2020/2021 Student Handbook



Calendar of Events: 2020/2021


September 7, 2021 Orientation workshop for all students new to the  program 9:00 am-12:00 pm
September 9 – 14, 2021 First week of classes
October 1 – 5, 2021 Outline of paper due in the office, PTR and Field Research Workshop
October 22 – 26, 2021 Rough draft of paper due in the office, PTR and Field Research Workshop
November 26 – 30, 2021 Final week of classes, Examination week
November 30, 2021 Final draft of paper due in the office, final PTR, faculty meeting and closing banquet


January 18, 2022 Orientation for all students new to the program 9:00am-12:00pm
January 21 – 25, 2022 First week of classes
February 18 – 22, 2022 Outline of paper due in the office, PTR and Field Research Workshop
March 10 – 15, 2022 Rough draft of paper due in the office, PTR and Field Research Workshop
April 8 – 12, 2022 Final week of classes, Examination week
April 12, 2022 Final draft of paper due in the office, final PTR, faculty meeting and closing banquet


May 14, 2022 Orientation workshop for all first session students at Tangaza University College, 9:00 am.
May 15, 2022 Beginning of first session of program at Tangaza University College, 8:30am
June 5, 2022 Last class-day of first session of program
June 5 – 13, 2022 One week break between sessions


June 8, 2021

Orientation workshop for all second session students new to  the TAMCAS program at Tangaza University College, 9:00 am
June 9, 2021 Beginning of second session of program at Tangaza University College, 8:30 am
June 30, 2021 Last class-day of second session of program


September 13, 2021 Orientation workshop for all students new to the  program 9:00 am-12:00 pm
September 16 – 20, 2021 First week of classes
October 7 – 11, 2021 Outline of paper due in the office, PTR and Field Research Workshop
October 28 – Nov. 1, 2021 Rough draft of paper due in the office, PTR and Field Research Workshop
December 2 – 6, 2021 Final week of classes, Examination week
December 6, 2021 Final draft of paper due in the office, final PTR, faculty meeting and closing banquet



This handbook is designed to help you prepare for your participation in the TAMCAS program(s) of Tangaza Maryknoll Centre for African Studies (MIAS). Once you have started studying it will also serve as a guide for some aspects of your academic work, so you are asked to bring the handbook with you. The information in the following pages can help ensure that you will be ready to make the most of the programs.

GOAL OF THE PROGRAMS The primary goal of TAMCAS programs is to teach, systematically, contemporary cultures and religion of Kenya in such a way that students begin to appropriate and articulate an African perspective on these realities. They are designed for the following types of postgraduate students: 1) African students, and African pastoral and developmental agents for systematic introduction and/or updating in contemporary African life and reality, 2) NGO personnel and missionary personnel including priests, sisters, seminarians, and laity assigned to apostolic work in East Africa for primary acculturation and/or updating, 3) lecturers and students from outside Africa for systematic introduction into and appropriation of African cultural knowledge.

The programs are designed to meet the needs of both degree students and continuing education students. The programs are ecumenical and open to students of all faiths.  The programs were designed as a response to the need for a contextualized approach to teaching cultures and religion of Africa, and training bi-cultural pastoral, educational, medical and developmental agents in Africa.

WHAT THE PROGRAMS PROVIDEFor the price of tuition the TAMCAS programs provide: 1) classroom facilities, 2) access to Tangaza University College Libraries, 3) highly qualified Africanist lecturers, 4) postgraduate courses awarded four graduate credits 5) trained Kenyan university graduates who work with students as tutorial field assistants when doing field research. The assistants work with students on a one to one basis in structured research projects in and about Nairobi, during the duration of the course. , and 6) master degree program

In the Immersion programs, the assistant spends a minimum of thirteen hours per week in field research with a student, in the Semester programs a minimum of three and a half hours per week per course. TAMCAS programs do not provide board and room, books, or internal transport in Kenya.  Nor do they make arrangements for travel to and from Nairobi, Kenya. These items are the responsibility of the students.

A number of religious communities, non-governmental organizations, and all the major churches have guest houses in Nairobi where students are welcomed. If there are any problems with accommodation, TAMCAS staff help students find the most satisfactory arrangements.

LOCATIONThe TAMCAS is situated in Nairobi, Kenya due to 1) the widespread use of English, 2) the extensive transportation system in and about the city and throughout the country, 3) the guest houses and hostels where students can reside and 4) the libraries that are adequate for post-graduate work.

