require candidates, especially those with HND certificates or Third Class degrees, to complete a relevant Postgraduate Diploma before enrolling in a Master’s program. This pathway helps bridge the academic gap and prepare students for the rigors of postgraduate study.
  • Work Experience: Several universities and schools consider relevant work experience as a crucial factor in the admissions process, particularly for candidates whose academic qualifications may not meet the typical entry requirements. Demonstrating significant professional experience in your field of study can significantly enhance your application.
  • Recommendation Letters: Prospective students may be asked to provide letters of recommendation from academics or professionals who can vouch for their capability to undertake postgraduate studies. These letters should ideally attest to your intellectual curiosity, research skills, and suitability for the Master’s program.
  • Motivation Letter and Research Proposal: Applicants might need to submit a motivation letter outlining their academic interests, career goals, and reasons for choosing the specific program. Additionally, for research-focused Master’s degrees, a preliminary research proposal that aligns with the department’s expertise may be required.
  • English Proficiency: For applicants whose first language is not English, proof of proficiency in English (e.g., IELTS or TOEFL scores) is typically necessary. This requirement ensures that students can fully participate in their chosen program, which is particularly important for courses delivered in English.

It’s important to note that specific requirements can vary widely between institutions. Therefore, prospective students are strongly advised to directly contact the admissions office of the universities or schools they are interested in for the most accurate and detailed information regarding eligibility criteria for Master’s degree programs.

Read Also: Schools and Universities in Spain that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs

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Schools in South Africa that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs 

Finding schools in South Africa that acknowledge HND Certificates, Second Class, and Third Class degrees for Master’s degree programs may seem challenging, but several institutions offer flexible admission criteria for postgraduate studies. These schools understand the value of diverse educational backgrounds and professional experiences. Below is a list of schools that provide avenues for students with these qualifications to pursue their Master’s degrees:

1) Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)

Known for its practical and industry-oriented programs, CPUT considers applicants with HND certificates and bachelor’s degrees with lower classifications for specific Master’s programs, particularly those with a strong vocational focus.

2) Durban University of Technology (DUT)

DUT offers a range of postgraduate opportunities for students with HNDs and lower class degrees, especially in fields like Engineering, Business, and Information Technology. The university often requires a postgraduate diploma completion as a pathway to Master’s degree studies.

3) Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

TUT is open to candidates with various qualifications, including HND certificates and lower class bachelor’s degrees. Applicants may need to undergo additional assessments or complete bridging programs to qualify for certain Master’s degrees.

4) University of Johannesburg (UJ)

With a focus on research and innovation, UJ provides opportunities for students with HNDs and lower class degrees to enroll in Master’s programs, contingent upon meeting specific departmental requirements and possibly completing preparatory coursework.

5) Nelson Mandela University (NMU)

NMU values practical experience and academic potential, offering entry into Master’s programs for students with HND certificates and lower classifications of bachelor’s degrees, particularly in areas related to Science, Technology, and Education.

Each of these schools provides unique pathways and support systems to ensure that students with HND certificates, Second Class, and Third Class degrees can successfully pursue their Master’s education. Candidates are encouraged to contact the admissions offices of these institutions directly to learn more about specific entry requirements, available programs, and the application process tailored to their qualifications.

Universities in South Africa that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs  

Each university has unique admission processes and requirements tailored to assess and integrate students from diverse academic tracks into their postgraduate courses. Here is a list of notable universities that offer such opportunities:

1) University of Cape Town (UCT)

UCT is a premier institution that occasionally accepts students with lower degree classifications and HND certificates for selected Master’s programs, especially if applicants demonstrate strong professional experience or exceptional academic potential through other means.

2) University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

Wits University provides pathways for students with HNDs and lower degree classifications into its Master’s programs, particularly valuing applicants who exhibit a strong commitment to their field of study and have relevant work experience.

3) Stellenbosch University 

Known for its robust research environment, Stellenbosch University assesses applicants on an individual basis, offering opportunities for those with HND certificates and lower class degrees to pursue Master’s degrees, contingent on meeting certain prerequisites or completing bridging courses.

4) University of Pretoria

This institution has programs that may accommodate students with diverse academic backgrounds, including those with HNDs and lower class bachelor’s degrees, for postgraduate studies, emphasizing the importance of relevant work experience and a strong motivation for academic advancement.

5) University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)

UKZN offers several postgraduate programs that are accessible to students with HND certificates and lower class degrees, encouraging applications from those who have shown professional growth and have a clear academic plan.

Applicants interested in these opportunities are advised to reach out directly to the admissions departments of their chosen universities for detailed information on specific program requirements, assessment procedures, and any additional prerequisites that may be necessary to bridge the gap between their current qualifications and the demands of postgraduate study.


Does the University of Manitoba accept HND for Masters?

No, generally the University of Manitoba requires an Honours Bachelor’s degree (four years) or equivalent for admission to Master’s programs.  HND qualifications are typically not considered equivalent.

Can I do a Masters with an HND in Sweden?

The possibility of using an HND for a Master’s program in Sweden depends on the specific university and program.  Some may require a four-year Bachelor’s degree, while others might offer alternative entry pathways  like postgraduate diplomas. Researching the  programs you’re interested in is key.

Can I do a Masters with an HND certificate?

In most cases, an HND certificate alone won’t be sufficient for direct entry into a Master’s program. However, some universities might consider your HND along with relevant work experience or additional qualifications.

Can I study in Canada with an OND certificate?

Canadian universities typically don’t offer direct entry into Master’s programs with an OND certificate.  However, you might explore options like postgraduate diplomas or advanced certificates before pursuing a Master’s degree.

Can I study in Canada with an HND certificate?

Similar to OND certificates, HND qualifications on their own usually aren’t enough for direct Master’s program entry in Canada.  Consider postgraduate diplomas or advanced certificates as stepping stones to a Master’s program.


In conclusion, it is clear that South Africa has a wide range of universities and other educational institutions that accept HND certificates, second class and 3rd class qualifications for admission into their master’s degree programs. Whether you are looking to study in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, or elsewhere in South Africa, there are many options available to you. So, if you have an HND certificate or a second or third class degree, don’t despair! You can still pursue a master’s degree in South Africa and get the skills and knowledge you need to further your career.

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