IFSA at the University of Havana

  • Location: Havana, Cuba
  • Language of Instruction: Spanish
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Class Eligibility: Juniors and seniors


Set where the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico meet the Caribbean, this nation is just 90 miles southeast of the Florida Keys, yet feels a world away. Although Cuba shares many aspects of its physical beauty with its neighbors—pristine beaches; lush, green mountains; and urban palm trees—its culture, politics and economy are unlike any other. In Cuba, one comes face-to-face with history and learns firsthand how historic events influence the present. At the same time, however, students in Cuba will see daily changes as the country adapts to the new century and prepares for the future.  Culturally, Cuba offers a rich setting for an international student. The country is known for the arts, including the Afro-Cuban beats that dominate Cuba’s omnipresent and inspiring array of music, or the world-class movie industry.

Universidad de La Habana (UH) is Cuba’s oldest 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.

Students on this program should be flexible and patient, as university affairs in Cuba will be quite unlike those in the U.S.

  • Visa:


       Additional Visa Information
  • Fees: Students pay Haverford tuition, room, and partial board to Haverford College. Haverford will then be responsible for submitting payments to the program.

  • Requirements

    Since students are expected to have attained a usable level of language proficiency, one course beyond intermediate Spanish or its equivalent of five semesters of Spanish is required.  Haverford recommends that students have at least one course at the 200-level in Spanish.  Students should successfully complete a Spanish course the semester before studying abroad.  Native Spanish speakers or other students who have not taken university-level Spanish must take a Spanish placement exam. The application requirements can be found on the IFSA-Butler website.

    Academic Credit

    Students are required to take an IFSA core course (4 credits) on Cuban culture, sociology, architecture, and the evolution of the city, taught by two local professors.  The course will involve several trips around the city to visit local architecture, streets, etc.  During the second day of classes, students take a language placement exam.  Based on the results of the language exam, they can choose to enroll in an IFSA language course as one of their 4 courses.  At that point, students will also have individual advising about choosing their other courses during the 2-week shopping period.  Students also take 2-3 Spanish-taught elective courses at the Universidad de la Habana, for a total of 15-16 credit hours each semester.  This is the equivalent of four Haverford credits.  Major, minor, and concentration transfer credit will only be granted for courses in which students received a grade of a C or above.


    Students have access to all of the University of Havana courses.  Most study abroad students  study Humanities or Social Sciences, but they can also study gender studies, economics, or the sciences.  Students attempting science classes should know that a higher level of Spanish is required.  The classes are mostly lecture-style and range from 15-35 students in a class.

    Course Highlights

    Spanish, Political Science, Latin American Literature, Sociology, History, Science, Gender Studies, Film, Economics

    Note: Changes occur frequently. Students are responsible for finding the classes they need and consulting the official site of the institution.

    Review the Full Academic Requirements for Studying Abroad

  • Non-Academic Overview

    Orientation: Orientation begins a day or so before the mandatory group flight from Miami or Tampa to Cuba. All students are required to be present at the pre-departure orientation, enter Havana as a group on the mandatory group flight, and continue with the orientation in Cuba. The eight-day on-site orientation includes transportation, accommodation, activities, and some meals. The orientation includes an introduction to Cuban Spanish and culture, a discussion of academic differences and expectations, and IFSA-Butler staff-led sessions on academics, living in Cuba, and integrating into the host university.

    Number of Students: 5-15

    Housing/Meal Plans

    Students live with other IFSA-Butler students in a home-style private residence that is similar to a large student apartment, nine blocks from the university campus.  Most rooms are doubles, with some triples available.  This includes two meals per day, typically breakfast and dinner.

    There is one computer with internet access in the house, which the ~30 students share, typically in 2-hours/week prearranged time slots.  Please note that if you take your laptop, you will not have internet access.  There is no WiFi available in Cuba.

    Opportunities / Cultural Events

    A Cuban dance instructor teaches dance classes at the residence hall each week; the price is included in the program.

    During the semester, there will be 2-3 excursions to different cities around Cuba, including Santiago.


Please note that the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Cuba and as such, there is no U.S. consulate or embassy in Cuba.  Students who are applying to Cuba must have both parents sign the Parent Waiver on the Travel Resources website.  We also strongly suggest that parents of students studying abroad, especially in Cuba, also have valid passports.

The only current flight between the US and Cuba is through Miami.  Students arrive in Miami the last week of August/last week of January and then are required to travel together on a group flight from Miami to Cuba.  The program director will pick them up at the airport and they will have a week-long orientation in Cuba.

View Scholarship Information

Apply to Study Abroad!

  • Semester
  • Semester I: August to December
  • Semester II: January to May
  • Year: August to May
Application Deadlines
  • Semester I: March 1
  • Semester II: September 21
  • Year: March 1
Faculty Contact

Roberto Castillo Sandoval