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IES Cape Town Health Studies

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Cape Town, South Africa



Program Features

Affiliated Program


- 2.5 GPA or higher

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:


Cape Town Health Studies

Cape Town View
View from Table Mountain

Surrounded by mountains and the sea near the southern tip of Africa, Cape Town is not only one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but also an ideal location to experience the dynamic change in a country that is both highly developed in areas and severely underdeveloped in others. You will learn specifics about the South African effort to deliver healthcare effectively to the country's poorer urban and rural residents through both class lectures and observational experiences.

Designed for students interested in health-related careers, this program provides opportunities for you to research and examine healthcare 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 first-hand experience with the many health issues that challenge South Africa and with the national effort to improve public health.

Program Dates

This program is offered during the summer. Dates can be found on the IES Cape Town Health Studies webpage.


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

You take one core course on healthcare in South Africa. The course focuses on community and township healthcare services, prevention and treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and the efforts to alleviate the country's crisis with HIV-AIDS and tuberculosis. Your schedule will vary by week. Some days you will be in class for most of the day, and other days are spent on-location for your service learning project or in a local medical clinic or healthcare center for observations, shadowing staff or practitioners.

The course complements the 20 hours per week you spend in local community-based learning placements. All student activities follow strictly administered ethical guidelines. These guidelines are derived from local agencies.

IES Center Courses: Academics

Service Learning

You participate in a service learning component that improves your understanding of health issues in South Africa. Past placements have included:

  • Brooklyn Chest Hospital
  • Maitland Garden Village
  • Retreat Community Health Centre
  • Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women & Children
  • Sisters4Sisters
  • Sozo Foundation

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

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

Furnished house or apartment with single or double bedrooms. Bathrooms are shared with other students; linens are provided and laundry is nearby; Residential Assistants provide support and opportunities for cultural exchange; meals are not provided.


Possible field trips and cultural events include:

  • Garden Route tour (3 days, optional, following orientation)
  • District 6 Museum and Robben Island tour
  • Rugby/soccer match
  • Kruger National Park
  • Tours of both the Cape Peninsula and Hermanus

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 2.5 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

The cost sheet 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: $135

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.

Application Deadline

The application for this program is due on Feb. 21.

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.

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

Visa and Passport Information


To study abroad, you must have a signed, valid passport from your country of citizenship that will not expire for a minimum of 6 months after your planned return date. If you do not have a passport, or it's about to expire, make sure you apply or renew as soon as possible! U.S. citizens can refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website for more information regarding passports.


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.

Student Blog

Brooke Axness, Summer 2014

Adventure of my dreams: interning abroad in South Africa
4 differences between life in the U.S. and South Africa
A trip down The Garden Route in South Africa
The challenges of study abroad
Cape Town: An Outdoorsman's Paradise
Township Life: An Eye-oprning Look Into Traditional South African Culture
South African Slang: the Highlights