Study Graphic Design: Admission Requirements

On my previous blog posts, Where to study graphic design in South Africa and Study Graphic Design: Universities vs Independent Design Schools, I have had several queries regarding admission requirements for the Graphic Design Programme.  If you want an accredited National Diploma in Graphic Design or a BA Design Degree you need to make sure that you have a National Senior Certificate (NSC) as certified by Umalusi (or equivalent). But what does this mean? Below are some guidelines for you to follow, but please note that different institutions may have specific levels of subject achievement, ie they may only require a 2 for Mathematics on the APS scale of achievement or a 4 for Mathematical Literacy.  Some may even have Visual Arts as a compulsory subject. Note also that Life Orientation only has a credit value of 10 and may be divided by 2 in the calculation of the final APS rating.

For the National Diploma Programme

The minimum admission requirement is a National Senior Certificate with an endorsement of a bachelor’s degree or a diploma, or an equivalent qualification, with an achievement level of at least 4 for English (home language or first additional language). You will also need to submit a prescribed portfolio. The Life Orientation score is divided by 2 when calculating the total APS.

  • English: (first or second language) 4
  • Additional subjects: Any five other subjects with a combined score of 16

For the Bachelor’s Degree Programme

The minimum admission requirement is a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with an endorsement of a bachelor’s degree, as well as an APS of 30. The Life Orientation score is divided by 2 when calculating the total APS.

APS scale of achievement Rating Marks %
7 Outstanding achievement 80-100
6 Meritorious achievement 70-79
5 Substantial achievement 60-69
4 Adequate achievement 50-59
3 Moderate achievement 40-49
2 Elementary achievement 30-39
1 Not achieved 0-29
APS = Admission point score

Designated Subjects

  • Applicants who wish to enroll for a degree programme need to ensure that four of their seven subjects are from the designated list.
  • The list already includes three of the four compulsory subjects for obtaining the NSC, namely, Languages, Maths or Maths Literacy.
  • A learner must then select one or more subjects from the list below, provided that they are not from the same group in order to apply for a degree programme.
Accounting Languages
Agricultural Sciences Life Sciences
Business Studies Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
Dramatic Arts Music
Economics Physical Sciences
Engineering Graphics and Design Religion Studies
Geography Visual Arts
History Consumer Studies
Information Technology

154 Responses

  • what talent / requirement do i need for graphic design- my grand daughter is looking to see what direction she must build a career. she like drawing 2/3 d yes i said she should have computer literacy. not sure how to guide or encourage her. thanks

  • Hi there Erica. I’m another, young, starry-eyed designer wanna-be! I love deign and am seriously considering studying graphic design after school (I’m in grade 11). You mentioned earlier that this field is extremely competitive so I fear that the ‘need’ for a gd is being excessively met. I sometimes question myself about whether I’ve got what it takes. What skills, in your opinion, make for a successful graphic designer? I’d very much appreciate any other tips and advice you have me and other aspiring designers.

    And thanks so much for your awesome website, it’s been a great help! 🙂

  • My name is thokozani i just need help i am doing eight subjects(pure maths,physics,lyf science, geography,Afrikaans,english,Lo and busines studies) but still don’t know what course to take in university and i am doing great in all of them so i really need help

    • Hi Thokozani, thanks for your comment. I am no student advisor, but I can recommend you study what you are passionate about. I always loved art and design at school and that’s why I studied graphic design. Today I can truly say I love my job! Best of luck!

  • Which is the best institution in South Africa to study graphic design and can you get a stable job? How competitive is it and would you recommend doing a bachelor’s degree or a national diploma? How long can you stay in the field? Where can you get an internship?

  • Hi.

    I don’t do visual art but I take EGD and I’m not really good in drawing. Do you recommend doing a graphics course?

    I’m in matric and I LOVE the idea graphic design please help.

  • Hi Erica
    I am Home Schooled and do not have a Matric but would love to study Graphic design,, is there a possibility I will still be able to go on a course without a matric certificate .

