What is the difference between a BCompt degree and a BCom degree in South Africa?

Are you confused about the differences between a BCompt degree and a BCom degree?

You are not alone!

Many people are also finding it challenging to understand what makes up the respective programmes as well as knowing the one with a better prospect for the future.

From Matriculants freshly exiting High School to working people hoping to progress in their professional journey, South Africans are yearning to get a better understanding.

What is a BCompt degree?

The ‘Compt’ in the abbreviation does not mean it is a ‘Bachelor in Computer degree;’ rather, BCompt is the English translation of the original Latin phrase: Baccalaureus Computationis.

Shortened, Baccalaureus Computationis becomes ‘BCompt,’ which is the undergraduate accounting degree awarded at the exit point in many universities across the world – South Africa inclusive.

Furthermore, the degree is commonly referred to as a Bachelor of Accounting Science (B.Acc.Sci.) degree. This undergraduate programme is often the most admired degree recognised for subsequent practice as a professional in the accounting world.

The academic programme is offered over a 3-year period after which the successful candidate is awarded a BCompt degree which subsequently opens a pathway to an Honours, Masters, and Doctorate, respectively.

As a graduate who wishes to progress in the discipline, a BCompt degree becomes the foundation that equips the candidate in preparation for further professional achievements – including becoming a Chartered Accountant and as well a fellow of relevant Accounting bodies recognised in South Africa and beyond.

To be considered for the programme, a prospective candidate should possess a Senior Certificate with endorsement, or a National Senior Certificate granting admission to studies at bachelor level, or a relevant qualification on the NQF Level 6 category.

Some institutions also accept students with relevant work and life experiences which can prove that they are competent enough for the academic rigour ahead. Such a prospective student will be tested under the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy of the particular institution – and as prescribed by the Department of Education.

Related: Top 10 reasons to register for a BCompt degree today!

What is a BCom degree?

A BCom degree is broader and covers many business-related fields, unlike the BCompt which is more focused on making the learner well-grounded in the accounting profession.

In South Africa, the BCom is the Bachelor of Commerce degree that is awarded to successful candidates upon completion of a 3-year academic programme.

In this case, the degree will be a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting (BCom-Accounting).

While universities and other private institutions may have slightly different entry requirements, the common standard is a matric exemption, or a National Senior Certificate, or an ordinary diploma in a relevant discipline.

This entry requirement is typically the same as a BCompt.

Candidates are required to choose a specific major or ‘stream,’ which narrows down their field of study and prepares them for the world of work in the public or private sector.

While a BCom graduate can become a qualified accountant if he or she completes the BCom-Accounting programme, many who desire to become expert accountants choose the BCompt route.

Said otherwise, a BCom graduate is primarily equipped with foundational business skills, even though he or she majors in accounting. The same principle applies to other candidates who choose, for instance, BCom-Marketing, BCom-Human Resource Management, BCom-Banking, or any other such courses in the Management Science faculty.

The differences between a Bcompt and a BCom degree in South Africa

The differences between a Bcompt and a BCom degree in South Africa

The career path, available opportunities, remuneration, and content of the modules are some of the points of deviation that separate a BCompt degree from a BCom.

Combined, these and several other factors contribute to determining which degree a prospective candidate should choose.

For this article, the contents of the course and career paths are the key points of concern.

Contents of the course – BCompt

Candidates are required to study, turn in a prescribed number of assignments and pass the scheduled tests and examinations of several modules. These independent units of study are typically further broken down into two – compulsory and electives.

That said, the number of modules and methodology of studying and passing them rests squarely with the institution in question.

This semblance of autonomy is no surprise considering that the Council on Higher Education accredits different institutions according to its laid down rules – and discretion.

In other words, there may be slight variations from institution to institution concerning the number of courses and credits a learner is required to pass before getting the certificate.

In most cases (but not in all institutions), these are the modules a BCompt student is expected to get a grasp of before he/she gets awarded the qualification.

BCompt Compulsory modules (to be completed over three years)

  • Economics
  • Financial Accounting
  • Business management
  • Computer Skills
  • Business Communication
  • Commercial Law
  • Business Ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Company Law
  • Management Accounting
  • Accounting in a Computerised Environment
  • Cost and Management Accounting
  • Risk and Financial Management
  • Corporate Governance

Generally, though, the core modules in a BCompt programme are:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing
  • Cost and Management Accounting
  • Financial Management

Combined, these courses should provide the student with 360 credits at the point of graduation.