Classes are held at Tangaza University College located near Hardy seven miles South of the city of Nairobi. It is in close proximity to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. TAMCAS facilities are in a modern four-storey building with classrooms, offices, an assembly hall and its unique Africana library with 10,000 volumes. The cafeteria in an adjacent building. The building does not contain residences.  [Tangaza University College is a center for theological studies sponsored by twenty-two religious communities.

METHOD OF THE PROGRAMS TAMCAS continues the work of Maryknoll Institute of African Studies (MIAS). The first MIAS program was conducted in 1989 on the principle that it is only through intensive, systematic study of African cultures and religion that one can come to any basic wisdom regarding contemporary African reality. The method developed by the MIAS Institute has enabled most of the eight hundred and fifty-nine students MIAS registered from 1989 – 2019 to experience a major breakthrough in their understanding, appreciation and celebration of African life, reality and identity. The majority of the participants have evaluated the programs as demanding but most rewarding for their on-going apostolic and social work and the ability it has given them to be present to African people in a sophisticated, adult way.

The MIAS educational method is participatory combining classroom lectures with directed field research. For the Semester programs, it requires eighteen hours of formal study per week for twelve weeks per course. In the Immersion programs, it requires ten hours of formal studies per day for twenty two days. It is not a workshop or seminar where one can be passive or participate according to one’s wishes. All the courses are at a postgraduate level. Hence, it is assumed that a person has the skills to read a substantial amount of bibliographical material in preparation for classroom lectures, to write an acceptable fifteen-page research/integration paper, and to learn how to do professional field research. Also, one cannot  AUDIT  a course. All participants take the courses for credit. If a person is not interested in this type of an educational process, he/she should not apply.

The programs require the following:

a) working  with a field assistant for a minimum of three and a half hours per course per week in the Semester programs, and working three days a week for a minimum of four hours per day in the Immersion programsb) doing field research in all parts of the Nairobi area including the squatters’ campsc) riding the local transportation systemd) visiting, overnight, the rural home of a field assistante) writing a fifteen page research/integration paper per coursef) attending all classesg) reading all materials required for the coursesh) putting aside medical and vacation needs, except in emergencyi) bypassing tourist places and sitesj) (For non-Africans) living in an African environment

Section I


TRAVEL IN EAST AFRICADay trips will be recommended and organized according to the interests of the students once at the end of each program. The costs of these trips will be split equally among the participants. A one-day trip of a hundred miles in a hired van costs about $30.00 per person. Possibilities include: Nairobi National game park, Lake Naivasha, the Rift Valley, Mount Kenya, Lake Magadi, and Lake Nakuru Game Park.

Some of the most spectacular scenery and game parks in the world are just south of Kenya’s border with Tanzania. At the end of one’s participation in a MIAS program, one might wish to make a special five day trip to visit Lake Manyara game park, Terangiri game park, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, and the Serengeti game park. Travel arrangements will be the responsibility of those interested. However, MIAS recommends a reliable low-cost company called “Safari Seekers” for all Kenyan and Tanzanian trips (Email: info@safari-seekerskenya.com; Ph. (+254) 0771 580 935; (+254) 0736 524 257)

DRIVER’S LICENSEIt is recommended that you get an international driver’s license. It is recognized in Kenya and allows you to drive rental and private vehicles.


MEDICATIONSIf you are on medication, you should bring enough along with you to last the length of the program. Also be sure to bring your prescriptions signed by a physician, in case you need to refill it during your stay. There are well-stocked pharmacies in Nairobi.

MALARIA PROPHYLACTICKenya is in a malarial area. It is necessary that you take a prophylactic medicine several weeks prior to arriving in Kenya, during the time spent in Kenya, and for several weeks after returning home. The proper medicine is obtained only by prescription. The drug “larium” (metakelfin) is a very toxic drug and a substantial portion of people have had mild to serious psychological reactions to it. It should only be taken under a doctor’s advice and as a last resort.

Also, if you are not a resident of Africa, a doctor’s recommendation assuring that you are in sufficient good health to follow the programs is required as part of the application process.

RECOMMENDATIONSTwo letters of recommendation relating to one’s flexibility in adjusting to new situations and ability to handle stress are required. One of these recommendations is to be from one’s employer, supervisor or superior.

INOCULATIONSKenya and Tanzania require a yellow fever inoculation.  Typhoid and Para-typhoid shots are recommended.

