NQF levels explained

The NQF Levels are the standards of learning achievement in South Africa. The type of qualification or qualifications you have is determined by the NQF Level.

NQF stands for National Qualifications Framework. This system is used to determine which level of qualification or qualifications students have achieved. The higher your NQF Level, the Higher your Qualification.

For example, a Matric Qualification is at NQF Level 4 whereas a Bachelor’s Degree Qualification is at NQF Level 7.

There is a huge difference between these two qualifications, and the criteria for these two qualifications differ from each other. The learning outcomes for a Matric Qualification are based on:

  • Understanding basic languages
  • Understanding basic Mathematical skills
  • Knowing how to read
  • Knowing how to write

The learning outcomes for a Bachelor’s Degree Qualification are based on:

  • An advanced understanding of that particular field of study
  • Using your prior knowledge as a base for the Bachelor’s Degree Course

What Is My NQF Level?

You can find out what your NQF Level is by looking at this table:

NQF LevelQualification
NQF Level 1Grade 9 or GETC: ABET Level 4
NQF Level 2Grade 10 or N (C) V Level 2
NQF Level 3Grade 11 or N (C) V Level 3
NQF Level 4Grade 12 or Matric Equivalent Certificates or N (C) V Level 4
NQF Level 5Higher Certificates
NQF Level 6Diploma or Advanced Certificates
NQF Level 7Advanced Diplomas or Bachelor’s Degrees
NQF Level 8Post Graduate Diplomas or Honours Degrees
NQF Level 9Masters Degrees
NQF Level 10Doctoral Degrees

What Is The Main Purpose Of The NQF?

The main purpose of the NQF is to ensure that each student gets the opportunity to enhance their personal development by moving from one NQF Level to the next. Here are some of the main objectives of the NQF system:

  1. To address the unfair treatment of education, training and employment opportunities for people of colour and females
  2. To create one system that determines the level of qualification you have achieved
  3. To make sure that the quality of education is better than what it was in the past
  4. To make access to resources such as education available to everyone. Regardless of their race, educational background, sex, status, location etc.

How Do I Check My NQF Credits?

You can check your NQF credits at the back of your qualification or on your statement of results. Alternatively, you can do the following:

  1. Contact your High School, College or university directly and enquire about your qualifications
  2. Go onto the SAQA site and do a SAQA ID number search

What Do Credits Mean On Certificates?

Credits are the supposed hours a student spends studying for a qualification. This will determine the number of credits that are issued. Each qualification has its own set amount of credits.

Your physical hours spent studying for a course do not directly relate to your credits because the institution you are studying at cannot determine the exact amount of time you have spent studying.

For example, here are the credits determined for our Matric Courses:

  1. Adult Matric Course
    • 120 credits

  2. Matric Upgrade Course
    • 130 credits

  3. Matric Rewrite Course
    • 130 credits

  4. Matric Equivalent Courses

What NQF Level Is Matric?

Matric is at NQF Level 4. In South Africa, we offer a few Certificates that are at NQF Level 4. These Certificates are:


The GETC: ABET Level 4 is not the same as the Matric Qualification or any qualification that is at NQF Level 4.

The GETC: ABET Level 4 is at NQF Level 1.

The Matric Qualification is at NQF Level 4.

What NQF level is Grade 9?

A Grade 9 Certificate is at NQF Level 1. This is the same NQF Level as the GETC: ABET Level 4. At this NQF Level, you will learn the foundation skills of learning, which include:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Numeracy

The grades that follow up to this grade are:

  • Grade R
  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8

NOTE:Grade R to Grade 8 is not on the NQF Level system.

If you have completed the ABET Levels, it will lead you as follows:

ABET Level Grades
ABET Level 1Grade 1 – Grade 3
ABET Level 2Grade 4 – Grade 6
ABET Level 3Grade 7 – Grade 8


ABET Level 1 to ABET Level 3 are not on the NQF Level system.

What Is The Difference Between ABET Level 4 And NQF Level 4?

Here are the main differences between ABET Level 4 and NQF Level 4:

ABET Level 4NQF Level 4
This is an Adult Education Qualification that is at NQF Level 1.This can be any Qualification that has between 120 – 130 credits.
You can apply for our Adult Matric Course after completing and passing the ABET Level 4.You can go to university if you have passed with a Bachelor’s Degree Matric Pass Level.
This is a type of Qualification.This is an NQF Level.

Is NQF Level 5 Equivalent To Matric?

