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Programs : Brochure

Program Description:

Program Snapshot

CIEE LogoCIEE Iringa: Community Development, Language, and Culture

The Community Development, Language, and Culture study abroad program allows students to gain a background in community development while taking Kiswahili language and additional CIEE courses taught by faculty from universities in and around Iringa.  The use of Kiswahili will allow students to communicate more effectively and openly with members of the communities in which they are completing their field work.

Ruaha Catholic University is a private university with 4,000 students located in the Southern Highlands municipality of Iringa. It was founded in 2005 with the mission to be a committed institution of higher learning which provides: demand-driven quality education to students so as to enable them to become responsible professionals with moral and ethical values in the society; quality teaching, research, and consultancy for quality manpower output for services and leadership.

For additional information, visit the CIEE Iringa website
The City of Iringa

Iringa is the administrative and political capital of the Iringa Region of Tanzania in East Africa. With a population of 150,000, it was originally built as a defensive base in the 1890’s by the German army against the Hehe uprising led by Chief Mkwawa.  The name, Iringa, is derived from the Hehe word lilinga, meaning fort.  The city stretches along a hilltop overlooking the Ruaha River to the south and spreading along soft ridges and valleys to the north. The region is famous for its woven baskets, made from local reeds, which are used across the country and exported internationally.

Did you know…?

Gangilonga Rock, a site just outside of the town of Iringa, is a legendary spot where the Hehe chief at that time, Chief Mkwawa, met his people and decided on how to fight the Germans.



The program at CIEE Iringa is for College credit only.

Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0

Language Prerequisite: No previous language study required.
Additional Course Pre-requisite(s):  No previous area studies coursework required. 


Language of Instruction

English, Swahili (language course only)


A full course load at the CIEE Iringa: Community Development, Language, and Culture program consists of five classes per semester, which include:
  • Swahili Language Course
  • CIEE Field Research Seminar
  • Three Additional Elective Courses
The CIEE Field Research Seminar includes a field research methodology component, an intensive practical component, reflection activities, journal, and a final presentation. Elective courses at the Ruaha Catholic University include traditional lectures, exams and essays, and student presentations.

Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
CIEE Iringa Semester Dates
CIEE Iringa 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. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Final grades in CIEE courses are based on a combination of attendance, participation, papers, presentations, and a final paper, exam or presentation.

Special Features

BZN Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by CIEE. Students will begin their study abroad experience before leaving home by participating in a CIEE online pre-departure orientation. Upon arrival, the three-day in-country orientation conducted in Dar es Salaam at the beginning of the program will introduce you to the city, country, culture, and academic program, as well as practical information about living in Tanzania. The orientation includes a variety of sessions and activities focusing on health and safety, local transportation, and survival Swahili. Students will then travel as a group to Iringa where they will attend more orientation sessions and activities specific to the town and university.

Language Courses

Kiswahili (Swahili) language courses are offered at all levels, from beginning through advanced. Students with prior language training are given a placement exam upon arrival in Tanzania. The courses include a combination of classroom and field-based lessons.

Community Engagement and Rural Stay

In Iringa, students will work with organizations such as Doctors with Africa, CUAMM and Iringa Development of Youth, Disabled and Children Care (IDYDC), and go on a series of community development site visits.  Also, as part of the CIEE Field Research Seminar, students will spend four weeks on site at a community-based non-governmental organization in Mufindi, participating in projects in areas such as education, development, public health, vocational training, sustainable gardening or NGO management. You’ll design and carry out your own research project studying a topic that you are passionate about.

BZN Special FeaturesGroup Excursions

Students will take part in excursions and activities centered on the program’s core themes of community development, language, and culture. They might travel to Bagamoyo to visit the 13th-century Kaole Ruins, 18th-century Muslim burial grounds, and slave trade caravan route. Other potential excursions include a cultural heritage conservation site visit to explore the work of the University of Iringa’s anthropology department, or even the Isimila Stone Age site to examine archaeological artifacts from human habitation 70,000+ years ago.


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

While in Dar es Salaam for orientation, CIEE students share double or triple rooms in a hotel.

In Iringa, students live in on-campus residence hall rooms segregated by gender with one another at the Ruaha Catholic University. The university has one large cafeteria on campus that provides affordable meals. Students also have easy access to small, informal food stands near the university, in and around the city of Iringa, which features a variety of restaurants and stores.

In Mufindi, students live in NGO-provided volunteer houses with three or four students per room. Each house has shared kitchen and restroom facilities. Students will have their meals prepared for them by NGO home staff. During the homestay portion of the village stay, students will live with trusted families in nearby villages associated with the NGO projects.
While housing is clean and safe in all locations, students should understand that the facilities and amenities are typically quite different from those found in the United States. Students should be prepared for limited access to Internet, limited/regulated electricity (i.e., no electricity after 10 p.m.), cold-water showers, and Turkish/Indian-style squat toilets.

Information regarding accommodation can be found on the program website.

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. 

CIEE Scholarships & Grants: Provides both merit-based and need-based scholarships and grants for undergraduate studying abroad on CIEE programs. 

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 Iringa, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.