  • Hi Erica.
    I would like to study animation design. is it the same as graphic designing and where can i study it in South Africa? My subjects are Math Literacy, Visual Arts, Life Sciences, Computer Applications Technology, Two Languages and LO.

  • Am doing grade 12 and am interested in studying graphic design what l wanted to know is where can l get a school that deals with graphic design

  • Hello Erica

    I am a young man who loves drawing and thinking of studying graphic design however i lack information on which institutions offers it and do we have bursaries for graphic design.

    I have passed my matric however i fail maths, so will that stop me from being accepted/admitted in an institution.In other words am asking if I do qualify to study graphic design even if i failed maths?

    You input will highly appreciated
    I thank you

    • Hi Phistos, for a list of schools which offer graphic design please see my post Where to study graphic design in South Africa. To study graphic design you need a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with a minimum of 30% in the language of teaching, coupled with an achievement rating of 3 (Moderate Achievement, 40-49%) or better in four recognised NSC 20-credit subjects.

  • Hi Erica, Im so happy that I came across this site and I hope you still have time to reply to few more comments.
    Please help me. Im currently permanently employed but Im struggling to find a school that offers Graphic Design Part time. Can you please point me in the right direction.

  • I am currently in grade 11. The subjects currently offered at my school. English, Afrikaans, Maths, Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, Technology and Cat. I want to be a graphic designer and would like some input on my career choice.

  • Dear Erica,

    I trust this email finds you well. My son has matriculated and is passionate about studying Engineering Graphic Design. The subjects he has completed in matric are English, Afrikaans, Maths Lit, Visual Arts, EGD and Civil Tech. Please advise what course he should take and where in Durban these courses are offered. Your help is greatly appreciated.

  • Hi Erica

    I am so confused and I dnt really knw what I’m going to do in varsity with this subjects: maths lit;EGD;tourism;CAT;English; Afrikaans and LO… I am in grade 11 any advice please


    • Hi Chantell, if you have a passion for design and being creative, then you should look at studying Graphic Design. If you’re good at computer studies, then you can look at Multimedia Design. Best of luck!

  • Hi. I’m in grade 11 and have decided to do graphic designing. I take English, Core Math, Zulu, French and Information Technology. Will i be able to study graphic design?

  • Hi, my name is Andiswa I am in grade 12 and I want to do graphic design, can I do it with these subjects Acc, Business, Economics, ENGHL, AFAL, Maths and LO?

  • hi erica, i am 31 years old and dont have gr12. i am full time employed and wants to start my career in graphic design, thing is, like u said to become a graphic designer one should need a diploma or degree. fair enough.. but in my situation, no gr12 and full time employment, is there any place to study part time to achieve the diploma? or should i get gr12 first before i can apply to study for a diploma in graphic design?

    awaiting your reply,
    best regards

  • I would like to do graphic design but I am doing maths lit,g eaography,life sciences and tourism will I be able to qualify?

  • Hii… I’m Tshwaranang, I’m in grade 9…

    Next year I have to choice my subjects that I want to do,but I don’t know which one to take for Graphic Design.. Plz tell me which subjects do I need

  • Hi I’m Nikita and I’m in grade 9 I’m not sure if egd and physics is needed to become a graphic designer so what subjects do u need to become a graphic designer?

    • Hi Nikita, there are no compulsory subjects required to study Graphic Design. But recommended subjects include Art and Design, Business Economics and Computer Studies.

  • Hi Erica I want to study graphic design at tut next year I want to know if I need ti be good at drawinh

    • Hi Evidence, yes you do need to be creative to be a graphic designer. All TUT applicants are required to submit a portfolio and based on the results of the portfolio assessment, successful applicants will be invited for an interview and language proficiency assessment. Detailed instructions and information regarding the portfolio will be provided once TUT has received your application.

  • Hello Erica

    i have gone through all these comment and truly speaking this was helpful to me,
    but am still having a question, i does have NSC but I failed maths from my subjects,
    So should stop me from being a graphic designer?

