The best universities in South Africa to study business, accounting and law

 ·10 Apr 2022

The latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject has been published, ranking South African universities with courses that are among the best in the world.

The QS ranking identifies which subjects universities are particularly strong at in relation to international competitors, looking specifically at academic reputation and research output.

Research citations, along with the results of major global surveys of employers and academics are also used to rank the universities.

Looking specifically at the fields of accounting, finance, business, and law, five South African universities stand out for having some of the best courses in the world for these subjects.

The University of Cape Town carries the distinction of being the highest-ranked in all but one of the subject fields, with the University of Pretoria trumping UCT as having the best course in accounting and finance.

South African universities have the strongest showing in the field of developmental studies in the QS rankings, with the University of Cape Town having the ninth-best course globally.

Wits University is also distinct in this field, ranking 22nd overall, with both Stellenbosch University and the University of KwaZulu Natal ranking within the top 100.

UCT has the further distinction of being the only South African university to be ranked among the best in the world for its courses on politics and social policy and administration.

Accounting and Finance

Local University Global
1 University of Pretoria 101-150
2 University of Cape Town 151-200
3 University of Witwatersrand 251-300

Business & Management Studies

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 301-350
2 Stellenbosch University 351-400
3 University of Witwatersrand 451-500

Economics & Econometrics

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 201-250
2 University of Pretoria 201-250
3 Stellenbosch University 351-400
4 University of Johannesburg 351-400
5 University of Witwatersrand 351-400

Law & Legal Studies

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 101-150
2 University of Pretoria 151-200
3 University of Witwatersrand 251-300
4 Stellenbosch University 301-350

Development Studies

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 9
2 University of Witwatersrand 22
3 Stellenbosch University 51-100
4 University of KwaZulu-Natal 51-100
5 University of the Western Cape 51-100
6 University of Pretoria 101-110

Overall ranking

Nine of South Africa’s universities are ranked in the QS global rankings for 2022, led by the University of Cape Town, which ranks 226th, overall.

UCT placed well ahead of the University of the Witwatersrand, while the University of Johannesburg climbed the rankings, pipping Stellenbosch University to the third spot.

University 2022 ranking 2021 ranking
University of Cape Town 226 220
University of the Witwatersrand 424 403
University of Johannesburg 434 439
Stellenbosch University 482 456
University of Pretoria 601-650 561-570
Rhodes University 801-1000 801-1000
University of KwaZulu-Natal 801-1000 801-1000
North-West University 1001-1200 1001+
University of the Western Cape 1001-1200 1001+


The QS ranking is based on a mix of survey responses and hard data across six indicators, compiled and weighted to formulate a final score.

Over 80,000 academics and 40,000 employers contributed to the rankings through the QS global surveys, while QS said it analysed 99 million citations from 10.3 million papers, and 1,000 institutions were ranked.

The ranking’s biggest indicator, accounting for 40% of the total score, is based on academic reputation.

Academic reputation is measured using a global survey, in which academics were asked to identify the institutions where they believe the best work is currently taking place within their field of expertise.

The indicators and scores are:

  • Academic reputation (40%)
  • Employer reputation (10%)
  • Student-to-faculty ratio (20%)
  • Citations per faculty (20%)
  • International faculty ratio (5%)
  • International student ratio (5%)

Read: Here’s how many university students plan to leave South Africa for work

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