Fully sponsored university diploma in protected area conservation

Schools of orange fish against a deep blue ocean in front of a coral reef

Granted by Senghor University working with the Protected Areas Programme for Africa & Conservation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN–PAPACO). This opportunity is available in English and French.

Gain a university diploma in Protected Area Conservation through online study, for free: the Online Certificate in Protected Area Conservation. While this opportunity is open to everyone, students from Africa are especially encouraged.

You must first complete 300 hours of study with online materials provided by IUCN–PAPACO in English or French — at no financial cost to you — before you can sign up for the proctored exam. You can also take each of the seven courses individually (in French, seven out of ten courses): see below.

To participate in this programme, you will also need a stable internet connection and access to a computer, tablet or smartphone. For now, each candidate may only attempt the exam once; therefore, only register if you are ready to take the exam or prepare for a future session.

The next exam dates are:

18 June 2024, 08:00 UTC in French.
19 June 2024, 08:00 UTC in English.

Future sessions and exam dates will likely become available; course sessions and exam dates are usually available twice each year. Watch MOOC Conservation for forthcoming information.


>> Details and registration (in English)

>> Details and registration (in French)


Prerequisite courses — also available individually

To qualify for the university certificate exam, you must first succesfully complete the following self-paced online courses.

You will receive an individual certificate for each of these courses if you achieve at least 75% in the individual exams; save these individual certificates, as you will need to show them to register for the university certificate exam.

IUCN–PAPACO courses are open from January to June, and from September to December. During these sessions, each learner progresses at their own pace; the only deadline is that you need to complete exams before the end of the session.

Note: If you are taking the courses and the university certificate exam in French, you may substitute the course on Marine Protected Areas (Aires marines protégées) with one of the following partner courses in preparation for the university certificate exam. You can take them individually, as well. These courses are available through IFDD, also in cooperation with Senghor University. The dates on which they are offered may differ from the IUCN–PAPACO sessions. You must achieve on average at least 50/100 to pass one of these courses:


All of the courses listed above are also included with ONet's e-learning catalogues. See these catalogues for further online learning opportunities on biodiversity and nature's contributions to people: available to anyone, everywhere, at no cost to learners.


About the course providers

Since 2009, IUCN–PAPACO and Senghor University have worked together to develop training programmes dedicated to protected area practitioners.

>> Learn more



The Programme on African Protected areas & Conservation (PAPACO) is a programme of IUCN’s Protected and Conserved Areas (PCA) team. Its vision is to improve the management and governance of parks and reserves in Africa, and thereby increase their positive impact in terms of biodiversity conservation.

>> Learn more about IUCN PAPACO

Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of our more than 1,400 Member organisations and 16,000 experts. This diversity and expertise makes IUCN the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

IUCN supports ONet, and is an IPBES observer organisation and strategic partner.

>> Learn more about IUCN


Senghor University

Senghor University is known as Université Senghor d'Alexandrie in French, officially Université internationale de langue française au service du développement africain (UILFDA). It is a private, french-speaking university based in Alexandria, Egypt. It was established by the government of Egypt through an agreement with the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and first opened in 1990.

>> Learn more



The Francophone institute for sustainable development, l’institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD) is a subsidiary body of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). IFDD works to facilitate cooperation in the service of ecological transition and sustainable development, in the 88 member states and governments among the French-speaking world.

>> Learn more


Photo by Gregoire Dubois on Flickr: Coral reef in Ras Mohammad National Park, Egypt. While this national park covers land and sea area, it is perhaps most famous for its coral reefs. To learn more about the state of biodiversity in Africa, including Egypt, see the IPBES Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Africa.