Duke in Cuba


Study cuban culture for advanced level Spanish credit

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This four-week, one course program in Havana, Cuba will provide an immersive experience that combines academic Spanish language objectives with cultural studies content objectives. Students will have unparalleled access to Cuban musicians, concerts, guest speakers who are unable to visit the U.S., and landmarks, particularly as they relate to urban spaces. Students will be able to witness in real time the transformation of Cuba in a globalized world with particular emphasis on its impact on cultural production.


Location: Havana, Cuba

Term: Summer

Dates: Next offered Summer 2020

Application Deadline: February 1

Academic Theme(s): Spanish language, Cuban culture

Credit Type: Duke Credit

Eligibility: Must have completed Spanish 204 or have the consent of the Director of the program. Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Duke Department of Romance Studies

Housing: Private homestays

GEO Advisor: Abigail Grubbs

  • Havana, Cuba

  • Morro Castle at Havana Bay, originally built in the 16th century.

  • Classes are held at the Centro de Estudios Martianos, dedicated to the study of Cuba's most famous poet: José Martí.

  • Overlooking the Vedado neighborhood, where students will live with homestay families in casas particulares.

  • Plaza Vieja, Havana

  • Viñales, on the western side of the island, is known for agricultural production.


All students enroll in the program’s rotating signature course offering one Duke credit. The program course title, content, course number(s), and curricular codes will be determined by that year’s incoming faculty director/instructor. No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted.

Sample Course

The Politics of Salsa: Music, Urban Spaces and Globalization
1.0 Credit
Pre-requisite: SPANISH 204 or equivalent

Students will improve their academic oral and written Spanish language proficiency through coursework, related excursions, and interactions with Cuban musicians, intellectuals, artists, and other members of the host community. Likewise, the programs will foster critical thinking by analytically examining the impact of globalization vis-a-vis cultural production. As we pay close attention to historical and socio-economic urban development in cities such as Havana, San Juan, New York, or Caracas, the students not only will develop abstract level discourse, but will also expand their critical thinking skills. Coursework includes readings from cultural studies, history musicology, primary source research, and a final essay written in academic Spanish. The course may be used to count toward Spanish major or minor requirements.


The program includes weekly activities in the city, such as live music events, dance performances and discussions, guest lectures from local musicians, a walking tour of Old Havana, and one or two excursions outside Havana that are yet to be determined. Students will receive a proposed itinerary of activities (subject to change) two months before the program start date.


Students will be housed in casas particulares (private homestays operated out of a single family residence) in or near the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Bathroom facilities may be shared. Laundry services are not included. On excursions outside of Havana, students will also be placed in casas particulares with students in shared rooms.

Daily breakfast and dinner in Havana are included in the program fee. Breakfast is included on excursions outside of Havana. Additionally, the program will arrange a welcome meal upon arrival in Havana and a farewell meal on the last night of the program.


These costs are estimated based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change.

Summer 2019

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $3,492 $3,492
Program Fee $5,000 $5,000
Transcript Fee N/A $40
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $10,077 $10,117

Explanation of Costs

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving institutional need-based grant aid are eligible for aid for this program; work-study funds are converted to grants. Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support and the Duke Bursar’s Office.

Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.


This program offers the following scholarship opportunities:


Attendance is required at all classes, excursions, and group events. Given the intense nature of this program, late arrival and/or early departure is not permitted.

  • Arrival: TBD for 2020
  • Departure: TBD for 2020


Students are responsible for securing their own flights.  However, due to current immigration procedures in Cuba, academic visas for students are only guaranteed for those who arrive on the flight suggested by the program. Therefore, all participants must arrive on the same flight which will be determined and communicated to accepted students after the program application deadline. You are expected to arrive on the arrival date cited above. Once you have a flight itinerary, log in to MyGlobalEd to update your travel registry.



A visa is required of U.S. citizens to participate in this program. Non-U.S. citizens should pay special attention to the visa requirements for their specific citizenship by contacting the country embassy to find out if any visa restrictions are in effect.


All participants must have a valid passport. Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity beyond the program end date to avoid unintended disruptions. For instructions on obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit passports.state.gov.


Program faculty director(s) can assist with questions related to program academics, admissions, on-site needs, etc. For all other inquiries, please contact the GEO representative listed.

Soraya Campbell

GEO Asst. Director & Regional Manager


Deadline: February 1

This program has rolling admission. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until the program fills; due to the logistics of obtaining a student visa, applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Application opens November 1.

PriorityPriority is given to applicants who apply early and meet the prerequisites.

Minimum GPA: There is no minimum GPA.

Non-Duke studentsNon-Duke students are welcome to apply for this program. You must be a degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited college or university. Consult your university’s registrar and/or study away advisor for assistance with transfer credit. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in Duke’s study away programs.

Physical Requirements

Students will need to be able to walk medium distances. The streets of Havana have uneven surfaces in certain parts of the city. Casas particulares do not have elevators, so students will need to walk up stairs to their residences.


Start your application early to ensure that it is complete by the deadline! Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the program directors for consideration.

Submit the following items using MyGlobalEd

  1. Online application
  2. Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students should wait for fall semester grades to be posted before submitting their transcript.
  3. Personal statement, written in Spanish, no longer than one page, explaining your interest in Cuba, its music, arts, and/or socio-cultural life.
  4. Two letters of recommendation: one must be from a language instructor.*

*If you have not taken a Spanish course at Duke, please email the Faculty Director to set up an interview to assess your language level. Recommendation letters from high school teachers will not be accepted.