Study in Ethiopia

Would you like to study in one of the oldest nations in the world? Want to learn the opportunities for higher studies in Ethiopia? Learn here in this page about Ethiopia, an 'off the beaten path' for most, but an amazingly diverse country that has never been colonized. Also, learn of the universities, the visa terms & conditions and the costs involved in studying here.

Why study in Ethiopia

The first impressions or images that come to our mind on hearing about Ethiopia, is a country bedevilled with starvation, hunger and poverty. To a certain extent, one may be right to imagine so. For years the people living in Ethiopia had to struggle a lot for basic survival, what to say about comforts. There has been a loss of human life due to starvation brought by severe drought in the country. The country has been one of the poorest in the world. Even in such unfavourable conditions, Ethiopia had been able to keep its head high by not allowing the European colonizers to get hold of the country. It is the only African nation that has been free from colonization and has kept its culture intact away from foreign influence.

Historians widely believe that Ethiopia is the place, where Homo sapiens or the modern humans first set foot and ultimately spread out to the Middle East and beyond. The first fossils discovered in Ethiopia of a hominid dates back to 4.2 million years back. The oldest remains of Homo sapiens date back to 200,000 years. The country as a nation-state has its roots since the second millennium BC. For most of its history, the country has been a monarchy. Thus, Ethiopia is considered one of the first nations not only in Africa but also in the whole world.

Things have changed rapidly in modern Ethiopia. Today, it is no more a country of mass hunger, poverty and death. Even though still poor, the country has been progressing rapidly and in recent times has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In terms of GDP, it is already the largest economy in the East and Central Africa. The governments here are now more proactive and are eager to bring in an economic transformation of the country. However, a lot more is still desired of the country's economy as the GDP per capita is among the lowest in the world. It is expected that in the years to come Ethiopia will be able to address all its economic issues and achieve its aspirations of becoming a hub for light manufacturing in Africa. In terms of military might, the country's armed forces are the fourth most powerful in Africa and the 51st in the world. The country's capital Addis Ababa has come up as the most important city in Eastern Africa. It is the place where most of the important decisions for the region are taken.

It is not only the rich history that the country gets to present to its overseas students. Ethiopia has a diverse culture and also a diverse landscape. It has more than 80 ethnic groups in the country, with each one having its own language. The country, its people, the wildlife and the geographical features are one of the most exotic of their kind. Much of the country's interiors is still inaccessible to the outside world and is thus left untouched and unspoiled. However, for the travel-minded, the country has numerous ancient monasteries, crater lakes, mountains, forests, rivers and vacation resorts to explore. The Blue Nile, an important tributary of the Nile River, originates here in Ethiopia.

Thus overseas students coming to Ethiopia can take up study programs that focus on the various historical aspects of the region. The universities here are renowned for offering one of the best programs in history and related aspects because of the countries standing as the place from where humankind first originated and also been the birthplace of modern man. That the country was successful in resisting European colonization during the colonial era and has thus been one of its kind in the whole of Africa, makes studying Ethiopian history all the more attractive to the international student. All these and others are important aspects for the overseas students to come to the country and study its rich history and cultural past. Without a doubt, the history courses are the most popular of the courses for students coming from across the world. A number of students from the United States have made it a point to study here and experience the rich culture that Ethiopia is.

Coming to Ethiopia and studying here is all the more easy for those who have prior knowledge of the English language. Among all foreign languages, English is the most widely spoken, is taught in secondary schools and is the language for higher education in universities. One can study here in Ethiopia at a relatively low cost compared to countries in the west.

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About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a landlocked country located in the Horn of Africa in the eastern part of the African continent. It has borders with Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya. The country has its capital in Addis Ababa. With more than 100 million people living in the country, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. It has a varied landscape with plateaus, highlands, lowlands, valleys, gorges and rugged terrains forming most of the physical landscape of the country. Majority of the regions are located above 1500 meters above the mean sea level. With mountains, plateaus, lowlands and foothills all around, the terrain is a very varied one.