  • Hi Erica I see that there is a 4 by Mathematical Literacy does that mean that I must Aquire 4 subjects higher than 50??

  • Please contact me as i am looking to pursue my career as a graphic designer and would like more information regarding this

  • Hey Erica my name is Teddy and am in matric.Originally i want to be a footwear designer but there is no proper coarse for that and havent heard of in this country…so i choose to be a graphic designer so what are the requirements as a matriculant?

  • Hiii my name is jamain i am in grade 11 this year i am interested in studying graphic designing after finishing matric.i do the subjects: cat,business,tourism and mathematics litracey
    i want to know if i will be able to study graphic designing with these subjects

    • Hi Jamain, it will depend if you want to study a Degree or Diploma. For a Diploma you can have any subjects, but for the Degree they need to be recognised NSC 20-credit subjects. I have added these designated subjects to my post.

  • Hi I’m Simangaliso,I have a problem I wish to study for this course. But I have 22 points will it be very hard for me to be admitted? And do you allow NSFAS

  • Hi my name is Ayanda, I studies Office Administration and I have a certificate that is equivalent to Matric with the following subjects, English, Mathematical Literacy, Life Orientation, Business Practice, New Venture Creation, Office Data Processing and Office Practice. Also did a Diploma in Management Assistant but I’m still waiting for my Diploma. I have wanted to study Graphic Design but the main problem I have is the portfolio that is required for me to have? How do I go about trying to compile one? And I would like to know if some institutions do offer Bursaries ?

    • Hi Ayanda, at most institutions they will send you full requirements for your portfolio once you have successfully registered. Examples of what might me required are still life drawing (like a chair), lettering (arranging letters within a grid), a comic strip and logo conceptualisation. Unfortunately I am not aware of any bursaries.

  • Hi my name is Sibusiso and I’m looking forward to study graphic design in tertiary and I am a matriculant.My questions is that does universities require a portfolio even if I don’t know how to make it?

    • Hi Sibusiso, Universities do require a portfolio, but most will send you full requirements once you have successfully registered.

  • Hi my name is Daniel doing grade 12 and I’m pursuing a graphic designer career and I’m naturally talented in drawing thats the reason why I chose it,but I’m a very introverted person.So please I want to know if I will fit in this career but I love it.thank you!

  • I just finished matic and i want to study graphic design but i did not take engineering graphic and designe at high school.the subjects i did take were physics,maths,life sciences and i regret not taking EGD instead of accounting but i am really passionate about drawing and i do beleive that graphic design is the career for there any way i can still persue this flied and still get to study EGD?

    • Hi Kimone, EGD is not a requirement to study Graphic Design. For a diploma, you will need to have passed five of the subjects listed above with a combined score of 16 and not less than 50% for your first or second language.

  • HI Erica

    My daughter is currently is grade 11 and she is an excellent artist who wants to pursue a career as a graphic designer.
    we are based in Pietermaritzburg and i want to check on 2 things,firstly will she still be accepted if she does maths literacy and secondly do they offer this at the university in Pietermaritzburg,i tried to contact them but i dont get any response from them.

    • Hi Shaun, compulsory subjects for the degree programme are Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy. UKZN does not offer a degree in Graphic Design, but they do offer a degree in Digital Arts – digital technology as a production tool, such as digital photography and video, graphic design and visual communication, digital drawing and painting, digital graphic novels and web comics, 3D modelling etc, as well as art forms that reflect on the digital technology as a medium (new media art), such as digital art installation, internet art, augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality etc. The discipline also offers an extremely strong Animation strand, including traditional 2D animation, 3D animation, and experimental animation. If your daughter would rather like to focus on Graphic Design, you can find a list of schools here Where to Study Web Design in South Africa.

  • Hey there.
    I am Thembi Mhambi I am currently in grade 11 @Rhodes high I want to pursue a Degree in Graphic and Design ,but I am looking for a bursery or scholarship and Institutions that offer this Course,I would like help on this journey,Thanks in Advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.