Hampshire in Havana

Program Details

Study abroad in Havana, Cuba, on a unique, transformative, and self-driven program. This program has been running for more than 20 years and is one of the longest-running college-level study abroad trips to Cuba in the U.S.

  • Location: Havana, Cuba
  • Term: Spring (end of January to end of April); fall term for Div III students is currently prohibited due to changes in Cuba travel regulations effective November 2017.
  • Partner Institution: Fundación Alejo Carpentier
  • Housing: Family stay
  • Type of Program: Hampshire signature
  • Languages of Instruction: Spanish and English
  • Prerequisites: Intermediate Spanish language skills (two semesters of college-level Spanish) and CSI274 Cuba: Nation, Race, and Revolution or equivalent course
  • Fields of Study: There are many options! Most common: Latin American studies; race, gender, and ethnic studies; studio and performing arts; literature and creative writing; art history and archival studies; architecture and urban studies

Explore Student Experiences

About the Program

This program presents students with the unique opportunity to study abroad in Havana, Cuba. Past students describe the program as genuine, rigorous, and independently driven. Working with the Hampshire faculty director and renowned Cuban writers, historians, visual artists, performance artists, or musicians as their tutors, participants are able to pursue their own set of academic goals through an independent study project they design and implement throughout the semester. The video below offers perspectives about the Hampshire in Havana experience from four of the program's tutors in 2018.

Listen to Cuba Tutors’ Perspectives

Hampshire’s Partner in Cuba

Hampshire works in partnership with the Fundación Alejo Carpentier (FAC) in Havana, Cuba. The Fundación Alejo Carpentier continues the vision of its namesake by creating an academic and cultural space in Havana for global scholars and practitioners. Hampshire College’s connection to this institution allows students to receive independent scholarly guidance and project supervision from Cuba’s most prominent intellectuals and artists, called tutores, including sociologists, anthropologists, architects, and visual and performance artists. Previous tutores have worked with:

  • The Office of the Historian, Havana
  • UNEAC, the National Association of Writers and Artists of Cuba
  • ISA: The Instituto Superior de Arte
  • Temas, a quarterly Cuban journal

For more information about the Alejo Carpentier Foundation and other collaborating partners, please visit Our Partners in Cuba.

Academics and Curriculum

Led by a Hampshire faculty-in-residence, Hampshire in Havana allows students to spend three months taking Spanish courses tailored to their individual levels and a class about the dynamic cultural, social, and historical landscapes of Cuba. These classes inform independent research projects that students carry out with Cuban tutors, or mentors, over the course of the semester.


Students are also required to participate in a Spanish class, a formal course on Cuba and Cuban culture, co-taught by Hampshire and Cuban faculty, and a seminar designed to support the students’ projects and their process. These courses help students assimilate the Cuban experience into their semester projects by providing opportunities for more in-depth cultural integration.

Independent Study Project

Rather than take on the traditional classroom approach, students work in conjunction with their tutors to design and execute a semester-long independent study project during which they are engaged in a wide range of activities that may include historical research, ethnographic field work, arts performance or practice, literary study, or archival work, among others. Through participation in this program, Hampshire College's tradition of individualized work and collaboration with advisors is sustained. Via a series of meetings, students exchange their ideas, discoveries, and developments with their tutors' feedback, thus enriching their studies with the invaluable point of view of experienced scholars. 

Past Projects

Over the years, student projects have encapsulated the breadth and depth of Cuban culture and realities. Sample projects include:

  • Historical Research & Music Performance: Un Panorama Histórico y Actual del violin en Cuba (2016)
  • Racial Identity and Racism: Historical research paper, “Sin el Negro Cuba no ser'a Cuba”: Impacts of Race in Cuba” (2012)
  • Cuban History & Female Identity: "Aguas Divididas" (Split Water), A collection of original nonfiction short stories about Cuban mothers and daughters separated by migration (2014)
  • Photography & Architecture: “Rediscovering Havana’s Colonial Porticos”–photographic collection of historical porticos in Havana in need of restoration (2010)
  • Gender and Sexual Identity: Ethnographic essay,  "FAAB-ulos@: Creación de un mundo queer en La Habana" (2014)
  • Cuban Culture and Identity through Dance: “Layers of the Onion: Identity, Space, and Location in Three Generations of Cuban Modern Dance,” An original choreographed modern dance looking at the identity in relation to location and space (2015)
  • Documentary Film: “Ladies First,” Film about Trans-performers (2010)
  • Visual/Studio Art: Paper Cut, “Experience of queer/gay visual artists & technical training in paper cut”  (2012)
  • Nature and the Environment: Research paper, Closing the Gaps in Urban Agriculture, Havana Cuba”  (2013)

Living in Havana


Housing is arranged for students in “Casas Particulares,” home stays managed by Cuban families. Students can request to live independently or with other students. All housing options are centrally located in the iconic Vedado neighborhood of Havana.


Students are provided breakfast and dinner. Students receive a living stipend to help cover other food and living expenses

Program Costs

Program costs cover Cuban insurance, visa fees, and occasional excursions. The tuition fees generated go directly to helping the Foundation restore Carpentier’s personal library, publish books, grant scholarships to Cuban researchers, and supply its offices with better equipment to facilitate its ongoing work. Hampshire Exchange Fees and Financial Aid provides detailed information on the fee policy, withdrawal policy, and how financial aid may apply.

  • Tuition: Hampshire semester tuition fees
  • Housing: Hampshire board fees
  • Meals: Hampshire meal plan fees
  • Other expenses: passport fees, international and local transportation including airfare, books and supplies, laundry, and health insurance with international coverage and personal expenses.
  • Stipends: Students receive a living stipend to cover additional living and food expenses. Students are also eligible to receive a travel stipend to offset airfare costs
  • Hampshire in Havana Program Expense Sheet: provides overview of program costs

Application Process

Hampshire Students


  • Hampshire College students must be Division II or first-semester Division III to study abroad in this program.
  • All applicants must be in good academic, disciplinary, and financial standing.
  • Prerequisite course about Cuba: Hampshire College CSI274 Cuba: Nation, Race, and Revolution, or equivalent course.
  • Review detailed information on eligibility requirements and policies in the Hampshire College Handbook under Exchange, Field Study, and Short-term Field Courses.

How to Apply

  1. Meet with GEO: Students are required to meet with the GEO program manager for this exchange program before submitting an application. 
  2. Review Applying to a Hampshire Exchange Program: Includes deadlines, application instructions, requirements, and procedures.
  3. Review Cuba Program Supplemental Application Instructions: An instruction sheet designed to assist you in completing the supplemental information for Cuba on the online application.
  4. Apply now: Students apply online through the GEO Portal.

Non-Hampshire Students


  • All applicants should be in good academic, financial, and disciplinary standing at their home institutions.
  • Students must be in their sophomore or junior years.
  • Students should take a prerequisite course about Cuba/Latin American Studies.

How to Apply


Contact the GEO program manager:

Allison Kretschmar

Faculty Contacts

If you would like to learn more about the academic content and options for studying abroad in Cuba, please contact one of these faculty members:

Amy Jordan
Associate Professor of African American history

Margaret Cerullo
Professor of Sociology

Michele Hardesty
Professor of U.S. Literatures/Cultural Studies

Flavio Risech
Professor of Law and Ethnic Studies

Carollee Bengelsdorf
Professor Emerita of Politics

Jacqueline Hayden
Professor Emerita of Film and Photography