Ready to work towards a National Diploma in the field of your choice? Here’s what you need to know about how to earn this valuable qualification.
South Africa has a wide variety of tertiary qualifications, which can cause significant confusion, so let’s first clear up the question of what a National Diploma (more specifically, a National N Diploma) actually is.


A National Diploma is…

A qualification aimed primarily at giving the learner technical, theoretical knowledge; practical knowledge; workplace knowledge; and skills required in their chosen occupational or vocational area. Unlike a Bachelor’s Degree, National Diplomas include a great deal of practical experience.

The qualification involves a combination of:

  • The learner completing N4, N5, and N6 courses in a particular vocation/occupational area, either separately with breaks between, or in one extended study period of 18 – 36 months.
  • 18 months’ or 2000 hours of practical workplace experience (or 24 months and 2670 hours in the case of engineering diplomas).

In a nutshell, the diploma is designed to give students who complete their National Certificates the chance to earn a further qualification through gaining practical experience in their chosen field.


What are the application requirements for a National Diploma?

To apply for a National N Diploma, you first have to complete your studies on N4, N5, and N6 level – successfully passing a minimum of 12 subjects – and then you have to gain 18 months’ or 24 months’ (for engineering) workplace experience.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) sets out further criteria as follows:

  • Candidates must submit an application letter with their personal details, ID number, postal address and contact number, as well as the name of the Diploma they want to apply for.
  • Candidates must complete the DHET application form.
  • Candidates must produce proof of relevant practical experience, showing the practical execution of two relevant instructional offerings studied at N6 level.
  • Candidates must attach a confirmation of employment letter from the company or companies where they carried out their workplace experience.
  • Candidates must also attach copies of their N4, N5 and N6 Certificates and results.

Click here for the full application process and the application form.
If all of this sounds daunting, don’t worry too much – the examination officer at your college is available to assist with all applications and enquiries regarding diplomas. The examination officer will receive your application and submit it to the DHET, where it will be processed. If your application is successful, the National N Diploma will be sent to your college.


What are the advantages of studying towards a National Diploma?

  • Once you get your diploma, you will be eligible to pursue certain university degrees, no matter whether you received university exemption in Matric or not.
  • A National Diploma allows you to complement your theoretical knowledge with practical workplace experience.
  • National Certificate studies are more affordable than university, and the admission requirements are less strict.
  • Studying a National Certificate allows you to gain a better understanding of the field you’re interested in, without having to immediately commit to a three- or four-year degree. You also receive a qualification upon completion of each N-level.
  • Your studies can be completed through a distance learning college, giving you the freedom to study whenever you want to or to get a part-time job while you study.


Want to find out more about how to gain your National Diploma?

Contact Oxbridge Academy on 021 1100 200 or email