Marrakesh: Middle Eastern Civilizations in Morocco

Four students pose for a photo while sitting close together on steps.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Xhesika Bardhi

Application Deadline:


The Marrakesh program is a civilization-based program designed to provide students with the experience of living in a city at the crossroads of three dynamic regions—North Africa, Europe, and the Near East—while undertaking a rigorous academic introduction to Morocco’s role in regional history.

    Morocco is a mélange of diverse cultures, from its pre-historic Amazigh (Berber) heritage to the conquests of the ancient Romans and Visigoths to its present confluence of European and Arab civilizations, linking the West with the Islamic and Middle-Eastern worlds. At the center of this quarter-long program is a three-course sequence that presents a historical and literary introduction to Morocco’s place in history and the modern world. In addition to this sequence, which is taught in English by University of Chicago faculty and meets the College’s civilization requirement, students will also take a fourth course in either beginning Moroccan Colloquial Arabic (known as Darija), or in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) at the intermediate or advanced level. Excursions to sites of historical interest around Marrakesh, greater Morocco, and further afield will complement your classwork and give you a sense of the region’s rich history, as well as the interplay between its history and current international affairs.

    The Morocco program is operated in partnership with the Center for Language & Culture: Marrakesh (CLC), a non-governmental organization with over a dozen years of experience offering educational, language, and intercultural programs to local and international students. The CLC is located in Marrakesh’s Guéliz neighborhood—the French District of the New City just outside the famous Old City (the medina). Students will have access to the CLC’s resources and activities as well as downtown Marrakesh.

    Program participants are housed with host families in Marrakesh, which offers a unique opportunity to form personal relationships with Moroccans and participate in Moroccan family life. Homes are generally located within 30 minutes of the CLC, either by foot or by public transit, and families provide breakfast and dinner on weekdays and all three meals on weekends.

    Living with a host family may require some adaptation on the student’s part. As homes may not be large, paired students will usually share a room with each other. Additionally, accommodations in the Middle East and North Africa often vary significantly from those to which students in the US are accustomed. For example, homes may not have high speed internet, and heat in the winter may be kept at a very low level, with limited hot water available. Prospective program participants are advised to start thinking about issues of flexibility and communication, which will prove invaluable during their time abroad.

    Participants in the Morocco program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and the Arabic language course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective major. The language course will normally count as an elective. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Morocco program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Winter tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Morocco program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    • Accommodation
    • Meals with host family (breakfasts, dinners on weekdays; three meals per day on weekends)
    • Instruction
    • Student support
    • Program excursions
    • Emergency travel insurance (ISOS)

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • Round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • Passport/visa fees
    • Transportation on site
    • Meals eaten outside of host family
    • Course materials
    • Personal entertainment and travel
    • Communications (including cell phone usage)
    • Health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • Other miscellaneous expenses  

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $50 to $100 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that while the cost of living in Marrakesh is relatively low, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Marrakesh program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that seriousness of intellectual purpose and engagement likely to yield the most from this opportunity. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) on campus before the program begins. They can continue their study of MSA at intermediate and advanced levels.

    Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Marrakesh: Middle Eastern Civilizations in Morocco program and the possibility of participating, please contact Xhesika Bardhi.