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South Africa

Semester Program

Program Overview

Through partnerships with the Sport Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) and sport-for-development NGOs in Cape Town, students participating in our South Africa Semester program will have the opportunity to take classes in a range of academic disciplines and deeply engage with a sport-for-development NGO through a part-time internship experience. Outside of class and internship work, students will spend their time exploring Cape Town through weekend excursions planned by our local staff, doing service-learning activities, and maintaining their off-season training at the SSISA state-of-the-art workout facilities.

2021 Dates Coming Soon!

  • Choose from our list of sport-for-development partner organizations for your internship

  • Make a lasting impact in the local community

  • Classes appeal to a variety of majors and professional interests

  • Explore the dynamic city of Cape Town and the surrounding area

  • Take part in weekend excursions including: Table Mountain Hike, District 6 Museum Tour, Robben Island Tour, and more!

  • Enjoy a week long mid-semester break trip along the famous Garden Route to Addo Elephant National Park

Program Description

Our Semester Program removes the barriers that prevent athletes from studying abroad while using sports as a vehicle to increase cultural immersion and language acquisition. Students live in Cape Town and take classes at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, a facility dedicated to optimizing the performance and health of South Africans through the execution, dissemination, and application of science. The program offers courses on the history of South Africa, Nutrition, biology, business communication, and an engaging internship experience with one of our local NGO partners.

The program will be structured in two 7.5 week terms, with a week long break in between terms for a trip to Wilderness and Addo for an African Safari experience. Students will be enrolled in two classes per term, plus their assigned internship for the entire semester.

Sport for Development Internship

We partner with sport for development non-profit organizations in Cape Town to provide hands-on internships. The work includes a combination of supporting the organization’s daily operations and completing an independent project to address a specific challenge. Example internship projects include event planning, website and social media improvement, newsletters system design, grant writing, monitoring and evaluation systems, and partnership development. Each organization that we work with takes a unique approach to sport for development-- whether it’s a soccer program dedicated to teaching youth about HIV/AIDs awareness, a basketball program keeping kids away from gangs, or a boxing program teaching girls about self-defense and women’s empowerment--all these programs share the singular vision that sports have the power to change the world, one community at a time.

All students will stay together in dorm style accommodations within walking distance to University of Cape Town and the Sport Science Institute of South Africa. Breakfast and dinner are provided at the accommodations seven days a week. Dorms are also equipped with a shared kitchen, common area, and Wifi accessibility. Laundry service is available once per week.

Athletics Abroad

Students will have access to all gym facilities and the swimming pool at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa so they can maintain their off-season training. SSISA is a subsidiary of Africa’s top ranked university, the University of Cape Town, and is home to some of South Africa’s top exercise-science researchers as well as world class medical and rehabilitation facilities. It is also the home training facility of many of South Africa’s professional athletes and olympians. Students will have access to a state-of-the-art fitness center:


Throughout the program, students will have the opportunity to participate in the following excursions: District 6 Museum, Castle of Good Hope, Safari trip, Robben Island Tour, Table Mountain Hike, Kirstenbosch Gardens Tour, trip to Boulders Beach and Cape Point.

Program Structure & Course Descriptions

All students will take the following four courses: 


Human Biology (SSISA): Exploration of anatomy and physiology in the active adult. Laboratory measurements of maximal oxygen consumption, body composition, and muscle power enhance discussions of the anatomy and physiological systems active during exercise and to sustain athletic performance.


Topics in Global Issues: Examination and discussion of the history and culture of South Africa, incorporating excursions to Robben Island and District 6. Class topics and discussions will highlight the region in which we will be studying and living, promoting greater understanding of the socio-political structures in South Africa.


Nutrition: Overview of the nutritional requirements of the human body and the physiological processes used in obtaining nutrients from food leading to an analysis of the nutritional balance for a healthy and active lifestyle.


Business Communication and Research Methodologies (SSISA): Analysis of effective communication and identification of strategies for overcoming barriers to communication leading to preparation of both oral and written research reports.

Additionally, all students will complete a part-time internship with one of our local NGO partners. 

South Africa Semester
Course Descriptions
Internship Descriptions

Below are descriptions of some of our partnerships with NGOs in Cape Town where we have hosted interns in previous years. We will do our best to place you with your top choice, however the organizations have the final decision. Contact us to learn more about the placement process and to see a list of current internship options.

Project Playground

Project Playground is a non-profit organization focused on bringing structured recreational programs to youth in neighborhoods that are systematically, socially, and economically deprived. Studies show that structured recreational activities contribute to the positive development of children and increases their motivation, concentration, and ambition. Project Playground reaches local youth through free after-school activities, sports programs, and support programs five days a week and currently serves over 750 children in three townships outside of Cape Town.​


The Community Health Intervention Program (CHIPs) was launched through the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) in 1997 in the Western Cape. The vision was to develop a program that was sustainable in its ability to improve various communities’ participation in physical activity. Our primary focus is to offer sustainable lifestyle intervention program to create healthier (mentally, socially, physically), empowered (demystifying science, giving personal responsibility), cohesive communities. The CHIPs program runs successfully in 36 different communities around the Western Cape, through its HealthNutz, OptiFit Outreach and Live-It-Up program.

Great Commission United (GCU)

GCU was founded by a reformed gang member from the Cape Flats neighborhood of Heideveld to keep local youth away from crime and gangs in the area. GCU provides the supportive family environment that youth often lack at home and are attracted to in gangs. Soccer, basketball, and other sports play an integral role in attracting students ages 5-20 to after school programs with life skills training, tutoring, and physical exercise.

Throughout the program, our staff in South Africa will organize weekend excursions to local attractions and help you plan trips on your own. There will also be opportunities for regular group service projects. And depending on your sport, you will be able to practice with a local team.   

Admissions Process

  • Submit completed Online Application Form

  • Interview with SAA staff member

  • Approval from university if from a non-affiliate partner school

  • Submit Supplemental item(s): Current resume

We offer partial scholarships based on merit and financial need. Learn more by connecting with someone from our team at  

What's Included?

Program Cost: $12,995


  • Housing in dorm style accommodations

  • Breakfast and dinner daily

  • All weekend excursions

  • Tuition and fees for university enrollment

  • Gym membership at the SSISA

  • All service-learning activities

  • Transportation to internship sites, SSISA, and all excursions and service activities

  • International Health Insurance through GeoBlue

  • SAA Program T-Shirt


Not Included:

  • Roundtrip airfare to Cape Town

  • Passport/ associated fees if you do not already have one

  • Lunch (daily)

  • Snacks, souvenirs, optional entertainment expenses

ApplicationProcess-ZA semester
Internshps- ZA semester
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