Global Healthcare Technologies

  • Students overlook city scene
  • Students stand with health worker
  • Students stand on mountain
  • Students looking at machine in hospital
  • Students in scrubs

About This Program

  • Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa – Stellenbosch University
  • Term: Winter Quarter
  • Language of instruction: English
  • Eligibility: Open to NU and non-NU students who have completed upper-level engineering courses and meet NU's minimum application requirements
  • Program type: Specially Designed Program
  • Program credits: 4 NU credits

Winter Quarter 2018

  • Application deadline: June 1
  • IPD study abroad fellowship deadline: June 1
  • Program dates: Monday, January 8, 2018 (date of arrival in Johannesburg) - Sunday, March 25, 2018 (date of departure from Cape Town)

Winter Quarter 2018: $21,713

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $17,413, includes: 

Estimated additional costs: $4,300, includes:

  • $1,800 airfare to Johannesburg, South Africa, and from Cape Town, South Africa (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $200 for books and supplies
  • $2,300 for discretionary expenses, including meals, transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities.

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


Designed exclusively for engineering students, the Global Healthcare Technologies program offers hands-on experience in developing medical devices to improve health outcomes in resource-poor environments, particularly townships around Cape Town. Students work closely with Northwestern faculty, Stellenbosch University faculty and local health professionals to identify the healthcare needs and local clients and develop a design project. The emphasis is on problem definition, user-centered solutions, and the utilization of appropriate technologies. The program is organized in conjunction with McCormick’s Center for Innovative Global Health Technologies (CIGHT).

Host Institution

Founded in 1881, Stellenbosch University (originally Stellenbosch College) is one of the top research universities in South Africa. Stellenbosch University is located in the beautiful Jonkershoek Valley in the center of the Western Cape Winelands. Stellenbosch is the second oldest city in South Africa and about a 35-minute drive from Cape Town.

Housing & Meals

Students stay in Concordia, an international dorm in the residential area on campus. Each student will share a flat with other Northwestern students of the same gender. Flats are furnished with a bed, desk, chair, closet, a mini-kitchen, and wired Internet access. Students are responsible for the cost of all meals.


This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the Northwestern courses listed below. All courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcript and are figured into their Northwestern GPA. Courses are co-taught by  Matthew GlucksbergDavid Kelso, and various faculty from Stellenbosch University.

BME 388-SA: Healthcare Technology in Resource Poor Environments

Course Coordinator: Sara Grobbelaar
This course provides an introduction to health systems in the context of disease burden, with special emphasis on developing countries and the devices and drugs used to combat diseases there. Site visits to hospital departments and community institutions are an integral part of the course.

BME 389-SA: Healthcare Assessment and Planning

Course Coordinator: Mladen Poluta
Students learn formal concepts and methodologies used in health-technology planning, assessment, and adoption for cost-effective healthcare delivery.

BME 391-SA: Healthcare Technology Innovation and Design

Course Coordinators: Dawie van der Heever and Cobus Muller
This course covers principles and practice of medical device design for the developing world. Working in teams, students will evaluate user needs within the context of under-resourced segments of the South African healthcare system and develop a design project using appropriate technologies.

GBL HLTH 314-SA: Health and Community Development in South Africa

Course Coordinators: Cobus Visser and Jean Poluta
This course explores health-related issues confronting South Africa, their social and economic impact, and efforts to address them, particularly within the context of apartheid and post-transition policies. Students will learn about demographics, prevention, and treatment of both infectious and chronic noncommunicable diseases.



Johannesburg & Kruger National Park

Johannesburg is an important cultural, political, and historic center in South Africa. Possible visits in Johannesburg include Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, and the Cradle of Humankind as well as visits to local hospitals. Under the direction of noted scholar David Bunn, a Northwestern University alumnus, students will  visit Kruger National Park. Students will also visit rural clinics in the area.

Cape Peninsula Tour

This day-trip to Cape Point – the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula – includes visits to the quaint fishing villages of Hout Bay and Kalk Bay, the naval village of Simon’s Town with its interesting maritime history, stunning panoramic views of Chapman’s peak, and penguins at Boulder’s Beach.

Local Excursions

Local excursions include visits to townships and local attractions in and around Stellenbosch as well as important historical, social, and cultural sites in Cape Town, including Robben Island.