There are many reasons most students choose to study medicine and the main reason is to help people end suffering.
According to Statista, the estimated number of deaths in South Africa as of 2022 is 663,075, this was lower compared to the previous year when the deaths in the country reached the highest level since 2002, at 701,360.
By becoming a doctor or professional in the health industry, you can make a real difference in people’s lives and help to alleviate pain and suffering.
This guide will help you find the best medical schools in South Africa based on your interests and needs, so you’ll be able to find the perfect program to fit your life goals as a physician.
Is South Africa a good place to study medicine?
South Africa is really a good place to study medicine, each year, thousands of students from all over the world apply to medical schools in South Africa and are accepted based on their marks in high school and their overall performance as students.
However, if you are considering becoming a doctor or practicing the profession it might interest you to know that the healthcare system in South Africa is not very encouraging, according to the 2020 Global Healthcare Index, South Africa’s healthcare system ranks 49th out of 89 countries.
According to a study by African Journals Online, about 86.2% of doctors reported having left South Africa because of financial factors, while about 79.3% of doctors reported having left the country for the sake of better job opportunities, and crime rate at 75.9% is also a factor why doctors leave South Africa.
But in all these, the South African medical schools still remain top-notch with their programs, only about 50% of doctors responded to having left the country because of schooling opportunities for their children.
What are the best medical universities in South Africa?
We have listed thirteen of the best medical schools in South Africa, we sourced ten from US News & World Report and Wikipedia, and the remaining three are those pushing to become medical schools.
In no particular order, here is our list of the best colleges offering medicine in South Africa;
1. Stellenbosch University
Founded in 1866 but recognized in 1918, Stellenbosch University is one of the top public universities located in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
Although it is famous for law, politics, and geography, it is also one of the best medical colleges in Africa ranking #317 among the world’s top universities for the category of Clinical Medicine by US News.
Students interested in becoming doctors take their training through the school’s Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, this
To become a doctor at Stellenbosch University, it takes six years to complete the medical programs which lead to the MBChB degree.
2. University of Pretoria
The next on our list of the top medical universities in South Africa is the University of Pretoria, a multi-campus public research university in Pretoria, the administrative and de facto capital of South Africa.
The University of Pretoria was founded in 1908 and has since gone on to develop some of the country’s best medical colleges.
The school has a large student enrollment of over 38,000 students and its ranked #511 among the best clinical medicine colleges in the world, according to US News.
The University of Pretoria School of Medicine offers medical programs that lead to degrees in MBChB, MPharm Med, MPhil (Philosophy and ethics of mental health), BClinical Medical Practice, etc.
3. University of the Free State (UFS)
The University of the Free State (UFS) school of medicine has been restructured and is currently known as the School of Clinical Medicine. It was previously a three-school model which included the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions.
To become a medical doctor at the University of the Free State (UFS) you will have to complete the five-year medical program which leads to the MBChB degree.
The minimum admission point required for studying medicine at the University of Free State is 36, calculated based on achievement in six school subjects plus one mark for Life Orientation above 60% (achievement level 5).
4. University of Johannesburg
The University of Johannesburg is another public university located in Johannesburg, South Africa that came into existence on 1 January 2005.
The University of Johannesburg is also one of the schools in South Africa offering medical programs leading to a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Complementary Medicine.
The minimum admission point required for studying medicine at the University of Johannesburg is 36, and a minimum average mark at achievement level 5 (60%) is required for each of the following compulsory subjects:
- English or Afrikaans
- Physical Sciences and
- Life Sciences.
You should also have an NCV (level 4) issued by the Council for General and Further Education and Training.
5. Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
Formed on 1 January 2015, the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University is a university with a school of medicine under its health science faculty in Pretoria North, Gauteng Province, South Africa.
The school offers medical programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in MBChB, MBChB (ECP), M Med (Anaesthesiology), M Med (Anatomical Pathology), M Med (Cardio-Thoracic Surgery).
To get admitted to the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University school of medicine, the applicant should:
- Be up to 18 years of age at the time of application
- Have a matriculation exemption certificate issued by the South African matriculation board, and
- Have a pass mark in mathematics and physical science, a combined rating of 9 and higher or a standard grade.
The tuition fee for studying medicine at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University range anywhere from R30 000 to R70 000.
6. University of Western Cape
Founded in 1959, the University of Western Cape is one of the top medical universities in South Africa offering top-notch programs in natural medicine through its faculty of Community and Health Sciences.
The University of Western Cape offers 5-year training programs in four disciplines of natural medicine:
- Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.
- Phytotherapy (Western Herbal Medicine) and
Graduates of this school will be able to register with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA) within their field of specialty.
7. Walter Sisulu University (WSU)
Walter Sisulu University is one of the South African universities where you can get one of the best medical degrees in Africa.
The school offers five programs through its department of public health;
- Community Medicine (as part of the MBChB program, from level 1 to level 5)
- Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion
- Postgraduate Diploma in Health Promotion
- Master of Science in Health Promotion, and the
- Master of Public Health.
To know more about this school, download this guide.