The country has a very long history, the longest one actually and dating back to prehistoric times. Evidences suggest that human civilization took birth at this place and then spread to other places including Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. Modern humans too are said to have begun their journey here. It is also believed that the earliest kingdom was established in the 8th century BC in Ethiopia itself.

Politics and governance
Ethiopia, also known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a parliamentary republic. The Prime Minister is the head of the government, whereas the President is the head of the state with mainly a ceremonial role. The executive power lies with the Prime Minister and the legislative power is with the parliament, which is a bicameral one. The parliament or the Federal Parliament assembly has two chambers, namely the House of People's Representatives and the House of the Federation.

Since 2004, the country's economy has been experiencing a high growth rate. For a while, it has been considered as the fastest growing non-oil based African country. Despite the high growth rate, the country continues to be one of the poorest in the world. Agriculture constitutes the largest labour force in Ethiopia. The biggest share in GDP is, however, with the services sector. Exports are mainly agriculturally based, coffee being its largest foreign exchange earner. Other than coffee, gold, flowers, khat, oilseeds and leather products are coming up as good export earners.

International relations
On the international front, Ethiopia has been playing an important role in world affairs. It is one of the founder nations of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), G-77, G-24 and the Organization of African Unity. Other than these, the capital city Addis Ababa is the headquarter for many of the organizations belonging to the African nations and also home to many of the NGOs that work for Africa.

The climate of Ethiopia is a diverse one. Even though the country is quite close to the equatorial region, the climate is not entirely a tropical one. The major reason for this is the altitude at which Ethiopia lies above the mean sea level. The country is located at an elevation of 1500 meters and above. The zone that lies 2600 metre above sea level has near zero temperatures to a maximum of 16 degrees Celsius. Then there are zones that experience a temperate climate, experiencing temperatures ranging from 16 to 30 degrees. Zones like the Dallol Depression have a typical tropical climate with temperatures shooting from 27 to 50 degrees Celsius. Rains are plenty from mid-June to mid-September.

Quick Facts

  • Ethiopia is the world's most populous landlocked country. With a population more than 100 million, it is second only to Nigeria in Africa.
  • At 2,400 metres, Addis Ababa is the highest capital city in Africa.
  • The currency of Ethiopia is Ethiopian Birr (ETB). One US dollar equals to around 27 ETB.
  • The country's diversity could be understood from the fact that more than 80 languages are spoken in Ethiopia. Amharic is the official language. Along with Amharic; Oromo, Somali and Tigrinya are the most widely spoken languages.
  • English is also a widely spoken language, especially in Addis Ababa and the other cities. English classes are mandatory in school and is the medium of instruction in most institutions of higher learning.
  • Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that managed to keep itself free from European colonization. However, it had been under the occupation of the Italians for five years.
  • Coffee is said to have been discovered in Ethiopia by a shepherd, whose goat had eaten the berries of the plant and said to have started 'dancing'.
  • Seventy per cent of all the mountains in Africa are in this country.
  • The remains of the first hominid, as well as the first humans, have been found in Ethiopia.
  • The first instances of humans using tools have also been found in Ethiopia.
  • Most of Africa's World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO are to be found here. There are nine such heritage sites in the country.
  • The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months. It is some seven years behind the Gregorian calendar. The 13th month has only five days and six days during a leap year. The New Year in Ethiopia falls on 11th September and a day later in a leap year.
  • The way the Ethiopians keep track of the time is going to make you crazy the first few weeks of your stay. In Ethiopia, the start of the day begins from dawn, rather than midnight. 7:00 AM in the morning is actually 1:00 AM in Ethiopian time.
  • The Blue Nile begins in Ethiopia and later joins the White Nile, together forming the longest river in the world.
  • Christianity at 63% and Islam at 34% are the major religions in Ethiopia. The country had a large Jewish population, known as Beta Israel; most of them have now migrated to Israel. Even with such diversity, the country has religious harmony.
  • Along with Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia, Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa, which is an extension of the easternmost land of Africa.
  • Ethiopians are proud of their country and their rich heritage. Ethiopians are also very caring people. They welcome you with open arms.

