Bridging the Gap: GED to Degree

To summarize in short, a GED is a SA matric equivalent and it means you get a National Senior Certificate Pass, that’s a NQF Level 4. BUT you do not qualify for Matric Exemption – which is needed to apply to a SA university for degree studies. Matric Exemption requires a Bachelor’s Degree Pass.

According to the GED® exam is internationally recognised as a high school leavers equivalent or Grade 12 (matric without exemption) equivalent in South Africa. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) evaluates each submission of a foreign qualification on a case by case basis. The GED® is eligible for evaluation as a South African National Senior Certificate or NQF Level 4.

See this link for more info:

What exactly are Matric Pass Levels in South Africa?

Many students are not properly informed about matric pass levels and requirements. 

There are 4 Matric Pass Levels:

1. National Senior Certificate Pass
2. Higher Certificate Pass
3. Diploma Pass
4. Bachelor’s Degree Pass (commonly known as an Matric Exemption).

○Bachelors Degree Pass– Will gain you provisional entrance into any University or Degree course.

○Diploma Pass – Will gain you provisional entrance into any Technikon or Diploma course.

○Higher Certificate Pass – Will gain you provisional entrance into any College or Certificate course.

Here are the pass requirements for each of these Levels:

1. National Senior Certificate Pass

□This is the bare minimum needed to pass your matric year. 
□An APS score of at least 3 in your home language 
□An APS score of at least 3 in 2 other subjects
□An APS score of 2 in 4 other subjects
□A total APS score of 14.

2. Higher Certificate Pass Requirements

□Must obtain 40% in your Home Language.
□Must obtain at least 40% in two other subjects.
□Must obtain at least 30% for three other subjects.
□It is important to note that one of your languages must either be English or Afrikaans to qualify for a Higher Certificate.
□A total APS score of 15.

3. Diploma Pass Requirements

□Must obtain at least 40% for your Home Language.
□Must obtain at least 40% for three other High Credit subjects (Four, including your home language.).
□Must obtain at least 30% for two other subjects.
□A total APS score of 19.

4. Bachelor’s Degree Pass Requirements (*Matric Exemption)

□Must obtain at least 40% for your Home Language.
□Must obtain at least 50% for four other High Credit subjects.
□Must obtain at least 30% for two other subjects.
□A total APS score of 23.

You can use this APS calculator to calculate your score:

How to bridge the gap

Scoring an entrance into the institution of your choice can be stressful. Especially if your matric marks don’t meet the minimum requirements. This can really put a spanner in the works.  It’s not ideal but there’s no need to panic.  Spanners are not dream-crushing tools.  They are used for character building; spanners simply create a challenge that needs to be overcome.

Past matriculants have overcome this challenge and gone on to qualify as professionals in their chosen fields.  There is no shame in redoing matric subjects that caused disappointment. So how can you improve specific matric marks? 


A bridging course is a short course that allows a matriculant to redo matric subjects and get a solid pre-degree/diploma foundation. It’s designed to upgrade certain matric marks.

See list of bridging courses:


If a student is over the age of 23 they may also apply for a conditional exemption from USAf based on mature age. See this link:


If you do not meet the relevant admission requirements for the diploma or bachelor’s degree of choice, you are encouraged to apply for admission to a Higher Certificate.

In South Africa, if you complete the GED® or a matric without exemption, and then follow it with a Higher Certificate course that is on the NQF level 5 and is a minimum of 120 credits, you may be eligible to apply for complete exemption from USAf.

Complete exemption would enable you to apply for admission to a degree course, provided that you meet the entrance requirements of the university and the faculty that offers the degree.

There are no guarantees, so please always check and contact the institution and faculty of your choice, to ensure that the route you are pursuing will achieve your end-goals. Each university has the final say and their own criteria for acceptance.

Here is a list of online higher certificates that students can study. There are many, many more options to choose from at offline colleges and universities around South Africa:

For example: Let’s look at different options for the Pathway to a Degree in Accounting:

Short Courses

You may want to explore some short courses in Accounting, before you enroll in a Higher Certificate course.


Online Short Course:

Learn the financial aspects of a business. Grow and maintain a successful business through its various stages financially.

9 modules with tutor support.
9 weeks duration.
Anytime registration.


