Higher certificate

If you have just obtained your matric qualification, you may be asking yourself what is next. This can be exasperated by the sheer number of tertiary qualifications for undergraduates to pursue. With diplomas, higher certificates, bachelor’s degrees and more it can all get quite overwhelming and confusing.

That is why we decided to write this article to take a closer look at one of these undergraduate qualifications, the higher certificate. We will look at what it is, and what results you need to apply for a higher certificate course. We will also look at some of the higher certificate courses available and where they rank in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels. In order to help fresh matric graduates to make an informed decision about their future.

What is a higher certificate qualification?

A higher certificate qualification is a tertiary education qualification that can be obtained in one year. This type of qualification primarily focuses on equipping students with the skills they need to have a basic understanding of their field of study with some practical knowledge. This is intended to allow students to pursue further studies in their chosen field or begin working in an entry-level position.

What marks do you need to pursue a higher certificate?

In order to pursue a higher certificate qualification there are certain matric result requirements. These marks are commonly known as a higher certificate pass as this type of matric pass allows graduates to study for a higher certificate qualification. To obtain a higher certificate pass you will need the following results:

  • A minimum of 40% in their home language subject
  • A minimum of 40% in two other subjects excluding Life Orientation
  • A minimum of 30% in any other three subjects
  • Students can only fail one subject

What NQF level is a higher certificate?

All qualifications in South Africa are assigned a level in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). This system standardises qualifications across the country in progressive levels of expertise. A higher certificate carries an NQF level of 5. This places it one level above the National Senior Certificate (NSC) or matric which is at NQF level 4. The higher certificate is also one level below a National Diploma which has an NQF level of 6.

Examples of higher certificate qualifications

There are many higher certificate courses available in South Africa. These range across many different industries and fields of study. We will take a closer look at some of these courses below:

Higher certificate in Physical Sciences

The higher certificate in physical sciences course offered by the University of South Africa (UNISA). This course is intended for matric graduates who need to improve their skills in academic reading and writing, mathematics, statistics and English in order to pursue further studies or employment in the physical sciences. This course provides a basic introduction to scientific field knowledge in higher education. This allows students who complete this course to pursue further studies in this field or begin working as entry-level laboratory assistants in various sectors. This course takes a year to complete and is presented online through distance learning.

Higher Certificate in Logistics and Supply chain management

This higher certificate course from The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is presented by Rosebank College. It is designed to provide matric graduates with an introduction to the logistics and supply chain management industry. This industry deals with ensuring that goods are transported where they need to go in the right condition. Once students complete this course they will be able to begin their careers in an entry-level position in the industry. Rosebank College offers this course as both an online and full-time course, allowing students to choose which method suits their needs best.

Higher Certificate in Paralegal studies

This higher certificate course is presented by the Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA). It is a distance learning course that takes a year to complete. It is intended to provide students with quality education and skills that they will be able to implement in the legal sector. Equipped with these skills students will be able to handle a range of legal issues. These include managing functional areas related to office practice management, criminal and civil litigation processes, debt collection, and deceased estate management. It will also give students an understanding of a range of legal issues. Upon completion of this course, students are able to pursue further studies in law or begin a career in an entry-level position as a paralegal.


As we have seen, a higher certificate is a great option for matric graduates, especially for students who did not obtain the results needed for a bachelor’s degree or national diploma. A higher certificate can provide a stepping stone allowing them to pursue further studies in a specific field or obtain an entry-level position to start their career. We also looked at some of the higher certificate courses available in South Africa. We hope this article has helped you to better understand higher certificates as an option for matric graduates. So you can make an informed decision about your future and pursue your dreams and aspirations to the best of your abilities.Alternatively, you can do a matric upgrade to improve your matric marks.

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