Universidad de San Francisco de Quito

As the most biodiverse country on earth, in no other country than Ecuador can you hike the Andean mountains and end up in an Amazon rainforest all in the same day.

Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is Ecuador's top university, and the only university in the world with campuses in the Galapagos Islands (where you can explore the evolutionary oddities of these remarkable islands) and the Amazon Rainforest, where faculty teach from their groundbreaking research in these exceptional areas. USFQ was founded in 1988 on the outskirts of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city (a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site), and since has grown to offer over 47 undergraduate programs as well as research campuses on the Galapagos Islands and Yasuni Biosphere Reserve – one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. If you do manage to spend time in the city despite the pull of the natural landscape, you will experience Quito’s and USFQ’s thriving student culture. Join a tango club, check out a major film being produced on campus, or train up for one of the city’s endurance cycling competitions that will quite literally take you from mountain to coast.

Key information


Quito, Ecuador


Spanish, limited English


Fall, Winter, Academic year

Program type


Application information

Application status



2022-2023 applications

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023 

Apply from November 1, 2021 to January 10, 2022 


University-specific additional requirements

One academic reference required - see the Eligibility section below. 

2023-2024 applications

Open November 1, 2022

Info Session

Info Session from Oct. 1 2021

Student experience

Study Abroad at USFQ

Program details

USFQ's semester runs from mid-January to mid-May. 

Courses are offered in a modular system as well as a semester system. Modular courses are 8 weeks long, either taught in "Spring 1" module (mid-January to mid-March) or "Spring 2" (mid-March to mid-May). Students can take up to 2 courses per module, which can be combined with your regular UCalgary courses. 

Courses planned for Spring 2 include:

  • English taught: Healthy Oceans; Drawing 1; Renewable Energy 
  • Spanish taught, but designed for exchange students: Historia Andina; and a literature course called El boom Latinoamericano 

To view available courses, use this link: https://www.usfq.edu.ec/es/node/1700

  • Courses are fully online with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous meetings
  • Courses are offered in both English and Spanish and cover a variety of topics such as biodiversity/ecology, energy/sustainability, soccer, art, etc. "Spanish as a second language" courses are also available, as well as Quichua! 

There is also the option to do an online research project at USFQ. Click here to view some of the research projects offered to students last semester, and contact UCalgary Study Abroad for more information.  

The some departments have pre-approved credit for several courses:

Botanical Illustration has been assessed by Art as equivalent to Art 243. The other art/design courses can be assessed on student request. (Artists Books, Watercolour Workshop, Drawing 1, Fashion Styling and Production)

Renewable Energy Resources and Climate Change & Society have been assessed as major field requirement, senior level for Geoscience, or Geo 9xx for non majors.

Ecology and Resources of Ecuador: ECOL 9XX (senior level Ecology), acceptable as a course in the field of Ecology. 
Carnivore Conservation: ECOL 9XX or ZOOL 9XX (senior level Ecology), acceptable as a course in the field of Ecology or the field of Zoology

There are several more new ecology and zoology courses that quito plans to offer next semester that will be assessed in November. They include several marine science courses.


Areas of Study:

USFQ's strengths lie in the areas of liberal arts, ecology, environmental science, Spanish language, international relations, art, business and administration. The academic offer also includes architecture, finance, tourism, engineering (chemical, civil, mechanical), economics, psychology, animation, communication, music, history, anthropology philosophy, art history, sociology, political science, biology, math, microbiology, marine biology and zoology.

Quito has increased their number of English taught classes so it might be possible to take a semester in English in the following areas: Business, International Relations, or Psychology.  

For class schedules and descriptions see the course catalogue online (search by semester and faculty/area of study).  

There is also the possibility of including a research course in the semester exchange but it does come with an extra fee. 

Closed programs: Please note that some courses are not available for all international students/exchange students.  