Admission Process in Ethiopia

To apply to a university in Ethiopia for a certain study abroad program, you first need to have the essential qualifications. While applying for a university seat in Ethiopia, you must be in a position to provide your academic certificates and transcripts to the university concerned. On acceptance of provisional admission, you will be required to apply for the student visa or permit by applying online. While applying for the visa, make sure that you have adequate funds to support your stay and other expenses in the country. You should also be in a position to prove your proficiency in the English language by appearing for TOEFL or IELTS tests.

After applying online, you need to submit the hard copy of the document along with other supporting documents to the Ethiopian embassy or consulate office. If need be appear for the visa interview. It is also essential to have the health certificate along with you to prove that you are medically fit. Once your visa is approved, you may then plan for the travel.

Student Visa Application Process

To apply for a student visa for Ethiopia, you have to first visit the website of the immigration service of Ethiopia. The visa is to be applied through an online process. Before applying for the visa, make sure that you are in receipt of the acceptance letter from the university in Ethiopia that you have applied for. Once you have the acceptance letter, apply for the visa online by filling all the necessary details, accept responsibility for information provided by you and take a print out of the filled application form. Finally, submit the application by clicking on the submit button. You will get an acknowledgement of the submission. Take a print out of the same.

The next thing for you to do will be to pay online for the visa processing fees. On payment, take a print out of the fees receipt.

The Ethiopian embassy in your home country may or may not require you to attend a visa interview. In case a visa interview is scheduled, attend it at the embassy on the appointed date along with the necessary documents as well as the printed visa application form, acknowledgement receipt and the payment receipt. If no interview is desired, then submit all the documents by post or by hand to the nearest consulate or diplomatic mission in your country.

Allow time for the visa to be processed. Once approved, it is valid for a period of three years. Either arrange for your visa to be delivered by post or collect it directly from the diplomatic mission. To collect it by post, you may submit a self-addressed envelope while submitting your documents. Take care to collect all your originals, once your visa application is processed. In general, it takes 2-15 days to process the visa, but at times, it may require more time depending upon the availability of all necessary documents and correctness of the information filled in the application form.

Points to keep track of
  • Before applying for the study visa, ensure that you have been admitted to a recognized academic institution in Ethiopia.
  • A student visa in Ethiopia does not permit you to engage in part-time or full-time employment.
  • Submit all necessary documents to avoid delay in grant of visa.
  • Apply well in advance, so as to account for an unforeseen delay in processing of your visa.
  • Do not submit any false documents or information while applying for the visa.
  • If you are under 18 years of age, you must get a written and signed authorization from your parents or guardians.
  • Your passport should have a validity period of more than six months beyond the end of your stay in the country.
  • The application process as well as paying of processing fees is done online only.
  • Interview dates may be rescheduled, if need be, by putting an application to the local diplomatic mission.
  • Ensure you are in possession of the required vaccination certificate for yellow fever.
  • Carry along a character certificate issued by your school or college head.
  • Among other details, you will have to provide the address where you will be staying in Ethiopia.


Ethiopia is a culturally diverse country. As such, the lifestyle of the people here is also a diverse one. Ethiopia is a country that has lots of income inequalities. There are the rich as well as the very poor people. The capital city of Addis Ababa is a modern one with lots of infrastructures, roads, shopping malls, supermarkets, educational institutions, theatres and the like. So the lifestyle of the people staying in the city is a modern one. But beyond the cities in the rural areas, where agriculture is the dominant profession, there is a lot of poverty. People don't know much English here and are prone to live their traditional style of living.

