MSID—International Development in Senegal

MSID—International Development in Senegal

  1. Program Details

    Study international development in Senegal, a fascinating French-speaking country seen as a bridge between Africa and the West. You’ll also contribute through an internship or research project with a nonprofit organization while you are there. Explore the complexities created by issues such as the environment, globalization, public health, and social justice. 

    Location Dakar and Other Locations, Senegal
    Term Fall Semester, Spring Semester
    Housing Homestay
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Juniors, Seniors
    Language Minimum 4 semesters college-level French
  3. About MSID—International Development in Senegal

    Learning from experience is the core of Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID). The program puts you in direct contact with the social and economic realities of actual communities and of people working within them to address complex problems. Through classes, field trips and an extended internship or research placement, MSID strives to establish a continual dialogue linking experience with theory and critical analysis. Learn more about the mission and educational philosophy at MSID Philosophy.

    Senegal has long been seen as a crossroads where African, Islamic, and European civilizations have met, clashed, and blended. Today, it is still seen as a bridge between Africa and the West. But it is also a place where Senegalese people remain deeply attached to traditional values and cultures. This program is based in Dakar, Senegal's cosmopolitan capital. Heated by the African sun while surrounded on 3 sides by cool Atlantic waters, Dakar has a climate often described as "eternal spring."

    Housing & Meals

    You will live with a homestay family throughout your time in Senegal. Students who choose an internship or research placement outside of Dakar will have a second homestay. 

    Homestay families provide breakfast and dinner daily; you will be responsible for providing your own lunches. Host families can typically accommodate a variety of dietary needs, but students with severe food allergies and/or restrictions should discuss their situation with the program team prior to applying.

    Homestays are an integral component of the learning experience and often a highlight for participants. Your family provides not only housing and most meals but is also a vital connection to Senegalese culture. Nearly all families have hosted program participants before and have been chosen for their genuine interest in sharing Senegalese life with an MSID program participant.


    Although excursions change from year to year, you can expect to visit a variety of sites that may include local markets, development organizations, and areas of interest around Dakar.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Foster an understanding of the global context through classroom and experiential learning
    • Cultivate awareness and appreciation for development issues through engagement with diverse communities
    • Translate insights gained into thoughtful and respectful long-term perspectives on concepts of social justice and sustainable development
    • Strengthen communication skills through acquisition of local languages and cultural awareness
    • Gain cross-cultural competencies through extended engagement at a local grassroots organization

    Faculty & Staff

    A team of dedicated local staff based in Dakar work to ensure that your MSID experience is safe, academically enriching, and rewarding.

    Dr. Ousmane Sène

    Dr. Ousmane Sène

    Dr. Sène chaired the Department of English, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, for 10 years. He received his PhD in literature from the École Normale Supérieure de St. Cloud and the Université Paris III-Sorbonne. He has taught and done research on francophone and anglophone literature at several North American and European institutions. Among his special interests is the portrayal of African social, cultural, and development issues through literature. Dr. Sène is currently director of the West African Research Association, the institution housing MSID in Senegal. He has been involved with MSID—Senegal since 1995.

    Waly Faye

    Waly Faye 

    Mr. Faye is the Program Coordinator. He assists with the internship and research placements and other aspects of MSID administration and has an academic background in development studies.

    All MSID courses are taught by Senegalese faculty who are experts in their fields.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  4. Program Structure

    Program Type Field Study, Study Abroad Center
    Program Level 3000–4000 level courses

    You are required to take 16 credits for fall or spring semester. Add 4 credits for optional language pre-session.


    MSID Timeline

    Spend 7 weeks engaged in coursework in Dakar followed by 6 weeks in a rural area working as an intern or conducting a research project with a local grassroots organization. MSID students enroll in 4 required courses, in addition to an internship or research project:

    • International Development: Critical Perspectives on Theory and Practice
      Choose a track to focus your studies and prepare you for your internship or research project. See track descriptions for more information.

