Live in Quito, the highest capital in the world, while studying with international students at a prestigious private university. Your host city Quito sits 9,000 feet above sea level and is a high-altitude haven for all things fun. On Semester in Ecuador, you’ll take in its markets, cultural sights, and gorgeous colonial architecture. Nearby, mountains, beaches, jungles, and crater lakes beckon you. During your program, you’ll be based at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, a top-notch private university. You can improve your Spanish through both language and elective courses taught in Spanish as you embrace this dazzling country.
- GPA Requirement
- Application Deadlines
Fall: May 1
Spring: October 1
- Avg Course Load
- 4–5 Courses (12–16 US credits)
- Language(s) of Instruction
- Spanish and English
Key Program Highlights
- One of the most diverse countries in the world, from the Amazon to the Andes and Pacific beaches
- Courses taught in both Spanish and English
- Thriving artisan markets that showcase vibrant art and indigenous culture
- The thrilling Teleférico, a ride that gives you a view of the city atop a volcano
- Explore the Amazonian jungle, the Mindo Cloudforest, the coast’s surf scene, and the legendary Galapagos Islands
- Salsa dance lessons, so you can strut your stuff on the dance floor
Your Journey Begins Here
Connect with your Global Advisor to start planning. Apply by the application deadline.
Meet your Program Coordinator to finalize acceptance paperwork, housing, courses, flights, visas, payments, etc. Attend a pre-departure orientation.
Fly away. You'll be greeted at the airport, participate in a robust On-site Orientation and La Vida Local Curriculum with your Site Director.
Life in Quito
Welcome and Orientation
At the airport, you’ll be met by our onsite staff and/or homestay family. They will help transfer you back to your housing and you’ll begin your orientation. During your first few days, you’ll visit the UNESCO world heritage site of old town Quito, learn about Ecuadorian customs, get tips on how to blend in, learn some common slang words and even how to deal with altitude sickness. (Yes! You will be living at more than 9000 feet in Quito!) Then there’s the welcome meal: the perfect opportunity to learn about Ecuadorian food. Did you know that in Ecuador there are more than 200 varieties of potatoes as well as a tomato that hangs up from a tree!
Farewell and Re-entry Program
Going home after all your Ecuadorian adventures and adjusting again to your home culture can be hard. We try to help make this process less abrupt by walking you through what to expect and, also, how to benefit from your newly gained knowledge. During our farewell evening we’ll give you some ideas as to how to integrate your new experiences into your personal and professional life back home.
On Semester in Ecuador, you’ll fully immerse yourself in the culture with a homestay! Students typically say that living with a local family was their favorite part of traveling abroad. Your host family will treat you like a member of the family.
- You’ll eat breakfast and dinner at home with your host family and get to know (and love) Quiteño cooking!
- Bed linens
- Laundry services once per week
This safe, comfortable, secure home will help you integrate into your new home and its culture.
- Cooking classes: Learn how to prepare the local cuisine and surprise your family when you go back home!
- Metropolitan Park: Walk through the woods in the middle of the city of Quito.
- Music concerts at local restaurants / bars: Enjoy jazz, Blues, Salsa, in a cozy environment while eating a good meal.
- Dance classes: Becoming a great salsa dancer isn’t easy...it takes practice!
- Soccer games: We love soccer and you will have plenty of opportunities to see a game.
- Movie theater: Tuesdays are the best days since it’s two for the price of one!
More About Quito
From lively indigenous festivals to lovely outdoor cafés in tranquil parks, Quito is a city of wonderful contrasts. It has a mixed history of ancient empires and colonialism. This history is visible in the ruins that dot the landscape and in the incredible Spanish-style churches and leafy plazas. UNESCO named the entire downtown a World Heritage site. They described Quito as having “the best-preserved, least-altered historic center in Latin America.”
Quito comprises several distinct neighborhoods. You'll 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 a very lively dance scene. In other neighborhoods, you can visit an incredible museum that pays tribute to Oswaldo Guayasamin (Quito’s favorite artist), independent cinemas, and bohemian enclaves. If music is your passion, you can tap your feet to live traditional Andean tunes, pulsating salsa, and cumbia. Lastly, you can get lost for hours in the local parks and craft markets set amidst colonial grandeur. Most importantly, it’s all easily accessible by bus, taxi, or foot.
Volcanoes and the impressive Andes mountains surround Quito. Every day, you'll glimpse stunning views of the Pichincha Valley and the snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi, an active volcano. At the same time, you can access other amazing opportunities for exploration from the highest capital in the world. Ecuador is packed with adventure and amazing biodiversity, from the Amazonian jungle to crater lakes to the Galapagos Islands. Getting to these locations is easy and quick. Furthermore, you can be on the beach in the morning, Quito in the afternoon, and the Amazon jungle at night, all in the same day!
While participating on a CISabroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in weekend and day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.
