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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
IFSA-Butler Program in Cuba (BZU)
Havana, Cuba (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Budget Sheets Spring
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Prerequisite:
6 or more semesters of college level language (or equivalent)
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in Spanish, See Program Description
Type of Program:
Direct Enrollment
Program Description:


Enjoying Cuba
Photo Credit: Jacob Ratner

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Direct enrollment in the Universidad de la Habana
  • Fall semester: late August to early December
  • Spring semester: late January to late May
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA of 3.0 required
  • Grades of B or Better in Spanish courses
  • 6 or more semesters of College-Level language courses
  • Must have completed either Spanish 219 or Spanish 223
  • Must be enrolled in Spanish class the semester prior to departure
  • Students will be housed in a casa particular with a Cuban family which is similar to a bed and breakfast
The City of Havana
  • Primary Language Spoken: Spanish
  • Undisputed political and cultural hub of Cuba
  • 2.5 million individuals live in this urban center
Special Features
  • The Program is licensed by the US Government
  The Application Process
  Financial Matters
  Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

Course load

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. Subject areas include History, Philosophy, and Sociology.


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.

Grading scale at the University of Havana: 5(A) 4(B) 3(C) 2-1(F)

Learn More About the Universidad de La Habana

• For more general information on la Universidad, click here.
• For more information on the programs offered at la Universidad, click here.
• For more information on the courses at la Universidad, click here.
• For more information on the Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, click here


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.

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.

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.

There are numerous activities to occupy residents of Havana. The Prado and El Malecon are two very prominent areas for long walks and lazy evening strolls. Visit the Plaza de la Revolucion to see a monument to Jose Marti, a leader of the Cuban independence movement, and the iconic image of Che Guevara gracing the Ministry of the Interior. Also, one must not forget about the numerous cigar and rum factories within Havana. Many of these establishments will readily offer tours to curious visitors. In the suburbs of Havana lies the Farm la Vigia, once home to the famous American writer, Ernest Hemingway. The site has been carefully preserved in the way Hemingway left it after his last visit, with every book and object in the exact same place.

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 is 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.)

Special Features

Penn's study abroad program in Cuba is fully licensed by the U.S. government. Penn students study under the general license of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control to administer a structured, full-time, academic, credit-bearing semester program allowing degree-seeking, full-time Penn students to study legally at the Universidad de La Habana.

Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs.

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.

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.

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