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SOUTH AFRICA - AIFS Stellenbosch University

Study art, history, literature, political science, service learning, African studies and more with AIFS in Stellenbosch, South Africa.  AIFS makes it simple for you to live and study in Stellenbosch and experience all that this vibrant city has to offer.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus)  Junior status or higher is strongly preferred.
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5. For service-learning focused program, required GPA is 3.2. 

Stellenbosch is a university town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. It’s surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the mountainous nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg. The town’s oak-shaded streets are lined with cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Cape Dutch architecture gives a sense of South Africa’s Dutch colonial history, as do the Village Museum’s period houses and gardens.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the Embassy of Africa


AIFS students can choose courses from Stellenbosch University’s full course catalog.  The course offerings at the AIFS Stellenbosch program include options for many liberal arts majors.  You will experience South Africa’s educational system firsthand, studying alongside South African and other international students. 


Though letter grades will appear on the Lake Forest transcript, they will not factor into a student’s GPA except in calculations of honors or the Dean’s List. 

The AIFS Stellenbosch University program uses the US semester credit system, in which 1 credit = 42-45 in-class hours, and 2 hours of out-of-class work per credit hour.

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 15-16 US semester credits.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 12 US semester credits.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

For more information on courses available. please visit the AIFS page.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Students directly enroll at Stellenbosch University, and the education system is quite different.  Grades are based heavily on one end-of-term exam. Class sizes are often much larger and are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Professors are often more formal than those in the United States. 

For students that participate in the Learning for a Sustainable Community Engagement Program, students spend a good deal of time on service-learning projects in the community.  The semester Service Learning projects are with Lynedoch Primary School, located in Lynedoch Eco-village, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. This course primarily focuses on work with children who are all from backgrounds of abject poverty and whose lives are characterized by impaired bio-psycho-social well-being. It, therefore, provides a very good cross-section of the kinds of difficulties that typify the development environment.

Student Life

AIFS offers excursions to Cape Town, Robben Island, the Cape of Good Hope and the Cederberg Mountains. A 6-day tour of the Garden Route is also included for all students, with stops for encounters with wildlife like ostriches, crocodiles, cheetahs, monkeys, and elephants.

  Experiential Opportunities

Learning for a Sustainable Community Engagement Program

Students with a 3.2 GPA may apply for this program track, which combines 9 credit course on service-learning, plus two other courses from the full curriculum.  The objective of this exciting module is to provide international students with the opportunity to demonstrate their global citizenship through a service learning experience. Students will develop an understanding of the historical background and current issues impacting on community life and problems in South Africa and will experience it first hand through service to a South African community while earning academic credits.

Sustainable Community Engagement is a term that describes the contact between the student and a community where the service learning experience will take place. The semester Service Learning projects are with Lynedoch Primary School, located in Lynedoch Eco-village, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. This course primarily focuses on work with children who are all from backgrounds of abject poverty and whose lives are characterized by impaired bio-psycho-social well-being. It, therefore, provides a very good cross-section of the kinds of difficulties that typify the development environment.

The course includes lectures on the theory behind community engagement and sustainability. Students will be able to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice on their community engagement and will undertake assignments which include creating a community profile, conducting a skills audit and needs assessment. Students will be able to think analytically, critically and practically about their work through reflection, observation, supervision, planning, and experience.

Internship Opportunities

AIFS Internship at Ardmore Ceramic Studio, KwaZulu Natal

One or more AIFS students may be selected each semester for a 3-week Ardmore internship at the end of the Stellenbosch semester. This is a unique opportunity for students interested in, or with experience in art, photography, marketing or community service.

Volunteer Opportunities
Students on the AIFS programs in Stellenbosch have the opportunity to undertake volunteer work with children in the township of Kayamandi, a predominantly black township with a population of 20,000. This volunteer project is supervised by the International Office.
Housing and Meals


The main university campus is located in the town itself. The “res” is at the heart of campus life allowing you to make new friends, be part of the community and be independent while having the convenience of access to classrooms and other university services.

The residence has modern laundry facilities and a common living room area for socializing, watching TV or just hanging out. Most of the residences boast lovely courtyards and/or gardens for play and relaxation. Students who bring laptops can connect to the University network from the comfort of their room.


 You will also receive a meal allowance worth approximately $750 to subsidize breakfast and lunch or dinner Monday to Friday and the purchase of groceries. Food prices are very reasonable in South Africa and you can purchase a wide range of fresh, locally-sourced produce in grocery stores and the many cafes and restaurants in Stellenbosch.


Also on campus is the student center, affectionately known as The Neelsie, where you’ll find a food court, sit-down restaurants, coffee shops, a pub, two cinemas, a dance area, a post office, banks, a bookshop, and stores.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for the AIFS Stellenbosch program includes orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, several excursions, and insurance.  A stipend is provided for breakfasts and lunch during weekdays.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office