This would be a good time to update your tetanus immunization. If you have not had a tetanus immunization or booster in the past 10 years, it is recommended that you do so before the trip. If you are concerned about a particular ailment or allergy, please consult your physician before departure.

Section II


TUITION: For Citizens and Residents of Africa, the program is subsidized 50%;  the tuition pays only half of the actual cost per course. Foreign students from overseas are charged the full fees of US$950 per course for the semester programs and US$ 1080 per course for the immersion programs.

Semester programs:

-All Citizens and Residents of Africa: Ksh. 34,500 (US$ 475) per course.-Foreign students from overseas: US$ 950 per course.

Immersion programs:

-All Citizens and Residents of Africa: Ksh. 37,500 (US$540) per course.-Foreign students from overseas: US$ 1080 per course.

TUITION RELIEFThe cost per course was set in terms of making the program self-sufficient through grants and tuition. However, African students who cannot afford the full amount of the subsidized tuition can apply for some tuition relief. A tuition relief application form is available for those who request it after they are officially accepted. The program sponsors do not want qualified African students turned away solely due to tuition expenses.


Besides Tuition, there are the following expenses that are paid personally. 

BOOKS:       Ksh. 8000 (US$100) per course.

TRANSPORTATION: for field research to and from Tangaza: Approx. Ksh. 8000 (US$100) per course.

BOARD AND ROOM (If not resident in Nairobi): US$ 20-30.00  per day depending on where one stays and the Kenya shillings exchange rate per US$ at the time of the program. If staying in a guesthouse, to be on the safe side the cost of board and room should be calculated at US$30.00 per day.

POCKET MONEY: Approximately US$100.00 per course (Non-residents of Nairobi).

TRANSPORTATION: To and from Nairobi depends on the point of departure.

Note: The Kenya shilling (and prices) has fluctuated widely the past two and a half years. In July 2017, it stood at 103/US$. As the program draws near, you will be notified of the Kenya shilling exchange rate with the US dollar so you can revise your budget, if needed.

KENYA VISAStudents traveling on non-commonwealth passports, e.g. a USA passport, must purchase a visa online for US$ 50 before arriving at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. A Tanzania visa can be purchased at the Tanzania embassy in Nairobi or at the point of entry. It costs $100.00 for U.S. citizens.


MIAS is responsible only for the tuition paid for each course. This is non-refundable once a course has started except in the cases of medical hardship or family emergencies.

MIAS is not responsible for: a) passport and visa fees, b) airport or border taxes,c) travel, visits, or excursions, d) life, accident, travel, or health insurance, e) board and room,f) airfares, g) for any medical expenses incurred by any member of the program, and h) for any additional costs incurred by participants who cannot complete the program for whatever reason.


MIAS reserves the right to cancel a scheduled program within a reasonable time limit, for reasons of incapacity of staff, perilous conditions, or other related situations. Ordinarily, notification of cancellation will be communicated to participants no later than 30 days prior to the beginning of the program. However, MIAS reserves the right to cancel the program at any time, prior to or during the program, when in the judgment of the staff, conditions exist which make it impossible to achieve the goals of the program. In case of cancellation prior to departure, MIAS will reimburse registered participants their full fees. In the event that a program would be canceled after it has begun, reimbursement will be provided for up to 75% of the unused portion of the tuition.

The staff also reserves the right to dismiss from the programs anyone whose mental or physical health is judged to be a danger to themselves or the group, or anyone whose comportment is judged to pose a serious disruption to the programs.

Transportation to and from the school and during field research trips is the responsibility of the students. The Institute, however, provides transportation from downtown Nairobi (The Stanley Hotel) to Tangaza University College and back on class days during the Immersion programs.

Section III


The following are some suggestions that may help you in deciding what to pack.

