Study Abroad in Sierra Leone

Global Health, Nutrition, Water and Sanitation
Njala University, Sierra Leone
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Learning from experience is at the heart of our semesterlong program in Sierra Leone. Explore the complexities of Global Health and Nutrition through coursework, program excursions, and an internship.

The social and economic realities of those in Sierra Leone are closely intertwined with issues of public health, proper nutrition, access to water, and sanitation. This program puts you in direct contact with those realities and with the people working to address them. The program links theory with critical analysis and practical experiences.

This program is part of a long-standing, collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois and Njala University. Courses are co-taught by University of Illinois and Njala faculty. Some classes will include Njala’s honors students. Students in this experiential learning program complete a service-learning project and a full-time internship, which corresponds with the program’s theme. Courses in this semester program have been preapproved for Illinois credit hours.

Contact: Oliver Ferguson, ofergus ‘at’
Program Director: Dr. Paul McNamara, mcnamar1 ‘at’

Dates, Costs, and Application: Please visit: > Program Search > “Njala”

Field Experiences

  • Internship with local community health NGO
  • Nutrition project site
  • US Embassy in Freetown
  • Service-learning project
  • Field work in rural villages


  • Tiwai Island Nature Preserve
  • Gola National Forest
  • Beaches on the Freetown Peninsula
  • Outamba-Kilimi National Park

This program is suitable for the following interests: International Development • Community Health • Nutrition • Global Studies • African Studies • Pre-Med • Pre-Vet • Agricultural and Biological Engineering • Public Policy

Courses Offered:

  • History, Development, & Culture of Sierra Leone
  • International Food Policy
  • Food Fortification and Nutrition
  • Learning in Community
  • Intro to Tropical Epidemiology
  • Nutrition and Health in West Africa
  • Public Health Leaders in Residence

Internship Partners Include: World Vision, Helen Keller International, Catholic Relief Services, YMCA, Bennimix Company, grassroots public health programs and health clinics.

Sierra Leone

The West African nation of Sierra Leone is bordered by Guinea to the northeast and Liberia to the southwest. The former British colony gained independence in 1961 and has a rich cultural landscape. Coming out of its brutal civil war, Sierra Leone has emerged as one of the most stable democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade. With mountain ranges, lowland plains, rainforests, and some of the best beaches in West Africa, Sierra Leone also offers a unique combination of geographic diversity.

Njala University

Njala University was established in 1964 with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the University of Illinois. During the civil war, Njala University was moved from its rural setting to Freetown in 1994. It has since returned to its original location and has grown to become one of the leading universities in Sierra Leone.


To participate in the program, you must have a GPA of at least 2.75, and be in your sophomore, junior, or senior year. Non-Illinois students may apply to this program. For more information, visit:


You will stay in student housing alongside students from Njala University. Meals are provided as a part of the program.


All students are encouraged to apply for the I4I and IPS donor-funded scholarships. Students from the College of ACES are eligible for a $1,500 scholarship through the ACES Study Abroad office. All scholarship applications are available online at