Semester in Ecuador

Take your education to new heights in the heart of the Andes! Live and learn in Ecuador, a country of stunning contrasts, and study in Spanish with international and local students at a highly ranked private university.

Study Spanish in Ecuador and take classes in Spanish and English at a beautiful university in an incredible city. Immerse yourself in Quiteño culture and improve your Spanish-language skills at a prestigious private university in Quito, the capital of the Incas.

Trust us to help. At CISabroad, all our advisors have studied or lived abroad. From Incan ruins to pulsating salsa clubs, we love all that Ecuador has to offer. So get excited about living in the Andes, and we’ll support you the whole way on your Semester in Ecuador.

We care about the environment. Your round-trip flight to Quito will be offset by the work of CISabroad’s environmental partnerships around the world. Plus, you’ll have opportunities to give back to the local community while you study abroad in Ecuador.

Come live 9,000 feet above sea level in this high-altitude haven for all things fun: markets, mountains, and culture in the city, and beaches, jungles, and crater lakes all nearby. While you study abroad in Ecuador you will study at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, a top-notch university, and improve your Spanish through both language and elective courses taught in Spanish. You will experience:

Study Spanish in Ecuador  The University’s broad range of courses mirrors Ecuador’s inspiring ethnic and natural diversity, from anthropology to cultural studies to volcanology. 

Lush US-style campus – Universidad San Francisco de Quito’s beautiful campus has all the luxuries typical of home: a world-class library, wireless access, classrooms, restaurants, and sports fields.

Amazing sites in Ecuador – This geographically small country is packed with adventure activities and opportunities for cultural exploration, and it boasts amazing biodiversity from the Amazonian jungle to nearby Galapagos Islands.

Life with local and international students – The University is known for its regional diversity within Ecuador, so you can meet fellow international students from the Ecuadorean mountains, coastal areas, and cities, as well as from Europe, Asia, and the United States.

A fascinating, historic city – Quito’s entire downtown, with its fascinating blend of old and new, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it’s hard to go wrong when exploring when you study abroad in Ecuador!

If you've ever wanted to study abroad in Ecuador then check out our Semester in Ecuador program! Here are a few of the key highlights that make this program unique.

  • Visit volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls, rain forest, mountain villages, market towns, and more!
  • Enjoy a 4-day Amazon trip to the Tiputinin Biodiversity Station (optional)
  • Centrally located for excursions to the Amazonian jungle, the Mindo Cloudforest, the coast’s surf scene, and the legendary Galapagos Islands
  • Study Spanish abroad in Ecuador
  • International and local students
  • Fantastic private university in Quito
  • Live with a local family
  • Add on a four week Internship Experience at the end of your program
  • Great, inexpensive Andean cuisine
  • Thriving artisan markets throughout the city
  • Community-service options and internships in the local and indigenous communities surrounding the campus
  • Learn some fancy salsa moves in one of the many dance studios and then strut your stuff with impressive salseros on the dance floor
  • Visit nearby ruins to learn about Quito’s importance in the Incan empire

While you’re studying in Ecuador you will have the chance to go on some multi- and single-day excursions to other Ecuadorian locations. We offer a program with no excursions included and a program with many excursions included. If you choose the program you will definitely go on the Tiputini Biodiversity Station excursion and in addition, 2-3 other trips to places around Ecuador. Below is a list of a few options:

Tiputini Biodiversity Station

Ecuador is known for its great biodiversity, so what better place to get to know the traditional Ecuador than at a biodiversity station? While in Ecuador you will take a 4-day trip to Tiputini. Situated in the Amazonian Rainforest between the Tiputini River and Yasuni National Park, Tiputini is largely a research station that also protects rare mammal species from being hunted. Additionally, because of the research emphasis there are no regular tours to the area, so you will have the ability to see an Ecuadorian wildlife habitat away from the hustle-and-bustle of many tourist biodiversity stations!

Mitad del Mundo

In Mitad del Mundo, which literally translates to ‘Middle of the World’, you will find a 30m tall trapezoidal monument meant to mark the spot where the equator passes through Ecuador. While modern calculations have actually found the monument to be approximately 200m off its mark, the monument still serves as a fun representation as well as a fabulous museum of Ecuadorian indigenous culture. Mitad del Mundo is also home to a spectacular planetarium as well as some beautiful displays of Ecuadorian music and art.


One of the largest volcanoes in Ecuador, the hike to the base camp has hikers walking past 4800 meters. Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and on clear days gives a mesmerizing view of the city of Quito. This is a fantastic day excursion for anyone, but people that enjoy the outdoors will really love this trip!

Semester in Ecuador is located at the gorgeous Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Its courses in Spanish as a second language are excellent. Having an intermediate or high level of Spanish is required, so we do recommend that you have at least 2 years of college-level Spanish or the equivalent in practice before coming. An online Spanish placement exam will help you register for courses in the College of Liberal Arts, the Spanish Department, or Instituto de Lenguas Extranjeras. USFQ also boasts strong programs in biology and environmental science, liberal arts, arts and communication, marketing, international relations, business, and hospitality and tourism. Courses include anthropology, cultural studies, Spanish, volcanology, culinary arts, and studio arts. Most courses are taught in Spanish.

