Harvard Summer Program in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Apply by: 
January 31, 2019
  • Study Abroad in Tanzania
  • Dar Es Salaam - people and buses
  • Ngorongoro Safari
  • Zanzibar
  • Dar Es Salaam - streetscene

Learn Swahili and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Indian Ocean world in one of East Africa's most beautiful coastal cities

A dynamic space of encounter for over two millennia, the Indian Ocean world far preceded the majority of the globe into what are often described as relatively recent phenomena: “transnationalism,” “religious pluralism,” “transcontinental trade,” and “globalization.” Delivering a diverse array of seafaring Indians, Arabs, Persians, and Europeans to the East African coast, the winds and waves of the Indian Ocean have enables a complex exchange of peoples and knowledges, languages and cultures, beliefs and stories, commodities and curiosities, philosophies and technologies, weapons and gifts, vices and violence, dreams and desires.

This eight-week program based in Dar es Salaam at the heart of the “Swahili coast” explores the lasting legacies of these long transoceanic conversations, in multiple languages, from varying points of view, and through varied expressive practices as they reverberate in the lives, languages, and cultures of Tanzanians today. The program aims to equip students with the intellectual, cultural, linguistic, and ethical tools necessary to skillfully and responsibly navigate their own encounters with the Indian Ocean world.

Program structure

The program will introduce you to the peoples, cultures, and languages of the Indian Ocean world. You enroll in two 4-credit courses: one Swahili language course at the beginner or intermediate level, and another course, Africa in the World of the Indian Ocean, which will offer a kaleidoscopic, interdisciplinary exploration of themes related to the political, cultural, economic, and religious exchanges which have shaped and defined the region. Daily morning classes will be complemented by activities ranging from guest lectures to guided tours of local districts, to film screenings, cultural festivals, and local volunteer opportunities.

You will gain a deeper appreciation for the historical, cultural, and natural diversity and beauty of Tanzania through excursions to a number of significant sites across the country, including the storied island of Zanzibar, the historical town of Bagamoyo, the city of Arusha, nestled between the peaks of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as a safari through the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater.

Where you live and study

Dar es Salaam, the former capital, largest city, and economic hub of Tanzania, is a rapidly developing metropolis with modern amenities and a history and culture closely linked to that of the broader “Swahili Coast.” Studying in Tanzania at this time in history will offer you a unique opportunity to witness the country's rapid, ongoing transition from a socialist system that resisted Western influence to a capitalist economy facing all the challenges of a post-colonial African state. 


You will live in a hotel near the center of Dar es Salaam. Hotel amenities include wi-fi, 24/7 concierge service, in-room refrigerators, and fee-based laundry service. Daily breakfasts will be provided.


Early application is strongly encouraged. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline.

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)
  • A $75 application fee (per program)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

Applications are due by 11:59 pm ET on January 31, 2019. You may apply to up to two programs; each program requires a separate application and fee. Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate.

The online application will open in early December.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at summerabroad@summer.harvard.edu, or by telephone at (617) 998-9602.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates.

  • International airfare ($1,600 - $2,000)
  • Ground transportation ($200)
  • Meals ($1,200)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous ($500)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly. See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options.

Additional information

program director

John Mugane