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Quito - Area Studies & Language Add to favorites
  • Quito, Ecuador

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Quito - Area Studies & Language

Why Quito?

With a population of nearly 1.6 million people, Quito is a vibrant and modern city that is famous for its beautiful colonial Spanish architecture. It is also the capital of Ecuador—one of the most biologically varied countries in the world. Come to Quito and immerse yourself in the local language and cultures as you focus your studies on Ecuador’s ecological and ethnic diversity and the challenges of development.

What You'll Learn

If you’re interested in improving your Spanish language skills, this program offers you the opportunity to rapidly strengthen your Spanish through a rigorous language course taught by IES Abroad. You select the remainder of your courses from options available at IES Abroad and one of the most distinguished universities in Ecuador, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). You can also enroll in a service learning placement during your time in Quito, which will help you understand the city’s social issues first-hand.

Quito will be your classroom. Can you imagine visiting and observing Ecuadorian customs at a traditional fiesta or visiting local markets and handicraft workshops? Wherever possible, our courses take advantage of the city’s many historical, artistic, and cultural sites. Several courses include a hands-on, practical component.

You also take several field trips to exotic locations while you study abroad in Quito, including the remote Galápagos Islands. Imagine yourself in an environmental haven of fearless sea lions, penguins, iguanas, and tortoises 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. It’s not very often you’d get to be so near to nature and see so many species up close—with IES Abroad, we’ll take you there.

Daily Life

We want you to feel at home in Quito, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. From housing to cultural events, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic study abroad experience possible.

$5 Million in Scholarships & Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our scholarship and aid programs.


Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences.

We offer unique courses that explore Spanish language, Ecuadorian history and culture, as well as other topics, through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors and course options at prestigious local universities enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.

You take 16–19 credits per semester, and all courses are worth 3 credits unless otherwise specified. All courses at IES Abroad and our partner university are taught in Spanish and are offered both fall and spring semesters unless otherwise noted.

Craft your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components:

  • IES Abroad Spanish language course (required, 4 credits)
  • IES Abroad Spanish-taught area studies courses (at least one is required, 3 credits each)
  • Partner University Spanish-taught courses at USFQ (optional, credits vary)
    • Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)
      • Note: You may take up to 2 USFQ courses at no additional charge. If you would like to take more than 2 USFQ courses, additional fees will apply.
    • Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)
  • Service learning placement (optional, 4 credits)


This is a list of planned course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.

To learn more about IES Abroad’s innovative theoretical and pedagogical approaches to teaching language abroad, refer to the IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication.

Course Name Term Language Credits
SO/AN 301 - The Cultural Diversity of Ecuador Fall Spanish 3
Cultural Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
CU 322 - Andean Popular Arts Fall, Spring Spanish 3
Environmental Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
ES 302 - The Environmental Diversity of Ecuador Fall, Spring Spanish 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
LT 326 - Indigenous Literature Fall, Spring Spanish 3
Political Science
Course Name Term Language Credits
PO 304 - Politics and Society in Latin America Fall, Spring Spanish 3
Service Learning
Course Name Term Language Credits
SL 395 - Service Learning Seminar Spring, Fall Spanish 4
Course Name Term Language Credits
SO/AN 301 - The Cultural Diversity of Ecuador Fall Spanish 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
SP 353 - Spanish Language In Context: Independent Abroad Fall, Spring Spanish 4
SP 403 - Spanish Language In Context: Emerging Competent Abroad Fall, Spring Spanish 4

Partner Institution(s)

Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)
A modern institution of higher learning, USFQ is one of Ecuador's most prestigious universities and offers a full range of programs and courses. Its faculty includes almost half of the Ph.D.’s in the country, and its library and information technology is the most up-to-date in Ecuador.

You take an official language placement exam before your arrival in Quito. The score of your placement exam in Quito determines your eligibility for USFQ courses. You are allowed to participate in any course in any department provided you meet the discipline and language prerequisites, as demonstrated on the Spanish language placement exam. Specific course listings are available through the USFQ website:

​​​​​​​Note: You may take up to 2 USFQ courses at no additional charge. If you would like to take more than 2 USFQ courses, additional fees will apply.