      • Arts and Cultural Studies
      • Education and Literacy
      • Entrepreneurship and Alternative Economies
      • Public Health
      • Social Service
      • Sustainability and the Environment
    • Senegal Country Analysis
    • Wolof Language or French Language (for students needing a French-speaking internship placement)
    • Community Engagement in the Global South 

    Optional Language Pre-Session

    The Intensive French in Senegal is offered in August and in January for students who are interested in strengthening their French language skills to enhance their ability to understand the media, newspapers and to converse with the French speaking population. One language course is taught over 3 weeks and awards 3 undergraduate credits. Intermediate and Advanced French levels are offered.

    Internships & Research Projects

    The internship and research experience is the cornerstone of the MSID program and may be where you will learn the most. Your placement will be with an agency engaged in grassroots work related your selected track and will immerse you in the social realities of the poorer strata of the population.

    During the classroom phase, the on-site staff will review your interests and attempt to place you with an agency whose goals match your objectives. Most requests within a general field can be accommodated, but adjustments may be made based on availability. Details about the internship and research process are in the Program Handbook.

    The internship or research objectives will be agreed to by MSID, the agency supervisor, and you and will involve at least 25 hours per week of work. Twelve contact hours are incorporated into the classroom phase and provide specific training on research methodology to prepare students for their research or internship project.

    See a description of past internship and research placements for this MSID country.

  5. Fall or Spring Semester Curriculum

    The semester courses are outlined below along with sample syllabi translated into English. The updated semester course packet in French is also available. All classes are with program participants and are taught by local faculty. Students select either French language or Wolof as their language course. Through the coursework and the internship or research project, you have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the complex and diverse nature of development as realized in your MSID country. All courses are taught in French (except the Global Identity course).

    French majors and minors who need to have their internship or research project conducted in French (not Wolof) should be prepared to remain in Dakar during the internship/research phase and should clarify this on the Internship and Academic Information Form that is completed as part of the acceptance process. These students will also enroll in the French course SNGL 3015 or SNGL 3016 rather than the Wolof course.

    In addition to the formal French course listed below, an informal advanced French conversation class is offered weekly and incorporated into the Country Analysis course to enable you to strengthen your grammar and communication skills.

    Beginning Wolof
    SNGL 1101
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building.

    Syllabus for Beginning Wolof (PDF)—English translation

    Intermediate Wolof
    SNGL 3101
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on intermediate language skills including conversation, reading, and vocabulary development.

    (Syllabus tailored to individual needs)

    Advanced Wolof
    SNGL 3102
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on more advanced conversation, reading, and vocabulary.

    (Syllabus tailored to individual needs)

    Advanced French I
    SNGL 3015
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building. This course covers linguistic skill development equivalent to 5th semester French

    Syllabus for Advanced French I (PDF)—French translation

    Advanced French II
    SNGL 3016
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building. This course covers linguistic skill development equivalent to 6th semester French.

    Syllabus for Advanced French II (PDF)—French translation

    Advanced Language through Current Events
    SNGL 3201
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building through discussion of current events.The prerequisite is completion of 6th semester French.

    Syllabus for Advanced Language through Current Events (PDF) - French translation

    Reading & Writing through Current Events
    SNGL 3202
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing reading and writing through the analysis of works by critical Senegalese authors. The prerequisite is completion of 6th semester French.

    Syllabus for Reading & Writing through Current Events (PDF)—French translation

    International Development: Critical Perspectives on Theory & Practice
    MSID 4001
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    Explore a wide variety of perspectives on international development, with the host country as a case study. This course begins with 20 hours of common discussion on international development. The remaining course is divided into sections, and you select from the following sections in order to prepare for your internship or research project. There are also 12 hours dedicated to research protocol for all students.

    International Development: 
    Syllabus for International Development (PDF)—French translation  
    Syllabus for International Development (PDF)—English translation

    Research Protocol: Syllabus for Research Protocol (PDF)—English translation


    MSID Country Analysis
    MSID 4002
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    This multi-disciplinary study of the MSID country emphasizes the social sciences and history, especially as they relate to development issues. A complementary language module in the language not taken for credit (see above) allows students to build their language competency in two languages.  

