Nairobi, Kenya

MSID-International Development in Kenya


Kenya’s geographic and cultural diversity make it a microcosm of the African continent. It includes hot coastal plains, vast plateaus, Africa’s largest lake and highest mountain, and hundred of miles of the Great Rift Valley. Home to more than 45 tribes, significant European and South Asian minorities, its people speak dozens of languages. Kenya shares with its neighbors the challenges of forging a multi-ethnic, post-colonial nation. The capital, Nairobi is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in east Africa and the base for many international and Kenyan organizations promoting development and social change. Nairobi is home to Kenya’s finest museums and other cultural attractions.

The Program

The program’s combination of classes, field trips, field experiences/internships, and research links experience with theory and provides a critical analysis of development efforts and their effectiveness, sustainability, cultural appropriateness and equity. Students participating in the program develop a profound, firsthand understanding of the complex economic and social issues at work in Kenya.

The courses and internships build on a common knowledge base built by pre-departure readings. Once in Nairobi, students study as a group for 8 weeks, then participate in a 6-week internship followed by a final wrap-up week back together. Students on the year-long option build the field experience to an internship in greater depth. The academic year curriculum includes the internship and a related course for a total of 8 credits, plus a research project and related methods course for another 8.

Internship opportunities include working with youth group developing income-generating projects, promoting sustainable agriculture, assisting women with micro-business proposals and working at family health care clinics.


The program is open to Allegheny juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Course work related to development and/or Kenya or East Africa, or volunteer or social services experience is also required.

Application Process

Allegheny students must first be approved to study off-campus before applying to their chosen program. Application deadlines are February 20 for fall programs and September 20 for spring programs. Applications will be reviewed immediately following the appropriate semester deadline. For more information about the off campus study application process, please visit:

Student Life

Depending on which internship experience the student decides to take part in, he/she may find themselves working in the posh and modern city of Nairobi, or one of the rural villages close to the capital. Students are assigned host families for the duration of the program. The homestay is an important venue for gaining insights into the Kenyan culture. Though English is the official language, the diverse nature of the country provides students with an opportunity to learn at least one of several languages.

Another major attraction to MSID participants is Kenya’s ever-growing tourism industry. Home to one of Africa’s largest wild life reserves, Kenya has always been a huge attraction for tourists.

The MSID program house contains a large lecture room and smaller offices that are used for faculty meetings with students and social get-togethers. A simple kitchen provides tea, coffee, and light snacks; students are invited to study in the MSID program house. MSID office has a limited number of computers for use by the students.


Students pay Allegheny tuition, the off-campus fee ($300), room (Allegheny double room charge) and Allegheny mini meal plan. This covers program tuition, fees, room, most meals, international travel insurance and field trips (where applicable). Not included are visas, passport, some meals, airfare, pre-departure immunizations and personal expenses. Allegheny financial aid, except work/study, is applied to program costs. Allegheny College will arrange payment of the $400 program deposit required by MSID (applied to total cost), but students are responsible for the $50 application fee.