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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Havana, Cuba
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Budget Sheets: Fall, Spring
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: Spanish Click here for a definition of this term Language Prerequisite: 6 or more semesters of college level language (or equivalent)
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0 Click here for a definition of this term Credit Available For: College
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in Spanish, See Program Description Click here for a definition of this term Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Click here for a definition of this term Housing Options: Program Provided Housing Click here for a definition of this term Application Deadline: Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

BZU LogoIFSA-Butler Program in Cuba

Universidad de La Habana

Founded in 1728, the University of Havana is the oldest and premier institution of higher learning in Cuba and one of the first to be founded in the Americas. It is Cuba's largest university and is distinguished for its tradition of academic excellence and scientific and pedagogical standards. The University is located in Havana's Vedado district, the downtown and vibrant area of the city. Universidad de la Habana began as a religious institution but now has a total of 15 faculties on its main campus as well as learning centers throughout Cuba. The University is organized into three divisions – Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Economics – and enrolls approximately 6,000 students. The university's Faculty of Philosophy and History hosts Penn's program and students enroll in four courses per semester within the facultad.

The University has several libraries on campus, and in addition to the libraries in each of the facultades and the main campus library, there are some outside of campus with important collections, depending on your interests. Students will need to be acrediatdo, which involves getting a student ID from the Facultad de Filosofía e Historia; this provides access not only to the university libraries but also to other collections such as those at the Casa de las Américas. 

La Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano

The Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano is a private cultural institution. It was created with the purpose of contributing to the development and integration of Latin American cinema and to achieve a common audiovisual universe, and cooperate with the rescue and strengthened cultural identity of Latin America and the Caribbean. Founded by the Committee of Latin American Filmmakers (C-CAL) on December 4, 1985, it is composed of filmmakers from eighteen countries and was chaired by the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. It is based in the City of Havana, Cuba, in a spacious and cozy house on the outskirts of the city: Quinta Santa Barbara, 212 corner street 31, Reparto La Coronela, La Lisa. (Description taken from website.)
The City of Havana

Havana, with roughly 2.5 million inhabitants, is the largest city in the Caribbean and Cuba's undisputed political, business, and cultural center. The city offers a wide variety of features including museums, palaces, public squares, churches, art, and ballet and musical performances. The varied architecture of Havana is one of the most beautiful and historic aspects of the city, with buildings that reflect the influence of a variety of European cultures including Spanish, French, Moorish, Italian, and Greek.

The core of original Havana is located in the aptly named, Old Havana. Havana Vieja was founded by the Spanish in 1519 in the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana and soon became an important trading port and shipbuilding district. Another area of interest is the city's Chinatown, incorporated into the city in the early part of the 20th century when a multitude of Chinese workers were brought into the city by Spanish settlers. Boasting myriad restaurants, theatres, banks, pharmacies, and newspapers, the Cuban Chinatown is a must see location.
Did you know…?

Once the sun sets on Havana the performing arts come to life. Music and dancing are integral parts of Cuban life, making it very easy to find entertainment in the city. The Great Theatre of Havana, home to the National Ballet of Cuba, was built in 1837 and is recognized as one of the most technologically advanced theatres in the world, due in part to the efforts of Italian scientist, Antonio Meucci.

Notice to Applicants: Please note that Cuba is currently listed as a Level 2 travel advisory which means you are encouraged to exercise increased caution while in Cuba. Please refer to Penn’s International Travel Guidance for more information.

The IFSA-Butler Program in Cuba is for College credit only.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0

Language Prerequisite: Successful completion of SPAN 219 or 223 with a grade of B or better in all Spanish courses at Penn required by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure. Students must be enrolled in a Spanish course during the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure.
Language of Instruction



Students take a total of five courses a semester. Students are required to take the course "Cuba: Culture, Community and Arts" at the Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano and directly enroll in four other courses at the Universidad de La Habana. Penn students have access to courses within the Facultad de Filosofía e Historia and the Facultad de Letras y Arte.
Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. Be sure to review Penn Abroad’s academic policies.

Grades are reported to Penn on the IFSA-Butler Program in Cuba and then converted to Penn grades.

BZU Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by IFSA-Butler Program in Cuba when they arrive at the start of the semester. 

Language Courses

Check out more on the Language Courses under the "Academics" tab.

Buddy Program

The Buddy Program is an excellent way to immerse yourself into the local culture in and around campus.

BZUParticipants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

Students will live with a Cuban family in a casa particular, similar to that of a bed and breakfast, within walking distance from the University of Havana (four to eight blocks). Students will share rooms with one other student from the program offering simple, basic conveniences. There are typically four students in each casa particular. All rooms have air conditioning, access to the kitchen, a safety box, and they all share a bathroom. Bed linens and towels are provided and changed weekly. Two meals daily are included in the cost of housing, and students also enjoy nearby inexpensive cafeterias, restaurants and on-campus snack bars.

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  Be sure to review Penn Abroad’s financial policies.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. Visit SFS's website for more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad.

Budget Sheets


Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

IFSA-Butler Scholarships

Please review the Penn Abroad application process, policies, and procedures. To open an application or learn more about the program, please schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Cuba, contact a Penn Abroad Past Participant.