The following are some of the numerous disciplines in which IES Abroad students have previously enrolled:

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Culinary Arts
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality
  • Humanities & Economics
  • Languages
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Spanish Language

Registration & Advising
Please note that course offerings vary from semester to semester. Exact course availability is determined shortly before the start of each semester and official registration takes place prior to your arrival in Quito. You will receive further instructions on how to register for courses through their MyIESAbroad account.

Location & Commute Time
The USFQ campus is located in the suburb of Cumbayá in Quito. The commute time from USFQ to the IES Abroad Center is approximately 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.

Service Learning

Participating in a service learning experience in Quito is an opportunity to give back to the community while gaining a much deeper understanding of the city’s culture and society. Working alongside local people toward a common goal, you experience first-hand some of the social issues that affect Quito while contributing your skills toward a community-driven solution.

A service learning experience consists of time spent with a local organization, accompanied by an academic, for-credit service learning seminar. Through the seminar, you have structured time for reflection, discussion, and research on the issues of your host community.

Possible placements may include organizations focusing on:

  • Community health
  • Economic development
  • Social issues unique to Quito

Field Trips & Events

Even though your adventure starts in Quito, our field trips take you beyond the city to discover the cultures and traditions of your host country. There is an additional fee for multi-day field trips. Here are a few possible destinations.

Amazon Rainforest Region
4 Days | Fall & Spring
Hike the world’s largest and most biologically diverse rainforest with a local guide.

1 Day | Fall & Spring
Visit an indigenous market and learn about the crafts and food being sold.

The Galápagos Islands
4 Days | Fall & Spring
Explore the ecological diversity of the Galápagos, go snorkeling, and learn how to identify local flora and fauna.

Course-Related Trips

Course-related trips are academic trips associated with courses. They are organized to complement IES Abroad courses and contribute to a general knowledge of Ecuadorean culture and society. Participation is based on course registration. All course-related trips are included in the program cost. Here are a few possible destinations.

Guayllabamba Ecological Zoo
1 Day | Fall & Spring
See more than 45 species of native fauna representing the different regions of Ecuador at the Guayllabamba Zoo, not far outside the city of Quito. The zoo was developed to conserve Ecuadorian biodiversity, and they specialize in conserving endangered species of fauna.

1 Day | Fall & Spring
Visit Latacunga, a town 60 miles outside of Quito, to observe a religious Andean Fiesta and discuss its cultural development and significance.

1 Day | Fall & Spring
Go to Mindo in the Nublado Andino Forest to experience Ecuador’s biodiversity.

Mitad del Mundo
1 Day | Fall & Spring
Straddle the equator and enjoy views of beautiful snow-capped mountains.

1 Day | Fall & Spring
Visit Quilotoa, a water-filled caldera (a cauldron-like volcanic structure) in the Ecuadorian Andes, to learn about the region’s ethnic groups.

Note: IES Abroad field trip destinations, course-related trips, activities, and lengths of stay may vary according to term and availability.

Daily Life

Part of making you feel at home in Quito is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it’s the orientation program that prepares you for what’s ahead, your housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you to places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services.


The program begins with a mandatory orientation that introduces you to the IES Abroad Quito staff, your fellow students, and the city of Quito. Topics such as academics, housing, transportation, and health and safety are covered.

Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.


We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave Quito, it will feel like home.

Homestays - You have a private, furnished room in the home of a family or señora in Quito. Homestay hosts provide three meals daily.

Extracurricular Activities & Cultural Events

Redefine the way you live and learn in Quito through our cultural events and activities, such as visits to:

  • Participate in a Quito cultural Chiva, an open bus with a brass band that makes city tours
  • Attend Andean folkloric music concerts
  • Take workshops on making Ecuadorian meat pastries
  • Participate in soccer games
  • Visit museums and other local hot spots

University Clubs & Events
USFQ's extracurricular program includes clubs for yoga, ultimate frisbee, salsa, and Ecuabuddies. You learn more about these unique opportunities once on-site.

Get to Know Your New City

Stand on the Equator

Travel via bus to the place where the northern and southern hemispheres meet and stand at the middle of the Earth.

Wander Through Historic Old Town

Stroll the streets to get a feel for the city and see the historically charming architecture.

