Merida, Mexico

IFSA Mérida Universities Program

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Program Overview


With 300 days of sunshine a year, a reputation as one Latin America’s safest environments, and two outstanding universities, Mérida has plenty of allure. Dig into rich layers of Mayan culture. Take advantage of opportunities to build language skills as you study and socialize with peers at Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán and Universidad Modelo. And round it all out with unique excursions and a homestay to enhance local connection 

This is an exclusive IFSA-Designed Program. Learn more about these affordable programs here.

Details at a Glance

Application deadline

Fall: June 9-Extended
Spring: Nov. 1

Minimum GPA


Credit load



Single Room Option, Homestay

Instruction language


Language prerequisites

4 semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent. Learn More.

Visa required?

Not in most cases. Learn More.

Apply Now


Our IFSA Mérida Universities Program offers semester programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) and Universidad Modelo in stunning Mérida, Mexico, allowing you to study alongside local students and experience two types of Mexican higher education institutions.

Choose from several classes designed exclusively for IFSA participants. All IFSA classes are taught in Spanish and are worth 3 U.S. semester credits hours. Classes may vary by term based on faculty availability and student interest.

Advanced Spanish I or Advanced Spanish II
Language of Instruction: Spanish
While in Mérida, you can opt to continue your Spanish language study. A mandatory pre-arrival language assessment will determine your appropriate language level. Based on your score, IFSA may require you to take a Spanish language class to support your academic success in Spanish-taught direct-enroll classes. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)

Exploring Yucatán: Community and Culture
Language of Instruction: Spanish
Through intentionally designed field visits and meaningful reflection, this class takes you beyond tourism into rich intercultural dialogue and active engagement with your host community. While navigating daily life in the Yucatán, you will be challenged to embrace an anthropological perspective as you explore cultural identity and examine diversity in the context of Mexican political, economic, and sociocultural structures. Ultimately, you will develop personal strategies for engaging with differences of any kind following your study abroad experience, making it an ideal course for those seeking transferable skills and competencies for success in the global marketplace. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)

Contemporary Issues in Public Health in the Yucatán
Language of Instruction: Spanish
An increased diversity within our communities has presented healthcare providers with many new challenges when responding effectively to patients’ well-being. This class provides an overview of healthcare in the Yucatán and examines the public and private healthcare systems in Mexico and the use of both mainstream and traditional approaches in urban and rural settings. Through numerous field visits, students will consider local prevailing health issues such as cervical cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and deepen their intercultural agility as they seek to understand how patients’ expectations and understandings of their health differ from their own cultural context. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)

Directed Research
Language of Instruction: Spanish
This class offers a unique opportunity for students to delve deeply into host context research projects. Students will be guided through projects that are both feasible in the study abroad context and relevant to their broader intellectual interests. The class is structured through regular individual meetings with a faculty mentor to discuss the formation and execution of a research plan and, depending on the specific project, the possibility to conduct field- or internet-based research. At the end of the semester, students present a formal research paper.

As an IFSA student you complete your course load with integrated classes at the UADY and/or Modelo, maximizing your immersion into local student life. Your IFSA Enrollment Counselor can help you find the courses you need, but you may explore courses through the links below.

While searching for classes fitting your interests and academic needs, you may find some host institution classes delivered in English as well as in Spanish. Classes taught in English are open to you as an IFSA student provided you meet the stated prerequisites. However, prior to arrival you should discuss with your home institution’s study abroad advisor any academic requirements related to study abroad in a non-English speaking location.

CHART Your Course
Find the classes you need fast with CHART. Our easy-to-use tool shows you classes recently taken by IFSA students.

Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY)

  1. Look for a link to licenciaturas (majors) on the homepage of that department
  2. After clicking on licenciaturas, look for a link to “plan de estudio,” “asignaturas,” “mapa curricular” or “temarios.” These are the lists of classes offered in that particular major. In some licenciaturas, you can click on the course title to see a course description or syllabus. This is not available for all departments.

Universidad Modelo
On the general Universidad Modelo website you can find coursework related to:

  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Health Sciences
  • Law (including political science)
  • Humanities

We know finding courses you need is important in your decision to study abroad. If you are looking for a particular course, please contact your IFSA Enrollment Counselor for more information.

