Africa is an incredibly unique place for study abroad students. As the most underdeveloped continent, the country faces quite a few issues including poverty, government corruption, disease, education shortcomings, racial tension, and malnutrition. Despite its problems, the continent is still rich with culture, greenery, ani mals, and natural beauty (be sure to visit Victoria Falls!)

Many study abroad programs involve interesting field work and close interaction with local communities. That being said, Africa can be a great study abroad destination for lots of different majors and interests: international development, anthropology, sociology, politics and public policy, environmental studies, biology or zoology (lions, elephants, and giraffes, oh my!), and many more!

Cost of Living

Cost of living varies throughout Africa. In countries soaked in oil, like Angola and Nigeria, costs are very high. Zimbabwe is also quite expensive. South Africa is relatively cheap for Americans, with goods costing about 75% what they cost in the U.S. Most of the other African countries are cheaper to live in. Prices in Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Ethiopia range from 50% to 30% of U.S. prices, respectively.

If you are planning on traveling while in Africa, you should know that currency generally changes as you cross borders, so make sure to change your money as necessary! Also, take note! Some currency exchangers only accept recent money for fear of forgery so make sure your U.S. bill’s date is after 2005 to be totally safe.

Check out this super cool chart from Global Property Guide to see an expense comparison of African countries.

Scholarships for Study in Africa

Though Africa is generally an inexpensive place to study abroad, it never hurts to have a little extra cash in your pocket. Try asking your school and the program you select if they offer any scholarships. Here are some other scholarships for you to check out:

Languages

Because of the number of indigenous tribes, it is estimated that over 1,000 languages are spoken in Africa! Some researches even put that number closer to 2,000. Colonization also brought languages non-African originating languages to the continent. The major languages include English, French, Dutch, Arabic, Swahili (in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda), and Afrikaans (in South Africa).

Culture and Customs in Africa

For all you anthropology buffs, Africa is the birthplace of the human race! That being said, there is far from one culture on the continent. There are thousands of cultural and ethnic groups throughout the continent, and their cultures can be quite different from one another. Because of its colonial past, Africa also has an interesting cultural blend of the indigenous cultures and of the colonial cultures--particularly European and Arabic. While many African peoples still hold onto their cultural roots, South Africa in particular is becoming more Westernized.

Throughout the various cultures, one thing remains: importance of family! Elders are highly respected for their wisdom. Schedules are not as strict in Africa, which is likely a result of the uncertainty of day to day life in many African countries. Crafting, beading, music, dance, and storytelling are also also large parts of African culture. Because of colonialism, sports like cricket, soccer, and rugby are quite popular.

Like language, popular grub changes depending on what area of Africa you’re in. Starches and root vegetables are pretty popular throughout the areas. Eastern Africa has Indian and Arabic influences (think curries, lentils, spices, cinnamon), while Northern Africa has a mediterranean flair. Ethiopian food uses this really cool spongy sourdough bread called injera in place of utensils to pick up the various stews characteristic of the cuisine. Barbeque (called “braai” by the locals) is very popular in South Africa, along with fruit and seafood.

The University of Cape Town, Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University in Matieland all rank on Times Higher Education World University Rankings. All three schools offer lots of opportunities in lots of disciplines.

Though South African universities tend to dominate international rankings, other African countries definitely have some awesome opportunities for study abroad. Egypt’s Cairo University has high quality medical and engineering programs, while American University in Cairo is modeled after liberal arts schools in the U.S. Other notable universities include University of Botswana, University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, and University of Ghana, which was founded as a sister institution of the University of London.

Contributed by Emma Cramer
Guide Author
Photo of Emma Cramer
Go Overseas Intern

Study Abroad Programs in Africa

Displaying 31 - 45 of 221 programs
CIEE
CIEE January in Cape Town
South Africa
2 reviews1 interview

Earn credits in Cape Town this January and witness the incredible...

CIEE
CIEE Summer Moroccan Studies in Rabat, Morocco
Morocco
2 reviews

Whether your Arabic is basic or advanced, the CIEE Summer Language and...

CIEE
CIEE Language + Culture in Rabat, Morocco
Morocco
2 reviews

Improve your Arabic and French language skills and boost your cultural...

NYU Global Programs
Study Public Health at NYU Accra in Ghana
Ghana
6 reviews

At NYU Accra you can gain firsthand experience of the public health...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT South Africa: Community Health & Social Policy
South Africa
5 reviews

Examine community-based health concerns from a South African...

EDU Africa
Customized Faculty-led Programs in Southern & East Africa
Multiple Countries
9 reviews2 interviews

EDU Africa develops and facilitates academic faculty-led and service...

CIEE
CIEE: Design Your Own Semester Abroad
Multiple Countries
2 reviews

With CIEE's, you can design your very own semester program in up to...

Augsburg University's Center for Global Education and Experience
Nation Building and Decolonizing the Mind
Multiple Countries
6 reviews1 interview

Discover Namibia, a country with a multifaceted history not often...

Seamester
Seamester: Bali to South Africa - 80 Days
Multiple Countries
1 review1 interview

Sailing aboard our 112-foot schooner S/Y Vela is a unique chance...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT Cameroon: Development and Social Change
Cameroon
3 reviews

Examine social, economic, and political development patterns in one of...

Global Engagement Institute
GEI Rwanda | Women & Leadership
Rwanda
4 reviews

This 3-week field course in Rwanda is designed to highlight the...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT Madagascar: Medicine & Healthcare Course
Madagascar
2 reviews

Explore traditional and allopathic healthcare from the context of...

Qalam Center for Arabic Studies
Study Abroad in Morocco with Qalam wa Lawh
Morocco
5 reviews

Morocco is a country with a rich history and a diverse cultural...

SIT Study Abroad
South Africa: Human Rights and Multiculturalism
South Africa
7 reviews

Explore issues of human rights, multiculturalism, ethnicity, and...

CIS Abroad
CIS Abroad - Summer in South Africa
South Africa
3 reviews

Grab a camera and a journal—you’ll want to capture every moment of...

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