Climb a Volcano

Trek to the top of Volcano Pichincha just outside the city for beautiful views of Quito and its surrounding landscapes.

Try Authentic, Local Cuisine

From grilled plantains to freshly-squeezed juices, your taste buds will thank you.

Explore and Unwind in Itchimbia Park

This hilltop park is home to Quito's cultural center and offers running paths, picnic spots, and more for a relaxing day in the sun.

Program Cost

Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.

Term: Fall 2019
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Fall 2019
Academic Year
Term: Spring 2019
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Spring 2019 $14,220 $3,500 $230 $17,950

Scholarships & Aid

Program-Specific Scholarships

John Gearen Need-Based Dublin or Developing Regions Scholarship
Ranges up to $1,000

John Gearen, a member of the IES Abroad Board of Directors for many years and past chair of the Board for six years, is a leading real estate attorney and Rhodes Scholar who is involved in numerous philanthropic causes. Mr. Gearen has generously established this scholarship to support students who have an interest in studying on an IES Abroad Center in a developing region of the world (Argentina, Chile, China, Ecuador, Ireland, Morocco, or South Africa). 

Robert McNeill Need-Based International Business Scholarship
Ranges up to $3,000

This scholarship is named in honor of Robert McNeill, member of the IES Abroad Board of Directors for 25 years (6 years as Chairman). Open to students who have an interest in international business. Majors might include management, marketing, economics, finance, international relations, and social and behavioral sciences.

Dr. William Louis Gaines Need-Based History or International Relations Scholarship
Ranges up to $1,875

This scholarship is named in honor of Dr. William Louis Gaines, President of IES Abroad from 1974-1992. Dr. Gaines was dedicated to strengthening IES Abroad's academic framework, broadening the scope of IES Abroad locations, and securing the financial foundation of the organization.

Open to students majoring in History or International Relations.

William E. & Mary M. Dwyer Need-Based Spanish Scholarship
Ranges up to $1,000

This scholarship was established by the IES Abroad Board of Directors to honor the memory of William E. Dwyer, Jr., the father of the current IES Abroad president, Dr. Mary Dwyer. Trained in transportation law, Mr. Dwyer was a senior corporate executive overseeing transportation functions world-wide for a multi-national steel manufacturing company. He was an innovator in the transportation field and a pioneer in support of the equal employment of African Americans and women in the management ranks of the steel industry.

Kathleen Kervin Diamond Endowed Scholarship
Up to $2,000

Kathleen Diamond is a consultant, entrepreneur, and business leader in the language services industry. In 1979, she founded Language Learning Enterprises, Inc. (LLE®), a full-service language company based in Washington, D.C. She is recognized as an early pioneer in Telephone Interpreting, launching LLE-LINK in the early 1990s. Over the next 20 years, under her leadership, the company grew into a dynamic, multimillion dollar corporation, serving a wide range of clients, in both the private and public sectors, across the United States, and worldwide. In 2009, Ms.

Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers
Up to $5,000

The Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers was established by an anonymous donor to encourage more engineering students to have the enriching, life changing experience of study abroad.

Use our budget worksheet to calculate your costs

$5 Million in Scholarships & Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our scholarship and aid programs.

Our Center

IES Abroad Quito
Situated near Quito’s financial district, the IES Abroad Center is housed in a new, modern building. Features include:

  • Two well-equipped classrooms
  • Student lounge
  • Staff offices
  • Small library
  • Computer lab
  • High-speed Internet and printer access

Our Staff

Tania Ledergerber de Quiroga

Center Director

Tania has been the Director of the Quito and Galápagos Islands programs since 2018. Tania brings a wide range of international education administration experience. She directed the International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership Program at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), and spent 10 years as the Resident Director in Quito for Kalamazoo College. Previously she taught for IES Abroad, instructing our Internship Seminar and Social Science and Service Learning classes at USFQ. Tania has traveled and worked around the world, spending nearly 20 years devoted to NGOs.

IES Abroad Staff

IES Abroad Staff

Ximena Paredes
Student Affairs Coordinator in Quito

Juan Carlos Sanchez
Administrative Support

Maria Cristina López
Student Affairs Coordinator in Galápagos