Semester in Ecuador
Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Attain new heights in this high-altitude haven.

Spend a semester (or a year) studying at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, a top-notch university. Improve your Spanish through both language and elective courses taught in Spanish. The University’s broad range of courses mirrors Ecuador’s inspiring ethnic and natural diversity, from the pristine beaches of the coast, to the culturally rich Sierra region, to the lush Amazonian jungle. What you can see and do in one day is impressive, so just imagine what a semester will provide!


What to Expect:

  • Language: Spanish and English
  • Average Courseload: 4–5 courses (12–15 U.S. credits)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.5 + 2 years college Spanish

Highlights:

  • Live in one of the world's most biologically diverse countries
  • Enjoy a blend of old and new in Quito - a modern city nestled among Spanish colonial architecture
  • Vibrant street culture - parades, festivals, street performances and open air cafes
  • Grove to a unique Latin-Andean beat
  • Exceptional adventure opportunities: beaches, islands, jungles, volcanoes, mountains

Program Details

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

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 an excellent education in a stunning location.

USFQ is a modern university nestled in the beautiful 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.

Accreditation: Ecuadorian Council of Evaluation and Accreditation of High Education

Areas of study with 3 to 7 classes available

  • Art & Design
  • Communications
  • Health

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

Areas of study which have more than 8 classes available

  • Business
  • Humanities
  • Natural & Applied Sciences

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

During your time in Ecuador you’ll study at prestigious Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). USFQ boasts strong programs in biology and environmental science; liberal arts; arts and communication; marketing; international relations; business; and hospitality and tourism, among others, with most courses taught in Spanish.

USFQ offers a few different “tracks” for you to consider, depending on your Spanish language ability/interests. All courses are available to CIS Abroad students, as long as you have the proper pre-requisites (language and/or content), so feel free to mix and match from the following:

  • Content courses instructed in English (about 10% of USFQ’s content courses)
  • Content courses instructed in Spanish (“mainstream” enrollment with majority locals as classmates)
  • Spanish language and Ecuadorian culture courses for Spanish language learners

Content courses instructed in English
Content courses instructed in English are scattered throughout USFQ’s broad course catalog. You’ll find offerings in various sciences and arts, so you may be able to fulfill major/minor requirements. Even more likely, you’ll find some good electives to round out your degree. Especially when combined with a Spanish language course or two, you should be able to fill up your course load without considering content courses instructed in Spanish.

Content courses instructed in Spanish
Content courses instructed in Spanish require an intermediate or higher level of Spanish language proficiency. These are the most abundant offerings at USFQ and are offered in a wide range of disciplines. We recommend that you have at least 2 years of college-level Spanish or the equivalent in practice before considering taking courses alongside native speakers. If you are a non-native speaker of Spanish you may find certain disciplines/subjects difficult to follow if you haven’t been exposed to requisite vocabulary. Rule of thumb: if you can’t comprehend the course description in Spanish (provided below) you might be in over your head. We’ll also administer a Spanish language placement exam to help you gauge if this is an appropriate track for you.

Spanish language and Ecuadorian culture courses for Spanish language learners
Semester program participants will usually have a few different Spanish language courses on offer, including some in grammar, composition, conversation, culture, and specialty areas like medical Spanish. Not all potential Spanish language courses are listed in the course descriptions document below, so please inquire with us about what’s on offer for your term of interest. An online Spanish placement exam will help you determine the appropriate level.

Course descriptions:
You can learn more about academics at USFQ here. Make sure the flag in the top right corner of the screen is set to the British flag (English). To view the entire course catalog from USFQ please click here. You can filter your search results based on the term, academic department, whether the course is taught in English and more.

Why Life in 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!

Live La Vida Local

  • 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!

Homestay in Quito

Location

Truly immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture with a homestay in Quito. Participants typically say that living with a local family was their favorite part of their experience abroad. Your host family will treat you like a member of the family – and even do your laundry for you every week! This safe, comfortable, secure home will help you integrate into your life abroad.

The photos are of participants Rebecca and Victoria with their host families. Look at those smiling faces!

Meals

Your host family will prepare breakfast and dinner for you, allowing you to get to know (and love) Quiteño cooking!

Inclusions and Amenities

  • BathroomShared
  • Bed linens
  • Laundry
  • MealsHomestay

What's Included

Inclusions

Program fees are in U.S. dollars and include the following:

  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • CIS Abroad support services before, during, and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Airport pickup
  • On-site support
  • On-campus internet access
  • Weekly laundry
  • Homestay accommodations with two meals per day
  • An optional 4-day Amazon trip to Tiputini Biodiversity Station
  • Three full day excursions over the semester
  • University official transcript
  • University orientation
  • La Vida Local cultural program

Welcome & Orientation

At the airport, be greeted by our onsite staff and/or homestay family (nothing like a friendly face after a long flight!). They’ll help you get settled in your housing and begin your orientation. During your first few days, 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’ll be living at more than 9,000 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 & 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, your site director will give you some ideas as to how to integrate your new experiences into your personal and professional life back home.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in 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)

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

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.

Quilotoa Volcano

Quilotoa Volcano

Hike down to the historic crater lake and ride donkeys back up to the top, while admiring the spectacular view!

Site Director

Diana Balarezo
Travel Tip:

Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and home to 14 different indigenous nationalities. Be prepared to experience new landscapes, aromas, tastes, sounds and people. Respect the places and the people you will be with and never stop learning!

