Uganda Studies Program

Uganda Studies Program

At Uganda Christian University in Mukono, participants study and live with East African students and participate in homestays with Ugandan families. Lectures, research, worship, and a service projects help students experience daily life as a member of Ugandan society.  Former participants appreciate being stretched and confronted with new perspectives on this powerful program!

Additional information available at Uganda Studies Program.

Uganda Studies Program at Uganda Christian University (Video) 

Scholarships - Uganda Studies Program

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All Messiah approved semester-long, off-campus programs are approved and designed to meet the requirements for the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI). To learn more about the process, please explore the ELI Off-Campus Study Information Page.

  • Students will complete all of the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) requirements that are a part of this program.
  • Sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • 2.75 GPA or higher
  • Since studying off-campus for a semester is a privilege, please note the following implications of being place on probation at Messiah University:

    Chapel Probation: A student currently on chapel probation for the first time (or with an impending chapel probation for the upcoming semester) will be required to communicate or meet with the Director of the Agape Center for Local and Global Engagement to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.  If a student has been placed on chapel probation more than once during their time at Messiah, they will not be eligible to study off-campus for a semester.

    Academic Probation or Low GPA: A student on academic probation or whose GPA drops below 2.75 will be not be eligible to study off-campus.

    Disciplinary Probation: A student who has been placed on disciplinary probation at any time during the off-campus study application / acceptance process will be required to meet with the Director of the Agape Center for Local and Global Engagement to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.

Off-Campus study is a time of challenge and change. The following are some things you should understand about this program before you participate. Students at USP should anticipate:

  • Living in close-quarters with a community of Ugandans and with fellow USP students.
  • On-Campus students live in the dorms on campus, sharing a small room with up to three other Ugandan and American students, with communal bathrooms and living spaces. On-Campus students also participate in a two-week homestay in Mukono.
  • Homestay students live with a Ugandan host family for the entire semester. Families vary in size and economic status. Students should be prepared to adapt to different routines and living standards.
  • All homestays are located within a 2-mile radius of campus, and all students are required to walk to and from campus, anywhere between 1- 45 minutes.
  • Participating in Rural Homestays, a weeklong stay with a family in a rural community in rural Uganda, potentially living without electricity and running water.
  • Walking often in a hot, humid climate.
  • Navigating the busy and populated town of Mukono.
  • Engaging in campus life at Uganda Christian University, taking classes and experiencing potentially dramatic changes in pedagogy, diet, climate, and social life.
  • Experiencing significant cultural differences including gender and racial tensions and the possibility of verbal attention.
  • Experiencing potentially challenging personal, religious, and cultural learning through various program components including lectures, field trips, assignments and practicum placements.
  • Interning at organizations through the course of the semester where they will see and hear about situations and engage with people who are living in extreme poverty and may be experiencing acute suffering.
  • Travelling and living in close quarters for up to ten days at a time in locations where medical and mental health services are limited. These trips may involve a lot of activity, traveling on buses for long distances, and will also include hearing stories from and interacting with people who have endured tremendous suffering.
  • The preferred medical clinic/hospital that USP uses for emergency and non-emergency services is about a one-hour drive from campus. Psychological assessments in mental health crises are also available at this clinic but because of the distance of therapists, ongoing mental health counseling can be difficult.


Courses may meet major or general education requirements.

Courses will appear on Messiah transcripts with letter grades.

Students will meet their third language/cross-cultural requirement by participating in this program.  Students will not earn 3 credits, rather the requirement will be waived.

Pass/Fail Option

During their university careers, students may take a maximum of four courses on a pass/fail (P/F) basis with these conditions: 

  • Such a course must be from a discipline other than those required for the student's major or minor.
  • Courses fulfilling requirements for a major, minor, or general education may not be used.
  • Students may declare their intention to take a course under the Pass/Fail option when they register or through the first calendar week of classes at the beginning of the new term. Students may also select to return to the letter grade system during this same time period. The selection cannot be changed after the first calendar week of classes.
  • The cut-off point to obtain a P is C–.
  • The instructor will submit only conventional letter grades to the Registrar's Office. This office will then convert the grade to P or F. (An instructor does not know which students are taking a course on a pass/fail basis.

The first FIVE DAYS of your classes are critical:

Recognizing that courses change while abroad, a student is required to communicate to the Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes if their Off-Campus Course Approval Form in Terra Dotta has changed since the original submission/approval. Specifically, if a student desires to change a course to a pass/fail instead of a letter grade, this must be approved by Messiah University Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes at the host partner program.


Students are required to take no fewer than 12 credits towards their overall degree requirements and no more than 18 credits. These 12-18 credits include courses taken as pass/fail and letter grades. However, in addition to those 12-18 degree credits, students who would like to audit an academic course for no credit are permitted to do so for up to one 4 credit hour course for the sake of learning, cultural immersion or personal interest at no additional charge. This audited course will not appear on the Messiah University student’s transcript.

What do you pay?

TOTAL COSTS = Messiah tuition + Messiah room + Messiah board + Student services fee.

Explore possible scholarships for this program. 

These Costs Include:

  • tuition, housing, meals
  • educational excursions
  • pre-departure and re-entry orientation  
  • international travel insurance
  • student services fee
    • Student Services fee includes access to various services available to all students through, including internet access to, the Learning & Writing Centers, Career Services, Academic Accessibility Office, Library, Department of Safety, Agapé Center for Local and Global Engagement, and other campus offices that provide services to students both on and off campus.

Note: additional fees students may encounter include (but are not limited to) transportation, visas, passports, immunizations, and course fees.


Credit Limit Policy for Semester-Long, Off-Campus Program

Typically when students study off-campus in Messiah-approved, semester-long programs, students earn between 13 and 18 credits. All students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits.

The tuition/fees charged for Messiah’s approved study abroad programs permits a student to complete 12-18 credits.  Messiah University will process up to 18 credits.  If a student completes more than 18 credits and would like the additional credits applied to their transcript, additional tuition will be charged for credits over 18 and would be assessed after the official transcript is received/processed by Messiah.

Updated 03 March 2023

Messiah Pre-Approval Deadlines

  • Fall - December 1
  • Spring - April 1

Uganda Studies Program Deadline

  •  Fall - June 1
  • Spring - December 1

Rolling admissions; students are strongly encouraged to apply early

Kayla Berkey

"The most rewarding aspect was getting to experience life in a new place completely independent from everything that was familiar to me. It was a great learning experience about growing up."