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South Africa

Study Law in South Africa 2024

Study in South Africa

What Is the Law Degree in South Africa?

Obtaining a law degree in South Africa is necessary for individuals who wish to practice in the country. The LL.B. degree is the necessary degree qualification for individuals who wish to enroll as an Advocate or an Attorney in the country. Students who wish to get started may be entered directly in these programs at the undergraduate level, though the program is also available as a post graduate plan as well.

Law Higher Education in the Country?

Working as an Advocate or an Attorney in South Africa requires obtaining a degree in the field of law. In most cases, this is done as a bachelor's degree in the country. Programs last for between two and for years to obtain a Bachelor of Laws. It is not required, but is encouraged, that students work towards an LL.M. program upon obtaining their bachelor's degree. Additionally, the LL.D. and PhD programs are also available beyond the master's programs.

Students study law in South Africa to work in this field, since it is a requirement. Their course of study includes a focus on both practical and textbook education, that is how to work as an Attorney as well as how the legal system works in the country. Court law history is a focus.

Attorneys may work as a Notary or Conveyancer as well after obtaining their specialize training. Students will need to sit for and pass the required licensing exam to be a member of the Bar Association. It is a requirement that anyone selling their services as an Attorney in the country be a member of the Bar Association.

The tuition to law school here ranges significantly. It is set by any of the numerous schools that provide accredited programs. Generally, programs last for four years. International law students are welcome in most of the universities in the country. However, application for these programs must be made directly by the international student to the school and approval is likely only when availability within programs exist. In some colleges and universities here, it is hard to find available space.

After graduating, students can continue their education to obtain a PhD or other higher level of degree in the field. Many students enter the workforce and provide legal services to consumers. However, others can go on to teach in the field or to work in judicial positions (after obtaining experience in the field.) Often times, the student will continue his or her study alongside building a career in this field.

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Basic monthly living cost

  • Rent in a shared flat

  • Share of utilities

  • Internet subscription

  • Local transportation


Sample lifestyle cost

  • Fast food combo

  • Cinema ticket

  • Pint of local beer


About South Africa

South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. It sits along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans and is near Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. It is the 25th largest country in the world by area has is home to more than 53 million people. South Africa is very much a multi-ethnic country with various languages and cultures. More than 11 languages are present here, including English and Afrikaans. In this upper middle income economy, there are plenty of opportunities for those who wish to study law.

What Is the Law System in South Africa?

The South African legal system is a mixture of various styles. There is a civil law component that stems from the Dutch law system. Common law is also present here, and is much like that found in Britain. A customary law system also exist. Overall, the country follows a criminal and civil law structure with constitutional law. The court system in the country includes Magistrates' Courts, High Courts, Constitutional Courts, and the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Visa Requirements

  1. South African student visa (formerly called a South African study permit)
  2. South African exchange visa - If you are older than 25 years and want to come to South Africa on a cultural, economic, or social exchange program, organized between an educational institution or government body in South Africa and one in a foreign country.

What type of Visa do you need?

Visa name

South African student visa; South African exchange visa

Price and currency

USD 47

The South African student visa application fees depend on your country of origin but are around US$47.

Who can apply for the visa?

An international student who wants to stay and study in South Africa for a course extending 3 months (90 days) duration will have to apply for a student visa. This visa is granted to those students who have already been accepted for admission by a recognized educational institute in South Africa.

In order to qualify for a study visa for South Africa, the school or college itself must first qualify as a ‘learning institution’. This means it must be registered with either the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education. So if you want to attend a private language school or a school only offering short-term technical courses, you may not qualify for a South African study visa.

Please note: You cannot come to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and then proceed to apply for a South African student visa. You cannot come to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and then proceed to apply for a South African student visa.

Where can you make the application?

South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy

To get a visa for South Africa, students must contact the South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy in their country of residence.


How to make the application?

First, you need to get accepted as a student by a registered South African school, college, or university and receive a letter of acceptance on the institution’s letterhead and signed by or on behalf of the principal or registrar.

You then need to complete the temporary residence permit application form B1-1738 and take it in person to the South African embassy, consulate, or high commission in your home country.

The following documents must be submitted with the BI-1738 application form:

  • A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit
  • Payment of the prescribed fee
  • A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act
  • Proof of financial means to cover envisaged living expenses during the sojourn in the Republic and to also pay for the tuition fees. This should be in the form of bank statements / cash available / travelers’ cheques
  • Proof of medical cover
  • A cash deposit equivalent to the value of a return ticket.
  • In the case of African students, an undertaking from the relevant government to take full responsibility of the student and to pay all costs, should it become necessary to deport the student
  • Medical and radiology reports
  • An unabridged birth certificate in the case of minors.
  • In the case of a minor, the particulars of the person in the Republic of South Africa who will act as the learner’s guardian and a letter from such person confirming guardianship
  • Consent from both parents for your stay in South Africa, or from the parent who has sole custody, along with proof of sole custody
  • An official letter from the educational institution, where you intend to study, confirming provisional acceptance and the duration of the course.
  • Proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.
  • If you are 18 years and older, a police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years is required.

You apply for an exchange permit (South African exchange visa) using the same application form B1-1738.

When should you apply?

Application process times vary from country to country but allow about six weeks.

The student visa is valid for the entire duration of the student’s course, alternatively 36 months for schools and 24 months for other institutions.

South African exchange visa - this visa is granted for the duration of the exchange, usually not more than 12 months. The South African exchange visa cannot be renewed or extended. Once you have had this type of permit, you may only apply for a temporary or permanent residence permit after you have lived for at least a year outside of South Africa.

Processing time

6 Weeks

Work opportunities

If you hold a South African student visa and are studying at tertiary level, you are allowed to work part-time for no more than 20 hours a week during term-time, and full-time during vacations.

Hours per week


Why do you need this type of visa?

There are numerous reasons why your student visa application to South Africa may be denied, such as:

  • Leaving blanks on your forms
  • Lying about anything in your application
  • Having an out-of-date passport with no blank pages
  • Misspelling your name on documents
  • Not providing evidence of enough funds