Featured Health Classes
Direct-enroll classes in public health and the health sciences have been popular with previous IFSA students. The following examples are a selection of what you can find in CHART across both institutions.

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Food Microbiology
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Nutrition Epidemiology
  • Pediatric Physiotherapy
  • Physical Preparation
  • Public Health and Nutrition
  • Quality and Safety in Patient Care
  • Sports Rehabilitation

Lab & Field Trip Fees
Please review syllabi and course materials when registering for direct-enroll classes. Certain classes may have a one-off lab or field trip fee disclosed in the syllabus or during the first meeting of the class. These fees are not included in your IFSA program fee. You will be responsible for these fees, whether they are billed and paid by IFSA or billed to you.

Can I take my classes in Spanish?
To enroll in our Spanish-taught classes at this program, you must have a specific language level. Please visit our Language Requirements page for more details. If you have questions about whether you qualify, contact your IFSA Enrollment Counselor.

Class Restrictions
UADY limits the number of visiting international students who can enroll in each class. For this reason, it’s important that you identify multiple classes that align with your academic interests and needs and discussed these options with your home campus study abroad and academic advisors prior to your arrival on-site.

The only UADY licenciaturas in which students are not allowed to take classes are: médico cirujano (Spring only) and químico farmaceútico biológico.

Students are only able to take one class in the Facultad de Medicina at UADY, which includes the licenciaturas of médico cirujano (Fall only), rehabilitación, and nutrición. This course must be related to any subject in life sciences. Additionally, students must express interest in specific courses before departure and will likely need to provide a resume in Spanish and short letter of interest. IFSA Enrollment Counselor will contact applicants about the deadline and requirements each semester.

While students can technically enroll in biology, veterinary medicine, and zoology, the UADY science campus is located two hours outside of Mérida, so it may not be practical to consider taking classes there.

Directed Research
Engage in individualized field research with faculty experts on a contemporary issue of interest. Regular meetings with faculty will assist in the formation and execution of research plans, and they will guide you on how to thoughtfully and critically integrate academic research with experiential learning. You will sharpen your written and oral communication skills through the development of articulate and comprehensive research that is respectful to the sensitivities of the local culture.

If you chose to research live human subjects, live animals or another topic that is deemed by IFSA to be required to be reviewed by the Institutional Research Board (IRB) at your home institution, then you will have to file your project with your home institution’s IRB board and submit your result to IFSA. Your IFSA Enrollment Counselor will review your application materials to help determine if you must file with IRB.

For more detailed information and examples of previous student placements, contact your IFSA Enrollment Counselor.

Volunteering while studying abroad in Mérida is an enriching experience, both personally and academically. Students report that even volunteering a few hours per week enhanced their study abroad experience by providing them with access to the local culture and a deeper understanding of problems that face Mérida’s inhabitants on a daily basis. Several volunteering opportunities exist in Mérida. Placements are made after you arrive onsite and are contingent upon a personal interview, your language level and available time commitment. IFSA has prepared a list of places where you, as a visiting student, can volunteer to do social service. While this is purely optional, a commitment on your part is needed in order to arrange a placement. Upon completion of your period of volunteerism, you will be issued a certificate indicating the number of hours you dedicated and the type of work you completed. Volunteering does not earn academic credit and will not appear on your Butler University transcript. Examples of places where students can be placed:

  • Centro de Cultura del Niño Yucateco (CECUNY): Government agency that provides creative programming and workshops in dance, art, literature, chess, choir and music for children between the ages of four and 12.
  • Colegio Americano: Private school with kindergarten through high school grades and an excellent English program.
  • Unidad de Atención Sicológica, Sexológica y Educativa para el Crecimiento Personal (UNASSE): Human rights organization founded in 1987 with the goal of providing free support for a variety of legal and public health issues, including sexual abuse, violations of workers’ rights, prevention and/or treatment of cancer and HIV/AIDS.
  • Vida Familia A.C. (VIFAC): A not-for-profit organization that provides workshops for pregnant women which aim to teach them the skills they need to be self sufficient and provide a better quality of life for their children.



  • You must be at least 18 years of age. Students under 18 may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
  • You must be currently attending or recently graduated from a U.S. or Canadian community college, technical college, two-year college, four-year college, or four-year university.
  • You must have completed at least one (1) full-time semester of study at your home institution before the beginning of the term.

Recommendation Letter
Not required. A directed research site may request a reference letter before placement is finalized.

