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Study Abroad in Mexico

  1. Program Details

    Improve your Spanish in small classes with dynamic and attentive teachers. Live with a host family. Immerse yourself in the culture of Mexico. Visit ancient Aztec ruins. Explore the Palacio de Cortes and the murals of Diego Rivera.

    Location Cuernavaca, Mexico
    Term May Session, Summer Session, Winter Break
    Housing Homestay
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
    Language No Language Prerequisite
  3. About Study Abroad in Mexico

    Known as the "City of Eternal Spring," Cuernavaca's temperate climate, natural beauty, and rich history make it the perfect location to discover the language, culture, and warmth of Mexico. Originally a retreat for Aztec royalty, and later the site where Cortés built his palace, the Cuernavaca of today is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with a population of approximately 500,000 people. Cuernavaca is located roughly 55 miles south of Mexico City and is the capital of the state of Morelos.

    Students take courses at Cemanahuac Educational Community, an international language institute housed in a villa in the elegant Las Palmas section of the city. Cemanahuac offers a personalized learning environment and instruction by native Spanish speakers. Living with a Mexican host family gives students a unique window into modern Mexican life and additional opportunities to improve language skills. A field trip to the pyramids of Teotihuacan is included in the program fee.

    For help deciding between Spanish language options, consult the Spanish Language Programs Comparison Chart (PDF).

    Housing & Meals

    Cemanahuac arranges for students to live with Mexican host families for the duration of the program. After acceptance into the program, you will have the opportunity to express basic preferences that are taken into consideration when being matched with a family. Many families have years of experience hosting students and sincerely enjoy getting to know you. 

    The majority of families live within walking distance or a short bus ride of Cemanahuac, making it easy for you to get to and from classes. Most students will share a room with another program participant unless they have requested a single room, which is available at an additional cost.

    Host families provide 3 meals per day. Laundry service is not provided by the host family, so students must make other arrangements.

    Living with a host family means more than just having accommodations and meals. It provides you with a unique opportunity to experience Mexican culture and daily life firsthand. It also gives you additional opportunities to practice your Spanish and learn about current events, politics, and the city of Cuernavaca. Living with a host family can be challenging at times, but students often cite their host family experience as the highlight of their time abroad.


    Two excursions are included in the cost of the program. The first is a one-day excursions to the pyramids of Teotihuacan. The second excursion is optional, and may change depending on the term. Previous excusion destinations have included:

    • The art galleries of Mexico City
    • Downtown Mexico City
    • The ancient city of Tepozltan
    • Xochicalco archeological site


    The Learning Abroad Center works with Village Travel, a local travel agency, to arrange a coordinated flight for program participants. The flight is optional, and is arranged for those who want to fly with other program participants. Group flight information is typically available by the program application deadline, if not before.

    Ground transportation to and from the Mexico City International Airport (airport code: MEX) and Cuernavaca, Mexico is provided by our partner organization and the cost is included in the program fee. The transportation schedule aligns with the group flight arrival and departure times. Our partner organization comes to the airport once to collect and drop off everyone. 

    Therefore, you can either book a ticket on the coordinated group flight, or book a flight independently that arrives prior to the group flight's arrival. If you arrive late and miss the group, you may be responsible for arranging and paying for your own transportation to Cuernavaca.

    For immigration purposes, you should purchase a round-trip ticket, since you must be able to show your entry and exit dates from Mexico.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Improve Spanish speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills
    • Develop strong sense of independence from being outside of comfort zone
    • Learn to appreciate relativity, accept complexity, and embrace ambiguity
    • Challenge previous assumptions about Mexico and Mexican culture
    • Learn to function effectively as a team member in a diverse workplace

    Faculty & Staff

    Charlie Goff is one of the cofounders of Cemanahuac Educational Community and enjoys playing the role of historian and tour guide—taking students around Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and to the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  4. Program Structure

    Program Type Study Abroad Center
    Program Level 1000–3000 level courses

    1 course per term for a total of 4–5 credits


    Winter break and May session participants enroll in 4 or 5 credits per 3-week term and choose from beginning or intermediate level Spanish courses (1001–1004) or Spanish Grammar and Composition (equivalent to SPAN 3011W) Spanish Composition and Communication (equivalent to SPAN 3015W. The May/Summer program has four 3-week terms offered back to back. You can begin with any term and take from 1 to 4 courses.

    SPAN 1044 Medical Spanish, an equivalent of SPAN 1004, is offered as a 4-week course and includes visits to local hospitals, a temazcal (traditional Aztec sauna), and herbal medicine market.

    Note: Classes in Mexico must be taken with an A–F grade base. Pass/fail grading is not an option in Mexico.

    Course Options

    Select the term and, where applicable, the number of semesters (or equivalent) of language instruction you will have completed by the time you start the program.

    Term Take the Following

    Winter Break

    Semesters of Spanish Completed


    Take the Following
    SPAN 1001 Beginning Spanish I






    4-Week May Session Medical Spanish

    Take the Following


    How many 3-week sessions?


    Semesters of Spanish Completed








    Semesters of Spanish Completed







    Semesters of Spanish Completed






    Semesters of Spanish Completed




  5. Instructions for Course Selection Form

    May/Summer programs

    • Choose one  language course (Span 1001–1004 or SPAN 3015) for each 3-week session.
    • Choose SPAN 1044 for the first 4-week May session.

    Spanish Language Courses 

    Beginning Spanish I
    SPAN 1001
    Winter Break, May & Summer
    5 Credits

    First-semester Spanish. Develop basic listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Some cultural readings are included. Students will develop the ability to communicate on topics related to daily life. Intended for participants with no prior Spanish language instruction.

