beads santiago dr
Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Summer Community Public Health

Study Program



8 weeks



10 semester hours

15 quarter hours


Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

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Spend your summer examining the complexities of healthcare in developing nations by studying abroad in the Dominican Republic. Between exciting classroom instruction and hands-on fieldwork in urban and rural settings, you’ll get a close look and new perspective on the social and health issues facing the Caribbean’s fastest-developing country. Courses are delivered in Spanish by CIEE’s partner school, Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), a top-ranked Dominican Republic university. Your coursework will be complemented with immersive co-curricular activities outside the classroom designed to increase intercultural understanding and a 5-day rural stay in Comedero Abajo, in the Central Cibao valley.

Unique Experiences

Get to know

the hospitality of a Dominican family, the candidness of Dominican patients, and the service-driven work of medical professionals, while improving your Spanish language skills.


different approaches to public and private health and discover the challenges of implementing effective public health interventions to improve community health.

Expand your knowledge

on assessing the needs of a semi-urban community in the Dominican Republic and contribute to planning potential interventions to alleviate those needs.


founding of the oldest hospital of Americas


miles of tropical paradisiac coastline

10,161 FT

hike length to the highest peak of the Caribbean, Pico Duarte

  • santiago dr island with birds
  • santiago dr hillside
  • santiago dr houses on hilltop

Your Destination

Find yourself surrounded by mountains in the lush valley of the Cibao region in the center of the island of Hispaniola. Here lies Santiago De Los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, which puts you steps away from places of historical, cultural, and ecological interest – not to mention about an hour’s drive to the Atlantic Coast with crystal-clear warm water and white sand. Santiago is the commercial and cultural center of the fertile Cibao Valley region, housing the León Jimenez cultural center and the commercial street of Calle del Sol.  

Founded in 1495 by 30 caballeros from Columbus’ early expeditions, Santiago boasts a fascinating history, exciting museums, and endless cultural experiences, including music, art, and festivals. This growing, modern city is home to many Dominican specialties, such as cigars, rum, chocolate, coffee, amber, and larimar, and a population of more than 800,000. Despite its sprawling size, Santiago retains many small-town features. Traditional merchants call out their wares in a musical chant, and street vendors balance large baskets of fruit and vegetables on their heads.  

Close to the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the South, Santiago offers endless sports options, including baseball, kitesurfing, and golf, along with ample cultural and artistic entertainment and recreation. Here you can dance to the contagious rhythm of merengue and bachata and enjoy the best Dominican gastronomy.

Come and enjoy a vibrant and growing city in the Caribbean with everything the tropics offer, from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world to the highest peak of the Caribbean. 

The Culture

santiago dr waterfall

Excursions & Activities

While participating in the Community Public Health Santiago program, you have a chance to:

  • Explore a historic location outside Santiago on a day trip to see the famous Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, which was Colon’s first settlement and where the first hospital in the Americas was built.  
  • Enjoy an unforgettable evening in the beautiful garden of the Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración, the main featured monument in Santiago de los Caballeros, embellished with historical architecture, cultural-inspired sculptures, and a horses-pulled-carriage ride. 
  • Live the experience of exploring the murals of Santiago, art and culture at Centro León, shopping for souvenirs at the iconic Calle del Sol, and much more. 
  • Tour the Murals of Los Pepines and admire Santiago's traditional Downtown. People watch or dare to dance in a true Dominican street gathering with live music in the family setting of El Son de Keka.
  • Walk around the historic city of Puerto Plata before heading down for a swim in the turquoise waters and white sand on one of the best beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re in search of an adventurous place to hike and bathe in cold river waters, the Jarabacoa area is the place for you. Enjoy a nature walk, visit one of the many vegetable crops, flower fields, and plantations, then freshen up while having a traditional Dominican ice cream at the “umbrella street.” 

Please note activities are based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when arranging activities is always to enhance your experience. 

Program Blogs

Cars and Conchos: Public Transport in Santiago

By Amy T.

Santiago, Dominican Republic, has a multitude of options for public transport. From taxis, Gua Guas (large public buses) and Uber, getting around the city is not overly difficult. What’s unique... keep reading

The Reason I'm Here

By Veronica N.

