GoED Africa

GO ED Africa

Based in Kigali, Rwanda, the GO ED Program in Africa engages students with the reality of global poverty. The program fosters spiritual formation alongside academic courses and cross cultural experiences. In addition to classroom instruction, students participate in four-week practicum in either Rwanda or Uganda.

Additional information available at GO ED.

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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.

  • Two full years of college. Will accept sophomores in extenuating circumstances

  • 3.0 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 College:

    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 Intercultural Office 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 Intercultural Office 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:

  • Malaria, food-borne illnesses.
  • Nursing students participate in practicum often working directly with patients in medical facilities.
  • The program seeks to understand forgiveness and reconciliation in the context of Rwanda 20+ years after a genocide. One of the academic courses exploring this challenging theme is “Issues in Peace building, Genocide & Reconciliation”. Although we provide many opportunities to process this together, the genocide memorial visits as well as stories from victims and perpetrators that students experience in this course are difficult and can be disturbing.
  • During Practicum students are given an experience of living and working in the local context. The differences in work and relationship expectations can often be a stretching experience. Some students find the absence of regular task-based performance or the demand for highly relational engagement a challenge to their cultural definition of meaningful work. Also, in some things students are given far more responsibility and in others far less than they would back home. For its potential to stretch students, Practicum is often described as the hardest and best part of GO ED.
  • Some students may find living conditions during practicum and village visits challenging. Especially in rural contexts, students may need to use bucket showers and drop toilets and take a greater share of personal responsibility over their day-to-day basic needs.
  • Westerners may get a lot of attention in the form of staring, and being addressed as ‘muzungu’ (visitor), but it should not be mistaken for negative attention. Students can feel put off by this, and find it a challenge to push through the initial stereotype of “rich foreigner” to build deeper, more meaningful relationships.
  • The primary language is Kinyarwanda; the second official language has recently switched from French to English. Although English usage is increasing, the language barrier can prove a challenge to cross-cultural engagement and require greater effort in seeking other, creative means of connecting.
  • Students can find it difficult to reconcile their experiences of Rwanda with strong preconceived notions about Africa. This can prove a challenge to experience people and places on their own terms and avoid trying to make one’s experiences fit an ideal.
  • Students who are heavily dependent on social media can find the slow internet, unpredictable electricity, and low-tech environment somewhat challenging. We see this as an opportunity to build community in traditional ways (e.g. dinner conversations, long walks, arts, games, etc.) and can be a side benefit of the program.
  • Students will need to be prepared to walk a lot on the program.
  • Despite good medical facilities in the region, the program does not have the capacity to accommodate students with severe medical or mental health conditions.

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 college 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 College 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 College student’s transcript.

Messiah Pre-Approval Deadlines

  • Fall - December 1
  • Spring - April 1

GoED Africa Deadlines

  • Fall - April 15
  • Spring - October 15 

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
  • round-trip international airfare provided by GoEd
  • 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, including internet access, the Learning & Writing Centers, Career Services, Disability Services, Library, Department of Safety, Intercultral Office Off-Campus Programs, and other campus offices that provide services to students both on and off campus.

Note: additional costs students may encounter include (but are not limited to) local 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 College 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 08 April 2019

 *Note: Off-campus study fee increases annually at the same rate as the yearly tuition increase. 

Brittany Brendsel

"Every time you experience another culture firsthand, you get a glimpse of what it is like to see the world through the eyes of another. Once again, my worldview was shaped and stretched."