• South Africa
    • Cape Town
Academic Year, Fall, Spring, Summer
Subject Areas
Cultural Studies Health Sciences Service Learning Sociology Sustainable Development

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Apartment Dormitory
Jul 07, 2022
Feb 01, 2021
3 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and was recently named the #1 place to go by The New York Times. But there’s more to Cape Town than its beauty—its dynamic society is ever-changing and growing, and you can witness it first-hand. We know you’ll agree that your Cape Town study abroad experience will make you feel like you’re on top of the world and we can help you get there, whether that means interning full-time, studying health, or immersing yourself through direct enrollment at the University of Cape Town.

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Popular Programs

two students in lab coats

Cape Town’s idyllic setting on the South African coast makes it the perfect base from which to study the complexity and breadth of the contemporary issues facing this part of the continent. You have the opportunity to take specially designed courses with other IES Abroad students in a variety of disciplines. These English-taught IES Abroad courses were created with a comparative and interrelated curricular focus in order to help you learn more about South Africa and its neighboring countries.

group of students jumping with mountains behind them

Service learning in and around Cape Town is a core component in our program. Students taking one of the IES Abroad courses are required to complete 60 hours of volunteer work while in Cape Town. Twenty of your 60 hours of volunteer work will be at Egoli, a settlement that receives no government services like water or electricity.

student high-fiving two local kids

Designed for students interested in health-related careers, this program enables you to examine health care delivery in South Africa. Field visits and placements in the townships surrounding Cape Town and a week-long rural excursion in the northern part of South Africa provide firsthand experience with the many health issues that plague South Africa, and the national effort to improve public health.

student standing on top of a rooftop with city skyline behind them

Stand out in today’s competitive job market by participating in a summer internship in Cape Town. When you’re not working up to 32 hours per week at your internship placement, you’ll have time to take advantage of South Africa’s beautiful climate and geography by hiking Table Mountain, visiting Lion’s Head, hanging out with the penguins at Boulders Beach or walking along the scenic shores of Camps Bay. All of this is possible when you spend a summer in Cape Town.


IES Abroad Scholarships

IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

Financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why IES Abroad offers more than $6 million in scholarships and aid. IES Abroad offers a number of diversity scholarships and grants to provide opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities in study abroad.

$500 - $5,000

Program Reviews

4.88 Rating
based on 40 reviews
  • 5 rating 87.5%
  • 4 rating 12.5%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.3
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.8
  • Housing 4.85
  • Safety 4.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 40 reviews
Default avatar
Mary Kaitlin
Yes, I recommend this program

An Experience to Cherish Forever

South Africa and Cape Town as a whole is a unique experience just by nature of the location itself. In a country with a culture so unlike any other, this program provides the opportunity to learn and experience so much more than you might on a more conventional or popular program. The rich political, cultural, and economic history alone creates an abundance of opportunity to learn, not to mention the rich political, cultural, and economic current that you can interact with and enjoy throughout courses, activities, involvement in clubs/societies, program excursions, and more. I cannot recommend this program enough!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I got to hold the trunk of an elephant and see the southernmost tip of the continent of Africa-- how many people can say they've done that?!?
39 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Semester in Cape Town!

This program is absolutely amazing! It is focused on experiential learning which was so invaluable. We visited hospitals, clinics, and social justice organizations on a weekly basis in addition to our courses. We had two larger trips during the semester that led us all around southern Africa. I felt so immersed and exposed to reality of Cape Town. The courses were community health-based and I could not speak more highly about the staff. It truly felt like a family in such a tight-knit program.

Great organization in the most beautiful place in the world!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
In Eswatini we got to attend the Reed Dance Festival which is an annual event for young Zulu girls presenting themselves to the King. It was beautiful, humbling, and inspiring. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity!
35 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


My study abroad experience in Cape Town, South Africa was nothing less than liberating and transformational. I am a first-generation college student from Buffalo, NY at Howard University, therefore my experience abroad truly inspired me to encourage more HBCU students and black students to study abroad since we are underrepresented in these programs. My favorite class abroad was Community Development in Context (South Africa). This class truly added more to my study abroad experience and helped me interact more effectively with the local students and citizens. For example, in this class we learned about South African history from Apartheid to modern-day inequalities and inequities in South African higher education. Ultimately, my favorite thing about study abroad was the service-learning component. I had the opportunity to volunteer with 3 different organizations related to education, which is a field I plan to pursue as part of my long-term career goals.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future study abroad students is to immerse yourself! Study abroad is what you make it, but the best way to stretch and enjoy yourself is to fully immerse yourself and continuously put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
40 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best semester

Deciding on a study abroad program is a difficult decision ecause there are so many out there, and you’re not sure which one is the best fit. I was looking for a way to study my major public health in depth in a global setting. IES’s program in Cape Town allowed me to do this. I was able to take the IES course Community Health in Context in addition to my University of Cape Town classes which was a small class that allowed for discussion and getting to know the professor, and also gave us the opportunity to do service learning. This class augmented my learning experience in South Africa.

In addition to the IES course I took 3 other classes at the University of Cape Town. The academics at the were challenging, and could be frustrating at times because of the differences in workload and grading compared to the US. However, I did learn a great amount in relation to South Africa's history and culture.

IES staff were kind, hardworking, and helpful with anything that need during your six months abroad. They helped with any issues that may have arised in academics (both at the University of Cape Town and the IES courses), housing accommodations, service learning, field trips, etc. They are there for you if you are having a problem adjusting to the differences in academics or living abroad, or if you just want to stop in for a quick chat.

Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed about IES were the free field trips which included Boulder’s Beach (penguin colony!) a Cape Malay cooking class, tour of Bo-Kaap, District 6 museum, Old Biscuit Mill, etc. They also offered to optional excursions at an additional subsidized cost (highly recommend) which was the Garden Route and a safari at Kruger National Park.