  1. The weather in Nairobi during your stay will be a mixture of warm and sunny 30 C. (80 degrees F.) to chilly and rainy 8 C. (47 Degrees F.). The nights are always cool since the altitude is 1600 meters (5200 feet) above sea level.
  2. If you are a woman, you will need fall-weight skirts and dresses as well as knee socks. Blue jeans and slacks mark a woman as a tourist and militate against her blending into the society and are not allowed in class or when moving around Nairobi and doing field research. However, you might want to bring along one pair of warm dress slacks for lounging around your residence and a pair of blue jeans when you wish to play the tourist, e.g. in a game park.
  3. Blue jeans also mark a man as a tourist and militate against his blending into the society and are not permitted when doing participant observation and field research. However, you might want to bring along one pair for lounging at your residence. Dark color slacks are the norm for blending into the society.
  4. Since you will have some wet weather, it is good to bring rain gear such as a fold-up umbrella.
  5. A heavy sweater and lined jacket are also necessary for the evenings and during the overcast days.
  6. The sun is very intense in Nairobi. Bring things that can be layered when the weather gets cold and peeled off when it’s warm. Dry cleaning is available.
  7. Shorts are never worn in public except by tourists.
  8. For your outfits, choose fall-weight, comfortable, durable and washable things. In Kenya, dark, conservative, English styles are the norm. Keep in mind that almost all laundry will be done by hand. Choose fabrics that will keep you warm, but that will be easy to keep clean. Also, you will want to bring one good dress outfit for the more formal occasions.
  9. An important item is shoes. You absolutely need a good pair of walking shoes (be sure to break them in before you leave). Women need comfortable walking shoes that look good with skirts. You may throw in a pair of sandals for around the house and a pair of jogging shoes for exercise or the game parks. High heels for women are not necessary.
  10. Bring a hat for the sun. Something light and washable is smart, since it will need scrubbing after a few encounters with the heat and dust of Africa. Head covering is essential to avoid the danger of overexposure. Furthermore, a dark pair of sunglasses are very useful.
  11. A small cassette tape recorder and an adequate supply of tapes is a very useful instrument in doing field research, but not a requirement. Batteries are available in Kenya at a reasonable price.
  12. A lap top computer and an adequate supply of disks is highly recommended. A computer is a very useful instrument in writing up field research, and one’s paper. Remember the voltage in Nairobi is 240V 50HZ. Be sure your power supply is able to handle it. Most newer laptops are dual voltage.
  13. Guidebook: preparing for a trip can be almost as enjoyable as the trip itself. You may want to purchase a guidebook to help you prepare for your time in Africa. Also guidebooks will be helpful in preparing for travel at the end of a course. Check local bookstores and travel bureaus for these books.
  14. Credit card – in order to access cash machines.

The check list on Addendum I of this page includes a number of odds and ends that have proven helpful to participants. We recommend you include them in your packing, if possible.

Section IV


Participants who belong to religious communities that have institutions in Nairobi live with their communities. Others make arrangements to stay as guests of religious communities or stay in hostels or guest houses. If needed, the Director of the program facilitates these arrangements.


MIASP. O. Box 15199 Lang’ata00509KenyaE-mail: miasmu@tangaza.ac.keMobile Phone: (254-726) 818-917 OR (254-732) 818-917Phone: (254-20) 806 7667 Ext. 329, 333, 319 For EMS Mail or COURIER Mail(FedEx, etc.) use:MIASc/o Tangaza University CollegeLang’ata South RoadP. O. Box 15199 Lang’ata00509Kenya


PROGRAM DIRECTORProf. Michael C. Kirwen Ph.D., the founder of the MIAS program and a professor of interdisciplinary studies, is the director, dean of studies, and an Associate Dean of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He holds a Ph.D. in theology in the area of special interdisciplinary studies combining Theology and Anthropology from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. He teaches courses in Contextual Theology, Field Research Methodology and the unique MIAS transformational academic method. As a Maryknoll missionary, he has been a resident of East Africa for over fifty years combining pastoral work among Luo people, with writing, field research and teaching before starting the MIASMU program in 1989.


The Assistant Director in charge of Administration is the registrar of the program. He works closely with the Director on administrative aspects, processes students’ applications, recruits and assigns the field assistants, liaises with the active faculty, handles financial payments and oversees the running of the MIAS office.



The Assistant Director in charge of Publications is the senior editor in charge of all publications of the Institute, oversees the preparation of the oral exams of the MA students and advises on formatting and structure of the MA Theses.

FACULTYThe faculty, highly skilled Africanists, are recruited mainly from the East African Universities to teach one course each term.  Last academic year there were two teachers from the University of Nairobi, five from Kenyatta University, one from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, one from Hekima College, one from Tangaza University College, one from African Leadership University and one who is a consultant on social and political issues. Many of the lecturers are heads of departments , three are associate professors and three are full professors.

CLASS ASSISTANTSA class assistant is attached to each course. These are veteran field assistants who have participated in over six courses.  They liaise with the lecturers, students, field assistants and staff on the daily administration of courses.