8. University of Limpopo
The University of Limpopo began its operation in 2005 but already has a student enrollment of over 20,000 undergraduates and postgraduate students.
The University of Limpopo is also one of the top medical universities in South Africa accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to offer a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB).
Although there is still no notable global ranking, its medical degree program is one of the best in South Africa.
To get admission into the University of Limpopo school of medicine, the applicant should have a Grade 12 bachelor’s pass, meeting minimum requirements in English, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences (Biology).
9. North-West University (NWU) South Africa
The North-West University or NWU is also one of the top medical schools in South Africa, it began its operation as a university in 2004, but the student enrollment has grown to over 44,000 students.
The North-West University is known for its quality subject offerings in the fields of:
- Atmospheric science
- Clinical medicine
- Hospitality and tourism management
It is also one of the most reputable universities in South Africa and its Faculty of Health Sciences has been ranked #540 among the best in the world according to US News and World Report.
The North-West University’s Faculty of Health Science offers a variety of health-related degree programs such as Pharmacy, Nursing Sciences, Dietetics, etc.
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10. University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
Founded in 2004, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, or UKZN is one of the public universities in South Africa with over 26,000 students student enrollment for both undergraduate and postgraduates.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal is also one of the most prestigious medical universities in South Africa, US News ranks the school of clinical medicine as #279th in the world.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal has 29 medical disciplines including:
- Clinical & Professional Practice
- Diabetes and Endocrinology
- Emergency Medicine
- General Medicine, etc.
It takes six years to complete the program leading to a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB).
Related: The 5 Best Medical schools in Kansas
11. University of Witwatersrand
The next on this list is the University of the Witwatersrand commonly known as Wits University or Wits which offers top-notch programs leading to a Medicine and Surgery degree.
The University of the Witwatersrand is arguably one of the best medical schools in Africa and has been ranked 135th school in the world for clinical medicine by US News.
Student-doctors can take up to six years to complete the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree as well as a graduate degree for four years concurrently.
12. University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university established in 1829 and was granted full university status in 1918, making it one of the oldest universities in South Africa.
The University of Cape Town is also one of the top universities in South Africa offering medical programs that leads to the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree.
Becoming a doctor at the University of Cape Town, you will take six years to complete the medical programs here.
The requirements needed to get into the University of Cape Town school of medicine include;
- APS (Admission Point Score) score of 463/600.
- FPS (Faculty Point Score) score of 628/900.
- WPS score of 764 (628+135.6) for South African applicants only.
Also read: The 8 Best Nursing Schools in Rwanda
13. Nelson Mandela University
The last on our list is the reputable Nelson Mandela University or NMMU, the university started in 2005 and offers a wide variety of degree programs.
It takes six years to complete the medical program here leading to a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery.
For entry requirements, the applicant should have a minimum Applicant Score (AS) of 430, you should also have a minimum of 60% in English, Mathematics, Physical Science, and Life Science to apply for the MBChB degree.
What are the best medical schools in Africa?
The best medical schools in Africa are the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Cairo University in Egypt, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in South Africa, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and Ain Shams University in Egypt.
What are the best medical schools in the world?
The best medical schools in the world include Harvard University, New York University (Grossman), Columbia University, and Johns Hopkins University.
What are the requirements for studying medicine in South Africa?
South African citizens are encouraged to study medicine at home and not pursue a degree abroad.
In order to be eligible to study medicine, applicants need to have completed their high school education with at least five subjects including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and English language.
Applicants also need to have an average of at least 60% or higher and they must be able to speak English fluently.
Another requirement for enrollment into a medical school in South Africa is the National Benchmark Test(NBT). Sometimes a motivational letter is requested too, read how to easily write a successful motivational letter even without experience.
How long does it take to become a doctor in South Africa?
It takes 5-7 years to complete the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) program in South Africa and become a doctor.
What are the best medical universities in South Africa?
The best medical universities in South Africa include the University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, the University of Johannesburg, and the University of Western Cape.
What can you do with a medical degree?
With a medical degree, you can apply to become an anesthetist, cardiologist, clinical radiologist, or even a general practice doctor.
Are doctors in demand in South Africa?
With a 1.58% growth rate, there is a huge demand for doctors in South Africa to meet the needs of its population growth rate.
What are the high school subjects needed for medicine in South Africa?
The high school subjects needed for medicine in South Africa include; English, Mathematics, Physical Science, and Life Science and it is recommended to have a minimum of 60% score in them.
- Number of deaths in South Africa – https://www.statista.com/statistics/1331600/number-of-deaths-in-south-africa/
- Global HealthCare Index – https://www.numbeo.com/health-care/rankings_by_country.jsp
- Reasons for doctor’s migration from South Africa – https://www.ajol.info/index.php/safp/article/view/44783
- Global Universities for Clinical Medicine in South Africa – https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/south-africa/clinical-medicine
- Medical Schools in South Africa – https://kiiky.com/medical-universities-in-south-africa/
We hope this article solves your immediate needs, if you are looking to become a doctor a South Africa, the schools listed here are the most recommend.
However, if you have any suggestions about this article, or you can’t find your school, feel free to contact us.