There are many documented reasons why both men and women fail to complete their doctoral studies such as insufficient funding, family responsibilities as well as demotivation due to lack of progress in their research (Herman, 2011c, Gardner, 2008, Magano, 2011). However, it is arguable that men are at an advantage of completing their doctoral studies at a higher rate compared to women, partly due to the masculine culture within higher education institutions, which includes aspects such as having more male senior lecturers/academics (Brown and Watson, 2010, Ismail, 2011, Haake, 2011). Several studies have shown how African women’s experience and performance in doctoral studies are impacted by several relations within the learning environment such as lack of role models, mentorship, insufficient funding, dual identities and masculine environment (Brown and Watson, 2010, Johnson-Bailey, Velentine, Cervero, and Bowles, 2008). Despite such obstacles, it is important to mention that there are some women, who successfully complete their doctoral studies. This study, therefore, aims to focus on African women who have successfully completed their doctoral studies in South Africa in order to bring forth positive narratives of African women’s success in doctoral education. Using the capabilities approach as the analytical framework, and in-depth interviews with fourteen selected African women doctoral graduates from a South African university, this study examines women’s experiences of accessing, participating and progressing through doctoral programmes in higher education. The research adopts an interpretative model, which results in principles that are necessary for interpreting the actions and behaviours of people, such as agency, opportunities, and beings and doings in seeking to answer the following questions: 1) What capabilities using the capabilities approach enabled African women, doctoral students’ success in higher education? 2) What functionings did African women, doctoral graduates hope for after completion of their doctoral studies? 3) How did African women use their agency to develop capabilities (opportunities and freedoms) for academic success? 4) What conversion factors enabled or constrained African women’s success in their doctoral journeys?