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Cuba Study Abroad at Universidad de La Habana

Study Abroad at Universidad de La Habana

  • Location: Havana
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 (4.0 scale)
  • Spanish requirement: 5 semesters of university level or equivalent
  • Application deadlines: October 15 for spring semester (Jan-May)
    April 1 for fall semester (Aug-Dec)
  • Program advisor: Jennifer McKibben
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Program Snapshot

Universidad de La Habana (UH) is Cuba's oldest and most prestigious university. UH offers study in 15 faculties, and its academic excellence attracts students from throughout Latin America and around the world. Located next to the heart of Havana's historic district, UH offers a unique study abroad opportunity for the adventurous and flexible student.

What the Universidad de La Habana has to offer

  • Students direct enroll in classes at the prestigious Universidad de La Habana
  • Electives integrated with Cuban students available in a wide variety of disciplines
  • A core course developed exclusively for IFSA-Butler students focuses on Cuban culture and patrimony
  • IFSA-Butler's full time resident director provides on-site support and assistance
  • Early application is recommended, as enrollment is limited


  • Students take four or five courses taught in Spanish
  • An advanced Spanish course (highly recommended) is also available
  • Academic advising and tutoring available throughout the semester at no additional cost


  • Housing is guaranteed in a home-style atmosphere
  • Most rooms are doubles, with some triples available
  • The program fee includes two meals per day


Academic Structure

What is the academic structure of the Universidad de La Habana program?
IFSA-Butler offers a semester study abroad program at the Universidad de La Habana (UH) in Havana, Cuba. The program allows you to enroll directly in UH and study alongside local students, while also taking a program course developed exclusively for IFSA-Butler students.

The academic structure of this program consists of the following courses:

  • Cuba: Culture, Community and Arts (required)
  • Advanced Spanish (highly recommended)
  • Three or four electives at UH: Courses are integrated with Cuban students, and a wide variety of subjects are available

Do I have to take a Spanish course if I'm already fluent in Spanish?
Students with a high level of Spanish may choose not to take the advanced Spanish course, although it is highly recommended. There are various levels of advanced Spanish available, including classes for native Spanish speakers.

Program Courses

Cuba: Culture, Art, and Society - This mandatory program course, from an anthropological perspective, looks at a panorama of Cuban culture and heritage to help students better understand their host communities. It looks at aboriginal Cuban cultures, 18th and 19th century events, and the growth of cultural and scientific societies. It also explores Cuban linguistics, as well as museums showcasing art, ethnology, ethnography and anthropology. It focuses on management of historical and cultural patrimony and tourism, as well as case studies such as the urban centers of Baracoa and Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Cultural values surrounding collections, paintings, recordings, literature, architecture, and film, and well as racial and demographic issues, are explored.

University Info

What is the Universidad de la Habana like?

The Universidad de La Habana is Cuba’s most prestigious academic institution and attracts international students from throughout Latin America and around the world. During your semester in Cuba, you may take courses from a variety of faculties, although your enrollment will depend on course availability, student interest and other factors.

University Courses

What UH courses am I eligible to take?

Students can only choose three or four electives from the Facultad de Filosofía e Historia and the Facultad de Artes y Letras. Syllabi and previous course catalogs may be available on request. Most courses are integrated with Cuban students.

UH subjects available include: Art History, Anthropology, Economics, European History, History, International Business, International Studies/Relations, Film/Cinema Studies, Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Spanish.

Are there any restrictions or additional requirements for courses I may take?

Foreign students are unable to enroll in science courses with labs and any courses in the math and law departments. Students are only able to take a maximum of 16 credit hours.

I need to provide course descriptions and/or syllabi to my home university advisor. Where can I find those?

Course descriptions and syllabi are not currently available online from the Universidad de la Habana. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can assist you in obtaining syllabi from certain departments. Please contact your IFSA-Butler program advisor regarding the academic departments and types of courses that may be of interest to you.

How are UH courses different than courses at my home university?

The system of higher education in Cuba is more specialized than the U.S. liberal arts curriculum, which means that Cuban students enter university with some background in the subjects they wish to study. Therefore, local students take most of, if not all, their courses in one faculty and receive a degree in one field. In the U.S. system, students take a little of everything and don’t specialize until a couple of years into their studies.

Additionally, you might notice that your Cuban classmates know each other very well. This is because students enroll in carreras rather than majors. Carreras are similar to majors in the United States but with a more structured program of study and fewer electives. Students from the same carrera enroll in the same courses together during their entire undergraduate career.


How will I register for courses?
UH course registration will not take place until you are in Havana. You, along with the help of the IFSA-Butler staff, will plan your course schedule during orientation. Before leaving for Havana, it is a good idea to start thinking about the courses you want to take while you are abroad. Be sure to discuss the courses you may want to take with your U.S. university academic advisor.

While we are sure that your time abroad will be rewarding, you must be aware of some of the challenges inherent in dealing with the Cuban educational system. Our resident director will not only discuss these at orientation, but will also be available to help you with any problems that may arise during the semester.

What if I need to take a required course?
Because of UH's schedule, it is difficult to confirm course availability before you depart. However, speak with your IFSA-Butler program advisor about the course you need to take, and we will work with you to try to find a course that meets your needs. Keep in mind that if you need a specific course to fulfill your home institution's requirements, we may not be able to confirm the availability of that course or enroll you in it even if it is available. Both academic flexibility and patience are requirements for studying in Latin America.