    Syllabus for Beginning Spanish I (PDF)

    Beginning Spanish II
    SPAN 1002
    Winter Break, May & Summer
    5 Credits

    Second-semester Spanish. Continue to develop basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Some cultural readings are included. Students will continue to acquire the skills to communicate more effectively in real life situations. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1001, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

    Syllabus for Beginning Spanish II (PDF)

    Intermediate Spanish I
    SPAN 1003
    Winter Break, May & Summer
    5 Credits

    Third-semester Spanish. Further improve conversation and comprehension proficiency, as well as reading and writing skills. Students will develop the ability to express themselves in a greater variety of situations in Spanish. Grammar review. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1002, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

    Syllabus for Intermediate Spanish I (PDF)

    Intermediate Spanish II
    SPAN 1004
    Winter Break, May & Summer
    5 Credits

    Fourth-semester Spanish. Develop proficiency in conversation and comprehension, grammar knowledge, as well as the reading and writing skills necessary for advanced Spanish courses. Students will develop the ability to speak confidently in any situation requiring use of Spanish. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1003, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

    Syllabus for Intermediate Spanish II (PDF)

    Medical Spanish (equivalent to SPAN 1004)
    SPAN 1044
    May Session only
    5 Credits

    Fourth-semester Spanish. This course is designed for students in the health care field to be able to communicate with patients who speak Spanish. Develop proficiency in conversation and comprehension, grammar knowledge, as well as the reading and writing skills necessary for advanced Spanish courses. Special focus on basic medical vocabulary, questions and answers in common medical situations, vocabulary and phrases to conduct patient interviews and exams, and Mexican perspectives on health and health care. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1003, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

    Syllabus for Medical Spanish (PDF)

    Spanish Grammar & Composition (equivalent to SPAN 3011W)
    FOST 3xxx
    Winter Break, May & Summer
    4 Credits

    This course is designed to expand and enhance students’ knowledge of the Spanish language and the ability to write, speak , read and understand modern Spanish. It provides opportunities to continue the development of language skills. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1004, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

    Syllabus for Spanish Grammar & Composition (PDF)

    Spanish Composition & Communication (equivalent to SPAN 3015W)
    FOST 3xxx
    Winter Break, May & Summer
    4 Credits

    Expand comprehension of both written and spoken texts. Improve ability to speak, read, and write in Spanish beyond the intermediate level. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1004, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

    Syllabus for Spanish Composition & Communication (PDF)

    Global Identity
    OLPD 3330
    Online, Optional
    1 Credit
    Global Identity: Connecting Your International Experience with Your Future is an optional, 1-credit, online course that helps you process your international experience and apply what you've learned upon your return. The course helps you reflect on multiple layers of cross-cultural experience and market your time abroad to future employers.
  6. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Program Term App Open Date Deadline*
    Winter Break 2019-2020 May 1 Oct 15
    US Departure Dec 28
    Classes Begin Dec 30
    Mexico Depature Jan 18
    May Session 2019 Aug 1 Mar 15
    US Departure May 18
    Mexico Departure Jun 8
    Summer Session I 2019 Aug 1 Mar 15
    US Departure Jun 8
    Mexico Departure Jun 29
    Summer Session II 2019 Aug 1 Mar 15
    US Departure Jun 29
    Mexico Depature Jul 20
    Summer Session III 2019 Aug 1 Mar 15
    US Departure Jun 20
    Mexico Departure Aug 10

    Late applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. If the deadline has passed, contact Molly Micheels to inquire about applying late.

    *Program dates are subject to change. Contact the LAC for verification of dates before purchasing your airfare.
    **If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

    Orientation Dates & Locations

    Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

    See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

    Term Abroad Date/Time Location
    Winter Break 2019-2020 Friday, November 15, 2019, 3:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Blegen Hall 205
  7. Fees for Study Abroad in Mexico

    University of Minnesota participants pay the program fee instead of on-campus tuition and fees for the term they are abroad.

    Winter Break 2020

    *The Cost of Participation includes housing in a shared room. A single room is available upon request for an additional $70 per week.

    Fees or tuition from home institutions may be added to or differ from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center fees listed on this page.

    Billing & Payments

    Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

    Financial Aid & Scholarships

    Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

    Bridging Loan

    Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

    Cancellation Policy

    Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
  8. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term See Program Dates for term options
    Program Name Study Abroad in Mexico
    Track Name See Program Dates for track options
    Country Mexico


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.


    After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

    • Application Essay
    • Course Selection Form
    • Transcript (Non-UofM students only)
    • Home Institution Nomination (Non-UofM students only)

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

    If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have been added.

    Application Review Process

    After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

  9. Visa

    US citizens may obtain a tourist visa (valid for up to 180 days) upon completion of a short form upon arrival at the Mexico City airport. Any students who are US citizens do not need to apply for a visa in advance of the program. 

    Non US Citizens

    If you will be traveling on a passport other than a US passport, contact the Visa Assistant in the Learning Abroad Center at or 612.625.9805 for assistance in determining the correct visa procedure.


  10. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Molly Micheels or call at 612.624.3949.

  11. Contact Program Alum

    Below is a list of additional students who participated in past program sessions. They are ready and willing to answer your questions about this program. Feel free to contact them during your decision-making process or anytime during your pre-departure preparation to get a student perspective.

    Winter Break 2018-19

    May/Summer 2018

    Winter Break 2017-18


     * These students are serving as Mexico Promotion Assistants for the 2017-18 Academic Year