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IES Cape Town University of Cape Town

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Cape Town, South Africa



Program Features

Affiliated Program


- 3.0 GPA or higher

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Fall/Academic Year: 2/24

Spring: 9/16

Cape Town View
View from Table Mountain

In Cape Town, every day will be like a choose-your-own-adventure book: imagine breathtaking views from atop Table Mountain, hiking Lion's Head at sunset, visiting beaches—there's even a beach with penguins!—and more.

When you study with IES 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, and works to make quality higher education available to students regardless of race. UCT is officially recognized for its strengths in African Studies, Biology, Botany, Business, Environmental Sciences, History, Mathematics, Engineering, Sociology, and Anthropology.

Service learning in and around Cape Town is a core component in this 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.

Academic Program

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 South Africa, the service learning project includes community service (60 hours over the course of 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 the 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. (12-19 credits)

IES Center Courses: Academics

Cultural Activities

View from Lion's head and path
Path down Lion's Head

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. Throughout 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 coordinating group transportation to the location (for IES Abroad class-based community-service).

Each semester, students work on a different project depending on the needs of the community or organization where they are volunteering. You will visit the community at the beginning of the semester and return several times during the semester to work on projects that will contribute to the organization long after you return home. At the end of the semester, you are welcome to donate clothing, toiletries, and supplies left from your time in Cape Town to local organizations.

Summer internships are available in Cape Town. Please see IES Internships Cape Town for more details.

Program Dates

This program is offered for an academic year or a semester (fall or spring). Dates can be found on the IES Cape Town University of Cape Town webpage.

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with IES, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353

Cape Town

Perched between the ocean and the mountains, with a national park at its heart, there is nowhere like Cape Town. Cape Town, the "Mother City," is the oldest city in South Africa and has a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. Cape Town is the 2nd most populous city in South Africa, behind Johannesburg, with over a million people living within the city limits.

South Africa

View of sunset with trees
Sunset in Cape Town

Situated at the southern tip of Africa, South Africa has a landmass of 1,233,404 km². It is edged on 3 sides by a nearly 3,000-km coastline comprised of both the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also wraps itself around two independent countries, the Lesotho and Swaziland.

The South African population of more than 49 million people is extremely diverse. Africans are in the majority, making up approx. 80% of the population, followed by the white population of approx. 4.4 million; the coloured population of approx. 4.2 million; and the Indian/Asian population at approx. 1.2 million.

Since the demise of apartheid, international tourist arrivals have surged, making tourism one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. The tourism industry is well-established with an exciting array of emerging entrepreneurs. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature, and wildlife and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

UCT Campus
UCT Campus

Private House or Apartment

You may live with other IES Abroad students in a furnished house or apartment near the University of Cape Town. Furnished houses and apartments offer single and double rooms, a communal lounge, and a fully-equipped kitchen area. All houses and apartments are equipped with digital safes for storage of personal belongings. Internet access is available but not guaranteed.

UCT Residence Hall

You may also choose to live in one of the University of Cape Town Residence Halls or shared apartments with South African and international students. In a furnished single room in a residence hall, you will have access to a shared kitchen and a private bathroom. Laundry facilities on site are free to use and easy to access. Internet access is available but not guaranteed. Students can access UCT WiFi from their rooms. All residence hall rooms are equipped with digital safes.


If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact their consulate for more information if they need to get a new passport or renew their passport.

Travel Arrangements

Hiking on table mountain
Hiking to the top of Table Mountain

Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Cape Town, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee. Within Cape Town and around South Africa, students will utilize public transportation such as buses and trains.


This program is open to students in good academic and disciplinary standing with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You must remain in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university until departure. If you are not in good standing at the end of the semester, your acceptance will be revoked and you will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

Program Cost Sheet

This is the cost sheet for Fall 2023: IES Cape Town Cost SheetPDF

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out-of-pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarships disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for IES:

  • Iowa application fee: $50
  • Airfare: $1,000-$1,500
  • Passport: $165

Optional additional fees paid to IES

These fees are all optional and are not included in the course fee for the program. The cost should be paid directly to IES — failure to pay will result in IES withholding transcripts.

  • Single Room Upgrades
  • Optional Tours

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship Opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

Scholarships are also available directly through IES. More information can be found on their website.

Pell Grant Recipients are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details.

How to Apply

IES Application

Steps to Completing Your Application

  • Schedule an appointment to meet with Study Abroad advisor by calling 319.335.0353
  • Fill out the Iowa Study Abroad Application.Please note that the non-refundable $50 application fee will be charged to your U-Bill as part of this online application.
  • Fill out the IES Application


Acceptance into the program is made by IES directly via an email to you. Upon acceptance, you will be asked to confirm your participation with IES and the University of Iowa. After confirmation, you will work and correspond directly with IES to complete pre-departure materials. Participants are responsible for the IES application deposit ($500) and study abroad administrative fees if they withdraw.

Application Deadline

Spring: September 16

Fall/Academic Year: February 24

Pre-departure Resources

IES and the UI have a variety of resources available to you to prepare for departure. It is recommended that you review these materials, share them with your parents, and refer back to them if you have questions.

  1. IES Cape Town Pre-departure GuidePDF
    Note: This is a generic version. The document in your IES Portal will contain exact dates.
  2. List of books, documentaries, films, videos, and online materials related to AfricaPDF
  3. A Parent Guide to Study AbroadPDF
  4. Health Preparation Guide for International TravelPDF


A student visa is permission by a foreign government to live and study in that country. It typically comes in the form of a stamp that is inserted directly into your passport. All US passport holders staying in South Africa longer than 90 days must obtain a student visa prior to departure. You cannot apply for the visa more than 90 days prior to arrival in South Africa.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.