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Senegal: Dakar

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Dakar Quick Facts

Language of Instruction
French, English, and Wolof

Fields of Study
French, Wolof, humanities, and social sciences.

Host Institution
Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)


Program Dates
Fall semester: late August to mid-December
Spring semester: mid-January to mid-May

Faculty Liaison
Pierre Englebert

CIEE: Language and Culture

Often referred to as the “Paris of West Africa,” Dakar is home to over one million people including about 20,000 French expatriates. This capital city is located on the Cape Verde Peninsula, making Dakar a major port for trans-Atlantic and European trade. French has remained the official language of Senegal since its formal independence from France in 1960, though the most widely spoken language is Wolof. Ninety-five percent of Senegalese practice Islam, and the Dakar Grand Mosque, home to the Islamic Institute, is worth a visit. The city itself is bustling: government buildings line the wide boulevards of downtown Dakar, while colorful fruit stands line the smaller streets of residential neighborhoods. Restaurants and clubs come alive at night with musical performances—fans of reggae and Sabar drumming will not be disappointed.

The CIEE Language and Culture Program is located in the Amitie III neighborhood of Dakar and is close to cultural centers and the Universite de Cheikh Anta Diop. Students study exclusively with other CIEE participants in a building that shares some facilities with L'Institut Superieur de Droit de Dakar (ISDD). Students take all their courses at the Study Center, though many courses incorporate field trips around Dakar into the curriculum. In addition to classes and class-based fieldtrips, students will also participate in excursions around Senegal to destinations including the Sine-Saloum delta and Saint Louis and daytrips to the fishing village and artists' colony of Toubab Dialaw and the historic Goree Island.

As Dakar is a very urban city, students will have the opportunity to experience a different environment when they participate in a week-long rural stay. Students may join in sporting and international events on campus, and the program offers many opportunities for cultural immersion such as language partners, internships, and lessons in Senegalese art, music, and dance.

Academic Program

There are three required courses on the CIEE program. Students are placed into a French language course based on a proficiency exam taken at the beginning of the semester (0.8 Pomona credits). All students also must enroll in Wolof Language for Beginners (0.8 Pomona credits) and the required core course, Contemporary Senegalese Society and Culture (0.8 Pomona credits), which is offered in either English or French. Students who place into Advanced French I or higher should take the course in French.

Students receive the remainder of their credits by choosing two electives (0.8 Pomona credits each) taught at the CIEE Study Center. Students who place into Intermediate French II or higher may take one elective in French. Students who place into Advanced French I or higher may take both electives in French. Students may also choose to complete a credit-bearing internship. 

Living Arrangements


Number of Students

CIEE enrolls approximately 45-50 students, selected from a national pool. 


  • Completion of introductory French (French 2), or the equivalent.
  • 8.25 GPA overall.

A college-level background course with African content is highly recommended. 

Internet Link

Study Abroad