FIELD ASSISTANTSKenyan university graduates, called field assistants, are assigned to work with each participant in their field research on a one-to-one basis. These assistants are recruited through the recommendations of the faculty, and are selected on the basis of their competence in English, their knowledge of Nairobi and its surroundings, and their willingness to take students to their rural homesteads for overnight visits. They attend all classes and write five page essays on the material of the courses and field research. All of them had finished their first degrees, some are working on their MA degrees and others on their PhD degrees. A good number of the field assistants teach at secondary schools and colleges, or are searching for full time employment.

Section V


CLASSES AND STUDYThe essential component of the program is an in-depth, academic study of African reality on a post-graduate level. It aims at teaching African cultures and religion systematically through direct participation in African cultural life. Each week during the  Semester programs, there are three and a half hours of formal classes at Tangaza University College, and three and a half hours in the field per week per course. During the Immersion programs, there are three and a half hours of formal class three days a week and four hours of field research another three days per week.

The academic work focuses on how cultures shape the way Africans understand God, the cosmos and humanity. The field research focuses on direct contact with African people through participant observation and professional field research. The class sessions involve both preparatory and follow-up work connected with the field research.

Moreover, the courses require a fifteen page research/integration paper as well as a final written exam. The combination of class work, field research and a written paper gives MIAS an unique, process approach to the study of African life and reality. The MIAS programs do not allow AUDITING of courses under any circumstance.

The excellent Africana library of the Institute combined with that of Tangaza University and  Hekima colleges are sufficient for all classroom assignments. The library at the University of Nairobi is also available for those interested.

All participants are expected to be present for all class sessions, do all the required field research and complete the required course paper as an integral part of their participation in the programs. The programs are not meant to be an exposure to Africa. They are designed to blend academic study with an immersion experience of the people, land and cultures.

A detailed description of the academic components of the 2018/2019 programs and a list of suggested readings are found in the following sections.

TEXTBOOKSThe books listed below are recommended for the programs. In preparation for the courses, one should buy or borrow a copy of each and begin to browse through them. Those who have access to copies through local libraries should arrange to bring the books to the program.

1) Ayisi, E. O. (1972). An Introduction to the Study of African Culture. London: Heinemann.

2) Bernard, Russell H. (1988). Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. London: Sage Publication.

3) Bourdillon, M. (1990). Religion and Society: a Text for Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press.

4) Collins Robert O. (1990). Eastern African History. New York: Markus Wiener Publishing.

5) Ellis, Stephen. (2012). Season of rains : Africa in the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

6) Geertz, Clifford. (1973).The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic Books.

7) Keim, C. A. (2008). Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind. Boulder: Westview Press.

8) Kirwen, Michael. (Ed.) (2015). African Culture: Cycle of Community and Communal Activities. Nairobi: Mias Books.

9)_____________. (Ed.) (2010). African Cultural Domains: Cycle of Family and Interpersonal Relationships Nairobi: Mias Books.

10) ____________.  (Ed) (2008). African Cultural Domains: Life Cycle of an Individual. Nairobi: Mias Books.

11) ____________.  (Ed.) (2005). African Cultural Knowledge: Themes and Embedded Beliefs. Nairobi: Mias Books.

12) ____________. (1987). The Missionary and the Diviner. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis

13) Magesa, Laurenti. (2013). What is not Sacred?: African Spirituality. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis.

14) _____________. (2004). Anatomy of Inculturation: Transforming the Church in Africa. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis.

15) _____________. (1997). African Religion: the Moral Traditions of Abundant Life. New York: Orbis.

16) Mbiti, John. (1991). An Introduction to African Religion. (Second Edition) Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers.

17) ________. (1969). African Religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann.

18) Olupona, Jacob K.  (2014).  African Religions: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

19) __________.  (Ed.)(1993).  African Traditional Religions in Contemporary Society. New York: Paragon House.

20) Parratt, John. (Ed.) (1987). A Reader In African Christian Theology.  London: SPCK.

21) Ray, Benjamin. (1976). African Religions. Englewood Cliff, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

22) Reader, John. (1998). A Biography Of The Continent Africa. New York: Vintage Books.

23) Schreiter, Robert. (1975).Constructing Local Theologies. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.

24) Shorter, Aylward. (1998). African Culture, An Overview: Social-Cultural Anthropology. Nairobi: Pauline’s.

