One of the longest running socialist experiments in history, Cuba is at a critical crossroad. Cuba’s political and economic spheres have long been subjects of interest and debate providing fertile ground for exciting academic inquiry. Havana, the capital city, was founded nearly 500 years ago, and due to its location, became a center of ship-building in the Caribbean and a strategic stopping point in the Spanish colonial empire. Today it is a sprawling metropolis, home to 2 million residents, and a mix of European, Latin, and American influences. Historic Old Havana, with its diverse architectural styles, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad's (CASA) program in Cuba is a collaborative initiative involving seven U.S. universities: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania. CASA-Cuba provides students with a unique opportunity to have direct access to Cuba’s leading institution of higher learning, the University of Havana, and to Casa de Las Américas, the Cuban government’s premier research institution – since its founding in 1959 – on Caribbean and Latin American studies, Cuban culture and the arts.
CASA-Cuba, the University of Havana and Casa de Las Américas have worked together to develop a program of study that will challenge you to achieve a critical understanding of the key issues facing Cuba today and enable you to interact with some of the country’s leading academic experts in the social sciences, arts and the humanities. You will immerse yourself in Cuba, taking in credit-bearing lectures from recognized experts in Spanish on key issues facing the country and interacting with peers who share your intellectual curiosity about Cuba’s past, present and future. Your courses will be complemented throughout the semester with special seminars and guest lectures by respected experts from other key research centers, including the Centro de Estudios Demográficos (CEDEM), Cuba’s premier research organization focusing on demographic studies and social research, the Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana and the Centro de Investigación de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello. In addition, interested students will be encouraged to carry out focused research projects that will engage them with recognized Cuban experts in given disciplines and connect them with local archives, museums, and key cultural organizations.
Eligibility and Application
Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student in Columbia College, Columbia Engineering or the School of General Studies and in good academic standing.
If you are a Barnard College student, please reach out to Barnard Global to learn how to apply directly to the CASA Cuba program.
In order to participate, you need to complete a minimum of one 3000-level Spanish course, or the equivalent, prior to departure.
Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
How to Apply
Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application" button at the top of this page. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:
- Application questionnaire(s)
- Personal statement
- Letter of recommendation from someone who has taught you at the university level who can attest to your academic skills
- Official transcript(s)
You have an opportunity to enroll in up to four courses taught in Spanish. The coursework will be a combination of courses offered through Casa de Las Américas and direct-enrollment courses through the University of Havana. Courses will be delivered by a group of carefully selected faculty, recognized experts from Casa de las Americas and the University of Havana. Individual courses will meet for 60 hours per semester. In addition to the academic program, the Cuba study center will arrange special topics-based lectures, exhibitions, recitals, and local field visits to expose students to the tremendous cultural mosaic of the country.
The program begins with a one-week on-site orientation that introduces you to the city of Havana, as seen through pre- and post-revolution lenses. This orientation helps you understand basic social, political, and cross-cultural elements that inform everyday life in the city. Visits to different parts of Havana orients you to the city's geography. Additional excursions beyond the city are integrated into the academic calendar.
Courses Offered through CASA
CASA-delivered courses are taught by a group of carefully selected faculty, including CASA’s Academic Director in Cuba, recognized experts from Casa de Las Américas and faculty from the University of Havana. Each course meets for a total of 60 hours, which at Columbia means the below courses would be 4 points each. Brown University's Cuba website has course descriptions for the CASA courses. Courses taught in the past have included:
- Gender, Race, and Inequalities in Cuba: Visions from Cuban Scholars (4 pts)
- Cuban Public Health Past and Present (4 pts)
- Cultural History of Cuba (4 pts)
- The Imagined Island: Cuban Cinema (4 pts)
- Slavery: Manifestations of its Legacy in Contemporary Cuban Society (4 pts)
- The Culture of Transition (4 pts)
University of Havana Courses
Students can choose from courses in literature, the arts, Afro-Caribbean studies and music at the University of Havana’s Faculty of Arts and Letters, or courses in Cuban history, philosophy and religion, political sociology, and Latin American thought through the Faculty of Philosophy and History.
