Yucatan, Mexico

Open Campus Block

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This program has been suspended for fall 2021.

Explore our other active study abroad programs for fall 2021, or check out our travel assurances and updated health and safety guidelines.

Study Abroad in the Yucatan Peninsula

Open Campus Latin America GrantThis program invites students to enroll in courses taught in English in the natural sciences:  earth sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, and chemistry as well as six levels of Spanish language classes. Your home base is Mérida: a beautiful, historic, colonial city centrally located on the Yucatán Peninsula and just 20 minutes from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In less than a two-hour drive one can discover biodiverse nature reserves, UNESCO archaeological sites, and historic towns where you lunch alongside locals while working on your Spanish language proficiency. Researchers and students are in good company, as Mérida hosts more than a dozen universities and several national research facilities.

Come to Mérida and customize your study abroad term on the Open Campus Block program. Take one, two, or three 6-week blocks, and select your courses from a wide range of subject areas.  Stay in Mérida the entire time or spend other blocks at our Global Institute locations in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, London, Madrid, Monteverde, Paris, Rome, Santiago, Shanghai, and Sydney.

Unique Experiences

  • Celestún National Park

    is home to mangroves and thousands of pink flamingos that flock there during the winter months

  • Chichen Itza

    Marvel at the centerpiece of Mayan civilization and the astronomical precision of El Castillo’s – “the Castle’s” – design

  • Gran Museo del Mundo Maya

    Mérida’s new world-class museum explores Yucatan’s past, from its geological origin to the present

  • days of sunshine

  • age of Mérida Cathedral

  • cenotes to discover


Location & Culture

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From its hundreds of Mayan ruins and colonial architecture to its exceptional food and bustling city life, the Yucatán is a complex hub of ancient and modern culture. In fact, the city of Mérida hosts one of the largest intact indigenous populations (60%) of any Latin American city. Look for Mayan culture as part of daily in the modern city – its regional foods, music, textiles and traditions are all rooted in centuries of tradition. Above all, Mérida is a safe, modern city filled with wonderful people among its shops, restaurants, universities and museums.

The Yucatán is ideal for studies in natural sciences including ecology, the environment, astronomy and cosmology and even physics! Much of the region sits within the Chicxulub crater, formed by the impact of a large asteroid that hit earth 66 million years ago, causing the fifth great extinction that included dinosaurs. Geologically, the Yucatán’s karst topography of limestone creates caves and cenotes rich in beauty and cultural significance. Additionally, zoos, botanical garden, Museum of Natural History, and science institutes are all within easy reach.

More about Yucatán 

The Culture

Study Tours

Embark on a two-night/three-day study tour included in your program during each block. Students will explore the Yucatan Peninsula by visiting places such as Ría Lagartos (also called Ría Lagartos Reserve Natural Park) and experience the wide marine fauna in Holbox.

Excursions & Activities

  • Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá – perhaps the most famous pre-Columbian site built by the Maya and one of the Seven Wonders of the World!
  • Tour the world-class science facilities of the Scientific and Technology Park of Yucatán, home to seed banks, botanical gardens and more.
  • Attend a Maya purification ritual in the Sacamucuy cenote
  • Drive to colorful Campeche, just two hours southwest of Mérida. The historic fortified town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where one can stroll the colorful streets in this old port city. Imagine the attacks by pirates and conquistadors from atop Fort San Miguel then savor the fresh seafood in any of the dozens of restaurants within the old city walls.

Projects, Volunteer Opportunities, or Internships

  • Volunteer with the Science and Research Center of Yucatán (CICY)

Program Blogs

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Program Blogs

Daily Life

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  • Housing

    Homestay: students stay with local families to fully immerse themselves in the local culture. 

  • Meals

    Homestay: two meals per day.

Yucatan, Mexico

Where You'll Study

  • A

    CIEE Yucatán


  • B

    Parque Cientifico

    Science and Technology Park of Yucatán has various research units contributing to the scientific, technological and human resources of the region and Republic development.

  • C

    Botanical garden and historic center

    Botanical garden and historic center


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CIEE Yucatan offers STEM study at all levels, including basic and interdisciplinary field and laboratory options across a wide breadth of the natural sciences. Students enroll in one, two, or three six-week blocks, taking two courses during each block. This program gives students the flexibility to stay in Merida the entire time or spend other blocks at our Global Institute locations in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Copenhagen, London, Monteverde, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Santiago, Shanghai, and Sydney.

The Open Campus Block: STEM and Society program invites students to enroll in courses taught in English in the natural sciences:  earth sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, and chemistry, as well as multiple levels of Spanish language classes. There are no required courses and no prerequisites to participate, although upper level courses require previous coursework in related topics.

