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CSUSM Semester in Ecuador

map of ecuador

Interdisciplinary Studies Semester


Study Center Overview

Located at the foot of the Andes just outside the bustling Mariscal district of the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, the CIMAS Foundation offers a uniquely interdisciplinary study program to help students achieve an appreciation for and integration in the diverse local culture.  Through a team teaching approach utilizing the knowledge and skills of a wide variety of local experts, teachers, and organizations, CIMAS hopes to offer students a glimpse of a new cultural perspective, that of the indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian, and Mestizo people.  Students will explore how these worldviews might contrast to Western culture through a study of the global economic, social, political, environmental and cultural lenses.

City Overview

Noted as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the capital city of Quito offers a beautiful setting to explore during your time abroad.  Only a short distance from the Andes, the Pichincha volcano, the rainforests and bustling market towns like Otavalo, Quito will offer the splendor of the colonial city as well as modern museums, shopping malls, and ample nightlife. 

Program Highlights

A considerable portion of your time abroad (estimated at 21 days) will consist of field trips to visit sites significant to the study of interculturality.  Past field trips have included visits to local indigenous communities, healing practices/worldviews discussed by community shamans, clinics/hospitals engaged in intercultural medicine, Quichua farms practicing ethnobotany, and special guest lectures on topics of interest.

Academic Calendar

  • Spring Semester:  Mid-January to Mid-May
  • Fall Semester:  Early September to Mid-December

Academic Focus:

Classes are fixed and students must enroll in all offerings listed below, however, the courses can be articulated to several academic disciplines including Anthropology, Environmenal Studies, Global Studies, Political Science, and Spanish.

  • International Perspectives (crosslisted as ANTH 498; GBST Geographic Area Latin America; ENVS Option)
  • Spanish (offered at multiple levels including Spanish 102, 201, 266 & 366)
  • Sustainability & Environment (crosslisted as ANTH 370/DD; GBST Geographic Area Latin America/Global Political Economy & Development; ENVS Option)
  • Culture, Education & Public Health (crosslisted as ANTH 301/DD or ANTH 305; GBST Geographic Area Latin America/International Law & Human Rights; ENVS Option)
  • Microfinance & Alternative Economies (crosslisted as ANTH 375; GBST Geographic Area Latin America/Global Political Economy & Development; ENVS Option)

Language of Instruction:

Spanish.  Four semesters of college-level Spanish is suggested for enrollment.


  • Class Level:  Students with upper-division standing by the end of term prior to departure
  • GPA:  2.75 and above; good academic standing


15 semester units, with each course worth 3 units and 45 contact hours


All program participants will be assigned individual rooms with a homestay family for the duration of their stay in Quito.  The homestay environment will offer wonderful insights into the Ecuadorian culture and many practical benefits of Spanish language practice.  Most homestays can accommodate one student.  Careful attention will be given to placing students in the environment best suited to their personalities and preferences.  Two meals a day (breakfast & dinner) and weekly laundry comes with your homestay placement.  Other meals can be purchased within an easy distance of the study center. 

For all excursions related to the internship/learning experience (some 21 days in total over the semester), shared hotels will be booked by CIMAS staff.

Estimated Cost:

  • Students pay CSUSM tuition $3,858 for the program's 15 units
  • CIMAS program fees (tuition, field trips (hotels/meals, transportation for 21 days), accommodation, meals, airport pick up) $8,400
  • Health Insurance:  $265/semester
  • Meals outside of program and personal expenses will vary, but average $400/month
  • Sample 2017-18 Budget

Application Deadlines

  • For Fall Semester:  May 1
  • For Spring Semester:  November 1

How to Apply

  1. Visit the CIMAS website to learn more about the program.
  2. Visit a good tourism site such as Ecuador Travel to see if you could live there a semester.
  3. Consult with the CSU San Marcos Study Abroad Advisor in Administrative Building 3200 to determine if you are eligible for this program.
  4. Review the course descriptions for the program and consult with a faculty advisor in your major/minor department to formally sign off for credits.  Complete a Study Abroad Credit Approval Form.  Please note:  for GE classes, simply list those on your credit approval form and we will attain proper signatures.  This form MUST be submitted to Global Education before departure if you intend to receive academic credit.
  5. Order an official transcript from CSUSM and any other college from which you have taken a semester or more in classes (even if you have already transferred credit to CSUSM).  Please pick your transcripts up in person and deliver them to Administrative 3200.  Keep in mind that transcripts are now taking 7-14 business days to process.  Plan accordingly.
  6. Complete an application form and homestay questionnaire and submit it to the Study Abroad Advisor in Administrative 3200.
  7. Submit additional application details to Global Education:  CSUSM Application Apply Here
  8. Submit your flight details to Global Education:  Flight Information Form
  9. Attend the pre-departure orientation and consult with the Study Abroad Advisor.