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  • Cape Town, South Africa

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Cape Town - University Of Cape Town

Why Cape Town?

In Cape Town, every day will be like a choose-your-own-adventure book: imagine hiking Lion's Head at sunset, strolling through the African market at Greenmarket Square, attempting to finish a Gatsby sandwich, visiting beaches-there's even a beach with penguins!-and more. 

We want you to feel at home in South Africa, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. From housing to cultural events, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic study abroad experience possible. 

What You'll Study

When you study with us in South Africa, you will register for three to five courses at South Africa's leading research university, the University of Cape Town (UCT), which is located in a pleasant suburban area five miles from the City Center. UCT is South Africa's oldest university and has undergone incredible change since its opening, particularly since the end of apartheid, working to make quality higher education available to students regardless of socioeconomic background. UCT is officially recognized for its strengths in African Studies, Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Business, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, History, Mathematics, and Sociology.

Service learning in and around Cape Town is a core component in our program as it helps you understand some of Cape Town's most pressing social issues, while contributing your skills toward a community-driven solution. Our service learning course options in Health Studies and Sociology include completing 60 hours of volunteer work and research while in Cape Town.

Students will have options for their community-based service work, either through IES Abroad courses or by volunteering with other local organizations. In addition, UCT students often join SHAWCO, the University's volunteer program. Through these opportunities, you will get a first-hand look at the city's social and economic issues affecting different groups in Cape Town.

Daily Life

Cape Town will be your classroom. In your free time, visit local gems like the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens (a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site), beautiful Camps Bay Beach, or climb the iconic Table Mountain and catch the cable car back down. We challenge you to take full advantage of South Africa’s beautiful climate and geography.

We take you on optional field trips to the Eastern Cape's beautiful Garden Route and to the Kruger National Park where you can enjoy game drives experienced game rangers. Hopefully, your adventure will include seeing the “Big Five": the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhino. In addition we offer a selection of optional excursions for you to get to know all about Cape Town's culture, history, and people.

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$5 Million in Scholarships & Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our scholarship and aid programs.


Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. That is why we partnered with the University of Cape Town.

You take 15–19 credit hours per semester as you enroll in University of Cape Town courses. You may also elect to take one of the IES Abroad courses.

Create your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components:

  • IES Abroad Service Learning Course: Focused on either Health or Sociology in South Africa, the two IES Abroad service learning project will include 60 hours of volunteer and research work over the semester, at a local organization (3 credits).
  • 3-5 Courses at the University of Cape Town: Enroll in a minimum of 15-19 IES Abroad credits at the University of Cape Town. We require that one of your courses be South Africa-focused. If you choose to take an IES Abroad course (3 credits), then you will take a minimum of 12 IES Abroad credits at UCT, in addition to the IES Abroad course. Students are encouraged to take mostly 2000-level or 3000-level courses, with a maximum of one 1000-level course.


This is a list of planned course offerings. A final list of course offerings will be made available to you in your MyIESabroad account.

Cultural Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
IC/CU 221 - Dialogues on Difference Fall, Spring English 1
Course Name Term Language Credits
SL/EC/SO 335 - Community Development in Context Fall, Spring English 3
Health Sciences
Course Name Term Language Credits
SO/SL/HE 345 - Community Health in Context Fall, Spring English 3
Intercultural Communication
Course Name Term Language Credits
IC/CU 221 - Dialogues on Difference Fall, Spring English 1
Service Learning
Course Name Term Language Credits
SL/EC/SO 335 - Community Development in Context Fall, Spring English 3
SO/SL/HE 345 - Community Health in Context Fall, Spring English 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
SL/EC/SO 335 - Community Development in Context Fall, Spring English 3
SO/SL/HE 345 - Community Health in Context Fall, Spring English 3

Partner Institution(s)

About the University of Cape Town
The top-ranked university in South Africa, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is also South Africa’s leading research institution. International students make up about 20% of the total enrollment at the University. UCT is located four miles from the Cape Town City Center. Your commute time to campus is between 15-30 minutes, which is common for local students.

Most courses at UCT are lecture-based, some with very large classes, and they usually meet between two and five days per week. Lectures are often accompanied by tutorials, which are much smaller and allow discussion of topics and concepts covered during the lecture.  Past students have found these tutorials to be extremely useful.

Choose from many courses in the following faculties at the University of Cape Town. 