Pichincha Volcano (by cable car)
Take a cable car 12,943 feet up to enjoy a magnificent view of Quito. You can walk through the paramo (high mountain vegetation), where there’s a cool but enjoyable breeze.
Otavalo Indigenous Market and Cuicocha Lake
Visit one of the biggest and most colorful indigenous markets in Latin America, where you can buy traditional trinkets and eat delicious local food. Plus, take a boat ride in Cuicocha Lake, which is at the foot of a volcano.
Hike down to the historic crater lake and ride donkeys back up to the top, while admiring the spectacular view!
If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement listed at the top of this page, do not despair! Get in touch to let us know your situation. In many cases, there are additional application materials that you can submit to make your case for acceptance.
How to Choose Your Courses
Now the fun part! You get to pick the courses you will take abroad. Review the course information on this page and once you’ve decided which courses you want to take. Fill out the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet in your online portal.
Make sure to talk with your home university about course approval and get additional classes approved before you go abroad. For example, if you are taking 4 classes abroad, we recommend getting 8 approved. This gives you some flexibility in setting up your class schedule. Think about courses required for your major, but also courses that fulfill your elective requirements.
Choose your courses, making sure to get them approved by your home university and then fill out the Course Selection Worksheet.
Semester in Ecuador is located at the gorgeous Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Its courses in Spanish are excellent and 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.
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.
Want to stay an extra month in Ecuador and continue practicing Spanish while interning at a local NGO, clinic, or non-profit? Visit our Intern in Ecuador page to review possible placement fields during the optional one month add on to the Semester in Ecuador program.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is an academic powerhouse that ranks as the top university in Ecuador, according to the 2016 QS University Rankings. You'll receive a top education in a stunning location.
USFQ is a modern university nestled in the beautiful northern suburbs of Quito. The University employs over half of the PhDs in all of Ecuador. USFQ is well known 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. You'll certainly make an international network of friends.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito has a U.S.-style campus, with wireless access, gardens, and areas for yoga, soccer, and pottery. It also boasts the largest library in Ecuador. There are many food options on campus, including a student-run dining hall and bakery. Once off campus, you'll find many other stores, including a mall, coffee shops, and restaurants.
On our Summer in Ecuador or Semester in Ecuador programs, you'll have your choice of courses. USFQ, which was the first liberal arts institution in the Andean region, continues to grow into so much more. You can take business, communication, and design courses. Or you can opt for classes in technical and applied sciences like health, engineering, and biological and environmental sciences. The University is also an excellent place to learn Spanish. Here, you'll find courses that satisfy your major, and you'll get a unique hands-on experience that you can only find through CISabroad!
USFQ was founded in 1988 and is accredited by the Ecuadorian Council of Evaluation and Accreditation of High Education.
Accreditation: Ecuadorian Council of Evaluation and Accreditation of High Education
Eli C - Western Oregon University
Program SupportMeet Our Staff
Before, during, and after your study abroad experience, you’ll be supported by the dedicated and passionate CISabroad staff. Our goal is quick responses to your questions before you depart, and even quicker once you’ve arrived on site.
Robust Advising Center
Our team of advisors will help you choose a program, connect with your home university regarding classes and financial aid and get you prepared to apply for your program.
Team of Dedicated Program Coordinators
Your Program Coordinator will assist you in finalizing housing, enrolling in courses, booking flights, obtaining visas, arranging payments, and provide pre-departure orientation.
Experienced On-site Staff
From greeting you at the airport to a robust On-site Orientation to La Vida Local Activities our on-site staff will be there to support you throughout your time on-site.
Our support doesn’t end when your program does. We have alumni programming, webinars, and resources to help you readjust when you’ve returned from your experience.
Your Support Staff
Global Advising Team
Assistant Director of Programs & Program Coordinator - Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Germany
Site Director in Ecuador
Application DeadlineMay 1ArrivalAugust 15OrientationAugust 16 - 17Classes StartAugust 21Classes EndDecember 12DepartureDecember 21PRICE$16,490 - $18,890
Application DeadlineOctober 1ArrivalJanuary 4 (Estimated)OrientationJanuary 5 - 7 (Estimated)Classes StartJanuary 8 (Estimated)Classes EndMay 7 (Estimated)DepartureMay 16 (Estimated)PRICE$16,490 - $19,490 (Estimated)
CISabroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.
As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.
Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:
- Full-time tuition and fees
- Breakfast and dinner at homestay
- Medical and accident insurance
- CISabroad support services before, during, and after the program
- Optional add on of one month internship at the end of the program
- Academic advising
- Financial aid counseling
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Predeparture orientation
- Airport pickup
- On-site support
- On-campus internet access
- Weekly laundry
- An optional 4-day Amazon trip to Tiputini Biodiversity Station
- At least one other excursion
- NYTimes Digital Subscription
- La Vida Local cultural program