Cape Town has so much to offer from hiking to surfing, food markets, and shopping. It’s full of history and culture with many museums to visit, as well as Robben Island (a must).

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience abroad because I met so many great people from all around the world, and was able to learn about a new culture and the history of South Africa.

What would you improve about this program?
The IES program was great, but wish I had been more involved in UCT’s clubs and gotten to know more locals rather than always hanging out with people in the program. Also, the academics were quite stressful so I wish I would have seeked out resources to have helped with the transition.
36 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

10/10 Experience

Before I went to Cape Town, people would tell me that "studying abroad is a life-changing experience," and I had a hard time believing them. Initially, I thought that studying abroad was a chance to experience a different world. But I did not think that experiencing a "different world" would change me. To me, it made sense that study abroad students would experience a different world and gain skills in intercultural communication--among other things--as a result. However, I reasoned that experiencing a different world and having one's life fundamentally changed were two mutually independent events. That said, living in South Africa for a semester and being able to take classes at the University of Cape Town changed my mind. Sure, I acquired skills, but more importantly, the radically different culture and world I got to experience forced me to change. Admittedly, I'm rather introspective, but studying abroad led me to reflect on all the differences I saw between South Africa, America, and their respective citizens. Moreover, I then had to decide how I would think and live moving forward. So, when people say that studying abroad is a life-changing experience, they're not lying or overexaggerating. Studying abroad gives students the chance to reflect on and be changed by all that they experience. And IES Abroad made this process as smooth as it could have been.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have applied for my Study Visa much earlier
33 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town Has Something to Offer for Every Type of Traveler

I studied in Cape Town, South Africa for six months with IES for the spring 2019 semester. The program was supportive in terms of responding to students' needs, arranging an orientation with lots of culturally immersive activities, and educating us about local culture. I would say there was less support once the semester got underway. We had lots of freedom but also had the security of knowing there was a fully staffed office just down the road from our accommodation to answer any questions we had. The field trips throughout the semester were well-planned and lots of fun. We also had RA's living in close proximity if we ever needed assistance.

There were two options for housing through this program: either communal living in a house with a shared kitchen and bathrooms or studio style apartments. I opted for the first option and really enjoyed it. There was also the option to switch your housing placement if you were unsatisfied.

I only took courses at the University of Cape Town, but the program also offered classes at the IES Center. I was fairly disappointed with the quality of the academics at the University. The different grading system, lack of clear grading criteria, and general unorganized nature of the classes was frustrating at times. However, learning more about the culture through the classes was a huge part of my experience. The classes changed my perspective on different ideologies I held which I now realize were the result of only taking classes from a western perspective before attending UCT. Obviously, IES has no control over the academics at the University, but they did act as a liason if any issues arose between students and professors/admin. The academics were challenging and classes required a lot of dedication to receive high marks.

The local culture was easy to adapt to because everyone spoke English and people were generally very friendly and willing to talk to you. There were lots of clubs to get involved in at the University and endless activities in the area to participate in. Honestly, the people who had the best experiences tended to be open to the opportunities available. I rarely said no to doing anything while I was there and ended up having an incredible semester. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a study abroad experience with opportunities beyond what a typical European program would offer, since Cape Town not only had an amazing nightlife but also hiking, service learning opportunities, and the chance to be immersed in a non-westernized culture.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I regret not taking more of an initiative with activities or trips I wanted to do. I didn't really go into the experience with a good idea of what I wanted to get out of it, and ended up going along with what other people in my program were doing most of the time. I still had an incredible experience, but I wish I had been a bit more independent from people in my program.
39 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Go on the best program in the most beautiful city in the world!

I had the time of my life studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa! The city has everything you could want: beaches, beautiful landscapes and mountains for hiking, a vibrant nightlife, downtown shopping, art, and events, historical sites and museums, vineyards and wine-tastings, and much more! There is so much to explore and the time truly flies by. For classes, I took community health, and nutrition & HIV. The teachers were passionate and engaging, and I learned so much from them not just about South African healthcare but also about their culture and life. The classes are fascinating and you truly learn a lot and are at times academically challenged. You also get to go on fantastic trips through your classes, such as to public health centers and natural medicine practices. The final week of the program is class-free, and really just about traveling the country (including a safari!) before you unfortunately have to head back home. If you choose this program, you will make lifelong friends, live in the most incredible city on earth, and change your entire perspective on health, healthcare, and equality.

What would you improve about this program?
Less challenging academics and more exploration of South Africa as a whole, rather than just Cape Town.
35 people found this review helpful.
Cape Town
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience!

Studying abroad was always a dream of mine, but I didn't know if it would actually become a reality. Fast forward to my junior year, and in the fall semester, I start to seriously plan on going abroad. I originally planned on studying in Granada, Spain, until I became aware of the opportunity to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa.

Before fully committing to Cape Town, I spoke to students who had studied abroad there during previous semesters, and ALL of them absolutely loved it and said it was the most amazing and beautiful experience of their lives. I decided Cape Town was where I wanted to go and started to get extremely excited.

The students who I had spoken to did not go through a study abroad program. Therefore I was very hesitant in doing so when my study abroad coordinator recommended that I did. She was right, going abroad with IES was the best decision that I made! Immediately from the moment of arriving at the airport, IES representatives were so welcoming and easy to locate, I remember that day like it was yesterday.

Of course, going to a new place for six months is nerve-wracking, but IES provided fantastic housing, support, and field trips just to name a few things. I miss my IES family in Cape Town and which I could go back immediately!

35 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi Anita! According to the IES website, you have to be at least 18 years of age and have a Sophomore, Junior or Senior standing when the program begins.