  • Commerce – Accounting, Business Law, Economics, Finance & Tax, Information Systems, Marketing, Mathematics, Statistics
  • Engineering & the Built Environment – Architecture, Civil Engineering, Chemical/Electrical/Mechanical Engineering
  • Humanities – Communication, Dance, Drama, English Literature and Language, Film & Media, Fine Art, Gender Studies, History, Languages and Literature, Linguistics, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Social Anthropology, Social Development, Social Work, Sociology
  • Natural Sciences– Archaeology, Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental & Geographical Science, Geographical Sciences, Mathematics & Applied Materials, Molecular & Cellular Biology, Oceanography, Physics, Statistical Sciences

South Africa-focused courses are available in fields such as Cultural Studies, Dance, History, Language, Literature, Music, Photography, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology. You may not enroll in courses in the Health Sciences faculty.

IES Abroad and the University of Cape Town reserve the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment or circumstances beyond our control. Specific course listings and options are available to view on the University of Cape Town website at

Service Learning

Participating in a service learning experience in Cape Town is one of the best ways to gain a deeper understanding of the city's culture and society. Working alongside local people towards a common goal, you experience first-hand some of the social issues that affect Cape Town while contributing your skills towards a community-driven solution.

A service learning placement consists of time spent with a local organization, accompanied by a weekly academic, for-credit service learning seminar. Through the seminar, you have structure time for reflection, discussion, and research on the issues of your host community. Many of the community organization connections are created through relationships with the IES Abroad faculty. IES Abroad will assist your efforts by facilitating introductions to organizations and through the coordination of group transportation to the location (for IES Abroad class-based community-service).

Each semester, our students work on different projects, depending on the needs of the community or organization where they are volunteering. You will visit the community weekly during the semester to work on projects that will contribute to the organization long after you return home. 

Recent community engagement placements for IES Abroad students include:

  • Sisters4Sisters
  • The Sozo Foundation
  • Ikhamva Ubomi
  • Health-related NGOs

You may also participate in UCT-organized service learning opportunities through an organization called SHAWCO. Here you can volunteer your time to ongoing educational and healthcare service projects. These are non-credit bearing, so many IES Abroad students join SHAWCO as part of their student life experience in Cape Town.

Field Trips & Events

Even though your adventure begins in Cape Town, our field trips take you beyond the city to discover the culture and traditions of your host country.  We believe in experiential learning and our field trips are aimed at helping you learn more about South African culture, geography, wildlife, history and people. In addition to trips and activities in and around Cape Town (such as a walking tour of Langa Township, a trip around Cape Peninsula, a District Six Cycling Tour, and a visit to Robben Island), our partially subsidized field trips open you up to a range of cultures and experiences.

Garden Route
3 Days | Orientation
Travel along the southern coastline of South Africa, better known as the Garden Route. Explore the Cango Cave system, and visit an ostrich farm, and an animal sanctuary. Experience the beauty and diversity of the South African landscape as you hike and canoe along the Garden Route. This trip is partially subsidized by IES Abroad. 

Kruger National Park & Johannesburg
4 Days
Explore the beauty and cultures of South Africa. This trip begins with a flight to Nelspruit and two days spent on safari in the world-famous Kruger National Park--home to a wide variety of animals, including elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hpipos, giraffes, kudus, and rhinos. Then travel west to Johannesburg where you'll enjoy lunch in Soweto township and a visit to the Apartheid Museum. This trip is partially subsidized by IES Abroad.

Daily Life

Part of making you feel at home in Cape Town is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips and walking tours that take you to places off the beaten path— we’re all about our student services. 


Orientation in Cape Town is spread over two weeks. It starts with an IES Abroad orientation (three days) where you are introduced to the IES Abroad Cape Town staff, your fellow students, the city of Cape Town and its surrounding areas, in addition to the University of Cape Town campus.

Orientation continues with a trip along the Garden Route, the southern coastline of South Africa, where you explore cave systems, visit beautiful beaches, canoe, hike, and experience the breathtaking beauty of the South African landscape. During our orientation, you also enjoy a scenic drive through parts of Cape Town and a visit to a local township led by members of that community.

You will then attend the University of Cape Town’s orientation (five days) that gives you details on academics, extracurricular activities, and volunteer opportunities. It also includes a campus tour and the chance to participate in an African-style drumming event.

Our Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience (CORE™) begins right when you arrive and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on academic and cultural adjustment.

Detailed information about housing, public transportation, culture, health and safety, and other important topics are also covered.


Residence Hall - Live in a private residence hall with IES Abroad, South African, and other international students. Students live in a furnished single room with a kitchenette, private bathrom, and a digital safe is provided. Living spaces are shared, and there is a gym on site. Internet access is available, but not guaranteed.  Meals are not included.