    Syllabus for MSID Country Analysis (PDF)—English translation

    Syllabus for French conversation module (PDF) 

    Syllabus for Wolof conversation module (PDF) 

    Liberal education requirement fulfilled: Social Science core and Global Perspective theme

    Community Engagement in the Global South
    MSID 4003
    Fall or Spring Semester
    4 Credits

    An internship or research project with a host-country development agency or project provides an unparalleled opportunity to study community characteristics, development strategies and problems, organizational structure and culture and cross-cultural communication issues. The length of the internship or research project is 6 weeks during the first semester. You typically spend approximately 25 to 30 hours each week at your internship or research site, although this may vary depending on the specific site and project. A list of sample past internships and research projects is available.

    Written assignments help link experiences to theories and issues raised in the classroom. A program faculty member or the on-site director visits you at least once at your internship or research site during the internship/research period. At the end of each semester, you gather in the host city or a retreat site for a seminar, which helps integrate your experiences and newly acquired knowledge. Twelve contact hours of this course are incorporated into the classroom phase and provide specific training on research methodology to prepare students for their research or internship project.

    Syllabus for Community Engagement in the Global South (PDF)—English translation

    Liberal education requirement fulfilled: Social Science core and Civic Life and Ethics theme

    Optional Online Course

    Global Identity
    OLPD 3330
    1 credit
    Global Identity: Connecting Your International Experience with Your Future is an optional 1-credit online course that helps you process your international experience and apply what you've learned upon your return.  Global Identity gives you the opportunity to work individually with a trained cultural mentor, helping you articulate your newly acquired skills and differentiating you from your peers.

    This course is offered at no additional cost on programs six weeks or longer. The Learning Abroad Center will email out registration instructions, or you may contact a program team member.

    Syllabus for Global Identity (PDF)

  6. Sample Internship Opportunities

    Arts & Culture

    • Help with the development of art initiatives 
    • Work at a community radio station
    • Work with local art and music collectives on social justice issues

    Education & Literacy

    • Participate in the implementation and evaluation of adult literacy programs focusing on skills necessary for running small businesses
    • Teach English in a middle or high school
    • Teach English and French to people of all different levels and ages
    • Teach computer education to youth
    • Teach French, arts, and playing games with children in a kindergarten setting
    • Work with an education planning organization

    Entrepreneurship & Alternative Economies

    • Work in a company to balance finances and help with accounting and processing loan applications
    • Work in a rural area with women’s groups undertaking micro-financing

    Public Health

    • Assist public health organization with disease mapping
    • Work in a women's maternal health clinic
    • Provide health care education to people in rural areas
    • Assist with child health and nutrition monitoring
    • Assist with care of mental patients in a mental health facility
    • Work in a health insurance institution
    • Work in a traditional medicine institution

    Social Service

    • Travel to villages to assist in conferences on violence against women, marriage, and the legal aspects of divorce in Senegal
    • Work in the information and accounts departments of an organization that helps women achieve self-sufficiency
    • Work with a Dakar-based women's association to analyze data about the legal problems of Senegalese women
    • Work in a women's rights organization
    • Make children's toys from recycled materials, work in a hooking bag stand with teenagers, and teach and play music with a children's band
    • Research possible solutions to problems with eco-tourism such as prostitution, higher dropout rates, and environment
    • Monitor immigration patterns, trends, causes, and so on in Senegal and West Africa
    • Work in a day nursery at an orphanage
    • Train migrant families in computers, English, and French
    • Help with economic and social development planning at a regional level
    • Work with organizations that help street children

    Sustainability and the Environment

    • Fight soil degradation
    • Work on reforestation in the Saloum area
    • Observe chimpanzees and record data for anthropological research
    • Help with park reserve management
    • Work on an animal reserve
    • Work on a farm that is experimenting with new seeds and more sustainable ways to irrigate the soil
    • Harvest sweet potatoes in the fields of Sebikotane
    • Monitor irrigation, cutting, and tilling of soil on farms in the city of Sebikotane
    • Work with an organization promoting organic agriculture in villages around Séssène
    • Help improve production and agricultural techniques in community gardens cared for by local women in rural villages 
  7. As an MSID student, you have the choice to do either a research project or an internship for six weeks as part of the Community Engagement course. In either option, you will be placed with a local NGO related to the track you have chosen for the International Development course (Arts & Cultural Studies, Education & Literacy, Entrepreneurship & Alternative Economies, Public Health, Sustainability & the Environment, or Social Service). All academic year students engage in a research project during spring semester.

