Run by multiparty democracy, Botswana is one of Africa’s most stable countries. Most of its people belong to a single ethnic group, the Tswana, and the country is well known for its rich biodiversity and diverse landscapes. The capital Gaborone is one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities, located in the south, close to the South African border. Gaborone hosts the headquarters of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, which focuses on regional development, economic growth, and poverty relief.
Students in the CIEE Gaborone program enroll in the the University of Botswana. Established on July 1, 1982, University of Botswana is closely involved in the national development process of Botswana. 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 CIEE Gaborone, Botswana website.
The City of Gaborone
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 CIEE Gaborone, 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)
Students take five classes a semester, choosing from a range of options at the University of Botswana. Students can take courses at the University of Botswana in addition to volunteering and going on unique excursions designed to help students get to know community members. Together, these pieces give students a solid understanding of contemporary Botswana culture and its role in southern Africa. Except for the CIEE Language and Culture Practicum, courses are taught by faculty from the University of Botswana.
Penn students are encouraged to study Setswana language and normally will pursue an independent study project, internship or service learning in addition to their coursework.
Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
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.
Most courses at the University of Botswana use a continuous assessment model that includes written assignments, projects, research exercises, essays, and written and oral exams. Assessment is done with percentage scale, letter grade (A-F), and grade point. 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
80-100% = 5.0
75 – 79.9% = 4.5
70 – 74.9% = 4.0
65 – 69.9% = 3.5
60 – 64.9% = 3.0
55 – 59.9% = 2.5
50 – 54.9% = 2.0
45 – 49.9% = 1.5
40 – 44.9% = 1.0
35 – 39.9% = 0.5
0-34.9% = 0
Students begin their study abroad experience before leaving home by participating in a CIEE online pre-departure orientation. Upon arrival in Gaborone, students will participate in a mandatory orientation program organized by CIEE.
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 may also include visits to places of interest such as shopping malls, and places of entertainment and recreation.
CIEE organizes group excursions for participants, including local and regional excursions to places like the National Museum, and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Other excursions may include visits to the Bahurutshe Cultural Village and Mokolodi Game Reserve to discover Botswana's rich history and biodiversity.
Participants are able to choose between homestay or residence halls as housing options.
Homestays: Maximize immersion by staying with a carefully-selected host family in greater Gaborone. Host families provide two meals a day. Students are responsible for lunch.
Residence Halls: Students can also live on campus in a university residence hall, sharing double rooms with local or international undergraduate students. Halls have shared bathrooms. Each student is provided with 2 blankets, 2 sheets, 1 pillow, 1 bedcover, and toilet paper supply every month. Students are responsible for meals. There are dining halls on campus, as well as local restaurants and cafés. 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.
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.
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.