Travel Tip:

Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and home to 14 different indigenous nationalities. Be prepared to experience new landscapes, aromas, tastes, sounds and people. Respect the places and the people you will be with and never stop learning!

About:

Diana Balarezo is a trilingual (Spanish, English and French) Ecuadorian that has worked in the tourism industry for many years. An active volunteer of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Development and Hospitality and a Master’s degree in Social and Environmental studies. Diana was the Ecuador national coordinator of a volunteers’ non-profit organization with more than eighty 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, backpacked in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala and Mexico. She has camped in some National Reserves in the US and Canada and has visited Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, among others. Diane’s hobbies include sports such as trail running and mountain biking, as well as watching movies and reading a nice book.

Your Support Staff

CIS Abroad Advising & Support
Travel Tip:

You’ll be supported every step of the way!

Global Advising

Our advising team will help match you with a program that fits your academic and personal needs. Once you have selected your program our advisor will help you complete your Online Application.

Program Enrollment

Once you’ve started your application and submitted the $90 deposit, you’ll be assigned a program enrollment coordinator who will guide you through the enrollment process to get you abroad!

Alexandra Woolner
Travel Tip:

Expect the unexpected! Sometimes culture shock is stronger in countries where you expect things to be more similar to your home country and environment. Traveling abroad is an excellent way to learn more about your own culture, habits, style, and adaptability.

COVID-19 Plan

We believe that study abroad is still possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but certain policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure every student can be safe and healthy during their semester abroad.

Learn more about CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Team’s three step process for operating  our programs around the world and important program refund policies.

Read more below for information related to this program:

On-Site Program Modifications

We want your time abroad to be an experience of a lifetime. We also know that it is a unique time to be going abroad. Below is some helpful information to you so you can make the best decision for your finances, academic career, and personal health and safety.

Our Financial Commitment

CIS Abroad is working with international partners to create refund and withdrawal policies that limit the financial impact on students and families should COVID-19 change a student’s plan to travel. See our refund policy page for more information.
To insure yourself from additional loss, such as the loss of airfare, or any other non-recoverable loss after your program begins, we recommend purchasing trip protection insurance, aka CFAR/IFAR insurance.

Our Academic Commitment

CIS Abroad has carefully selected programs where there is minimal to no academic risk.*

If a student must quarantine or miss classes due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e, live or recorded.

If a city or country goes on lockdown due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e. live or recorded.

* If a student cannot travel to their destination due to COVID-19 restrictions, remote academics are guaranteed on select programs and in certain courses. If accessing remote academics from the US are important to you, please contact our advising team to learn more about which program locations or courses are right for you.

Our Health & Safety Commitment

CIS Abroad has developed a site-specific risk management plan for every location so that health and safety protocols are monitored, managed and communicated throughout the semester. We have developed a COVID Care Package included in our program fee to make traveling and living in a host country easier on students, especially those first few weeks on-site:

  • COVID compliant airport pick-up and transfer to housing.
  • Access to quarantine housing upon entry, if quarantine is required when entering the country; this housing may incur additional charges.
  • Information and assistance on meal delivery, if quarantine is required when entering the country.
  • COVID-safe classrooms and campus facilities as well as access to masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies according to country and location specific standards.
  • Vaccine requirements for all participants to ensure COVID-safe program excursions and guaranteed housing with vaccinated students.
  • Access to accommodation if isolation is necessary due to positive COVID test or exposure; this housing may incur additional charges.
  • Access to COVID testing; this testing may be an additional charge.
  • Medical and accident insurance that covers COVID-related illness (except for on programs operating in the USA).
  • Cultural activities and reflection that emphasize safe, local exploration geared to the specific context of being abroad at this special time.

*if quarantine is required upon entry, we will let you know 60 days before a program starts, or as soon as the information is known to CIS Abroad. Your program coordinator will keep you updated as to any changes in dates, arrival, local restrictions and costs. If it is required, this may entail an earlier departure date and an additional housing and meal cost.

We recognize not every student, family, or university will allow travel this year, despite the risk mitigation outlined above. Should students apply for 2022 programs, and then choose to defer to a future program, we would be happy to move that student’s application to a program with a later start date. We are committed to providing our innovative virtual programs to meet your internationalization goals.

Excursions

We plan to show you the best of what your location has to offer this term; great culture, great food, and interesting people. On the Excursions tab, you can see the day or overnight trips we usually offer. It is too soon to know if we can offer those same experiences or if we’ll stay a little closer to our program base. Just know that great experiences await you.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline: Oct 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: January 8 (Estimated)
  • Departure: May 10 (Estimated)
  • Price: $17,390 - $17,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Apr 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: August 12 (Estimated)
  • Departure: December 19 (Estimated)
  • Price: $15,190 - $15,890 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Oct 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: January 8 (Estimated)
  • Departure: May 10 (Estimated)
  • Price: $17,390 - $17,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Apr 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: August 12 (Estimated)
  • Departure: December 19 (Estimated)
  • Price: $15,190 - $15,890 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

Estimated

Spring Terms: Without excursion to Tiputini: $17,390, With excursion to Tiputini: $17,990
Fall 2020: Without optional 4-day Amazon trip to Tiputini Biodiversity Station: $15,190, With optional 4-day Amazon trip to Tiputini Biodiversity Station: $15,890

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

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