Shared Houses - Live with other IES Abroad students in a furnished house. Furnished houses offer single and double rooms, a communal lounge, and a fully-equipped kitchen area. All houses are equipped with digital safes for storage of personal belongings. Internet access is available but not guaranteed. Meals are not included.

In both housing options, an IES Abroad Resident Assistant lives in each student residence, and can serve as a great resource for tips on integrating into the local culture.

Get to Know Your New City

Hit the Beach(es)!

Cape Town has miles of coastline and beautiful white sand beaches. Clifton and Camps Bay beaches are some of our favorites!

See the Waves Crash Against Cape Point

Stand on the most southwesterly point in Africa and enjoy the spectacular clifftop views. If you're lucky, you may see an ostrich or baboon!

Meet the Penguins

You'll come face to face with adorable residents of Boulders Beach!

Relax in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Nestled at the foot of Table Mountain, this spectacular garden is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic, catch an outdoor concert, or just take a contemplative walk.

Climb Table Mountain

No stay in Cape town is complete without taking in the views from the top of this iconic mountain. If the hike up sounds too daunting, you can take a leisurely ride to the top of the cableway.

Program Cost

Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.

Term: Fall 2019
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Fall 2019
Academic Year
Term: Spring 2019
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Spring 2019 $14,570 $4,135 $395 $19,100

Scholarships & Aid

Program-Specific Scholarships

John Gearen Need-Based Dublin or Developing Regions Scholarship
Ranges up to $1,000

John Gearen, a member of the IES Abroad Board of Directors for many years and past chair of the Board for six years, is a leading real estate attorney and Rhodes Scholar who is involved in numerous philanthropic causes. Mr. Gearen has generously established this scholarship to support students who have an interest in studying on an IES Abroad Center in a developing region of the world (Argentina, Chile, China, Ecuador, Ireland, Morocco, or South Africa). 

Robert McNeill Need-Based International Business Scholarship
Ranges up to $3,000

This scholarship is named in honor of Robert McNeill, member of the IES Abroad Board of Directors for 25 years (6 years as Chairman). Open to students who have an interest in international business. Majors might include management, marketing, economics, finance, international relations, and social and behavioral sciences.

Dr. William Louis Gaines Need-Based History or International Relations Scholarship
Ranges up to $1,875

This scholarship is named in honor of Dr. William Louis Gaines, President of IES Abroad from 1974-1992. Dr. Gaines was dedicated to strengthening IES Abroad's academic framework, broadening the scope of IES Abroad locations, and securing the financial foundation of the organization.

Open to students majoring in History or International Relations.

Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers
Up to $5,000

The Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers was established by an anonymous donor to encourage more engineering students to have the enriching, life changing experience of study abroad.

Use our budget worksheet to calculate your costs

$5 Million in Scholarships & Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our scholarship and aid programs.

Our Center

The Fall and Spring Cape Town programs are based by the IES Abroad Cape Town Center and supported by IES Abroad staff.  The IES Abroad Cape Town Center is located by the University of Cape Town campus. The Center is a place where students can stop by and talk to staff, use WiFi, pick up their mail, and study in the Student Lounge. IES Abroad courses are also offered in the Center classroom, and special guest lectures and other events may be held in the Center space.

Features at our Center include:

  • Reception area
  • Student Lounge
  • Classrooms
  • Meeting space
  • Staff offices


The University of Cape Town campus offers several amenities for students enrolled in the UCT semester program, such as: access to libraries, museums, theaters, cafés, and university sports facilities. There is a free UCT shuttle service (the Jammie shuttle) around campus and nearby areas for UCT students.  Health, Culture, and Development students are also semester students, and while they are not enrolled at UCT, they do still have access to UCT facilities, amenities, clubs, and societies.

Our Staff

Natanya van der Lingen

Center Director

Natanya took up the position of Center Director at the IES Abroad Cape Town Center after working as the Assistant Director of the IES Abroad Center in London and as the Resident Director of an IES Abroad French language summer program in Quebec City, Canada. Originally from South Africa, she graduated from the University KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa where she majored in Spanish and French, and also studied Linguistics, Sociology, Drama, Zulu, and Afrikaans. She spent a year studying abroad in California as a Rotary International Exchange student and has also lived in the UK, Argentina, and France, and has traveled to over 40 other countries around the world.

IES Abroad Staff

IES Abroad Staff

Devonne Bobbert

Short Programmes Manager

Sarah Zeelie

Programming & Internships Manager

Jody Felton

Housing & Office Manager

David Reiersgord

Academic Manager

Carrie Grochowski

Programme Co-ordinator