Semester in Ghana

This program is not offered this academic year. See this year's interims.

Basic information

  • Location: Accra, Ghana | Map
  • Dates: This program is not currently offered.
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Cost: To be announced

[Not currently offered] Studying at The University of Ghana for a semester will introduce you to a new and exciting culture and give you opportunities to learn a local language, music techniques, cooking methods and much more.

You'll spend part of your time in the classroom, but much of your learning will happen visiting the main geographical and cultural regions of the country. And don't forget the beach—the city of Accra lies right on the coast of the Atlantic ocean.

Watch some highlights from the Ghana interim:

How to apply

If you're interested in participating in this off-campus program, click the button below for a checklist that will walk you through the application process.

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this program

Accra, Ghana

Accra, Ghana

Accra is located in southeast Ghana in western Africa on the Atlantic Ocean. The languages spoken in Ghana are English, Twi (che-wee), Ga and Hausa.

Things to do

As part of this program, you will visit Adenkrebi, Grand Rapid's sister the city of Akropong, and travel to the northern region of Ghana to study the influence of Islam on Ghanian culture. You will also go to the Volta region to observe tourism and development projects focused on environmental issues.

Accra was founded in the 1600s by the Ga people and called Accra because of the many ant-hills (ants="nkran") in the area. Accra became the capital of the British Gold Coast in 1877 and then the capital of Ghana after Ghana established independence from Great Britain in 1957.
Approx. 1.6 million
The climate in Ghana is tropical, with temperatures averaging between 82-90° F (28-32° C). Ghana experiences two main seasons: wet and dry. North Ghana experiences its rainy season from March to November while South Ghana experiences its rainy season from April to mid-November.

Program Profile: Accra, Ghana

In most cases students adapt well to their circumstances, but it is helpful to know what to expect as you prepare for a specific experience. If you have specific questions about a program, we would encourage you to speak directly to your off-campus instructor or director or, feel free to stop by the OCP Office at any time.

Physical expectations: Moderate
Language Importance: Moderate
Cultural acclimation difficulty: Moderate
Level of Cultural Interaction: Moderate
Safety & Security Considerations: Moderate

Health Considerations: High
Mental Health Considerations: High
Lodging: Dorms

Social Expectations: By their nature, semesters and interims off-campus are inherently social experiences. Heavy emphasis is usually put on building a strong sense of community within the group, which requires openness, sociability, and a collaborative spirit from everyone involved. Acknowledging that having a diversity of personalities makes a group stronger, it is expected that all participants willfully agree to be an active part of the social community of their interim or semester program.


Physical Expectations


These experiences require no more physical exertion than being on Calvin’s Campus. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to. No physical preparation is required to make the most of this experience.


Moderate physical activity is expected and an average level of fitness is required. You will be doing a great deal more walking then on campus, often over uneven surfaces and rough roads. Some physical preparation is recommended before departure to make the most of this experience.


Be prepared for some serious physical activity requiring an above average level of fitness. This will include a high level of walking over all kinds of terrain as well as other physical demands in all kinds of extreme temperatures. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy this experience as many activities will be challenging.


Language Importance


English is the predominant language in course location.


Knowing another language is helpful to fulfill the goals of the course but English is also prevalent in course location.

Knowing another language is important to fulfill the goals of the course.


Cultural Acclimation Difficulty


Western conveniences are prevalent. Host culture is very similar to traditions and culture of West Michigan.


Few western conveniences, the need for students to blend in with the surrounding culture is important. Host culture shares similarities and differences with the culture of West Michigan.

No western conveniences, the need for students to acclimatize to local culture is readily apparent. Host culture is vastly different than West Michigan.


Level of Cultural Interaction


Interaction with local culture is limited and very formal (e.g. through organized tours).


Intentional opportunities to interact with local peoples and culture.


Intensive immersion in local culture – host families, service-learning, etc.


Safety & Security Considerations

Although no one can guarantee your safety or eliminate all risks from a study-abroad experience, Calvin College is committed to doing its utmost to provide secure environments in which you can live and learn. Our goal is to minimize risks and keep you aware of special situations as you make decisions about studying off-campus.


Safety concerns are similar to living on campus. Incidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are no specific safety concerns of the U.S. State Department for the areas where you will be studying. However, additional care must be taken to assure a safe and secure experience. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are safety concerns you should be aware of as you commit to this trip. The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel alert or Warning for the area where you will be studying. You will need to partner with Calvin in addressing safety concerns and follow all safety guidelines for the experience.


Health Considerations

Remember, Calvin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all Calvin sponsored off-campus experiences.