Courses are taught by academics and trained experts. Students can also participate in a range of complementary co-curricular, personal, and professional development activities to promote integration into their host community as active global learners. The goals of the curriculum are to promote cultural self-awareness, scientific and cultural literacy, and the ability to bridge cultural gaps. Through interactive activities and exercises, students are encouraged to consider issues of culture, identity, values, beliefs and assumptions. Ultimately, students develop discipline-specific competencies so they can effectively incorporate new experiences into their general understanding of the natural environment, as well as local human culture.



Language Prerequisites

There are no specific language requirements for this program.

Program Requirements

  • Students are required to enroll in two courses each block. Students attending the program for all three blocks in a semester may select one block in which to enroll in only one course.
  • Students studying in three blocks taking at least one lab course must take a maximum of 5 courses total.

Program Credit

  • One block: 6-8 U.S. semester/9-12 quarter credits
  • Two blocks: 12-16 U.S. semester/18-25 quarter credits
  • Three blocks: 15-18 U.S. semester/22.5-27 quarter credits

Course Credit

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

  • Language courses: 3 U.S. semester/4.5 quarter credits; 60 contact hours
  • Lab courses: 4 U.S. semester/6 quarter credits; 60 contact hours

Academic Culture

Each six-week course is a full semester in content, so the pace is accelerated and the workload is demanding. CIEE courses are designed to follow U.S. academic culture, norms, and standards. The class environment typically features a combination of traditional lecture and discussion with co-curricular excursions and activities. Lab courses have additional contact hours for laboratory-based learning. Heavy emphasis is placed on student participation, active learning, and continuous assessment. To avoid falling behind, students should not plan personal travel out of the city when classes are in session and plan trips for the long weekends in between blocks.

Class Format

Courses taught at the CIEE Global Institute are typically for CIEE students only. Classes are scheduled Monday-Friday and meet two to five times per week, and attendance is strictly enforced both for classes and required co-curricular excursions. Students should expect an average of two hours of preparation required for each hour in class. Instruction is supported and augmented online with our learning management system, Canvas.


The U.S. grading scale of A-F is used. Students are graded on the basis of attendance, class participation, homework, individual project work, presentations, and mid-term and final examinations. Learning outcomes assessment is continuous through personal reflections, evaluation feedback, self-assessment, and requirements as set out in course syllabi.

Language of Instruction

English and/or Spanish


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Course Information

Course Notes

  • Courses are listed below by block and track; course list subject to change. Courses are in English unless otherwise noted. “GI” denotes courses that are offered at multiple CIEE locations.
  • Use the Course Comparison Tools to compare classes offered across all Open Campus Block programs for each block:
  • Mobile students studying for three blocks who wish to complete a lab course (offered in London, Monteverde, and Yucatán) will be required to opt out of one course to remain within the program credit range.

Language Classes

  • During course selection, students interested in a Spanish language course will be instructed to take an online Spanish language assessment to determine their proficiency level. Enrollment will be finalized on site and is based on assessment outcomes.
  • Students not enrolled in three-credit language classes may add the non-credit “Survival Spanish” course to their course load during the on-site orientation.

Spring 2020 CIEE Courses

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Spring Block I

Language, Literature, and Culture Track

Semester Credit

STEM and Society Track

Semester Credit
Semester Credit
Spring Block II

Language, Literature, and Culture Track

Semester Credit

STEM and Society Track

Semester Credit
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.


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Scholarships & Grants

CIEE offers more than $8 million in 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:

  • 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

To be considered, submit the CIEE Scholarships & Grants application within your CIEE program application. Learn more at the Scholarships & Grants section of our website.

See more scholarship info

Dates & Fees

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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.

In blocks I and II, courses and formal activities end on the last Thursday of the block, and in block III, on the last Friday. Students are free to use the time between blocks as they choose, either remaining in their location or using the time for their own travel pursuits. Students changing locations must check into their new Global Institute by the first Monday of the block for local orientation, with classes starting on the first Wednesday of each block. In all cases, students are provided with continuous accommodation, and should speak with CIEE staff for more details.

What's Included

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What's Included

Some Meals
For students living in homestays
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 and a local liability insurance
24/7 emergency on-site support

Get Started

Here's what you need to do to take the next steps:
  • 1

    You're one step closer to an amazing study abroad experience! 

    Apply Now
  • 2

    Share your plans and confirm you're on track to meet all required steps to go abroad. 

  • 3

    Contact Us

    Send us an email if you still have questions or need information about applying to this program. 

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