Top 5 South African Medical Schools in 2024

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Did you know that at a point in history, South Africa was regarded as the largest gold-producing country in the world? Its gold boom era witnessed a massive influx of migrants, leading to the development of several infrastructures including roads, buildings, and cities.

Today, South Africa ranks as the second richest country in the whole of Africa, and as typical of any wealthy country, it offers one of the best education in the world, especially in medicine.

If you are looking to apply to a quality medical program in a renowned medical school, South Africa, with its outstanding medical education, is a great choice for you. Ready your minds, as we walk you through a list of the top 5 medical schools in South Africa.

1. University of Cape Town

Touted as the best medical school in Africa, the University of Capetown also doubles as the first institution to be ranked as one of the top 50 universities in the world for medical education.

It is also the best university in South Africa and has several research breakthroughs credited to its name, including the first successful heart transplant in the world in the year 1967.

As an international student, you can either apply to pursue a full-time degree program in the university or attend a fixed duration or semester through their Semester Study Abroad Program (SSA).

2. University of Witwatersrand

Founded on the 1st of March 1922, the University of Witwatersrand is one of the top medical schools in South Africa, situated in Johannesburg which is also known as “the city of gold” in the gold mania era.

Amidst other cities in South Africa, Johannesburg has evolved over the years to become the most developed. The University of Witwatersrand has a century-long record of excellence in medical education and research.

Apart from being the first university in South Africa to undertake a successful graft of plastic cornea, the University of Witwatersrand is home to the first dental school and hospital in the whole of South Africa.

With these remarkable academic feats, it is easy to see why the university enjoys the high level of international attention it does.

3. Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University (SU) is renowned for its vast research output per academic staff, and the highest students’ success rate in all of South Africa. Their research areas concentrate on biomedical tuberculosis and management, wine biotechnology, animal sciences, and mathematical biosciences.

Stellenbosch University’s faculty of medicine and health sciences is credited with the establishment of the first rural clinical school in South Africa. The rural clinical school serves as an internship center where many SU students gain clinical exposure.

Their medical education comes with lots of student-centric support systems, some of which are the tutor-mentor program, subject-specific tutors, and the ResEd (Residence Education) program.

To strengthen its commitment to international integration, Stellenbosch University created the SU International Office in 1993.

4. University of Pretoria

From small group lectures in a tiny apartment to becoming one of the biggest research universities in South Africa, the University of Pretoria’s development over the years is truly significant.

One of the best medical schools in Africa, the University of Pretoria School of Medicine employs an innovative problem-solving curriculum for their medical programs, concentrating on practicals and the study of body organs, and systems.

At the heart of their medical training is a community-focused method to equip students for any kind of clinical practice.

To open the door for international students, the University of Pretoria hosts an international cooperation division.

5. University of the Western Cape

Situated in the bubbling legislative capital of Capetown, the University of Western Cape is a public university created in 1959. Although the university doesn’t have a distinct medical program in a medical department, students can bag degrees in several disciplines including Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Unani-Tibb, and Phytotherapy in the School of Natural Medicine under the Faculty of Community Health.

Once you complete a medical program here, you can proceed to register in South Africa’s Allied Health Professionals Council (AHPCSA), which is a renowned board of professionals in the country.

Graduates of the University of Western Cape are equipped to stand out, not only within the country but also outside. As students move up the academic ladder, they get to participate in clinical practice at different units within the Lentegeur Hospital. As a hospital known for quality healthcare delivery in South Africa, the opportunity to engage in clinical practice here as a student is a big deal.

Senior students and medical professionals are responsible for assessing students according to their knowledge, and critical thinking skills.

It doesn’t end here; the University of Western Cape also has one of the most popular dental faculties in South Africa, prided on its standard professional education, and practical clinical skills, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Can International Students Come to Medical School in South Africa?

Of course, yes. South African students, in the past, were known to move abroad for their medical studies. However, as we speak, South Africa has improved tremendously in medical education so much that its medical schools have now been ranked as some of the best in the world.

This development has not only helped retain South African students to study within the shores of their country, it also attracts streams of students from the international community.

Some of the top universities that admit medical students from the international community include the University of Capetown, the University of Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University.

Ninety percent of the medical schools in South Africa require both local and international candidates to sit for the National Benchmark Test. Other things that will be uploaded during the online application include the Grade 11 grades, National Benchmark Test Scores, and Foreign school leaving certificates.

Upon admission, the students will need to present the following;

  • Letter of Acceptance from the University
  • Valid passport and study visa
  • Membership letter or certificate for a South African Medical Aid which is renewable each academic year
  • Original copy of
  • School Leaving Certificates and, or Tertiary Qualifications for Matriculation Exemption
  • TOEFL or IELTS certification is required for students from a non-English speaking country.
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Proof of funds to support your education
  • A pass mark in the National Senior Certificate (Mathematics, Physical and Life Sciences)

Kindly note that the requirements as mentioned earlier are only the general ones. You should consult the medical school you have in mind for specific requirements.

South Africa has grown over time to become one of the top places for medical studies in Africa and the world at large. It has a handful of outstanding medical schools and accepts prospective students from within and outside the country.

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