25) Spadley, James. (1980). Participant Observation. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.

26) Tomalin, Emma. (2013). Religions and Development. New York: Routledge.

27) Zahan, Dominique. (1970). The Religion, Spirituality, and Thought of Traditional Africa. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

28) Zuesse, Evan. (1979). Ritual Cosmos. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Other books are required for specific courses. They are on reserve in the MIAS library. Some are available in Nairobi bookstores, and others are sold through the program. It is expected that each student buys the required textbooks for their personal libraries so that they have adequate resources to teach the material afterwards.

JOURNALSEast Africa is a land where the local people are facing very complex social, political and economic questions. One should try to increase one’s awareness of these issues by reading local journals and magazines both secular and religious e.g. “New Africa,” “Africa Theological Journal,” and “AFER: African Ecclesiastical Review.” Look through these journals and magazines for contemporary articles on the churches and cultures of Africa. Also, The East African Publishing House has a series of novels written in English by Africans. They are an excellent way to gain insight into the kinds of issues and emotions that are of major importance to African peoples. One should buy a number of these books in the Nairobi bookstores for future reference. Furthermore, the video series by Ali Mazrui “The Africans,” and Basil Davidson’s “Africa,” are most informative and recommended viewing as part of one’s preparation.

AFRICAN RELIGIONSEast Africa is a land of three major world religions: African, Christian and Moslem. Besides the readings on African Religion and African Christianity something should be read on African Islam, e.g. Nyang, Sulayman S. (1999). Islam, Christianity and African Identity. Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc.

Section VI



September -December Semester program begins on September 7, 2018 with a day of orientation and continues to November 30, 2018.

January-April Semester program begins on January 18, 2019 with a day of orientation and continues to April 12, 2019.

May- June First Immersion program begins on May 15, 2018 with a day of orientation and continues to June 6, 2018.

June – July Second Immersion program begins on June 12, 2018 with a day of orientation and continues to July 4, 2018.

September – December Semester program begins on September 7, 2018 with a day of orientation and continues to November 30, 2018.

Students new to Africa are requested to arrive two to three days before the beginning of a program so that they are adjusted to the climate and altitude, and are over their jet lag before classes begin.

COURSE ACCREDITATIONThe courses are four – credit postgraduate courses accredited by Saint Mary’s University of MN/USA. The courses are registered and transcripted by Saint Mary’s University.

TANGAZA ACADEMIC AWARDSAs an affiliate Institute of Tangaza University College, a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, MIAS awards: 1) a joint Tangaza University College/Saint Mary’s University Certificate for those who complete three courses maintaining a minimum “C+” average, and 2) a Tangaza University College Diploma for those who successfully complete five courses, including the courses on “African Culture” and “one of the African Religion courses,” while maintaining a minimum “B” average.

COURSE OFFERINGSThe following is the list of courses that have been prepared by various lecturers for the 2017/2018 programs. Sufficient student pre-registration determines whether a particular course is taught. This is why applicants are asked to select three courses by priority. A separate booklet (Course catalogue) is available with the course outlines and descriptions. It will be sent to all applicants.



Courses listed for MONDAYS 1:30 am – 4:45 pm

______ African Traditional Religion Interprets the Bible

______ Spirituality, Personhood and Psychotherapy in an African Context

______ Contemporary Political and Economic Realities in Kenya

______ Church in Contemporary Africa: Its Political, Social and Economic Situation

Courses listed for  TUESDAYS 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm

______ Introduction to Islam in Eastern Africa

______ Gospel and Culture: The African Experience

______ African Culture: An Overview

______ African Feminist/Womanist Theology: A Source for African Christian Theology

Courses listed for WEDNESDAYS 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm

______ Sociology of Development/Underdevelopment in African Religion

______ Introduction to East African Art

______ African Traditional Spirituality

______ African Christian Theology: Historical and Systematic Development

______ Mission in Africa Today: Methods, Concepts, Practices & Challenges

______ Towards the Inculturation of Religious Community Life in Africa

Courses listed for THURSDAYS 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm

______ African Traditional Religion: Major Beliefs, Practices and Contemporary Forms

______ African Marriage and Family: Challenge and Change

______ Introduction to East African Literature: Focus on Religious Conflicts

______ Justice and Peace in East Africa 


Courses listed for FRIDAYS 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm

