University and Location
Stellenbosch University is recognized as one of the four top research universities in South Africa. With roots going back to the 17th century, Stellenbosch University was founded in 1918 and today boasts over 24,000 students in 10 faculties. The main campus of the university is in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley in the heart of the Western Cape Winelands. Located approximately 50km from Cape Town, Stellenbosch is a university town with a population of roughly 75,000, and student will find a wide variety of cultural and recreational activities available to them.
Language of Instruction
Afrikaans and English
Available Fields of Study
Because most undergraduate courses are offered in Afrikaans, exchange students take courses offered under the international Programmes Stellenbosch University (IPSU) program. Areas of study in this program include: foreign language , including Afrikaans and Xhosa, both official languages of South Africa; literature; film studies; photography and drawing; and social sciences. Many of the classes have a specific focus on South African culture, history and current affairs. Students who wish to take regular undergraduate courses may search the Faculty Yearbooks (i.e. course catalogues) for courses taught in English. For more information see the detailed information available at the Stellenbosch website.
The academic year at Stellenbosch consists of four terms which are divided into two semesters:
Semester one (South African Fall): February-June
Semester two (South African Spring): July-November
Students must complete a Study Abroad and Exchange Application with the Office of International Programs. Nominated students will be instructed to complete additional Stellenbosch application materials.
Fall (semester 2): February 15
Spring (semester 1): October 1
Exchange students may take a maximum of 60 South African credits per semester. This is the equivalent of 15-16 Rensselaer credits and is generally 4-5 courses per semester.
Grading and Academic Evaluation
Grades are assigned on a scale of A-F. Students should note that “A” grades, i.e. 75% and above, are granted only in exceptional cases. Assessment varies by course but is typically based on at least two components such as a paper or presentation, in addition to the final exam. Rensselaer will only accept credit for courses in which a grade of a C- (55-57%) or better is earned. Courses may not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
Accommodation and Meals
Students may apply for university accommodation, with or without a meal plan, through the International Office. Although campus housing is not guaranteed, the International Office will attempt to facilitate all requests. Off-campus housing is also available. Detailed information can be found at the website of the International Office.
Estimated Expenses and Cost of Living
Semester students pay regular Rensselaer tuition and a Stellenbosch administrative fee of approximately $660 per semester to cover internet service, printing and photocopying expenses. In addition, students must pay for airfare, and should budget approximately $1000 per month for accommodation, meals and other living expenses. This figure does not include extensive travel within Africa.