The 27-year-old, who is primarily a scrum-half but can play on the wing, moves to Sixways following a spell with South Africa’s Sevens team.
Since joining the Sevens side, Hougaard has helped them to the top of the HSBC World Sevens Series where they sit level on points with Fiji and New Zealand, after winning the Cape Town leg of the tournament and finishing as runners-up in Wellington to New Zealand.
The half-back first burst onto the international stage for the Springboks in 2009 before featuring at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and has gone on to make 35 appearances which includes five tries.
Hougaard’s club career began at Western Province before moving to Pretoria to play for Super Rugby side the Bulls.
During his time at Loftus Versfeld, the versatile back racked-up an impressive 26 tries in 88 appearances as he helped the Bulls to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2009 and 2010, scoring a vital try against rivals Stormers in the 2010 final.
Domestically, Hougaard played for the Blue Bulls from 2008 to 2015, crossing the whitewash 16 times in 48 games as they reached the Currie Cup final in 2008, before winning it a year later where he again scored an important try in the final against the Cheetahs.
The number nine was also part of the Blue Bulls side which reached four consecutive Vodacom Cup finals, winning it in 2008 and 2010, while he also spent time with the Southern Kings back in 2009.
Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: “Francois is a livewire scrum-half with enormous experience at the top level in South Africa.
“His signing is a statement of intent of where we are heading as a Club and we are genuinely excited about what he can bring to the table. We’d also like to thank the South African Rugby Union for allowing Francois to join us at this time.”
Hougaard added: “I can’t wait to play in Aviva Premiership Rugby and am relishing the challenge that lies ahead.
“After speaking with Dean and close friend Wynand Olivier, Worcester sounds like a fantastic place for any top-end athlete to be and I believe there is a lot to look forward to at the Club.
“Hopefully I can add some experience to the side and we can start pushing our way up the table in this last block of games.”