Gap Year FAQs

Who is eligible to apply for the Gap Year Program?

ALA Gap Year Student Liam Cook discusses his Gap Year experience

African Leadership Academy seeks dynamic, motivated 17-19 year old leaders from around the world who have completed high school and are thrilled at the prospect of an intense, 10-month pre-university program in which they would build lasting friendships with Africa's future leaders, engage in deep study of the African continent, and design and implement a community service project that will have a lasting impact on a community in need.

Where is the ALA campus? What is it like?

African Leadership Academy is located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. Our safe, world-class campus includes comfortable dormitories, a 350 seat auditorium, classrooms designed for discussion-based learning, and a world-class design laboratory. Interested students may take a virtual tour of the ALA campus on our website,

Why is African Leadership Academy interested in having students from outside of Africa?

As business, politics, and society become increasingly global, Africa cannot afford to exist in a vacuum separate from the rest of the world. We believe that development will be driven not only by Africans living on the continent, but also by committed Africa-minded individuals from all over the world who will share their unique perspectives in this international setting.

Who will I meet during my gap year experience?

This is perhaps the most exciting part of the ALA Gap Year! At African Leadership Academy you will befriend the most outstanding young people from 54 African countries and around the world. Like you, these young leaders will have already accomplished extraordinary things in their lives. You might play a pick-up game of soccer with a young man from Kenya who founded and runs his own dramatic arts organization to educate the community about HIV/AIDS, or live in a dorm room with a young Zimbabwean woman who started a small-scale chicken and agricultural farm to support a needy family of AIDS orphans in her neighborhood. 

You will also have the incredible opportunity to meet and speak with high-profile leaders and entrepreneurs that most people only dream of meeting. At ALA, you can share dinner with leaders from a wide range of fields, including a high-profile CEO of a global company, a world-renowned diplomat, a leading African author, or a documentary filmmaker.

What are some examples of the Capstone Project? 

The cornerstone of the program is ALA's unique gap year seminar, in which students design and implement a capstone project. Over the course of the year, they identify a challenge facing a community, conduct research and interviews, and develop a sustainable solution to address the challenge. The gap year capstone project culminates in a two-month practical internship with an social enterprise in Johannesburg. Outstanding projects might include establishing a tutoring program at a primary school in an informal settlement, or designing an irrigation system for a farming.

What can I hope to gain from this experience?

At African Leadership Academy you will have endless opportunities to define your own experience within our Gap Year Program. Students who have gone through our pilot summer programs report feeling an exhilarating sense of self-confidence and empowerment to tackle future challenges and continue making an impact. They have learned new languages, made friends from around the world, and have discovered new interests.

What does the Gap Year Program cost?

The Gap Year program costs $36,000 USD, including tuition, room and board, extracurricular activities and most school trips.

When does the program start? When does it finish? Is there a vacation period?

Students will arrive on campus on the first week of September and leave in late June. There will be a four week mid-year vacation in late December and early January, and short one-week vacations in October and March in which students may live with a host family in South Africa or join a school trip.

Can I choose to spend only part of my gap year at ALA?

The gap year program is designed for 10 months, as this enables students to maximize their impact and complete their Culminating Service Project. Students desiring to spend a shorter time at ALA may apply to the term abroad program.

How many students participate in the Gap Year and Study Abroad Programs? From which nations do most students come from?

In any given academic year at ALA, there are usually 8-10 students enrolled at ALA as either a gap year or study abroad participant. This is a range that increases steadily with each following year. The backgrounds of our students are well-represented across the world. To date, we have had students hail from the USA, the UK, and African nations participate in our programs.

Do non-full time students, particularly those in the gap year program, interact with the full-time ALA high school students in any way?

Yes, there is constant interaction between full-time students and our gap year/study abroad students, and this is what makes our program so enriching. Our students build lifelong friendships through living, dining, studying, and growing in very close proximity to all of their peers on our secured, residential campus.

Do you have a course book? Do students have a choice in the courses they take or are they all prescribed?

Yes, we do have a course book, and we welcome you to contact us at for our most up-to-date information. The flexibility of course selections depends on the nature of the student's enrollment. Students in our gap year program have graduated from a 4-year, secondary school program, which affords them more flexibility in their course selections, as they historically have already gotten into a 4-year, university program. In cases where a gap year student intends to apply to colleges and universities during his/her gap year, then the student and the academic deans at his/her home institution must consult with the academic deans at ALA to determine an appropriate course load to maximize his or her college admission prospects. 

In instances when a student is enrolled as a study abroad participant, which occurs during his/her secondary school years, the student's course load is determined between his/her home school's academic deans and the academic deans at ALA to ensure that the student's time at ALA does not impede his/her academic progress, but adds unique value to his/her learning and growth in a meaningful, positive way.

How long have your gap year and study abroad programs been operational?

Since our inaugural year in 2008, we have had students participate in our gap year and study abroad programs.

Do you have former gap year and study abroad students we can talk to as a reference?

Yes, absolutely! Our current and former gap year/study abroad students (and their parents) are always excited to share their experiences with interested families – and they continue to be huge supporters of ALA. As a precursor, we invite you to review this website to learn more about how our students have enjoyed their experiences at ALA, and then, reach out to us at to introduce yourselves! We look forward to hearing from you!