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Study Abroad in Ecuador

What to Know Before You Study in Ecuador

San Roque, Ecuador

San Roque, Ecuador

Ecuador has about 61 colleges or universities, both public and private, urban and rural, classic and contemporary.

For students who plan to study abroad in Ecuador, this diversity can be challenging. Where should you study? What programs are available? What are the classes like?

Students familiar with the American university system will recognize similarities in Ecuadorean education, which may ease their study abroad transition. The academic calendar, for example, begins in late August, breaks near Christmas, resumes again in late January and ends in May.

Likewise, Ecuador’s degree programs are much like those in America. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered; the former is typically a four-year program while the latter is two years.

What Is Unique About Studying Abroad in Ecuador?

Aside from the geography and culture, which truly is distinctive, Ecuadorean colleges and universities share special characteristics. Many schools, like Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), expect students to take responsibility for their own education, and encourage “specialized generalists” rather than the major-focused undergrads of most US universities.

Schools in Ecuador are also generally bilingual, speaking Spanish and English (some also speak Quechua, an Inca language common among indigenous populations). Classes are primarily taught in Spanish, with many schools requiring international students to take an introductory Spanish course.

College Classes in Ecuador

If you plan to study abroad in Ecuador, you should be aware of some important details.

First, professors trust students to study independently. This means that individual library research is preferred over textbook reading and that professor-student interaction is largely the student’s responsibility.

Classes are lecture-style and frequently include comprehensive exams. Tests rely more on critical thinking and analysis than on memorization or fill-in-the-blanks. Student independence also means that you are responsible for knowing your academic standing, as feedback from professors (in the form of grades) is generally rare.

As far as grades are concerned, Ecuadorean universities are stricter than their North American counterparts. Seventy percent is often the top score in a class, so be prepared for a rigorous academic evaluation.

What You Need Before You Can Study Abroad In Ecuador

Ecuador, like most countries, requires international travelers (including students) to have a valid passport and, if staying longer than 90 days, a valid visa. Your school’s study abroad program will provide any additional information and travel requirements.

You will also likely need to acquire professional translations of your transcript, diploma and other personal documents.



Study abroad in Ecuador will be a rewarding experience whether you plan to spend a year, semester or summer abroad. While many aspects will seem familiar to US students, even more will be unique to this South American country.

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