GPA Required: 2.5. If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement, do not despair! Use the "Contact An Advisor" button on this page or call us to let us know your situation. We'll do all we can to find the right program for you.

How to choose your courses
Now for the fun part! As part of the application process you will be required to complete the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet found in the CISabroad Application Page. The following instructions will guide you through the steps of choosing your courses.

Course load: 4–5 courses (12–16 US credits)

Course approval: It is best to get 7–8 classes approved before you go abroad. This way you will have plenty of classes to choose from and some flexibility in setting up your schedule. You should also consider filling your elective requirements.

Click here to view the course catalog. Please note not every course is offered every semester and that about 20 of the courses included in this file are taught in English. We have marked those courses to make them easier to view.

Did you know that 70% of all CISabroad students receive scholarships or grants to study or intern abroad? You can get a grant for something as simple as applying early, or a scholarship for blogging. 

For details on all scholarship and grant offerings and to apply, please click here.

From lively indigenous festivals to lovely outdoor cafés in tranquil parks, Quito is a city of wonderful contrasts. Its mixed history of ancient empires and colonialism is visible in the ruins that dot the landscape and the incredible Spanish-style churches and leafy plazas. UNESCO named the entire downtown a World Heritage site and described Quito as having “the best-preserved, least-altered historic center in Latin America.” Surrounding the city are volcanoes and impressive mountains, all easily accessible from downtown Quito for stunning views of the Pinchincha valley.

Quito comprises several distinct neighborhoods. You will love the historic downtown with its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and street vendors selling everything you can possibly imagine. Equally fun is the Mariscal Sucre, the heart of the traveler scene in Quito. It’s rife with international restaurants, travel agencies, and hostels, and has an all-around lively dance scene. In other neighborhoods, you’ll experience an incredible museum that pays tribute to Oswaldo Guayasamin (Quito’s favorite artist), independent cinemas, bohemian enclaves, and tons of places to hear live traditional Andean tunes or pulsating salsa and cumbia. It’s all easily accessible by bus, taxi, or foot.

Ecuador has a wide variety of climates and they changed based on altitude. There truly is a little bit of everything offered in this country with coastal beaches, rainforests and mountain ranges. There is also the exciting ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands to visit, a UNESCO World Heritage site with quite exotic wildlife. With such a wide range of environments to choose from, you will experience countless adventures with new friends during Semester in Ecuador.

Our Semester in Ecuador is located at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Founded in 1988, the university is accredited by the Ecuadorian Council of Evaluation and Accreditation of High Education. Universidad San Francisco de Quito ranks as one of the three-top universities (category A) in the ranking of Ecuadorian universities.

A modern university set in the beautiful northern suburbs of Quito. Founded in 1988, the University employs over half of the PhDs in all of Ecuador. It is well-known in Ecuador and throughout Central and South America for its environmental and biological advances, social justice mission, community-service focus, and hands-on academic studies. The nearly 6,000 undergraduates come from 40-plus countries. Even during the summer, there are over 1,000 students from across the globe, so you’re certain to make an international network of friends. The University has a traditional US-campus feel with lovely green gardens, the largest library in Ecuador, sports fields, eating areas, and local and international students strolling through campus enjoying the sunshine.

When you study in Semester in Ecuador, you'll have your pick of courses to take. Beginning as the first liberal arts institution in the Andean region, it has grown into so much more. With classes from business, communication and design to technical and applied sciences like health, engineering, biological and environmental sciences, you won't only find courses to satisfy your major, you'll get a unique hands-on experience you'll only find in Semester in Ecuador!

As a CISabroad study abroad student, you’ll get outstanding support. We’re with you every step of the way to provide academic advising, personal help, and cultural counseling.  We want to ensure that when you arrive in Ecuador, you hit the ground running.

Your semester will begin with an intensive orientation program that introduces you to life in Ecuador and Quito, as well as to life at your new university. The University offers numerous opportunities to get involved and meet local students on campus. Whether your passion is mountaineering, martial arts, or modern dance, there’s a student club or organized activity for you. And just in case you find your Spanish studies a bit more challenging than anticipated, tutoring is available for all language levels.

When you study abroad, you want the education and the experience. With Semester in Ecuador, get the cultural experience you've always wanted with possible excursions to Tiputini Biodiversity Station, the Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) where the equator passes through Ecuador, and so much more!

Excited about studying abroad but worried about missing the comforts of home? No worries! When you study with Semester in Ecuador you'll stay with a local family, eating breakfast and dinner at home with them and getting to know Quiteño cooking! This safe, comfortable, secure home will help you integrate into a new culture.

On Semester in Ecuador, you’ll really immerse yourself in the culture with a home stay! Students typically say that living with a local family was their favorite part of going abroad. You will be treated as a member of the family, eating breakfast and dinner at home with them and getting to know Quiteño cooking! In addition to the two meals, you will be provided with linens, utilities, and laundry once a week.  This safe, comfortable, secure home will help you integrate into a new culture.

