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:


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

Study Abroad Programs in Africa

Displaying 106 - 120 of 222 programs
CIEE Development Studies in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal’s strides toward improved human rights and standard of living...

CIEE Summer Senegalese Studies in Dakar, Senegal

Are you ready to spend your summer living and studying abroad in a...

CIEE Cape Town Summer Community Development and Social Justice: Theory + Practice
South Africa

Grab this chance to put learning into action and make an impact in...

CIS Abroad
CIS Abroad - Semester in South Africa - University of Cape Town
South Africa

When you choose Cape Town and the University of Cape Town, you're...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT Madagascar: Biodiversity & Resources Mgmt.
1 review

Study ecology in an island nation that has been isolated from other...

Global Engagement Institute
GEI Study Abroad in Rwanda | Social Innovation Lab

This 3-week field course provides you an opportunity to explore Rwanda...

Global Engagement Institute
GEI Study Abroad in Kenya | Social Innovation Lab

This 3-week field course provides you an opportunity to explore...

Global Engagement Institute
GEI Study Abroad in South Africa | Girls & Leadership
South Africa

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

Global Engagement Institute
GEI Study Abroad in South Africa | Performing Arts Youth Development
South Africa

This 3-week field course is designed to highlight the crucial role of...

Global Engagement Institute
GEI Study Abroad in South Africa | Social Innovation Lab
South Africa

This 3-week field course provides you an opportunity to explore Cape...

SIT Study Abroad
IHP Climate Change The Politics of Land, Water, and Energy Justice
Multiple Countries

Engage with researchers, activists, NGOs, entrepreneurs, farmers, and...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT Anthropology Programs: Across the Globe

SIT offers a variety of programs specializing in the subject of...

SIT Study Abroad
Ghana: Africa in the 21st Century

Gain a new perspective on Africa. Eurocentric representations of...

SIT Study Abroad
Morocco: Arabic Language and Community Service

The SIT Morocco: Arabic Language and Community Service program offers...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT Study Abroad Senegal: Global Security and Religious Pluralism

Explore how Senegalese society has cultivated peaceful coexistence in...

Explore Studying Abroad in Africa

What People Are Saying

Malawi's Children

I am a volunteer, I always believed in how interesting it would be to serve with goodwill, with my hands, my ideas, my strengths and even more with my weaknesses. It sounds weird, but to think about...

Present and Future

The first 6 months from this experience have gone traveling, between discussions about important themes about worldwide, learning about building, preparing ourselves for the projects we envisioning in...

In the lake

It was an incredible experience that helped me grow and learn the most important things in life. I was on the Michigan campus and then in Mozambique, Africa developed. I developed like 10 different...

Related Study Abroad Articles