Vulnerability Fear. Lust. Grief. Contempt. Boredom. These are just some of the few emotions that we, humans, can feel. But out of the diverse gamut of fleeting experiences, I think... keep reading



Community health focuses on improving the health of the community through addressing the social determinants of a group of people that share specific characteristics, such as geographical, cultural, socioeconomic, and religious, among others. It aims to assess the needs of the community and develop targeted educational programs to encourage people to live healthier lives and helps them find solutions to the issues that shape health inequalities in their context. 

When public health's core activities—promoting, protecting, and preventing—are incorporated to address community needs, Community Public Health comes into play. In contrast to clinical care, community and public health professionals do not participate in direct care provision of patients but instead, they contribute to the healthcare system indirectly by improving the overall health of individuals, families, and communities. 

This intensive eight-week Spanish-taught program features a comprehensive approach to community and public health issues in the Dominican Republic under several social contexts. During this time, students will take classes on Pre-Professional Healthcare Issues and participate in semi-urban and semi-rural community service practices in small cohorts. As part of the Community Practicum course, they will also participate in a 5-day rural stay in Comedero Abajo, in Sánchez Ramírez province, working alongside local health promoters and medical practitioners in an intensive health education experience.

Throughout the process of completing community need assessments, students will learn about the impact of social determinants on the health/illness process and its relation to individual and collective health. They will also propose potential strategies to act and contribute to solutions to overcome contextual problems. In addition, they will understand the health system in the Dominican Republic, including healthcare management, policies, and local health insurance. They will also explore the status of the essential public health functions (FESP) in the country, preventive medicine programs at the collective and individual levels, primary healthcare administration and services, mental health intervention strategies, among others. During the rural stay, they will hold a health fair addressing local needs around environmental and social aspects of community health.

Spanish classes will also provide a guided learning time to increase public health-related vocabulary and friendly conversation with people in the community and members of the healthcare team.  



Language Requirements

At least 4 semesters of college-level Spanish (or equivalent) 

Additional Requirements

  • Participants must be able to manage the daily physical demands of visiting communities in the high summer season, expecting to walk and stand for prolonged periods.
  • College-level public health coursework is recommended. 

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.


All students enroll in three required CIEE courses including one Spanish language course (determined by a placement exam) and two CIEE courses taught in Spanish:

  • PUBH 3001 DRSU: Pre-Professional Health Care Issues
  • PUBH 3002 DRSU: Community Health Practicum 

CIEE SPANISH LANGUAGE COURSE (at the appropriate level)

  • (GI) SPAN 3011 SADR Spanish Language - Advanced I
  • (GI) SPAN 3012 SADR Spanish Language - Advanced II  
  • (GI) SPAN 4008 SADR Advanced Spanish for Health Professionals 

Program Credit

Total credit: 10 U.S. semester/15 quarter credits

Course Credit

CIEE courses: 3-4 U.S. semester/4.5-6 quarter credits; 45-60 contact hours

CIEE Spanish Language course: 3 U.S. semester/4.5 quarter credits; 45 contact hours

Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.

Academic Culture

The pace of this intensive program is accelerated, and the workload is demanding. Students should expect a more formal and technical teaching style that relies on lectures and includes participatory strategies such as problem-based, cooperative, and project-based learning activities. The teaching-learning style emphasizes both memorization and the practical application of theoretical concepts. Service learning is also comprised of hands-on experience that students gain in the community practicum. Students should also expect a fast-paced and intense daily schedule. All classes are taught in Spanish. Students are expected to successfully complete daily reading and formative activities, a community assessment, and a final proposal to address a health issue identified during the process.  

Class Format

Students take courses only with other CIEE study abroad students. There is a faculty assigned for each of the three courses of the program. 


Students are given letter grades from A-F on summative activities such as quizzes, exams, papers, presentations, and class participation.  

For public and community health courses, an integrated mid-term consists of a community assessment to identify health problems in the community. A final evaluation consists of the written and oral presentation of a project proposal that could address one of the health problems in the community assessment. Attendance is mandatory. 

Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.

Language of Instruction


Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.