This number of credits also differ from institution to institution. While some may require more, some demand less from their students.

Career path – BCompt

BCompt career path

A BCompt graduate is expected to progress towards becoming a professional accountant, a point from which he or she will gradually become a specialist in the various sub-fields like auditing, taxation, risk management, among others.

Armed with such advanced certifications, the BCompt graduate can then qualify as a Chartered Accountant, which is the highest professional accountancy qualification in SA. The CA qualification is prestigious and also seen as the crown jewel of the profession.

There is a caveat to this, however.

Students who complete the BCompt degree will be required to also register for and complete a Certificate in Theory of Accounting (CTA) programme, or an equivalent qualification.

Upon the completion of a CTA or an equivalent qualification, the student will be eligible to enter a three-year learnership with a registered training office.

During this learnership, students will complete two Qualifying Examinations, namely the Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

Candidates must pass a CTA or an equivalent qualification to qualify for entry to the ITC.

To qualify for entry to the APC, candidates must successfully complete the ITC, complete a minimum of 20 months of a registered training contract (accredited training office) and successfully complete a professional programme with a registered provider.

On passing the qualifying examinations (ITC and APC), and having completed their learnerships, students will be eligible to register as Chartered Accountants with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)

To become a true professional who possesses the requisite skills, certification, and accreditation a qualified accountant should have, the graduate will naturally be expected to sit for these exams and pass them creditably.

Contents of the course – BCom

Similar to the BCompt degree, students studying for a BCom degree are expected to pass several modules after turning in assignments, sitting for tests and examinations throughout a 3-year period of study.

The stream (or major) an undergraduate student finally settles for is the crucial determiner that will form the basis of modules he or she is expected to study.

Again, there are some differences, with respect to the modules the student is expected to study and pass. These differences distinguish diverse BCom-awarding institutions, in this respect.

The table below shows the compulsory courses outlined in a typical BCom-Accounting (BCom Acc) degree programme.

  • Economics
  • Cost and Management Accounting
  • Business management
  • Accounting
  • Business Information Systems
  • Commercial Law
  • Financial Management
  • Introductory Mathematical Analysis
  • Governance and Control
  • Taxation
  • Management Accounting Strategy
  • Ethical foundation to Commerce

At the end of the programme, a successful student would have amassed 360 credits from the modules highlighted above.

Like the BCompt, the number of credits obtainable differs from institution to institution.

Have you read: Poor access to higher education in South Africa is a disaster in waiting

Career path – BCom

Currently, in South Africa, a Bcom Accounting degree opens a pathway for the graduate to seek further education.

The new graduate will have to enrol for a BCom Hons (Accounting) degree, which serves as a bridging programme towards becoming a Chartered Accountant.

Some institutions offer this Honours degree in three principal specialisations: Taxation, Financial Management, and Internal Auditing.

The graduate can progress by first signing up to a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting Science programme, commonly called a CTA (Certificate in the Theory of Accounting).

Subsequently, the candidate can progress to become a CA after completing the mandatory three years’ worth of Articleship (learnership). The Articleship is a hands-on training phase that allows students to take on real accounting assignments for real employers.

Such ‘apprenticeship’ is commonly undertaken at a registered Chartered Accounting firm (or other places where day-to-day accounting is practised).

This phase of studying involves an orientation programme, training, exams, and more.

Read also: What is an MBA; How Does it Work in South Africa?

Conclusion

BCompt BCom Differences Conclusion

In the event the BCompt or BCom graduate chooses to not pursue higher academic goals by registering for an Honours degree or a postgraduate degree, he or she will still earn a decent salary and be qualified to work in different industries and departments in the private and public sectors, respectively.

Nonetheless, presenting the BCompt qualification to potential employers shows that you possess a strong understanding in the discipline, having spent your first three years as an undergraduate absorbing foundational accounting knowledge at a CHE-accredited higher institution.

It also shows that you have the relevant technical, systematic, and analytical abilities, as well as a logical approach to problem-solving in an accounting environment.

This is a multi-disciplinary approach that sets the BCompt degree holder (with a CA) apart from other accountants who did not follow that path.

It also explains why they are relatively more sought-after than a BCom Acc graduate.

Want to become the accountant of your dreams? Register for a world-class BCompt degree here.

Related Posts

Call Now ButtonClick To Call Regenesys Now