______ Ideology and Practice of Health Ministry in Contemporary Africa: Traditional and Western 

______ African Independent Churches: Authentic Integration or Separation from Christianity

______ Sage Philosophy: The Root of African Philosophy and Religion

______ Moral Teaching and Practices of African Traditional Religion 





______ African Cultures: An Overview*

______ African Traditional Religion Interprets the Bible

______ African Feminist/Womanist Theology: A Source for African Christian Theology

______ Contemporary Political and Economic Realities in Kenya

______ Sociology of Development/Underdevelopment in African Religion

______ Introduction to East African Art

______ Towards the Inculturation of Religious Community Life in Africa

______ African Christian Theology: Historical and Systematic Development

______ Spirituality, Personhood and Psychotherapy in an African Context

______ Gospel and Culture: The African Experience


______ African Cultures: An Overview*

______ African Traditional Religion: Major Beliefs, Practices and Contemporary Forms

______ African Marriage and Family: Challenge and Change

______ Introduction to East African Literature: Focus on Religious Conflicts

______ Justice and Peace in East Africa

______ Church in Contemporary Africa: its political, social and economic situation

______ Introduction to Islam in Eastern Africa

______ Ideology and Practice of Health Ministry in Contemporary Africa: Traditional and Western

______ Sage Philosophy: The Root of African Philosophy and Religion

______ Moral Teaching and Practices of African Traditional Religion

______ African Traditional Spirituality

______ Mission in Africa Today: Methods, Concepts, Practices & Challenges

* The course, “African Cultures: An Overview,” is repeated in each session as it is a required course for those in the Master programs, and a popular course for students new to Africa.


SEMESTER PROGRAMS: The courses are taught once a week with one required field research per course per week.

IMMERSION PROGRAMS: The courses are taught at Tangaza University College three days a week (Wednesday through Friday), while the following three days (Saturday through Monday) are spent in the field doing research.

Four graduate credits are granted for each course. If a student successfully completes three courses during the 2017/2018 programs, he/she is awarded a joint Tangaza University College/Saint Mary’s University Certificate in African Studies.

FIELD RESEARCHField research is facilitated by University students who are hired to guide the students, on a one-to-one basis, into various dimensions of African society. The meetings and trips with the field assistants are organized around the research priorities of each lecturer, so that students experience new realities of the Kenyan society in the Nairobi area at least three times a week. For example, research is done in local markets, University of Nairobi, housing estates, squatters camps, various Christian churches and ministries, diviners and traditional healers, government officials, NGOs involved in development projects etc.



Each course meets one day a week at Tangaza University College from 11:45 am – 3:30 pm according to the schedule, and one day a week (four hours per course) is spent on field research with a personal assistant (the day determined by the student).  The field research session for each course is planned in advance with the lecturer.


Class days for the two sessions are Wednesday through Friday. The classes are at Tangaza University College from 8:30 am – 12:15 pm. They are followed by a prayer service from 12:15 pm – 12:30 pm. At 12:30 pm, lunch is served in the cafeteria. Afternoons have workshop and seminars scheduled on field research and pastoral reflection. The rest of the week (Saturday – Monday) is for field research (four hours per session) with a personal field assistant (each week three field research sessions are planned in advance with the supervision of the lecturers), library research, private study, and writing a fifteen-page research/integration paper. Transportation to and from the school is the responsibility of the students. The program, however, provides transportation from downtown Nairobi (The Stanley Hotel) to Tangaza University College and back on class days if there are sufficient students using the bus.

STUDENT BODYThree types of students will be attending:

1) Students resident in Africa

a) African students in academic programs.

b) African personnel who are engaged in pastoral and developmental work.

c) Students of Missionary Institutions located in Africa e.g., Maryknoll, Mill Hill, Church Mission Society, Lutheran World Federation, Mennonite Missionaries, Society of African Missions, Comboni, Consolata, Passionists, Sisters of Notre Dame, Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, etc. These students are given transcripts of their grades so that the credits can be applied towards their degree programs elsewhere.

d) Personnel of Missionary Institutions engaged in cross-cultural ministries and developmental projects who would benefit from the program.

e) NGO personnel doing developmental, educational and medical work in Africa.

2) Foreign students from overseas (Immersion Programs only unless on sabbatical)

a) Students who have been assigned to Africa for their overseas training program.

b) Students and teachers who wish an introduction into or an intensification of an existing African experience, whether in an M.Div., M.A., M.T.S., Ph.D. or continuing education programs, provided they are in service occupations.

c) US/European/Latin American/Asian personnel engaged in cross-cultural   ministry who would benefit from an in-depth contact with African culture

3) University lecturers: Overseas or Africa based, for systematic introduction and/or updating on African cultures and religion.


Post-Graduate students:Mature students of at least twenty-five years of age with a bachelor degree or its equivalent from an approved college, university or seminary.

Undergraduate students: (only mature studentsresident in Africa, are accepted)They must have an “A” level certificate (or it’s equivalent) or a diploma from an approved school with University entrance level passes, or a fourth year university student. They also must have two letters of academic recommendation attesting to one’s ability to do postgraduate work.


  • TRANSCRIPT OF ACADEMIC RECORDS sent to MIAS, P.O. Box 15199, Lang’ata 00509, Kenya.
  • TWO LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: one from one’s employer, pastor or superior.
  • FULL PAYMENT OF TUITION FEES prior to the beginning of each course. (Make Kenya shillings checks payable to MARYKNOLL INSTITUTE OF AFRICAN STUDIES. Other currencies (USD and Euro) pay via wire transfer to: MIAS PUBLICATIONS USD A/C or  MIAS PUBLICATIONS EUR A/C. Write for wire transfer addresses.
  • COMPLETED APPLICATION. The application forms parts I and II can be filled out online through the website www.mias.edu. They may also be obtained from the MIAS director in Nairobi or downloaded from the website.
  • LETTER FROM A PHYSICIAN (for those applying from outside Africa), stating that the student is in sufficient good health to follow the program.


August 15, 2018 for September 8 –  December 1, 2018 Semester program.
Dec 15, 2018 for January 19 – April 13, 2019 Semester program.
May 1, 2019  for May 15 – June 6, 2019 Immersion program.
June 1, 2019 for June 12 – July 4, 2019 Immersion program.
August 15, 2019 for September 7 – November 30, 2019 Semester program.

ADMISSIONSAdmissions will be processed by the program director in consultation with the MIAS staff. Replies will be by return mail.

REFLECTION/DISCUSSION GROUPSTwice during the Immersion programs, the students meet together with the professors and field assistants for pastoral reflection on their African studies and experiences and three times during the Semester programs.

LITURGIESLiturgy is another area that will call for care and consideration on the part of all.  Praying together is a natural part of the MIAS experience.  In the Immersion programs, preparation of the prayer service each day is rotated among the classes.  The scheduling and format of the liturgical celebrations are worked out together with the Executive Assistant.

FORMAT OF RESEARCH PAPERThe programs require a seventeen page research/integration paper for each course. It is to be typed, double spaced with a table of contents, endnotes (if necessary) and a bibliography. The paper is divided as follows:

Introduction (two pages): orientation of the reader to the topic (or issue) under discussion.

Section I (five pages): presentation of the topic through data collected by field research. In this section it is proper to quote one’s field research notes and data referring to the annotated listing of the research events in an Appendix.

Section II (five pages): presentation of the topic as understood through the lectures and bibliographical material. The material is to be properly cited following the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

Conclusion (five pages): interrelation of the ideas about the topic gleamed from the field research with the lecture and bibliographical materials showing similarities, differences and points of conflict.

Appendix: annotated listing of field research events.

Bibliography: works cited in text.

The research/integration paper is the major criterion for evaluating a student’s performance. What is looked at carefully is whether the student is able to connect and interrelate the field data with the lectures and written materials in a creative and systematic way. The paper also facilitates, in a formal way, the organization of the experiences and discussions engendered by a course so that the student can begin to understand and articulate the structures underlying the issues being discussed and researched. This kind of mental organization of the course material is the first step in preparing a student to teach the material afterwards.

Note: The maximum number of pages allowed per paper is TWENTY.

LUNCHDuring class days in the Immersion programs, lunch is available together with tea during the morning class break. Students are requested to make a contribution for cafeteria expenses if they can afford it. Otherwise the tea and lunch are furnished free of charge. It is required that all students attend lunch as it is a special time to meet lecturers, students and field assistants in an informal setting.

POUCH FOR PASSPORT AND MONEYA small cloth pouch large enough to carry one’s passport and money that can be suspended around the neck and hidden inside one’s shirt or blouse is recommended for use when traveling.

ADDENDUM I: Check List

ADDENDUM II: A Taste of the Language