Language Requirement
Four (4) semesters of college-level Spanish or an Intermediate II level proficiency is required.


Upon completion of your program, IFSA will send an official Butler University transcript to your home university with your coursework converted to the U.S. semester credit hour system. You will also have access to an unofficial transcript in your IFSA Student Portal. The transcript reflects classes taken, credits attempted, and grades earned during your term abroad. This service is included in your study abroad program at no additional cost. See our Transcripts page for more information.


Activities and excursions are designed to pull you into the communities you visit and encourage cultural connections of every kind. There’s no extra fee to participate in these optional outings—everything is included in your program fee.

Below are examples from previous terms; outings may be different for your program. We’ll make every effort to run them all, but sometimes things we can’t control, such as local regulations and health protocols, get in the way. As result, we cannot guarantee activities and excursions.


  • City-as-Text Activity: Get to know Mérida’s beautiful downtown and extensive development to the north. Along the way, learn about the expat community and gentrification and their socioeconomic impact on the city. Includes Mérida bus tour.
  • Mayan World Museum and Biciruta (Mérida en Domingo) Tour: This visit is designed to set you up with the cultural and historic context you need to fully appreciate excursions to Chichén Itzá and Uxmal.


  • Chichén Itzá & Yaxunah Visit: Just two hours from Mérida is Chichén Itzá, one of the world’s seven wonders and one of the most visited places in all Mexico. The trip also includes visiting Yaxunah, a Mayan community of approximately 150 families. The economy of this community is based on the agricultural system known as milpa, it also has a community cultural center and various projects focused on sustainability. This community works regularly with groups of students and is a great opportunity to share and learn.
  • Uxmal and Campeche Trip: This fascinating archaeological site and its Puuc style of architecture showcase the pinnacle of Mayan population design and art, with lessons that still inform modern Mérida. You won’t soon forget the impressive Pyramid of the Magician, constructed more than 1,000 years ago. This trip includes a visit to the state of Campeche, with its beautiful historic center and impressive walls built to protect the Caribbean port against attacks from the sea.
  • Río Lagartos Trip:  The Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is a protected natural area on the Yucatán coast. It is located at the intersection of where the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea converge. On this tour enjoy the beautiful beaches of the region, take a clay bath, and appreciate the flora and fauna of the mangroves.

Housing and Meals


Single Room Option, Homestay


All Included


In Mérida, students live with local families in what’s known as a homestay. Homestays make it easy to immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture. They also provide many opportunities to build your Spanish language skills, if that’s part of your plan.   

Homestays: Who’s at home?  

We place students with carefully screened families, many of whom have been hosting IFSA students for nearly 20 years. Many have grown children who have left home and enjoy having young people around. Families host up to two IFSA students at a time.  

You might live with a retired couple and their beloved terrier, with frequent visits from their young grandchildren. Your hosts might have high school-age children and a grandparent living with them. Or you might join a single mom who shares her home with her adult daughter and grandson, with another adult child living nearby.  

  • Location. Host families live throughout the city. You might live close to downtown within easy walking distance from the IFSA Program Center—or 30 to 45 minutes away via public transportation (that’s just 10 minutes away via Uber).  
  • Living space. Each student has their own bedroom. Bathrooms are sometimes private but could be shared with other family members. Your hosts provide a desk or other suitable place to study.  
  • Meals. Three meals a day included. Your homestay family understands that you also need time out to be with friends and explore—they’ll appreciate a heads-up when you plan to eat out. Students buy their own snacks.   
  • Language. Few families are fluent in English, but most can communicate. We do our best to place students without Spanish skills with English-speaking families. 
  • Other details. Internet included. Air conditioning is limited to eight hours at night, so expect to adjust to heat and humidity in this tropical environment. Homes have laundry machines and hosts do your laundry once a week. (Machine capacity may be smaller than you are used to in the U.S.)   
  • Nearby. Cafes, restaurants, malls, and public transportation. 

Dates and Fees

Term begins
Term ends
Program costs
Application deadline
Fall 2024
August 8, 2024
December 7, 2024
June 9, 2024-Extended
Spring 2025
Early Jan. 2025
Late May 2025
$15,975 (estimated)
Nov. 1, 2024

Get Started

Selena Rincon

Selena Rincon

Enrollment Counselor