The lifestyle of the people in Ethiopia depends a lot on the religion they practice. Since Christianity and Islam are the dominant religion in the country, the lifestyle of the people takes the form their religion directs them to take. Festivals are part and parcel of both the religions in the country. Even the Jewish minority in the country has its own festivals and events that they celebrate with much fanfare. Every celebration here, whether Christmas, Easter, Id, Meskel or Timket, involves lots of dancing, singing and merrymaking. During these occasions, people love to don their best attire by wearing bright clothes and ornaments.

Outside the cities in the rural hinterlands, where the only occupation of the people is farming, fishing, cattle breeding and so on, the lifestyle of the people revolves very much around their profession. On the food front, Ethiopians are fond of both vegetable as well as spicy meat dishes. Injera or Ethiopian bread is the staple food of the people in this region.

Ethiopians are very fond of music. The music culture is extremely diverse here, with each of the 80 ethnic groups having its own unique music. Among sports, track and field is the main event that most Ethiopians are interested in. Many of them have won gold medals in the Olympics in the long distance running races.

Cost of Living for Students

Studying at a university in Ethiopia is quite affordable. The tuition fees along with books and other instructional expenses come to around 250 to 900 US dollars, depending upon the course you select. The living expenses that include accommodation, food, travel, entertainment and other personal expenses for a student may come to around 1500 to 2500 US dollars depending upon how you lavish you are in your spendings. If you wish to hire a single room apartment, it will cost you a lot more, say from 270 to 415 US dollars a month depending upon the location, whether inside the city centre or outside of it.

Among other expenses, eating out at a westernized restaurant costs you around 5 to 15 US dollars. An Ethiopian meal will cost you less than 1 US dollar. Among other things, a loaf of bread costs around 0.75 $, milk 1 $ a litre, a dozen eggs less than 2 $, rice less than 2 $ a kg and so on. All are in US dollars. For transportation, a monthly pass for the local transport costs around 10 dollars a month. A litre of gasoline will cost somewhat less than a dollar. A movie ticket costs around 3 US dollars. Compared to many of the Asian countries including India, the costs are somewhat on the higher side but are fairly less when compared to any of the western nations. You, however, don't get the standard of living that you may avail in the west.

Documents for University Admissions in Ethiopia

To apply for a study program in a university in Ethiopia and subsequently a student visa, you need to submit the following documents.
  1. A copy of the filled in visa application form.
  2. A copy of the admission letter to the university in Ethiopia you have applied for.
  3. Acceptance letter from the concerned university.
  4. A passport with a validity period that stretches at least six months beyond the period of your stay.
  5. Recent passport size colour photographs.
  6. A student declaration form stating the reasons for visiting Ethiopia and undertaking the course you have applied for.
  7. Evidence of financial capability to cover all your expenses, while staying in Ethiopia.
  8. Mark sheets and certificates of your educational qualifications.
  9. Proof of proficiency in the English language.
  10. Police clearance certificate.
  11. Yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  12. Receipt of online payment. Acknowledgement of application receipt.

Universities and higher education in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a number of universities and colleges. Many of its universities are in the public domain and the rest under private control. Regarding costs, the private universities are a bit on the higher side compared to the public ones. The tuition fees vary depending upon the university and the program you join. From undergraduate to postgraduation, there are various courses for you to opt for. Other than the usual subjects like social science, humanities, science and the others, you may take up a language program in one of the popular languages in Ethiopia. Currently, the higher education system in Ethiopia is being looked after by the Ethiopian Institute for Higher Education, a semi-autonomous body set up by the Ethiopian government's initiative by taking support from German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). Housed in Addis Ababa University, the country's best university, the Ethiopian Institute for Higher Education serves other institutions too. As of now, none of Ethiopia's universities features in the top university rankings of the world.

Anyway, the top ten universities in Ethiopia as per their rankings are given under.
  1. Addis Ababa University
  2. Jumma University
  3. Jenelle University
  4. Bashir Dar University
  5. University of Gondar (College of Medical Siences)
  6. Hawassa University
  7. Haramaya University
  8. Aris University
  9. Arab Minch University
  10. Ethiopian Institute of Architecture

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