No, NQF Level 5 is not equivalent to Matric. An NQF Level 5 is a Higher Certificate. At Matric College, we offer the following NQF Level 5 qualifications:

ICB Courses:

NATED Courses:

*All of our NATED Courses are completed in partnership with Bellview Institute of Distance Learning.

Is N4 Equivalent To Matric?

No, N4 is not Equivalent to Matric. An N4 Qualification is at NQF Level 5 and a Matric Qualification is at NQF Level 4. Here is what you need to know about NATED Qualifications:

  • NATED Qualifications are not like any other qualification. They are on the NQF system which makes them accredited and recognised, but they have:
  • A particular exit-level outcome
  • A particular purpose
  • They were designed by the Department of Higher Education and Training. The purpose of these qualifications is to ensure that students gain both practical and theoretical experience.


A NATED Qualification can be at the same NQF Level as another Qualification but it is not the same as any other qualification.

Can I Go To University With An NQF Level 4 Qualification?

Yes, you can go to university with an NQF Level 4 Qualification. Here are the factors you should consider before applying to a university:

Your Matric Pass Level:
Your APS Score:Apply with a minimum APS Score of 23
Your subjects in High School:Each course at the university level requires you to have particular subjects in High School
The type of NQF Level 4 Qualification you have:Most universities only accept Senior (Amended) Certificates and National Senior Certificates and not Matric Equivalent Certificates

Can You Do Matric In 3 Months?

Yes, you can do your Matric in 3 months. Here are the conditions:

If you have any of the above-mentioned documents, you can apply for our Matric Upgrade Course. This course allows you to improve your marks and change your subjects. Here are the entry requirements:

The full Online Matric programme is between one and three years at Matric College. Here are the entry requirements:

  • Have a Grade 9 or GETC: ABET Level 4 Certificate
  • Be at least 21 or older. You can apply at the age of just 19 years old, but you have to turn 21 when you write the final Matric exam
  • Understand, read and write English or Afrikaans
  • Study through distance learning

What Is NQF Level 2 In South Africa?

An NQF Level 2 is a Grade 10 Certificate in South Africa. This is also the Certificate you need to complete one of our Matric Equivalent Courses. We offer the following Matric Equivalent Course:

The entry requirements for Bookkeeping: ICB FET Certificate is:

How Many Credits Is NQF 2?

This depends on the Qualification that you are completing. The credits can range from 80 credits to 190 credits, depending on the NQF Level Qualification. To get more information on your NQF Level, you can find it on this website. Look for the “NQF Level” option and choose the NQF level you want information about.

What NQF Level Is A Diploma At?

A Diploma is at an NQF Level 5 or NQF Level 6 depending on the credits. We offer both of these types of qualifications. Here are our Diploma Courses with their NQF Levels and Credits.

Diploma TypeNQF LevelCredits
All NATED DiplomasNQF Level 6360
Office Administration: ICB National DiplomaNQF Level 6360
Technical Financial Accounting: ICB National DiplomaNQF Level 6251
Certified Financial Accounting: ICB National DiplomaNQF Level 6280
Financial Accounting – Business Management: ICB National DiplomaNQF Level 6280

Is N6 A Diploma?

Yes, however, NATED courses have 2 N6 qualifications: N6 Certificate and N6 Diploma. The N6 Certificate is an NQF level 5 qualification, and this makes it equivalent to a Higher Certificate. 

But, an N6 Diploma is an NQF level 6 qualification and is equivalent to a traditional Diploma qualification. And, whilst an N6 Diploma is equivalent to a traditional Diploma, they can have differences that set each qualification apart.

On Which NQF is A Master's Degree Registered?

A Master’s Degree is registered at NQF Level 9. This qualification can only be studied by students who have completed and received a Bachelor’s Degree(NQF level 7) and an Honour’s Degree (NQF Level 8) in university.

However, the requirement for an Honour’s Degree to study a Master’s Degree programme can depend on the institution, credits and your chosen course.

Do You Need A Level 8 To Do A Master’s Degree?

No, it depends on the university you are applying to. Some universities only require a Bachelor’s Degree Qualification to qualify for the Master’s Programme. These are the factors to consider:

  • Which Master’s Degree programme are you interested in?
  • Which university do you want to complete your Master’s Degree in?
  • How well did you pass your Bachelor’s Degree?
  • How many credits did you gain from your Bachelor’s Degree?

Research the Master’s Degree Programme before applying.

Is PhD An NQF 7?

