Eli Geschwind, CC'16

Students overlooking city

CIEE South Africa: University of Cape Town

Language of Instruction: English
Cape Town,
South Africa
Term: Academic Year, Spring, Fall

Better your understanding of the South African culture by studying for a semester at the University of Cape Town

The next application deadline is Oct 1, 2021
See other program dates


Do you have an interest in contemporary South African life and society as well as exploring South Africa's diverse landscape of beaches, forests and mountains? If so, consider studying abroad at the University of Cape Town (UCT) for a semester or academic year. This program is appropriate for students studying a variety of academic disciplines and are interested in living in a homestay, residence hall or apartment near campus.


The academic system is geared toward the scholar who is motivated, self-sufficient, and deeply interested in the subject matter. Participants may notice striking differences between their home educational system and the UCT system. In some courses, the university allows students greater responsibility and initiative in a less structured environment, while in other courses the structure of the courses may mirror a US-style format. Student take regular classes alongside their South African counterparts in all UCT faculties except Health Sciences. You may undertake an independent study with faculty permission. Please note that any course you take with "Africa" in the title will probably have almost exclusively other international students in the course.

Note the academic calendar for this program does not align closely with the Columbia academic calendar.

Program Features

You can choose from three different housing options. Former students have suggested the first two options to be able to connect more closely with long-term residents. The UCT student body is 6% American so staying in a homestay or living in a dorm with South African students may give you greater access to local life and culture.

Homestay with South African Family: This option provides an excellent opportunity for immersion into the local culture and is strongly recommended if you wish to take full advantage of your experience in South Africa. Some meals are provided during the week.

UCT residence hall: You are provided with a small single room and share kitchen and other facilities with two or three other students. A majority of the students that reside in the residence halls are South African upperclassmen. CIEE Resident Assistants live in the residence hall with the students. All of the residents of the apartment share basic cleaning duties. You are responsible for your own meals which are not included in the program fee.

Off-Campus Houses or Apartments: You share off-campus houses or apartments near campus with fellow CIEE program participants and a small number of local students. The CIEE Office is also located in this building for easy access for any student questions. You have a small single room (some houses have a small number of double rooms) and share kitchen and other facilities with five to ten other students (fewer in apartments). You are responsible for your own meals which are not included in the program fee.

You are able to participate in a variety of artistic and cultural activities with the other CIEE participants. In addition, you are encouraged to engage in community service and/or independent research projects.


Review eligibility to ensure that you meet all Columbia requirements to study abroad.

Review the external program webpage to understand any additional program prerequisites.

Application Instructions

To apply, you must complete the two steps below. Deadlines vary and some applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Therefore, you should complete the steps below simultaneously:

  • To apply for Columbia clearance (approval) to study abroad, click on "Start Your Application" on this webpage. Clearance applications are approved on a rolling basis until the application deadline listed on this webpage.
  • To apply for program admission, complete an external application directly on the program webpage. Note that this deadline may be in advance of the Columbia clearance deadline.

Fact Sheet

Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM
Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies
Language of Instruction:
Cape Town,
South Africa
Africa South of the Sahara
Academic Year, Spring, Fall

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Monday, March 1, 2021
Academic Year
Application Deadline: 
Monday, March 1, 2021
Application Deadline: 
Friday, October 1, 2021