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Program Description:
ACES in Sierra Leone at Njala University
Spring Semester Program
Agribusiness and International Development
Njala, Sierra Leone


Quick Links
Program Overview
The City of Freetown
Academic/Student Environment
Program Cost and Advance Fees
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Withdrawal, Change, and Cancellation Policy
Passport/Visa Information

Application Process
Pre-Departure Information
Contact Information

Program Overview

The Agribusiness and Development Semester Abroad Program is the opportunity of a lifetime for students to learn about agriculture and economic development while experiencing and living amongst rich West African culture.  The program is part of a historical collaborative effort between the University of Illinois and the Njala University in Sierra Leone and some courses will include Njala University’s Agribusiness Management honors students.  It will provide experiential learning in the areas of agribusiness, development and culture with coursework and practicums led by faculty from both Universities.

To participate in the program you must be a UIUC sophomore, junior, or senior with a GPA of at least 2.5. This program is open to students of all backgrounds and will most appeal to students with interests in these areas:   African Studies, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Anthropology, HDFS, Business Administration, Economics, Global Studies, Natural Resource and Environmental Science, Political Science


The coursework is designed to enhance your experience of living in Sierra Leone, providing both theoretical and practical insight to assist you in making sense the complexities surrounding agriculture and development in a West African context. All of the program courses have direct equivalents to courses taught at UIUC Departments and all of the courses are pre-approved for UIUC credit at varying levels.  Classes would be delivered and scheduled in such a way to ensure that you are given an opportunity to go on field trips which will expose you to different parts Sierra Leone and provide first-hand exposure to many of the topics covered in class. Courses will run in three to four week modules, while taking part in practical outside-the-classroom learning experiences.

In addition to completing these modules, you will be placed in groups with Njala students to participate in a service learning project which will run for most of the semester. The course is designed to meet the requirements of ENG 315. The project is to be determined but could include, developing and running a microenterprise farm or doing an assessment of post-harvest practices of rural farmers. At the end of your time you will complete a six-week internship. Students will be placed either with a commercial agribusiness, an agribusiness-related NGO or an Agro-Business Center (Farmer Cooperative). These internships afford you the opportunity to apply some of the concepts learned from the coursework to a real life setting.

Courses will cover topics in agribusiness management and economic development, and will be taught by faculty or academic professionals from University of Illinois (or another US University) and faculty from Njala University. Courses will be selected form the following:

Spring 2015 Courses
Courses Illinois Equivalent Credits
International Agriculture Development ACE 451/ ECON 450 3
History and Culture of Sierra Leone GLBL 499 3
Global Agribusiness Management ACE 435 3
Learning in Community ENG 315 3
Executives in Residence ACE 400 3
International Internship ACES 293 ***  
Total   18

Past Syllabi: 
Service Learning Course -Syllabus.pdf
Hist Cul Dev of SL Syllabus Jan feb 2013.pdf
ACE 435 Syllabus Sp13 SL.pdf

Additional Resources
 Njala University

Lonely Planet Info on Sierra Leone
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The City of Freetown

Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone. It is a major port city in the Atlantic Ocean and is located in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. Freetown is Sierra Leone's major urban, economic, financial, cultural, educational and political center. The city proper had a population of 772,873 at the 2004 census,[1] As of 2010, the population of Freetown is estimated at 1.2 million. The city's economy revolves largely around its harbor - occupying a part of the estuary of the Sierra Leone River in one of the world's largest natural deep water harbours.
As the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown is home to the Sierra Leone House of Parliament, the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone and the State House, the official workplace of the President of Sierra Leone. All of the foreign embassies in Sierra Leone are based in the city.
Freetown is one of Sierra Leone's six municipalities and is locally governed by a directly elected city council, headed by a mayor. The mayor and members of the Freetown city council are directly elected every four years by the residents of Freetown. The municipality of Freetown is politically divided into three regions: East End Freetown, Central Freetown, and West End Freetown, which are subdivided into wards.
The population of Freetown is ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse among Muslims and Christians. The city is home to a large population of all of the country's ethnic groups, with no single ethnic group forming a majority. As in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the Krio language is the city's primary language of communication and is by far the most widely spoken language in the city.
The city of Freetown was founded in 1792 by Abolitionist John Clarkson as a land for freed African American slaves, called the Nova Scotian who had fought on the side with British during the American Revolutionary War. The settlers called their new settlement Freetown, as a land for freed slaves. Around 500 Freed Jamaican slaves made the journey to Freetown in 1800 through the Sierra Leone Company. During the next decades, thousands of freed African American, West Indian and Liberated Africans came to Freetown as settlers, through the Sierra Leone Company. Their descendants are known today as the Sierra Leone Creole people.
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Academic Environment

Where you will study
Njala University was established in 1964 with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the University of Illinois. Njala University College was moved from rural Njala to urban Freetown in 1994. The University has responded well to the challenges that it faces, and has grown to become among the leading Universities in Sierra Leone.
For a listing of courses offered that already have Illinois equivalencies, go to

The official language of Sierra Leone is English. Other major languages include, Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north) and Krio, an English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area.
You will be staying in student housing with students from Njala’s Agribusiness honors program.  Meals will be provided by staff from the Njala University Guest House.

sierraleone sierraleone
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Program Cost and Advance Fees

For an Unofficial Budget of this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets” and click on the semester during which you want to participate. Please read through the Unofficial Budget information which also includes information on Financial Aid and Scholarships.
 See Budget Sheets at the top of this page!