Course Information

Summer 2024

Semester Credit

Note: This course listing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract between CIEE and any applicant, student, institution, or other party. The courses, as described, may be subject to change as a result of ongoing curricular revisions, assignment of lecturers and teaching staff, and program development. Courses may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment.
"(GI)" denotes courses that originated at CIEE's Global Institutes and that are offered at multiple CIEE sites.


Scholarships & Grants

CIEE offers scholarships and grants annually to help students like you make your study abroad dream a reality.

Students who apply to this program are eligible for the following scholarships and grants:

  • Wollitzer Merit Scholarships in Area or Comparative Studies
  • Ping Scholarships for Academic Excellence
  • Global Access Initiative (GAIN) Grants
  • McDermott Health Sciences, Nursing, and Public Health Merit Scholarships
  • Stohl International Undergraduate Research Scholarships
  • CIEE Gilman Go Global Grant
  • MSI Grant
  • CIEE Stem Scholarship

To be considered, submit the CIEE Scholarships & Grants application within your CIEE program application.

Learn more about scholarships

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees

You get more for every dollar when you study abroad with CIEE, because our high-quality programs include everything from excursions to insurance. There are no hidden charges, and no disappointing surprises when you arrive.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date

Fees & Housing

Program Summer 2024 8 weeks Application Due Deadline Passed Start Date End Date Fees & Housing $8,750

To help you budget, keep in mind that students are responsible for the cost of international airfare, local transportation, books and supplies, visas, and personal expenses. In addition, your college or university may charge additional fees for study abroad, or may require you to receive a transcript via CIEE's School of Record, which carries an additional fee of $500.

Program Fees

CIEE offers the most student support of any provider in its program fee, including an airport greeting, full-time leadership and support, orientation, cultural activities, local excursions, pre-departure advising, and CIEE iNext travel protection with benefits.

Participation Confirmation = $300*

Educational Costs = $7,003**

Housing = $1,250

Insurance = $197

Total Fees = $8,750

Estimated Costs

Students are responsible and manage costs related to travel, meals, books, and personal expenses. Below are estimates for consideration.

Meals not included in program fee = $0

International Airfare = $630††

Local Transportation = $70†††

Books & Supplies = $55††††

Visa Fees = $75†††††

Personal expenses = $160

Total Costs = $990

Optional Housing

CIEE accommodation options are detailed in the Housing section. Based on availability, Select or Select Plus Housing can be chosen during the application process for an additional fee. Housing is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis; however, other factors may also be considered.

Select Housing Fee = $400^

Financial Aid

CIEE offers the most grants and scholarships of any study abroad organization, including $8 million/year in travel grants, merit-based scholarships, institutional and MSI grants, and Gilman Go Global Grants.

See Scholarships


**direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

For students in homestays, families provide all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). For students in apartments, you should budget approx. $272 per month for groceries if you plan on making your own meals, and more if you plan on eating out regularly.

††Round-trip based on U.S. East Coast departure (New York)

†††Weekly transport to Community service (concho or uber) & Airport transfer at the end of the program

††††Scrubs to use in Community Practicum and minimum extra supplies.

†††††Paid upon departure at the airport

^first-come, first serve, based on availability

What's Included



Pre-departure Advising

Advising before you depart to set goals and answer questions

Optional on-site airport meet-and-greet


Introduction to your program plus practical information about living in your host city

On-site Staff

Full-time program leadership and support in your city

Cultural and/or Co-curricular Activities

Excursions and/or Study Tours

Travel Protection

CIEE iNext travel protection

24/7 emergency on-site support



Our Staff

Lucía Agüero

Center Director

Lucía Agüero has a BA in Latin American Spanish and Literature and a MA in Creative Writing. She is the author of poems and short stories published in several anthologies.

Dorka Tejada

Custom & College Senior Program Coordinator

Dorka Tejada earned her technical degree in Agronomy at Loyola Dajabón, Dominican Republic, and has taken numerous business administration, tourism, and hotel management courses.

Randolp Valenzuela

HSSA & College Program Coordinator

Randolp Valenzuela has a degree in electrical technics and has taken numerous courses in business administration and media communication. He has more than a decade of experience coordinating youth camps...

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