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Cape Town, South Africa

This program has rolling admissions. Students are encouraged to submit applications before the posted USC Overseas Studies deadline.


Program Site: The University of Cape Town, administered by the Council on International Education and Exchange (CIEE)

Eligibility: Minimum 3.0 cumulative USC GPA and completion of two years of college before the start of the program. Previous coursework focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa is highly encouraged.

Description: Cape Town is a vibrant, multicultural city that offers all of the attractions of a major city along with the stunning beauty of the coast and the mountains. It is also a microcosm of the challenges facing South Africa in transition, still learning how to compete successfully in a global economy while grappling with the vast socioeconomic inequalities that are the legacy of the apartheid era.

UCT is the leading research university on the African continent and offers American students the possibility to explore many different disciplines through a distinctly African lens. This program is appropriate for any student who has a strong interest in learning about contemporary South African life and society and the forces that have created that society.

Academics: Students enroll directly in UCT classes and study alongside local students. The academic program allows students to pursue their own academic studies while providing firsthand knowledge of contemporary South African society. Coursework is available in most disciplines and can be taken in any department, but at least one course must be related to Africa or offer an African perspective on the student’s area of interest. Independent study projects can also be arranged. Fine Arts and Theater  students have additional application requirements, and they must attend for the full UCT academic year from February through November; they do not have a semester-only option. 

Course Load and Credit: Students generally take three to four courses for a maximum of 16 USC units per semester.

Activities and Other Program Features: The academic program is supplemented by field trips and excursions to various points of interest around Cape Town, including Robben Island, famous wine farms, and whale watching. Each semester CIEE arranges a weekend homestay in Ocean View, a nearby township. There is also a cultural program consisting of visits to local theater, dance productions, museums and rural cooperatives.  Students are strongly encouraged to interact with UCT students by joining campus organizations and sports clubs.

The CIEE Community Service Program aims to provide students with volunteer opportunities in the historically disadvantaged communities of Cape Town. Past activities have included working on HIV/AIDS projects, tutoring in local schools, volunteering at women’s empowerment groups and assisting at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Students may also participate in Habitat for Humanity projects.

Accommodations: There are three housing options: UCT dormitory, CIEE house, or homestay. The UCT dormitory provides single rooms and shared kitchen facilities with South African or other African students. There are also off-campus houses available near campus, which are shared by CIEE program participants. Students may also choose a homestay with a South African family, which provides an excellent opportunity for immersion into the local culture. Students who choose this option are provided two meals a day during the week and three meals a day on weekends.

Dates: Fall, Spring or Year. The fall semester runs from mid-July to mid-November and the spring semester runs from late January to mid-June.

Estimated Semester Cost:
Additional Expenses*..........$12,778

If you plan to go abroad in the USC fall semester, please be aware that your financial aid will not be disbursed until 10 days before classes begin at your program and not before the end of July.

Cost Updated: 5/28/15
Text Updated: 8/24/15

*Additional expenses include estimated costs for airfare, room and board, books and supplies, health insurance, and personal expenses (which can vary greatly from student to student). USC financial aid, scholarships, and tuition remission may be applied to program costs. Please visit the Office of Overseas Studies for more detailed cost information.


CIEE South Africa
University of Cape Town
UCT Handbooks (to find course offerings in the various faculties/departments)
UCT International Academic Programs Office (website for international students)
USC Africa Student Fund