    A research project involves a systematic investigation of a specific topic, question, hypothesis, or theory. Research is conducted under the guidance of a project supervisor at the MSID program and at a local NGO. The project culminates in a final paper or project that demonstrates the knowledge gained through the investigation.

    The examples below illustrate the differences between the internship and research options:

    Track Internship example Research example

    Arts & Cultural Studies

    Work with a cultural preservation organization with a youth indigenous dance troupe

    Examine the cultural and historical significance of a specific type of indigenous dance

    Education & Literacy

    Assist in teaching English to primary and secondary students at rural schools

    Investigate effective methods of teaching English as a second language and examine curricular practices at the local and national level

    Entrepreneurship & Alternative Economies

    Meet with micro loan applicants and review loan application materials

    Analyze the loan repayment rate at a microfinance organization  

    Public Health

    Provide support to faculty in a pediatrics department of a hospital that works with children who suffer from malnutrition

    Survey the hospital’s education and outreach plan to address pediatric malnutrition in the region

    Sustainability & the Environment

    Participate in an agroforestry project at a sustainability-focused NGO

    Compare and contrast local and national research on the environmental impact of agroforestry programs

    Social Services

    Provide support to an NGO that does job skill training for low income women

    Analyze the wage gap between men and women in various sectors of the local economy

    Research Project Examples

    • Air pollution's impact on respiratory health in Dakar
    • Allocation of personnel and resources in hospital management in Senegal
    • Hygiene and community health in Keur Samba Gueye

    Human Subjects Research

    The governments of the United States and MSID countries have laws protecting human subjects of research. Due to the timeline for gaining the necessary permissions for doing research with human subjects, such research cannot be conducted while abroad on LAC program. However, there are still a wide variety of projects, that include interaction with people, that are available. See more information on options for Undergraduate Research Abroad.

    Research Funding (for UofM students)

    The Learning Abroad Center offers a number of programs(including all MSID programs) that include research opportunities and are eligible for the Learning Abroad Center’s International UROP scholarship of $2,500 (available to UofM students only). 

  8. Academic Tracks

    Students are required to select a track as part of the International Development course, which will focus your studies and help prepare you for your internship or research project.

    Arts and Cultural Studies 

    Develop a critical understanding of culture through an analysis of the literature, art, film and music. Discussion focuses on the perspectives, values and lives of people and their relationship to development as revealed through different cultural and literary venues.

    Education and Literacy

    Analyze the educational system, government policy and impact on local educational structures, the disparities in access to education, and the relationship between education and development. Discussions may include gender education, financial challenges, and current reforms. 

    Entrepreneurship and Alternative Economies

    Examine the history, nature and challenges of microbusiness and its role in the economic and social development of the local community. Includes an analysis of informal sector enterprises, the role of social entrepreneurship, and an overview of key aspects of microfinance. 

    Public Health

    Examine health care systems, the management and prevention of disease, and the philosophical approaches to health care, including the role of traditional medicine. Specific topics for discussion include women’s health, children’s health, HIV education, and rural vs. urban health care facilities. In Senegal, this track may be merged with Social Service.

    Social Service

    Understand how government policies and local grassroots efforts serve the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, including the homeless, women, children, indigenous groups, the disabled and the elderly. Topics include the configuration of social services, resource allocation, community development, and welfare reform. In Senegal, this track may be merged with Public Health.

    Sustainability and the Environment

    Investigate the relationship between environmental and natural resource challenges and the local community. Critical issues being faced may include sustainable food and water sources, natural resource utilization and management, climate change, wildlife management and sustainable development.