University of Havana courses usually vary in length from 45 to 65 contact hours, with 45 contact hours generally counting for 3 Columbia points and 60+ contact hours counting for 4 Columbia points.
Below are the departments that offer courses to CASA Cuba students at the University of Havana. Connect with the program manager listed on this page for pdf's of the course offerings. Please note that courses may change.
- U of Havana Course Offerings, Faculty of Arts and Letters
- U of Havana Course Offerings, Faculty of Philosophy and History (History)
- U of Havana Course Offerings, Faculty of Philosophy and History (Philosophy)
- U of Havana Course Offerings, Faculty of Philosophy and History (Sociology)
NOTE: The academic calendar below is an approximation. Specific dates may vary and will be confirmed upon admission to the program.
Spring TERM (only use dates below as an example; Dates may vary for upcoming term):
- January 16th: Student cohort meets up in Miami, Florida (Arrive at hotel by 3 p.m. as there will be a welcome dinner that evening-hotel to be determined). Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from their home to Miami, and for transportation to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami. The student will be expected to pay for their own ticket.
- January 18th: Group departs Miami for Havana, Cuba. Group travel arrangements from Miami to Havana are made by the OIP through a travel agency specializing in travel to Cuba.
- January 19th - 22nd: Orientation conducted by CASA-Cuba and Casa de las Américas
- January 25-February 1: (Approximate date) CASA classes and University of Havana classes begin
- April 16-23rd: Spring break, week-long trip to location, such as Oriente
- May 6: End of CASA lectures
- May 9 - May 13th: Finals week for all courses
- May 14th: Program officially ends; students depart as a group from Havana to Miami. Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from Miami to their homes. The student will be expected to pay for their own ticket home.
FALL TERM (ONLY USE DATES BELOW AS AN EXAMPLE; dates may vary for upcoming term):
- August 26th: Student cohort meets up in Miami, Florida. Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from their home to Miami, and for transportation to the hotel. The student will be expected to pay for their own ticket.
- August 28th: Group departs Miami for Havana, Cuba. Group travel arrangements from Miami to Havana are made by the OIP through a travel agency specializing in travel to Cuba.
- End of August - early September: Orientation conducted by CASA-Cuba and Casa de las Américas
- Early September: CASA classes and University of Havana classes begin
- Mid-October: mid-term break, week-long trip to a location, such as Oriente
- Early December: End of CASA lectures
- Early December - Mid-December: Finals week for all courses
- December 16th: Program officially ends; students depart as a group from Havana to Miami. Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from Miami to their homes. The student will be expected to pay for their own ticket home.
Students share living accommodations in one of two residences: the Casa de Las Americas guest residence and the Residencia Paseo Habana. Both are safe, clean, and secure residences located in the Vedado district, within walking distance to Casa de Las Americas and the University of Havana. Students share ample rooms that are air-conditioned, with modern toilets and showers, and are provided with breakfast and dinner each day. Washing machines are located on the premises of both residences. Bottled water is provided.
Columbia students pay regular Columbia tuition. Financial aid may be applied to study overseas.
Students will pay an estimated $6,200 program fee to the Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement which includes housing costs while in Cuba. This fee also covers breakfast and dinner in the accommodations.
Flight from Miami to Cuba:
The program organizes a chartered flight from Miami to Cuba for the group. Students will pay the cost to Columbia University, Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement who will in turn pay to the Travel Agency which arranges the flights. This cost is not determined yet, but students should estimate $1,000.
Estimated Additional Costs:
The below costs are paid directly by the student:
- Airfare from student's home to Miami: Varies
- Partial Board: $600
- Personal expenses (estimate varies according to individual spending habits): $1,000
- Local Transport: $300
- Books: $250
As part of the program, you will be covered for urgent and emergent care while you are abroad. This cost is not included in the chart above. Routine and preventive care is not included so you should maintain a health insurance policy that will provide coverage outside the U.S. or your home country.
As you prepare for your time abroad, you might prepare for COVID-related expenses such as optional trip-cancellation insurance, pre-arrival testing and onsite testing not reimbursed by insurance, additional quarantine/isolation room and board expenses if applicable, etc. Requirements will continue to evolve and will vary based on local conditions.