Study Abroad

Pitzer in Ecuador Academics

High in the Andes and with a spring-like climate throughout the year, Quito, Ecuador, is one of the most beautiful cities in South America. In 1978, UNESCO designated Quito as a world cultural heritage site, ensuring the preservation of some of the most impressive architecture in Latin America. With a geography that encompasses tropical Pacific beaches, Andean mountain villages, and the Amazon rainforest, Ecuador provides a dynamic setting for studying the challenges that face a small, developing nation.

Host Institution

The Pitzer in Ecuador is affiliated with Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE).

The Core Course

The Pitzer core course, "Ecuador Studies," integrates all components of the program, including lectures, study trips, involvement in a local community organization and the family stay. It offers an important framework for understanding the social, political, economic, and environmental issues in contemporary Ecuador. Students will meet once a week in class and spend additional hours participating in a community organization in Quito to gain firsthand experience with the issues explored in the course. The core course is taught in Spanish by an Ecuadorian university professor. To accommodate students with lower levels of Spanish proficiency, for the first month of the course, the academic director synthesizes the course content in English during the class meetings; this allows all students to engage fully in the ideas and issues covered in the classroom.

Directed Independent Study Project

The independent study project for this program will be an ethnographic study culminating in a major paper written in Spanish for students with advanced Spanish proficiency and in English for students with beginning or intermediate Spanish proficiency. You must select a project that involves field research, and other techniques that facilitate cultural immersion.

Intensive Spanish

Intensive Spanish is offered at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels through Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. Becoming fluent in Spanish, however, is not just a classroom exercise. Language learning is part of your everyday life through interactions with your host family, program staff and field exercises that immerse you in the community. The competence you develop in Spanish will be crucial to realizing your educational goals in Ecuador, and a vital component of this will be the commitment you make to create a Spanish speaking environment both in and out of class.

Courses and Credits

Core Course - all students
Directed Independent Study Project - all students
Intensive Spanish - Students with beginning or intermediate Spanish
Students who do not have sufficient Spanish proficiency to take
regular PUCE courses will take Intensive Spanish as a second language at PUCE.
(2 Spanish courses)
PUCE Electives - Students with at least six semesters of college Spanish or the equivalent and a suitable language evaluation result may take 2 or 3 PUCE electives for a maximum of 2 Pitzer course credits.


There is no language requirement for the program. However, it is recommended that students take one or more semesters of Spanish prior to the program whenever possible.
Students must be in good academic standing.
Program Dates
Fall: Early August to mid-December
Spring: Early January to late May

Engineering Option for Harvey Mudd College (HMC) Students - HMC Students may take an additional course (Engineering 102 Equivalent) for 1.0 Pitzer Course Credit.

All courses on the program must be taken for a letter grade. All grades for this program will be shown on a Pitzer College transcript. The Core Course and the Directed Independent Study Project grades are treated as Pitzer courses and calculated into the Pitzer GPA. The grades for courses taken at PUCE, including language and other electives, will be treated as transfer grades and will not be calculated into the Pitzer GPA.

Spanish language courses at PUCE are awarded 1 Pitzer course credit each. Other PUCE electives worth 3, 4, and 5 PUCE units are considered the equivalent of 1 Pitzer course credit. Electives worth 2 PUCE units are the equivalent of 0.5 Pitzer course credits. Students must take courses at PUCE equal to 2 Pitzer course credits. Therefore, students take 2 PUCE electives or, in limited cases, 3 PUCE electives, but only if two of the courses are worth 2 PUCE units each.

The two Pitzer course credit limit is to encourage students to maintain a balance between course work at PUCE, interactions with their host families and the community, work on the Core Course including the community service component, and work on their DISPs.

Students taking Spanish classes at PUCE who would like additional language support may request tutoring.  A limited amount of tutoring is available through a private language school and will be arranged by the Ecuador program staff.  Tutoring is recommended for beginning and lower intermediate students who would like to jump start or build upon their oral and aural communicative proficiency in a structured small-class setting.  NO CREDIT is granted for tutoring.

Professors in a particular field group or department determine which courses count towards a student’s major or minor, but the credit for study abroad courses is awarded through the Office of Study Abroad.  Students who wish to receive credit towards their major for a particular course should consult their academic advisor for guidelines. Some schools, field groups, or departments may wish to see a syllabus, samples of coursework, texts, or other program materials to make a determination. Check the requirements before you go.