No, a PhD is at NQF Level 10. A Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Diploma is at NQF Level 7. Students who want to achieve a PhD at the end of the university will need to first study and complete a Bachelor’s Degree qualification, an Honour’s Degree qualification, and a Master’s Degree qualification before they can study towards achieving a PhD

What Is The Difference Between RQF And NQF?

Here are the main differences between RQF And NQF:

Stands forRegulated Qualifications FrameworkNational Qualifications Framework
Based inThe UKSouth Africa
Levels that are equivalentRQF Level 2NQF Level 4

What Is The Difference Between NATED And NCV?

The main difference between NATED and NCV is that NATED Courses are post-matric qualifications and NCV Courses are school-based qualifications with work-specific elements. Here are even more differences between the two:

You must have a Matric or Matric Equivalent Certificate to start a NATED Course.You must have a Grade 9 or GETC: ABET Level 4 Certificate to start an N (C) V Course.
These courses lead to an NQF Level 6 Qualification.These courses lead to an NQF Level Qualification.

What Are The 4 Matric Pass Levels Of Education?

Which Is Better: Diploma Or Bachelor’s Degree Matric Pass?

Both Pass levels can be beneficial. This depends on these two factors:

  • The university you decide to study at
  • The course you decide to study

At Matric College, you can complete any of our courses with any Matric Pass. If you want to complete a Degree Course at university, and you do not have the required Matric Pass, you can complete our Matric Upgrade course.

What Is The Difference Between A Bachelor’s Degree Pass And A Diploma Pass?

The main difference between a Bachelor’s Degree Matric Pass and Diploma Matric Pass is the number of points you get. Here is a table that shows the differences:

Bachelor’s Degree Pass Diploma Pass
This Matric Pass will give you entrance to university.This Matric Pass will give you entrance into some universities, but you can only apply for a Diploma Course.
Has a minimum of 23 APS points.Has a minimum of 19 APS points.

Can I Convert My Diploma To A Degree?

Yes, you can convert your Diploma Pass to a Bachelor’s Degree Pass by:

  1. Completing our Matric Upgrade Course or
  2. Completing the supplementary exam

Can I Apply For A Degree With N6?

No, you cannot apply for a Degree with an N6. Universities still require you to meet the following entry requirements:

  • Have a good APS Score
  • Pass Matric with a Bachelor’s Degree Pass
  • Have certain subjects in High School that align with the course you want to study.

Why Should I Choose Matric College?

Here are some of the reasons you should choose Matric College:

  1. We offer distance learning. This means that you can work and study at the same time because you will not attend any physical or scheduled classes online.
  2. Get affordable education. Distance learning is cheaper because you will not spend money on transport, accommodation or food to eat while on campus.
  3. Your study material is included. You will not pay extra money for study material or be expected to pay for study material.
  4. Study any time of the year. We are a distance learning college, which means you can study any time of the year.
  5. We offer tutor assistance. If you need help with your study material, we have tutors that can assist you where needed.

People Also Ask

Students who complete a Matric Equivalent course have the option to study any ICB course of their choosing, with the 3 main options being:

If you are planning on studying further after matric, your matric pass will determine the academic path you will be able to take.

Bachelor’s Degree

This is the highest pass you can receive in high school or adult matric. It allows you to study at any university or study a degree course you meet the requirements for.

National Diploma

The National diploma pass is a pass that allows you to study at any University of Technology or study a diploma course that you meet the requirements for.

Higher Certificate

The higher certificate pass allows you to study at any college or apply for any certificate course available.

Accreditation is the process by which a governing body recognises an institution (school/college) or programme offered by the institution. 

This process is important because it makes sure that the student is receiving the proper education and resources from the institution offering the programme/courses: 

  • Have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish at the institution
  • Quality education/ courses
  • Good staff with valuable experience
  • A good and valid way to check performance
  • Have the resources available to provide proper guidance

This also means that students have recognised qualifications that will open opportunities for them after completing their programme with the institution. Matric College offers courses accredited by these governing bodies:

It is a qualification that NATED students receive after completing 18 months of practical work within the industry that your course is based on. For students to be able to do the practical, they have to complete the 3 NATED certificate courses (N4, N5 & N6) first. 

Since NQF level 5 is a Higher Certificate, students would have to study a Higher Certificate course for 1–2 years before completing it and receiving a Higher Certificate qualification on the course they studied.

Author: Jesmé Africa
Editor: Amy Venter
Date Published: April 21, 2022