South Africa, a country located southernmost on the continent of Africa, is recognized worldwide for its unique landmarks and diverse community and culture. Officially known as the Republic of South Africa, it has a population of around 60,143,000 as of 2021. Furthermore, as per the country’s Constitution, it has 11 official languages.

Everything a tourist may want to explore can be found in South Africa. If one is up for a trip centered on the hustle and bustle of city life, they can have it here. Or, if one prefers a more adventurous wildlife-focused trip, that is possible too. From mouthwatering bites at Durban to white sand beaches at Cape Town, there’s a lot to discover in the country.

As for the country’s educational system, it begins with primary school. It is divided into junior preparatory schools, consisting of grades zero to three, and senior preparatory schools run from grades four to seven. These are followed by five years of high school.

In line with that, only the first nine years of education are considered compulsory. The last three years of high school are optional and can be pursued at various colleges such as specialist technical, community, or private ones. Moreover, South Africa’s main schools include governing body-funded schools, international schools, public schools, and private schools.

When it comes to data science, practitioners in this discipline have been thriving in the country over the last few years. In fact, the government and various business industries have emphasized a need to train individuals who show developing skills or talents in this field, as it has become more in demand in the workforce. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities for data science in South Africa!

Top Universities for Data Science in South Africa

1. University of KwaZulu-Natal

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) opened its doors to students in 2004 after a merger between the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville. UKZN is among the top universities for data science in South Africa that has four colleges. Each has its respective schools: the College of Humanities with six schools, the College of Agriculture, Engineering, and Science with five schools, while the College of Health Sciences, as well as the College of Law and Management Studies, have four schools.

The university’s five campuses are the Edgewood Campus, Howard College, Medical School, Pietermaritzburg, and Westville Campus. On another note, numerous graduates of UKZN have become successful individuals in their chosen fields. This includes South African Rugby Union captain John Smit, singer-songwriter Lize Heerman, biotechnologist Nokwanda Pearl Makunga, human rights activist Sethembiso Promise Mthembu, and esteemed dermatologist Ncoza Dlova.

UKZN is the first in South Africa to have a data science program for students across Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. Aside from this, they also offer a Postgraduate Diploma and an Honors degree for this discipline. In addition to this, the university’s data science center is currently working towards a training initiative to provide students with the proper knowledge for data science in business and industry.

2. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Established in 1922, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg is a historically rich institution. It is commonly referred to as Wits University. Moreover, the University of the Witwatersrand is an excellent institution for data science in South Africa that has two campuses with five faculties and 33 schools that offer a variety of around 3000 courses. The two campus locations are Braamfontein and Parktown. On the campus, there are 11 libraries and 17 residences.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2022, Wits is the #2 best university in all of Africa. The institute collaborates with several globally-recognized and prestigious universities such as the University of Edinburgh, University of Washington, University College London, University of Cape Town, and Harvard University.

The Wits Institute of Data Science (WIDS) focuses on providing students with world-class training and aiding them in conducting innovative research. Its main goal is to produce graduates who turn out to be outstanding data scientists and data-intensive researchers.

3. University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria is a public research university and a top school for data science in South Africa that was founded in 1908. It began as a small center of learning in a small house called Kya Rosa, having only four professors and 32 students. Presently, it is an institution offering a wide range of study programs to its diverse community of students.

In line with this, the university now has seven campuses: Hatfield Campus or the main campus, Hillcrest Campus, Groenkloof Campus, Prinshof Campus, Onderstepoort Campus, Mamelodi Campus, and Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

At the University of Pretoria, they offer a Bachelor’s degree focusing on statistics and data science as well as a Master’s degree in big data science.

4. Stellenbosch University

A public research university located in the province of Western Cape, Stellenbosch University began as a seminary as well as a boys’ school and college from 1859 to 1917. It was then officially established as a university in 1918.

Currently, the higher education institute has ten faculties and these are for the fields of AgriSciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Health Sciences, Military Science, Science, and Theology.

Numerous courses across all the faculties have subjects related to data science. However, in 2021, Stellenbosch University is recognized as a leading university for data science in South Africa and began offering a new Bachelor’s degree in data science. Furthermore, there is a School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at the university, where honor’s, Master’s, and doctoral programs are offered.

5. University of the Western Cape

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is a public university located in the suburb of Bellville, which is situated in Cape Town. It was founded in 1960. Currently, UWC is known for its exceptional data science programs in South Africa and has around 23,000 students spread out across its seven faculties: the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Natural Sciences.

UWC’s data science program was recently established in March of 2018. It is focused on data science in terms of business and networks.


We hope that this article on Best Universities for Data Science in South Africa was helpful. Feel free to check out the Available Programs for International Students and learn more about studying abroad.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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