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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Gaborone, Botswana
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring, Year
  • Restrictions: UPENN applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Fall, Spring, Year
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For: College Other Eligibility Requirements: 1 Area Studies Course in Language or Culture, See Program Description
Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad Housing Options: University Residence Hall/Apartment
Application Deadline: Fall/Year: February 1, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

University of Botswana
BGB Logo
The University of Botswana, established on July 1, 1982, is closely involved in the national development process of Botswana. In this regard the special functions of the University are to engage in improving the quality and in expanding the quantity of the human resources needed for development, and to act as the repository of the collective knowledge and experience of the nation and the world. The University of Botswana cultivates a holistic environment among students that includes a range of learning, social, cultural and recreational opportunities to facilitate the full realization of a student’s potential for academic and personal growth. The University also ensures a student-centered, intellectually stimulating and technologically advanced teaching, learning and research environment by promoting the health, social and spiritual welfare of the University community through a range of policies and programs and a diversity of positive co-curricular activities and experiences.
For additional information, visit the University of Botswana website

The City of Gaborone

One of Africa's fastest-growing cities, Gaborone lies in the flat valley between the Kgale and Oodi hills, on the Notwane River in the south eastern corner of Botswana and 15 km from the South African border. Gaborone is a bustling modern city with a wide variety of sporting complexes, shopping, and tourist attractions. Gaborone provides plenty of opportunities to experience the local culture and modern amenities. The city is also noted for its local musical talent, which has been seeing steady growth with the implementation of three new commercial radio stations. Football matches and cultural gatherings are frequent occurrences at the National Stadium, while music and drama are performed at a number of venues, including Maitisong Cultural Centre.

Did you know…?

Two-thirds of the country of Botswana is comprised of the Kalahari Desert, but the Okavango Delta in the north is a large inland delta with large numbers of wildlife that congregate in that area.



The program at the University of Botswana is for College credit only.

Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0

Language Prerequisite: Prior study of Setswana language through the Penn Language Center is highly recommended.
Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Successful completion of at least 1 course in African Area Studies by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure.  


Language of Instruction

English, Setswana (language course only)


Penn students are required to study Setswana language and normally will pursue an independent study project, internship or service learning in addition to their coursework.
A full course load at University of Botswana consists of four regular courses per semester or the appropriate combination of regular courses, Setswana language and independent study pre-approved for academic credit. 
Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

University of Botswana Academic Calendar
University of Botswana Course Catalog for Incoming Exchange Students
Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Grades are reported to Penn on the University of Botswana scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
University of Botswana Grade Penn Grade
80-100% = 5.0 A
75 – 79.9% = 4.5 B+
70 – 74.9% = 4.0 B
65 – 69.9% = 3.5 B-
60 – 64.9% = 3.0 C+
55 – 59.9% = 2.5 C
50 – 54.9% = 2.0 C-
45 – 49.9% = 1.5 D+
40 – 44.9% = 1.0 D
35 – 39.9% = 0.5 D-
0-34.9% = 0 F

Special Features

BGB Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the University of Botswana prior to the start of each semester.  More information on University of Botswana’s orientation activities can be found here.

The orientation mainly covers social, cultural, travel, safety, etiquette and lifestyle issues. Other information shared during orientation includes procedures on immigration, academic registration, library, computers, university life, and the local public transport system. The orientation will also include visits to places of interest such as shopping malls, and places of entertainment and recreation. Orientation normally concludes with a welcome dinner where students can network and meet new friends.

BGB Special FeaturesGroup Excursions

The International Office arranges for a paid weekend excursion within the first two weeks of a student’s arrival. This cultural tour is conducted within a 50km radius of Gaborone over a two day period with a sleepover at a village. The tours normally conclude with a game drive at Mokolodi Game Reserve. The trip exposes students to Setswana culture and tradition, folklores, songs, dance, traditional food and drinks, and a bit of the wildlife. (This excursion usually includes an additional fee of approximately $150 US dollars.)


BGB CampusParticipants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

Exchange students are guaranteed accommodation on campus and the International Office will assist students with room allocations. Exchange students will be housed in double occupancy rooms in the undergraduate student dormitories with local or international students.  Each student is provided with 2 blankets, 2 sheets, 1 pillow, 1 bedcover, and toilet paper supply every month.

Participants are advised that it is unlikely that many of the services to which they are accustomed at Penn will be available.

Information regarding accommodation can be found here.

Health and Safety

Applicants must be in excellent physical condition and must recognize the very real possibility of falling ill or contracting long-term diseases such as malaria if they do not observe strict standards of protective health care and personal and food hygiene. This advice is not meant to imply that the program is unsafe; rather it is meant to convey an accurate sense of what a participant may encounter. Guidance on health matters related to study in developing countries is available to Penn students at Penn's Student Health Services. Students should make an appointment at least three months prior to departure for necessary vaccines and travel information. For current health, safety and travel information, students should consult the U.S. Department of State website for Consular Information Sheets for Botswana and for any other country in which they plan to travel. Also visit the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) website to look for up-to-date information regarding vaccines and appropriate pre-departure measures.

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets

Academic Year

Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad: Supports undergraduate study abroad focusing on geographical areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to US national security. (Excludes study in US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.) These US government grants entail a service obligation. 

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Gaborone, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.