CISabroad’s Site Director in Ecuador:

Diana Balarezo is a trilingual (Spanish, English and French) Ecuadorian that has worked in the tourism industry for many years. She was the Ecuador National Coordinator of a volunteers’ non-profit organization with more than 80 member countries, as well as the US market leader of the biggest tourism company in Ecuador. She lived in the US as a student and, after, as a restaurant manager at a Ski Resort in Idaho, where she learned to snowboard and still misses it. She has traveled extensively around Ecuador, back packed in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala and Mexico; camped in some National Reserves in the US and Canada, and visited Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, among others, knowing she cannot die before diving at the Great Barrier Reef. She’s also an active volunteer of the United Nations World Tourism Organization and earned a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Development and Hospitality and a Master’s degree in Social and Environmental studies. Diane's hobbies include sports such as trail running and mountain biking, as well as watching movies and reading a nice book.

1. What is the cost of program tuition? What is included in the program fees?

The program cost for the Semester in Ecuador program can be found here.

2. When are the program fees due?

Program fees for the Semester in Ecuador program are due on December 1st for Spring term and July 15th for Fall term. CISabroad will email invoices to students approximately one month before the program payment deadline. For example, if your payment deadline is July 15, you should expect your invoice in mid-June. If you are using financial aid, please ensure all financial aid paperwork is returned to our office by the payment deadline. If your financial aid does not cover your entire balance, CISabroad accepts these payment methods.

3. What is due with my application and when is my application due?

There are four easy steps in the Application process.

1. Fill out the online application, which includes your contact information, what program you are applying for, etc.

2. Pay the $200 application deposit in order to secure your space in the program. This amount will be applied toward the final cost.

3. Submit: Academic Reference Form, Course Selection Worksheet, Personal Statement, Applicant Profile, and Scholarship Application (Optional).

4. Mail in your official Transcript to our office.

For detailed instructions, see application instructions. The application deadline for the Semester in Ecuador program is usually in the middle of October for the Spring term and early June for the Fall term. For exact dates, contact an advisor at 1-877-617-9090 or check here.

4. Do I need a passport or visa? When should I apply for my passport/visa?

Yes, you do need a passport to travel to Ecuador. Your passport must be valid for 6 months BEYOND the date you return to the United States. For detailed passport instructions, U.S. citizens should check the State Department's Travel Site. For the Semester in Ecuador program, you DO NEED a visa - instructions and supporting documents will be supplied by your Program Coordinator.

5. Is there a GPA requirement?

Yes. The GPA requirement for the Semester in Ecuador program is 2.5, but sometimes a lower GPA is accepted. Use the "Contact a CISabroad Advisor" button on this page or call us at 1-877-617-9090 to let us know your situation. We'll do all we can to find the right program for you!

6. What are my housing options? 

Students will live with a homestay family in Quito. The families have all been thoroughly vetted and many have been hosting international students for over a decade! Homestays are a great way to get to know the local culture and eat delicious, homemade food.

7. Will other students participate in the program with me? How many?

CISabroad programs are not only a great way to meet local and international students, but also students from around the United States. Program size varies each year - if enrollment size is important to you, contact a CISabroad advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

8. How many credits are offered in the program?

For the Semester in Ecuador program, a student will receive between 12 and 15 credits. For a more detailed breakdown of course options in Ecuador, go here.

9. Can I combine this program with another CISabroad program like intern, summer, or semester abroad?

Yes! A great way to extend your CISabroad experience is participating in another program. Combine semester programs to create a full academic year or if an academic year is just a little too long and a semester is too short, combine a semester and summer session or a semester and January term program. You can also participate in a semester abroad and combine that with a summer intern abroad. To find out more information on the application process for more than one CISabroad program, contact a CISabroad advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

Term: Fall 2017
Arrival August 12
CISabroad Orientation August 13-14
Classes Start August 21
Classes End December 7
Departure December 9
Application Deadline May 1
Term: Spring 2017
Arrival January 5
CISabroad Orientation January 6 to 8
Classes Start January 9
Classes End May 8
Departure May 17
Application Deadline October 1
Term: Fall 2017 Price: $16,690 - $17,290 more info
Term: Spring 2017 Price: $15,890 - $18,890 more info

Dates posted here are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.

To view expected additional expenses for this program, click here.

Interested in staying an extra month and interning? You can add on one month at any of our great internship locations for the total price of $18,890.

Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:
• Full-time tuition and fees
• Homestay
• Breakfast and dinner
• Medical and accident insurance
• CISabroad support services before, during, and after the program
• Academic advising
• Financial aid counseling
• Assistance with travel arrangements
• Predeparture orientation
• Airport pickup
• On-site support
• On-campus internet access
• Weekly laundry
• A possible 4-day Amazon trip to Tiputini Biodiversity Station
• At least one other excursion
• Carbon offset of travel & Green Travel Guide

CISabroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.