London-based Allies and Morrison joins international big hitters Massimiliano Fuksas, Rafael Viñoly and Rem Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture among the final six vying to build the facility in Abuja, Nigeria.
The other finalists in the RIBA-organised contest are Dutch practice SeARCH and Saucier + Perrotte Architectes from Canada.
The US$350 million (£198 million) development will be the first in a series of centres of excellence proposed by the AIST for sub-Saharan Africa, aimed at encouraging students to stay on the continent.
Backed by the Nelson Mandela Institution for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa (NMI), the new campus is intended to become a magnet for the continent's best scholars.
A delighted Karl Voltaire, the chief executive of the NMI, said: 'To have had submissions from around the globe and to then be able to develop a shortlist of world class architects is wonderful for the AIST initiative.
'The shortlist we have is consistent with our focus on excellence and I expect we will receive some superb, creative design concepts early in the new year.'
Picked from more than 30 entries, each of the shortlisted teams will receive an honorarium of US$20,000 (£11,000).