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program. The amount of financial aid that is applicable to study abroad will depend on your financial aid package. Since there are many variables that determine how your financial aid package applies to study abroad, it is best that you consult with the study abroad financial aid advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your individual financial aid package.  Their email and more information on Financial aid can be found at
Eligible students may receive additional scholarships toward the program cost.  The amount varies depending on the program destination.  Scholarship amounts are announced when program fees for each program are announced.  Non-ACES students should contact their college about scholarship opportunities.  All participants should also apply for the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Study Abroad Undergraduate Scholarship. For more information, go to

ACES Students are eligible for additional funding through their college.  More information about ACES scholarships including the application can be found at
For more information about general costs, please watch the First Steps Cost, Financial Aid, and Scholarship videos found here for tips and advice:

Sierra leone
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Withdrawal, Change, and Cancellation Policy

To change to a different program during the application process, please e-mail 

To withdraw or cancel your participation in a study abroad program, please visit this link to view the Withdrawal and Refund Policy (  
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You must have a valid passport to participate on this program with at least two blank VISA pages. If you do not already have a passport, or if it needs to be renewed, you must begin that process now, even before program acceptance. 
You may also be required to get a visa for your program.  Please consult the host country’s consulate website or a visa agency to determine whether or not a visa is required to travel to your destination country or countries.
More information about passports and visas can be found at
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Application Process

First Steps Info Session 
Watch the First Steps videos found on our website or attend a First Steps Info Session in person.  These resources will get you thinking about important themes to consider before selecting a program including: academics, housing, duration, location, and cost.  You will learn how to research a program, understand cost (with a segment on scholarships and financial aid too), and even how to apply!  
Application Process
Click the "Apply Now" button on this web page to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable application fee by clicking "Apply Now".
You may only apply to one program per term. Please consider your program options carefully before beginning a new program application.  Each time you click "Apply Now" you will be charged a non-refundable application fee.
Application Components
The Study Abroad Office Application may include:
  • Letter of Recommendation - done electronically (must be an academic advisor, TA, or professor)
  • Personal essay questions
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Signature verification form
  • Official Transcript
  • Online questionnaires
After you are accepted into your program by the Study Abroad Office, you may be required to complete post-decision components such as the host university’s application. 
All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines listed below.  Online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date while paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day.  The Study Abroad Office reviews program applications as a batch after the deadline has passed. The decision dates listed below indicate the earliest possible date that a student's application may be reviewed. Most decisions will be released two to three weeks after each deadline.
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Pre-Departure Resources

The UIUC Study Abroad website ( and the ACES Study Abroad website ( both provide a variety of pre-departure information.  Explore both sites for more information on the topics below or logistics such as travel plans and what to pack.

Pre-Departure Course, LAS 291 1 credit 
All students are required to enroll in a second 8 weeks pre-departure course, LAS 291 for 1 credit.  During this course, topics such as culture shock, health and safety scenarios, and other helpful pre-departure information will be presented. 
Course Approval
Before you study abroad you must get the courses you plan to take abroad approved by your college’s study abroad office.  ACES Students should view the “Academic Information” section of the ACES Study Abroad Website.  This section provides information on the course approval process and a link for the pre-approval database which contains all courses with UIUC course equivalents.
Health and Vaccinations
The health and safety of students abroad is something that the University of Illinois takes very seriously, which is why the Study Abroad Office provides services that range from international insurance coverage to a 24-hour phone line to speak to an Advisor on Duty.

Students will be expected to obtain an anti-malarial drug, ensure their other required immunizations are up to date, and take safe travel precautions regarding water and mosquitoes while on the trip. Once you have been accepted into the program, you must complete a travel health consultation from your personal physician 

Health and Safety of our students while in Sierra Leone is an important concern to us. Students with serious medical conditions should review the following statement from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) before applying to the program.

Medical facilities in Sierra Leone fall critically short of U.S. standards.  People with serious medical conditions that require medications or frequent treatment are discouraged from traveling to Sierra Leone.  Most medications are in short supply, of inferior quality, or are fraudulent.  The cleanliness of medical facilities and quality of treatment is dismal.  Misdiagnosis, unavailable treatment, and improper use of drugs are commonly reported.
All travelers to Sierra Leone are advised to purchase insurance to cover medical evacuation in case of a serious accident, injury, or illness.*  Medical evacuation can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the situation, so all travelers should ensure their policies provide sufficient coverage.  Travelers are advised to see a physician prior to travelling to ensure that appropriate immunizations and precautions are taken, including medications for malaria prophylaxis and yellow fever vaccination (which is required for entry into the country).  Please refer to the Center for Disease Control’s website ( for recommendations specific to Sierra Leone.

*University of Illinois students who participate on this program will automatically be enrolled in medical insurance to cover medical evacuation.

The Consular Section maintains a more complete list of medical contacts at

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Contact Information

ACES Study Abroad Office

123 Mumford Hall, MC-710
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 333-3380
Walk-in hours: 2-4pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9:30-11:30am Wednesdays.

Noticed an error on this page?  Let us know here. 

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Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2018 11/29/2017
Rolling Admission 01/08/2018 05/26/2018
Spring Semester 2019 09/15/2019 09/22/2019 01/14/2019 05/24/2019

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed