Study in Cotonou: A Comprehensive Guide

Study in cotonou scaled
Study in cotonou

Study in Cotonou: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you considering the option to study in Cotonou? This article will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about studying in this vibrant West African city. From the education system to the culture, we’ve got you covered. 

Why Choose Cotonou for Your Studies?

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Cotonou is a popular destination for international students for several reasons. Firstly, the country’s official language is French, making it an excellent destination for students who want to learn or improve their French language skills. Secondly, Cotonou is home to several prestigious universities that offer courses in a variety of fields, including business, medicine, and engineering. Thirdly, the cost of living in Cotonou is relatively low compared to other African cities, making it an attractive destination for students on a budget.

Education System in Cotonou

The education system in Cotonou is modelled after the French system, with primary education lasting for six years, followed by four years of secondary education. After completing secondary education, students can choose to attend one of several universities or technical schools in Cotonou. The most prestigious university in Cotonou is the University of Abomey-Calavi, which offers courses in a variety of fields, including medicine, law, and engineering for French-speaking applicants. You could still join English-speaking Universities like i-FATOSS University if you speak English and wish to study in English.

How to Apply to a University in Cotonou

To apply to a university in Cotonou, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • A copy of your high school diploma or equivalent (WAEC/NECO for Nigerians)
  • Transcripts from any previous post-secondary education
  • A valid international passport
  • A completed application form
  • White Background Passport photograph

You will also need to pay an application fee, which varies depending on the university.

Cost of Living in Cotonou

The cost of living in Cotonou is relatively affordable depending on where you are coming from. As a student, you need to ensure you have a workable budget that can help you manage your expenses well. If you are a Nigerian and wish to study in Cotonou, you need to know that the cost of living is a bit higher than in Nigeria but it is easy for you to adapt if you work based on a reasonable budget. To help you plan better, always do well to contact your school’s admission department to guide you on what your expected expenses should be.

Culture in Cotonou

Cotonou has a rich and diverse culture, with influences from West Africa, France, and the Caribbean. The city is known for its vibrant music scene, with traditional rhythms like Salsa and Zouk blending with more modern styles like Hip Hop and Reggae. There are also many cultural festivals throughout the year, including the Fête du Vodoun, a celebration of the country’s indigenous religion.

Safety in Cotonou

Cotonou is generally a safe city, but like any major urban area, there are certain precautions that students should take. It is recommended that students avoid walking alone at night or walking without a means of identification (Student ID card or international passport) and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Students should also avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive electronics. This is not just because of theft but also to avoid breaching the law of the land unconsciously.

Student Life in Cotonou

Studying in Cotonou is not just about attending classes; it is also about experiencing a new culture and meeting new people. There are many student organizations and clubs in Cotonou, which offer a range of activities from sports to music to volunteering. These organizations are a great way to make friends and get involved in the local community. You can easily join clubs like these when you study at good schools like i-FATOSS University.

Visa Requirements for Studying in Cotonou for none West African Indigenes 

To study in Cotonou, international students who are not from West Africa will need to obtain a student visa. To apply for a student visa, students will need to provide the following documents:

– A valid passport

– Proof of enrollment in a university in Cotonou

– A letter from the university confirming that the student has been accepted

– Proof of financial support

– A completed visa application form

Check if you need a visa to study in Cotonou here (Nigerians do not need a visa to study in Cotonou)

Employment Opportunities in Cotonou

While studying in Cotonou, international students can also take advantage of the various employment opportunities available. Many students find part-time work in the service industry, such as waitressing or bartending. There are also opportunities for students to work as tutors or language instructors. It is important to note that international students are only allowed to work a certain number of hours per week, as stipulated by their student visa.

Accommodation Options in Cotonou

When it comes to finding accommodation in Cotonou, students have several options. Many universities offer on-campus housing, which is a convenient and safe option for students. There are also many private apartments and houses available for rent throughout the city. It is recommended that students research accommodation options before arriving in Cotonou to ensure they find a safe and affordable place to live.

Challenges of Studying in Cotonou

While studying in Cotonou can be a rewarding experience, there are also certain challenges that students may face. One of the main challenges is adjusting to the cultural differences. Students may also experience language barriers and difficulty navigating the city. It is important for students to be prepared for these challenges and to seek support from their university and other resources available to them.


Studying in Cotonou can be an enriching experience for international students. With its low cost of living, prestigious universities, and vibrant culture, Cotonou offers a unique opportunity for students looking to study abroad. While there may be challenges, with proper preparation and support, students can have a successful and rewarding experience studying in this dynamic West African city.


1. Do I need to speak French to study in Cotonou?

Yes, French is the official language of Benin, and students will need to have a basic understanding of French to study in Cotonou, especially in French-speaking Universities but if you wish to study in English-speaking Universities like i-FATOSS University, you can start up with little or no knowledge of French and get to learn French professionally while in school.

2. How do I apply for a student visa to study in Cotonou?

To apply for a student visa, students will need to provide several documents, including proof of enrollment in a university in Cotonou and proof of financial support. Click here to check if you will need a visa to study in Cotonou (Nigerians do not need a visa to study in Cotonou)

3. Is Cotonou a safe city for international students?

Cotonou is generally a safe city, but students should take precautions to ensure their safety, such as avoiding walking alone at night.

4. Are there job opportunities for international students in Cotonou?

Yes, there are part-time employment opportunities available for international students, but they are limited by their student visas or necessary documentation for those who do not need a visa to study in Cotonou.

5. What are some of the cultural festivals in Cotonou?

Cotonou is known for its vibrant music scene and celebrates several festivals throughout the year, including the Fête du Vodoun, a celebration of the country’s indigenous religion.


  • […] If your application is successful, the next step is to secure a student visa. You will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa, which allows you to study in the UK for up to six years. To apply for a student visa, you will need to provide evidence of your admission to a UK university, your financial ability to support yourself during your studies, and your English language proficiency especially for those who studied in Non-English speaking countries like Cotonou […]

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