Universidad de La Habana Partnership
Step into a world few Americans experience. Learn with Cuban peers at Universidad de La Habana, which draws students from all over the world. Ideal for adventurous, flexible students who want to connect with the Cuban people and to experience the vibrant cultural life and beautiful natural environment of this Caribbean island country.
Details at a Glance
4 semesters of university level or equivalent. Learn More.
IFSA offers a dynamic, immersive semester study abroad program at the Universidad de La Habana (UH) in Havana, Cuba. This unique program allows you to enroll directly in UH and study alongside local students. IFSA encourages you to select classes that do a particularly good job of strengthening your Spanish skills, such as Spanish language, literature, or other writing-intensive classes.
Universidad de La Habana Electives
You’ll choose your course load from UH classes alongside Cuban students. IFSA students may choose four or five electives in the facultades (departments) listed below. Syllabi and previous course catalogs may be available on request from your IFSA Enrollment Counselor. Students may take a maximum of 16 credit hours.
These faculties include:
- Facultad de Artes y Letras
- Facultad de Biología
- Facultad de Comunicación
- Facultad de Contabilidad y Finanzas
- Facultad de Economía
- Facultad de Español para No Hispanohablantes (FENHI)
- Facultad de Farmacia y Alimentos
- Facultad de Filosofía, Historia y Sociología
- Facultad de Física
- Facultad de Geografía
- Instituto Superior de Tecnologías y Ciencias Aplicadas
- Instituto Superior de Diseño
- Facultad de Lenguas Extranjeras
- Facultad de Matemática y Computación
- Facultad de Psicología
- Facultad de Turismo
- History of Cuba
- Rural Cultures of Cuba
- Cuban Cinema
- Afro-Caribbean Studies
- Marxist-Leninist Philosphy
- Sociology of Health
- General Linguistics
- Dialectology and Sociolinguistics
- Cuban Literature
- Urban Sociology
CHART Your Course
Find the classes you need fast with CHART. Our easy-to-use tool shows you classes recently taken by IFSA students
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.
Students have the opportunity to participate in part-time, non-credit bearing volunteering opportunities in Havana. The placement process begins with indicating on your IFSA application that you would like to volunteer while in Cuba. The local IFSA office then works with your availability outside of classes and your interests, to help find an appropriate option for you.
IFSA does make every effort to connect students to companies or organizations that match the organization’s needs with a student’s skillset, experience, and goals, including but not limited to the student’s Spanish language level and communication skills. Below are examples of what students have done in the past and what you might be able to do during your time abroad:
- Become an English language tutor for Cuban university students or working professionals hoping to fine tune their English skills.
- Play an active role in environmental clean up initiatives, including helping advertise the events, educating the public on importance of keeping areas clean, and day of activities.
- 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.
Your application to this program will require one (1) academic letter of recommendation.
Four (4) semesters of college-level Spanish or an Intermediate II level proficiency is required.
This program requires a visa for all students.
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: This activity will focus on gaining an initial understanding of social, economic, and cultural aspects of Havana through a guided walking tour of the Vedado district near the Universidad de La Habana. The tours will focus on aspects such as transportation, housing, landmarks, tourism, the university, the cultural importance of the Vedado district including theaters and other arts venues, and food.
- The African Presence in Cubanía: Exploring the African presence in Cuban culture will include visits to sites such as: Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba (temple and museum), Callejón de Hammel (community art space), La Casa de África (museum), Sanctuary of San Lázaro in El Rincón, and Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla. In addition, there will be visits and discussions with young Cubans who promote Afro-Cuban culture through small businesses such as Beyond Roots, Zulu, and Que Negra. Finally, experience a Rumba show at the El Gran Palenque in Vedado, home to the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional.
- Food Self-Sufficiency and Sustainable Agriculture: During this trip you’ll explore Finca Marta. Part of the national project for food self-sufficiency and sustainable agriculture, it is overseen by agronomist Dr. Fernando Funes and part of a local farm cooperative.
- The Colonial City: Enjoy and learn during a guided walking tour through the four main plazas of the formerly walled section of Habana Vieja, a UNESCO heritage site. Featuring an architecture specialist from the City Historian’s Office or a restoration specialist from the Colegio Universitario San Gerónimo de La Habana, the tour will focus on architecture and patrimony and included a visit to the Capitolio building and the Museum of the Revolution.
- Las Terrazas Visit: This mountain community, about hour west of Havana, was the first intentional community built post-1959 to reforest the countryside and bring services to the rural poor. The trip includes a walking tour of the community, a visit to the Rio San Juan, and an optional hike.
- Pandemic and Cuban Public Health: Hear directly from representatives of the public health system during a presentation focused on Cuba’s national strategy for handling the pandemic and locally developed vaccines. Then visit the office of a neighborhood primary care doctor and polyclinic to see public health in action.
- Matanzas Trip: Visit the Castillo de San Severino, a colonial fortress restored to house the Museo de la Ruta del Esclavo, and discuss the role of slavery in Cuba’s sugar industry. The trip will continue with a visit to the Afro-Atenas community project that promotes Afro-Cuban popular traditions, LGBTQ+ rights, and local development in the city of Matanzas.
- Viñales Trip: During this visit to the tobacco-growing valley of Viñales, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Sierra de los Organos mountains and a “living landscape,” you will learn about traditional agriculture and the impact of tourism. The trip will also include a hike or a visit to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, part of Cuba’s largest cave system.
Housing and Meals
HousingSingle Room (May Incur Added Costs), Homestay
In Cuba, students live in Habana with families in what’s called a homestay. Homestays are a fabulous way to soak up as much culture as you can and provide plenty of opportunity to make language gains. Many students keep in touch with their hosts after they return home.
Homestays: Who’s at home?
We place students with carefully screened families in safe neighborhoods. Most hosts welcome two IFSA students, though students can request individual placements. Many families have been hosting IFSA students for years. Often, they have grown children who have left home, and enjoy having young people around.
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. Students live near the University of Habana in the Vedado neighborhood.
- Commute. A 20- to 30-minute walk to the university and the IFSA Program Center, one block from the university.
- Living space. Most hosts live in houses; some have apartments. Expect to have your own bedroom with air conditioning, likely smaller than a typical U.S. space. Students sometimes have their own bathroom. Many share with other family members. Hosts provide a desk or other suitable place to study.
- 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.
- Meals. Two meals a day included. Students occasionally eat out with friends and buy snacks independently. Hosts appreciate a heads up in advance if you plan to eat out.
- Other details. Your host will do your laundry once a week. Keep in mind that washing machines tend to have smaller capacity here than in the U.S.