Health concerns are similar to living on campus. Illnesses and accidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. Health Care resources (clinics, medical personnel, etc.) are numerous and you would have easy access to medical care if needed. Some vaccinations will be required, but overall precautions are minimal.


In general, health concerns are slightly higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced and appropriate health care is available but can be harder to access than on campus. Several vaccinations may be required and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Health concerns are higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced at some point. Plans to assure adequate health care are in place but health care facilities could be hard to access during the experience. There may be many vaccinations required for the experience and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Mental Health Considerations

Remember, the Broene Counseling Center cannot provide on-line or phone consultations with students.


Mental health resources are similar to living on the Calvin campus. Mental Health resources (clinics, counselors, etc.) are available and you would have access to these resources, if needed. It could be challenging to find the right resources on short notice and for a short period of time.


Mental health resources are present in various locations during the experience but maybe difficult to access for a variety of reasons.




Group will be camping (living outdoors) at times during the trip.

Host Families

Students will be staying with host families for parts or all of the experience.


Staying in College dorms, similar to Calvin. Roommates will be other Calvin students or other international students depending on your preference.


Dormitory style lodging, shared bathrooms.


Individual rooms (with roommates) and private baths.



Cost of off-campus experiences vary as a result of a number of factors, including the number of students enrolled in the program. Amidst all these factors, the following categories could be helpful, but students are encouraged to check with instructors and directors on specific cost information.


$ Within $500 of tuition, room & board on campus
$$ Between $501 and $2,000 of tuition, room and board on campus
$$$ More than $2,000 over tuition, room and board on campus


$ Less than $2,500
$$ $2,501 to $3,800
$$$ >$3,801


Students will live at the University of Ghana, about seven miles north of the center Accra. The University of Ghana was founded as an affiliate school of the University of London in 1948 and has since grown to encompass a student body of nearly 24,000.

The following interim course must be taken during January:

  • STGH 211: Christianity in West Africa: A Ghanaian Perspective

During February to May, students will take 4-5 courses. All will take the following 2 courses with the Calvin Director:

  • STGH 2XX: The Politics of Contemporary Africa through the Country Lens of Ghana: Africa is often portrayed in the United States as a contingent of crisis rooted in tribalism, political violence, and economic mismanagement. This course goes beyond these images and stereotypes to place the peoples and states of Africa within the shared history of the modern world. The course is divided into four parts. The first part provides an overview of the historical factors that have shaped contemporary politics, including ancient civilizations, the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, and nationalist struggles. In the second part of the course, we will look at the social structure of modern Africa and economic issues. In the third part of the course, our attention shifts from the political history of contemporary Africa and Africa's socio-cultural context to a concern with democracy, leadership, and civil society. The final part of the course delves into Africa’s relationship with the wider world. While addressing these issues, we will participate in Ghanaian excursions that illustrate specific topics, for example, visiting Ashanti chieftancies, the Elmina Slave Castle and perhaps even Ghana’s parliament. Indeed, Ghana will be the country lens through which we will explore all the said issues.

  • STGH 3XX: Ghana Semester Practicum: Culture and Ethnography: Students will be placed in a Ghanaian organization (e.g. NGO or social service organization, for a minimum of 80 hours) to gain hands-on experience related to the work of the organization.  Through the practicum experience, students will gain a better understanding of the day-to-day work of practitioners.  In addition, students will develop and implement a research project related to the organization, utilizing such skills as participative investigation, proposal writing, program evaluation and report writing. CCE

Students will also choose one or two direct enroll elective courses, taught by instructors at the University of Ghana (3-6 semester hours). Learn more about direct-enroll transfer credits in academic services.

Course Fulfillments

All courses may be applied to the Africa track of the African and African diaspora studies minor. Some courses may be used to fulfill elective requirements for the international development studies (IDS) major and minor. The program qualifies to satisfy the study-abroad requirement for the IDS major and minor.


You will live on the campus of the University of Ghana at Legon (about 7 miles north of the center of Accra) in an international dormitory. You can stay with a Calvin roommate, but you may also choose to live with an international or Ghanian roommate.


You must have achieved sophomore status with a grade point average of at least 2.5 to study in Ghana. Preference is given to juniors and seniors when there are more applicants than spots in the program.


The 2019 program cost for interim and the spring semester is expected to be within $3000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost for the Ghana semester program will include:

  • Tuition
  • Full room and board
  • Administrative fee
  • Program-related excursions

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, visa, books,medical insurance (required), required immunizations, personal spending money and personal travel.


This year's application deadline has passed. Check back next year to apply.

Questions / contact

Tracy Kuperus

Tracy Kuperus

Full profile

Eric Washington

Eric Washington

Professor of History;
Director of African & African Diaspora Studies Program
Full profile


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