Upon successful completion of this online short learning programme, you will receive the recognition of your knowledge and skills with a Damelin Certificate of Competence. Your certificate of competence will be issued in your registered name and will be couriered at no additional cost.

You will be required to complete a series of assessments that will be facilitated through our virtual learning environment. Your course handbook will be made available to you once you have commenced with your short learning programme.

●VarsityCollege: IIE Bookkeeping

  • Programme type: Short Learning Programme
  • Duration: Minimum 12 Weeks
  • Accreditation: The Bookkeeping programme is an SLP certified by The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE). Students enrolled for this SLP can submit an application for academic credit upon completion, to be exempt from the equivalent full qualification module when registering for any other IE programmes.

Higher Certificate Courses

Higher Certificate in Accounting Sciences

Qualification code: 98201
NQF level: 5
Total credits: 120
SAQA ID: 82106
APS/AS: 14
Maximum time to complete this qualification: 3 years


SAQA ID: 21075
NQFLevel: 5

The programme duration is 1 year minimum.

Career fields:
Learners could pursue a career as a:
Accounting Officer
Compliance Officer
Financial Manager

Admission Requirements:
Grade 12 (Std 10) or equivalent NQF 4 qualification, or 2 year’s verifiable and relevant working experience.

IIE Higher Certificate in Bookkeeping

•Programme type: Higher Certificate
•Duration: Minimum 2 Year (Part Time)
•Accreditation: CHE, SAQA, NQF level 5

●Pearson Institute
Higher Certificate in Business Management

The higher certificate is a good stepping-stone for those who do not meet the entry requirements for a degree but wish to gain entry to the PI Bachelor of Commerce after completing this programme.

+-2 Years Part-Time

17 May 2021

The career choices for you, as a Higher Certificate in Business Management graduate, are varied and employment options include:
Bookkeeping, Communications, Entrepreneurship, General administration, Human resource administration, Marketing administration, Sales consultation

Qualification Accreditation

Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE).
South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).


Total = 3 years

1. Bookkeeper
12 months
National Certificate: Bookkeeping
NQF L3 SAQA 58375
Certified Junior Bookkeeper

2. Senior Bookkeeper
6 months
FET Certificate:
NQF L4 SAQA ID 58376
Certified Senior Bookkeeper

3. Accounting Technician
6 months
National Diploma:
Technical Financial Accounting
NQF L5 SAQA ID 36213
Certified Technical Financial Accountant


Choose where to study ICB courses – there are over 500 ICB accredited training providers to choose from!
ICB courses are available at hundreds of ICB accredited training providers in southern Africa. Our providers offer classroom-based learning or distance learning – or both.


NQF L5 (SAQA ID 36213) National Diploma: Technical Financial Accountant
6-9 months
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers as a Quality Assurance Partner of the QCTO.

Stepping Stones for NQF L5:

1. ICB Foundation Level QUALIFICATION
National Certificate: Bookkeeping NQF L3 (SAQA ID: 58375)
DURATION 9-12 months

NQF L4 (SAQA ID 58376) Further Education and Training Certificate: Bookkeeping
6-9 months

This qualification is the third level in the ICB Financial Accounting Programme. The Technical Financial Accountant can perform the functions of an Accounting and Tax Technician. The programme includes a study of income tax, capital gains tax, donations tax and estate duty, liquidation and executors accounts, business and contract law, economics, personal finance and auditing.

●Bellview Institute:
N5 Financial Management

The Financial Management N5 course focuses on developing the knowledge and skills you have gained a little further in the N4 course. After receiving your certificate, you are able to do the N6.

Course Information

Certificate Type:
National Certificate: N5 Financial Management 
Accredited by: 
The Quality Council of Trades and Occupations (QCTO)
Awarded by:
The DHET and The QCTO
NQF Level:
Level 5
12 months
Entry Requirement:
National Certificate: N4 Financial Management:

☆Where to apply for Degree Studies:

SAIPA recognised institutions:

In order to follow the SAIPA stream, you will need to register for your Bachelor of Commerce degree at one of the following SAIPA-accredited universities:

1. Akademia
2. Cape Peninsula University of Technology
3. Nelson Mandela University
4. North-West University
5. University of Fort Hare
6. University of Johannesburg
7. University of Pretoria
8. University of South Africa
9. University of the Witwatersrand
10. University of the Western Cape
11. University of the Free State
12. University of Cape Town