Study Abroad

IFSA-Butler: Merida Universities

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


COVID-19 Protocols and Travel Warnings

You can read about this program’s COVID-19 safety protocols at this link, and read the CDC Travel Warning and U.S. State Department Travel Advisory at the respective links. For more information about Haverford College Study Abroad and the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, read the Study Abroad homepage here.

IFSA Virtual Information Sessions

Mérida is the capital and largest city of Yucatán. With both colonial and Mayan influences, the city is considered a cosmopolitan center of culture in southern Mexico.  The Mayan ruins and architecture contrast with the colonial houses to reveal the city’s long history. The atmosphere of the city is very relaxed and student-friendly and has been described as a “quiet paradise.” Despite its name, this “quiet paradise” is still known for its (free) lively evening concerts and thriving nightlife. In this program you will enroll in courses at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán and/or the Universidad Modelo.

  • Visa:

    Required upon arrival.

    Non-U.S. Citizens may have to meet additional requirements to study abroad in Mexico depending on their country of citizenship. Non-US citizens should consult with IFSA and the Office of International Student Support before applying to the program.

    Study Abroad & Applying for OPT Policy 

  • Fees: Students pay Haverford directly to Haverford. Haverford will then be responsible for submitting tuition payment to IFSA. Students pay all room and board costs directly to IFSA.

Students must have completed 4 semesters of college-level Spanish (through Intermediate Spanish II – or the equivalent).  It is strongly encouraged that students be enrolled in a Spanish course the semester before they are planning to study abroad.

Students are expected to have the ability to participate in a Spanish language classroom.

Direct Enrollment

IFSA offers the following 3 courses at the IFSA center that are specially designed for study abroad students: Advanced Spanish and Culture, Exploring Yucatan: Community and Culture, and Directed Research.

Students will directly enroll at two universities IFSA has a partnership with (students can choose to enroll in only one university). This allows students the opportunity to study alongside local students and experience two types of Mexican higher education institutions.

Universidad Modelo
The Universidad Modelo is a private university that provides students with the opportunity to take courses in a variety of different areas of study. The university is small and has a single campus with excellent academic facilities.

Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY)
In contrast with Universidad Modelo, UADY is a larger school with multiple campuses. It is one of the top universities in Mexico, and has especially well renowned for its programs in archaeology and anthropology. This is largely due to the proximity of some of Mexico’s most fascinating archaeological sites. Social sciences, humanities, education, and business are also offered at this university.     

Academic Credit

Students are required to take 15-16 credit hours each semester. Of those credits, all students must take a 3 credit language/culture course called “Exploring Yucatán: Community and Culture” as well as a 3 credit advanced Spanish course. The rest of the coursework will be completed at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán and/or the Universidad Modelo. Major, minor, and concentration transfer credit will only be granted for courses in which students received a grade of a C or above.


Students in Mérida are required to enroll in IFSA-Butler’s “Exploring Yucatán: Community and Culture” course and an advanced Spanish course (placement level determined by an oral and written exam after arrival). Additionally, student will enroll in 3-4 Spanish-taught elective courses at the partner universities for a total of 15-16 semester credit hours.  Students also have the option to do field research in a topic of their interest for course credit.

Courses will be instructed in Spanish. Applicants should be able to understand lectures, take notes, and write in Spanish.  The program seeks not only Spanish language majors but encourages applicants from the liberal arts as well. IFSA-Butler offers tutoring and academic advising.

The “Exploring Yucatán: Community and Culture” course is designed to help students to get the most out of their study abroad experience in Mexico. It guides them through thoughtful and meaningful reflections, analysis and discussions on contemporary Mexico by addressing key topics such as interculturality and community.

When taking courses at UADY, most IFSA-Butler students take classes at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Students are permitted to take courses in natural sciences at UADY, but the science department campus is 2 hours outside of Mérida, so this is not always practical for students. Students can enroll in any undergraduate semester course that they are qualified for, as long as there is space. The only majors that students cannot enroll in at UADY are the following: medical surgery, law, nursing and biological pharmaceutical chemistry.

Universidad Modelo has very strong programs in business, law, health sciences, design, engineering, humanities, and architecture.

Course Highlights

Accounting, Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture, Economics, Engineering, Fashion Design, Health Sciences, History, Humanities, Information Technology Administration, International Business, Latin American Literature, Law, Marketing, Medicine, Nutrition, Psychology, Public Health, Rehabilitation, Research, Social Communication, Social Work, Spanish, Studio Art, Tourism, Visual Arts

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


IFSA-Butler provides airport pick-up for students who took the suggested flights. Students will receive a welcome meal upon arrival. The orientation also includes an introduction to Mexican culture, a discussion of academic differences and expectations, and IFSA-Butler staff-led sessions on academics, living in Mexico, integrating into the host university, living with a host family, and more.

Number of Students

The Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán has about 30,000 students and the Universidad Modelo has about 1,500.

Housing/Meal Plans

Homestay only. Students are placed with a host family. Only one student is placed with each host family to maximize cultural and language immersion. Conversations students have with their Mexican family will present them with an excellent opportunity to learn about the culture.  Students enjoy home-cooked meals in traditional Mexican style with their host families. The program includes three meals per day.


IFSA Virtual Information Sessions

Additional Resources

View Scholarship Information

Apply to Study Abroad!

  • PDF
  • Program List


  • Semester
  • Direct Enrollment


  • Semester I: Early August to Early December
  • Semester II: Early January to late May

Application Deadlines

  • Semester I: March 15
  • Semester II: October 1

Faculty Contact