What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full university course load as determined by IFSA-Butler, which is 16 U.S. semester credit hours per semester. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load.

All courses are graded on an A-F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses unless pass/fail is the only method of assessment for the course. Students are not allowed to register for on-line, distance education or hybrid courses. See the "Academics" and "Program Fees and Financial Aid" sections in Preparing to Study Abroad for more information.


What do I need to know about exams?
Due to the difference in academic systems, your exam schedule will not be available until after you register for courses at UH. Be sure to confirm exam dates with your professor at the beginning of the semester. You are not permitted to reschedule exams, request alternate assessment or arrange to have your exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler will not be able to assist you in conducting an academic record appeal on the class in which you made this arrangement. Additionally, all academic obligations, including final exams, must be complete before leaving Cuba.


How will my home university know what my classes were and what grades I received?
After you return to the U.S., IFSA-Butler will send a Butler University transcript to your home university. The transcript reflects the courses taken, credits attempted and grades earned at the Universidad de La Habana during your study abroad semester. We will also send an official transcript to your permanent home address.

Academic Tutors

Tutoring and academic advising are available at no additional cost. More information about these services will be available during the IFSA-Butler orientation.

Areas of Study

On the Cuba program, you are able to take university courses in a wide range of subject areas. Following is a sample list of courses that previous IFSA-Butler students have taken in Havana during past semesters. Please keep in mind this is not a complete list. There are many of courses in Havana from which you can choose. To inquire about specific courses, please contact your IFSA-Butler program advisor.

Popular courses:

  • Cuban Literature
  • History Of Cuba
  • Latin American and Caribbean History
  • Cuba Cinema
  • Cuba-USA Migration
  • Ethics
  • Marxist-Leninist Philosophy
  • Sociology of Gender
  • Agrarian Sociology


Housing Placements

Housing for this program is guaranteed. Students are placed in Casa Paticulares, which are private accommodations with a Cuban family. The concept of a casa particular is similar to a bed and breakfast or room rental. This is common in Cuba, in which private family establishments provide paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis. Rooms are shared doubles with air conditioning, shared bathroom and access to a refrigerator and safety box. Housing is within walking distance from the university.


The housing includes two meals per day, typically breakfast and dinner. Students may purchase an affordable lunch near the university, or prepare a lunch to take from home.

Housing FAQs

Is housing included in the program fee?
Yes. Your program fee includes accommodation while classes are in session and during short university breaks.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
You will most likely receive your housing assignment one to two weeks before your departure. However, you may not receive your housing assignment until you arrive in Havana. Your program advisor will notify you of your housing assignment via email when it is ready.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Do I have to pay a housing deposit?
The Universidad de La Habana program does not require a housing deposit.

Should I bring my own sheets and towels?
No. All linens for your housing are provided.

Can I arrange my own housing?
All students who participate on the Universidad de La Habana program must live in their assigned housing for the duration of the program.

Location Info

Living and Studying in Havana
Population:2 million
Location: Northeast Cuba, along the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean

City features

  • Welcoming people and a culture unique to Latin America
  • Beautifully restored colonial architecture and history at every turn
  • An ocean view that provides a constantly changing backdrop to the city
  • Great selection of student-friendly nightclubs

Do more!

  • VGo just west of Havana to the Sierra del Rosario, Cuba's first Unesco Biosphere Reserve
  • Visit the Museo Municipal de Guanabacoa, just outside Havana, famous for its rooms on Afro-Cuban culture and Santeria
  • Go to Trinidad for a glimpse into Cuban colonial life

Granma International
Lonely Planet Cuba
Rough Guides Cuba
Time Out Havana

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

Program housing is available only until the date listed as “Program ends” on the calendar.

Exams must be taken where and when scheduled. Under no circumstances may students request that an exam time be changed. In Cuba exams are taken under formal examination conditions, and changes cannot be made for individuals. 

Program Fees

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 Fall Payment Due: July 1

Spring Payment Due: November 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for the entire program fee, which includes tuition, services, housing and some meals.

The housing component of our program fee includes housing while classes are in session and two meals per day.

What's included in our Cuba program fees
Expense calculator

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students’ experiences at the current exchange rate. They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs.

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

Meals: The Cuba program fee includes two meals per day.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

Commuting: Estimates are for transportation between housing and university. Transportation for personal or recreational purposes is not included in the above estimates.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in Cuba:

jenniferProgram Advisor Jennifer McKibben assists with the application process and is here to answer program, cultural and academic questions before departure. Jennifer studied abroad in Costa Rica for a year through an IFSA-Butler program. After completing her undergraduate degree in Spanish at Butler University, she moved to Costa Rica for three years to immerse herself in the culture and pursue a master’s degree in Spanish-English Translation at Universidad Nacional. She is very passionate about helping students have impactful, enriching experiences abroad. Jennifer currently advises students planning to study abroad in Latin America. She can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4264.

beckiStudent Accounts Coordinator Becki Niccum assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Becki can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-3077.


Student & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (one who has studied abroad too), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229 ext. 4252.


Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our on-site office, including our resident director, Michelle Ranieri.

rhondaUpon return from your study abroad program, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs Rhonda Hinkle processes your Butler University transcript and assists with any academic record appeals. Rhonda completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Evansville and received her master's degree from Bowling Green State University. She also has taken doctoral courses at Ball State University. For Rhonda, study abroad not only increased her awareness of the world around her but also ignited her passion for travel and education. Rhonda can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229 ext. 4259.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program. Check out the following:

Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.