USFQ offers a unique program on the Galapagos Islands

Course Information:

Exchange students must take at least 16 credits. The maximum number of credits is usually 27, but students may request extensions up to 28 credits. While Ecuadoran credits are 4 per course, your transcript will be translated to the North American equivalent of 3 credits per course so it is a 1:1 conversion.


USFQ's summer program is May 31- July 28, 2021

Courses offered in Summer:

  • English taught: 
    • Watercolour Workshop 1 (asynchronous)
    • Conflict & its Resolution (asynchronous)
    • Fashion Styling & Production (Mon-Thurs 11:30-12:50 UTC -5)
    • Ecology & Resources of Ecuador (Mon-Thurs 10:00-11:20 UTC -5)
  • Spanish taught, but designed for exchange students:
    • Sociedades Amazónicas (Mon-Thurs 16:00-17:20 UTC -5)
    • Genero y Derechos Humanos (Mon-Thurs 11:30-12:50 UTC -5)
    • Ciudades Globales (Mon-Thurs 7:00-8:20 UTC -5)
  • please note the times listed are Ecuador not Calgary (1 hour difference)

There is also the option to do an online research project at USFQ. Click here to view some of the research projects offered to students last semester, and contact UCalgary Study Abroad for more information.  

Some departments have pre-approved credit:

Ecology and Resources of Ecuador: ECOL 9XX (senior level Ecology), acceptable as a course in the field of Ecology. 

The first semester runs from mid-late August to mid-late December and the second semester runs from mid-January to mid-May. They also have a summer term from mid-May to mid-late July. For details see the academic calendar

During the summer term two field trips are offered, one to Tiputini in the Amazon Rain Forest and one to the Highlands and Coastal Region. 


  1. Costs

    Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider.

    The Accommodation in host families costs US$2,860 per semester (US$1,540 for the summer). Average living costs including accommodation is about US$800/month. 

    Also, remember to include things like visas, insurance, vaccinations etc in your budget planning.

  2. Funding

    Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange? 
    Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.

    Our office administers the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved UCalgary study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page for more information.

The university arranges home stays with families in Quito for students. The accommodation costs US$2,860 per semester (US$1,540 for the summer if applicable). This includes a private bedroom with breakfast and dinner as well as access to laundry facilities. Students can also choose to arrange their own off-campus housing arrangements.

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at the U of C, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-).

Students that are planning to take courses in Spanish must have completed a minimum of Spanish 303 (4 semesters of Spanish) or the equivalent. Most courses on the main campus are in Spanish, however there are also some English courses and Spanish language courses. 

An academic reference is required for a complete application.

Do you provide any additional resources for LGBTQ+ students? USFQ welcomes all students to come to any of our programs and will work closely with them if they need any information or help. We have a program called UNIdiversidad that promotes the awareness and sensibilization of all USFQ community towards diversity. If you are interested check this website: (http://www.usfq.edu.ec/estudiantes/decanato/UNIDiversidad/Paginas/default.aspx)

How does USFQ place LBGTQ students with host families? The Office of International Programs will find the most suitable host family for LGBTQ students. We encourage you to share information about your identity with us so that we can initiate this process early on. The information you provide will only be used to help us find a welcoming host family for you. We respect your privacy and will disclose this information with your authorization only. Once in Ecuador, you’ll have a support network throughout your exchange. If you have an adjustment issue with your host family, you can contact your Resident and/or USFQ coordinators to help you.

USFQ has a buddy program called Global Dragons and offers many events for incoming students. They also offer a conversation partners program.

The Dean of Students office offers counselling and support for students with academic accomodations.

OPI (the international office) offers support in adjusting to your life in Ecuador (cultural adaptation, university resources, homestay check-ins etc)

USFQ also offers a unique program on the Galapagos Islands.

Have questions?

Global Learning 101

Please watch this short YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.

Watch Global Learning 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below. Appointments are currently on zoom.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.

Book an appointment

The advisor for the program is: Vivian Elzinga

How to Apply

Download the application guide

This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.

Application guide

Identify three programs of interest

We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.

Check requirements and deadlines

These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.