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Durban, South Africa

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Saint Mary's College is offering the South Africa program in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in coordination with ISA (International Studies Abroad), a non-for-profit educational organization. ISA has residential offices on-site at five universities in South Africa and has been operating international exchange for US institutions for 2 years in Durban. Click for more information about ISA.


South Africa is the second largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, about twice the size of Texas, with a population of over 50 million (1/7 of the US). The diversity in South Africa is unparalleled with 11 official languages and an Indian population second largest in the world only to India. South Africa houses Kruger National Park of over 7,500 square miles as well as many other parks where the Big 5 can be spotted! Over 2,000 miles of beaches that touches the Indian Ocean on the east and the Atlantic towards the west. Diverse populations, gorgeous diversity of landscapes ranging from mountains to beaches, wildlife, flora and modern international cities makes South Africa one of the most unique study abroad destinations that Saint Mary’s offers!

Located at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Durban, South Africa campus is about a 20 minute walk from the Indian Ocean and only a short drive away from Nature Reserves and other treasures of the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa with a population equivalent to Chicago but with warm weather all year round. Durban will provide you with a sense of African culture fused with an urban lifestyle.

For more information about South Africa, visit the official South African Government Webpage!

Program of Study

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) offers courses that will fit into anyone’s area of study. UKZN and the South African culture is ideal for students interested in issues of political science, social justice, environmental biology, African literature, history, ethnic studies, religion, and sociology. It is suggested that students take 4 courses or the equivalent of 15 or 16 credits while enrolled in the University of KwaZulu-Natal. A Saint Mary’s College faculty coordinator will work with students to find courses from the vast variety of courses that UKZN offers. A complete list of course offerings can be found at the ISA Durban webpage or The Official UKZN Webpage.

Program Dates

Because South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, our semesters are aligned in reverse order. For example, Spring Semester at Saint Mary’s aligns with UKZN Semester I. Semester programs as well as full year programs are available. Approximate dates are as follows (exact dates vary by year):

Semester II (Saint Mary’s Fall Semester): mid-July through mid-November

Semester I (Saint Mary’s Spring Semester): mid-February through mid-June,


Students participating in Saint Mary's international programs will receive an official Saint Mary's transcript for courses taken abroad.  University of Natal will send official grades to Saint Mary's and we will issue official transcripts.  For Notre Dame students, these credits will appear on ND transcripts as any on-campus Saint Mary's course does through our co-exchange agreement.  Before leaving for international study, Saint Mary's College faculty coordinators will provide assistance in pre-approving transfer credits.


The program offers some excursions covered by the program fee, including KwaMashu Township (Mahatma Ghandi's house, the Ohlange Institute, where Nelson Madela cast his vote in South Africa's first democratic election, a visit to the uMzinyathi Waterfall, and a secrete cave where a Rastafarain family has set up their home and church) and a trip to St. Lucia (Isimangaliso Wetland Park, which stretches along the Indian Ocean to Mozambique, and Hluhluwe Game Reserve, the oldest national park in South Africa, to view the country's largest population of white rhinos).


Students will live on campus in the dorms with a mix of local South African and international neighbors. Each student will live in a single or double room, in a dorm equipped with shared kitchens, laundry rooms, and common bathrooms. Students are given a monthly stipend. This stipend can be spent on groceries to cook, or for meals at local restaurants. Durban’s campus does not have a formal dining hall, but there are areas on campus to purchase meals (along with off campus cafes and restaurants).

For more information about the ISA Durban Program please click HERE!

Orientation, Cost, and Financial Aid

Upon arrival, students will participate in arrival orientation led by the ISA resident advisor before the university orientation for new students, in which they will be introduced to the campus community, familiarized with local customs, given information regarding getting involved in student activities on campus, presented with volunteer opportunities, and visit local attractions in Durban. 

The tuition for this program for Saint Mary's students is the Saint Mary's College tuition, room and board.  The program cost includes arrival orientation, excursions/field trips, on-site campus housing, and meals.  Airline flight to South Africa is not included in the price. 

Students who receive the federal Pell Grant are strongly encouraged to apply for the federal Gilman Scholarship. Please click HERE for more information.

If you are interested in learning Zulu and services for the government offices, you may consider Boren Scholarship. Please click HERE for more information.

Eligibility and Requirements

This program is open to undergraduate sophomores, juniors and seniors.  Students wishing to participate in the program must have a minimum 2.5 GPA.  It is expected that the student will be in good disciplinary standing at the College and exhibit the emotional maturity and adaptability to new experiences.

Sharing South Africa Experiences

Watch our video

Maeva Alexander blog (Spring 2011)

Carolyn Schafer blog (Fall 2012)

Hannah Bruggeman blog (Spring 2013)

For more information, contact:  

Dr. Alice Yang
South Africa Program Coordinator
Assistant Director, Global Education
(574) 284-4263
syang [at] saintmarys [dot] edu

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