  9. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Program Term App Open Date Deadline*
    Fall 2020 Dec 1 May 15
    Pre-session+Fall students depart from the US Aug 1
    Pre-session+Fall students arrive in Dakar Aug 2
    Pre-session last day Aug 26
    Fall students depart from the US Aug 29
    Fall students arrive in Dakar Aug 30
    Classroom phase ends Oct 23
    Fall break period Oct 24 – 30
    Internship phase Nov 2 – Dec 11
    Final seminar week Dec 14 – 18
    Depart from Dakar Dec 19
    Spring 2021 May 1 Oct 15
    Pre-session+Spring students depart from the US Dec 26
    Pre-session+Spring students arrive in Dakar Dec 27
    Pre-session last day Jan 15
    Spring students depart from the US Jan 16
    Spring students arrive in Dakar Jan 17
    Classroom phase ends Jan 21
    Spring break period Mar 13 – 19
    Internship phase Mar 22 – Apr 30
    Final seminar week May 3 – 7
    Depart from Dakar May 8

    *Program dates are subject to change. Contact the LAC for verification of dates before purchasing your airfare.
    **If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

    Information about a group flight scheduled through Village Travel will be sent out after the application deadline. While students are not required to book through Village Travel they are required to arrive on the coordinated flight arriving into Dakar. If you would like to request a deviation from the coordinated flight, you must get prior approval from the Learning Abroad Center. Early arrivals are not allowed.

    Orientation Dates & Locations

    Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

    See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

    Term Abroad Date/Time Location
    Fall 2020 Thursday, June 4, 2020, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. online
  10. Fees for MSID—International Development in Senegal

    University of Minnesota participants pay the program fee instead of on-campus tuition and fees for the term they are abroad.

    Fall 2019

    Standard, Plus Pre Session

    Spring 2020

    Standard, Plus Pre Session

    Fees or tuition from home institutions may be added to or differ from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center fees listed on this page.

    Billing & Payments

    Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

    Financial Aid & Scholarships

    Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

    Bridging Loan

    Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

    Cancellation Policy

    Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
  11. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term See Program Dates for track options
    Program Name MSID Senegal
    Track Name See Program Dates for track options
    Country Senegal


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.


    After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

    • Resume
    • Statement of Purpose in English
    • Statement of Purpose in French
    • Academic Recommendation from a French professor 
      • Students must have a B average in French
      • Students must have taken French within the last academic year or verify advanced level proficiency

    Additional Items Required for non-UofM Students:

    • Transcript
    • Home Institution Nomination

    If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have been added.

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

    Application Review Process

    After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned an acceptance checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

  12. Passport

    You will need a passport to enter Senegal. Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your program. If you have not already obtained your passport, apply for one immediately. Information about applying for a passport can be found on the US Department of State's website.

    Visa Application Instructions

    All US or non-US citizens studying in Senegal for the semester or academic year must obtain a student visa. You should begin the application process 60 days prior to the official program arrival date and your application should be submitted no later than 45 days in advance of the official program arrival date.

    You are required to obtain a student visa through Perry International, a passport and visa processing company based in Chicago. The visa processing fee charged by Perry International is included in the MSID program fee. You pay Perry International the cost of the actual visa plus shipping costs and any additional fees. Instructions and application material can be found on Perry International's website. Enter 'MSID' for the program name when selecting your visa country and type on Perry's website, and view the "MSID additional information" page for specific instructions for MSID students.

    The Learning Abroad Center will send the required letter of acceptance directly to Perry International. Any photos required by Perry International are in addition to those you may have already submitted to the Learning Abroad Center.

    If you have any questions about the visa process, contact Ty Collins, Thomas Heimdal, or Tom Collins either by email or by phone at 312.372.2703.

    Check the visa in your passport when you receive it, particularly if it lists the dates of your stay abroad. Embassies have occasionally been known to make errors when entering in duration dates. Contact Perry International if you think that there may been an error in your visa.

  13. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Ashley Metz or call at 612.626.6380.

  14. Contact Program Alum

    Below is a list of additional students who participated in past program sessions. They are ready and willing to answer your questions about this program. Feel free to contact them during your decision-making process or anytime during your pre-departure preparation to get a student perspective.
    • Maddie P: Political Science and Strategic Communications major, Fall 2018, internship witth Community Radio Station Afia FM, Education & Literacy track
    • Catalina G: Global Studies major, Intensive French Winter Break Session 2017-18
Program Handbook Visa Information

University of Minnesota students participating in a research project on this program may be eligible for the International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (I-UROP) Scholarship