CET Colombia Study Abroad

CET Colombia: At-A-Glance

Study race, ethnicity, and identity
Spanish language classes
Live with a Colombian roommate
Direct-enroll electives at two host universities
Traveling Seminar to the Caribbean coast
Out-of-class learning and assignments





CET Colombia study abroad students study race, identity, and ethnicity through the Afro-Colombian lens in Cali—a city with the second largest population of African descent in South America. The program’s curriculum, developed in consultation with Howard University, allows you to examine these dynamics through sociopolitical, economic, artistic, and historical representations of race in Colombia. And with out-of-class learning, local roommates, and direct-enroll classes that put you in a Colombian classroom, you grow your understanding both intellectually and experientially.

Academics in Colombia


Curriculum & Syllabi

You take one core course, a two-week Spanish intensive, and build the rest of your curriculum according to your Spanish level to meet the total 15 to 18 recommended credits.

Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish 

You take this two-week intensive Spanish course to help with the adjustment to life in Cali for 3 credits:

  • Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish

Core Course

You take this 3-credit course that is taught exclusively for CET students. This course is initially taught in English, but as your language skills improve, your teachers introduce more Spanish instruction.

Spanish Language: Semester

After you complete the Pre-Semester Spanish Intensive, you enroll in a semester-long Spanish course for 3 credits. 

  • Spanish as a Foreign Language
CET Electives

You take these two 3-credit electives in English:

Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish

You take this two-week intensive Spanish course to help with the adjustment to life in Cali for 3 credits. If you are a native or near-native Spanish speaker, you can opt to do a Spanish independent study instead.

  • Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish

Core Course

You take this 3-credit course that is taught exclusively for CET students. This course is initially taught in English, but incorporates more Spanish instruction as your language skills warm up.


Choose two to three additional courses to meet the total 15 to 18 recommended credits. 

Electives at CET
These 3-credit electives are exclusively for CET students in English or Spanish:

Spanish Language: Semester

After you complete the Pre-Semester Spanish Intensive, you can choose to enroll in a 3-credit semester-long Spanish elective course. 

  • Spanish as a Foreign Language

Direct-Enroll Electives at UAO & UNIVALLE
These are elective courses taught at the program’s host universities, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente and Universidad del Valle. Classes are 2 to 5 credits each and taught in Spanish. Direct-enroll classes offer the opportunity to learn alongside Colombian undergraduates and learn as local students do. Course offerings differ each semester but past courses have included:


  • History & Culture of the Colombian Pacific Region
  • Identities & Culture 
  • Cinema, Memory, & Peace 
  • Social Anthropology of Valle del Cauca 
  • Music & Cultural Identity in Colombia 
  • Public Relations (Organizational) 


  • Problems of Contemporary Societies
  • Social Representations and Ideology
  • Territory, Culture and Biodiversity

CET converts final grades from the local host universities to US letter grade equivalents.

Student and professor work together at a desk in Colombia

Dive Deep in Colombia

Race, Ethnicity, Identity. The program’s home, Cali, is a city that celebrates Blackness as one of its defining features. In your core course, you’ll use the city to examine the sociopolitical, economic, and artistic representations of race in all of Afro-Colombia. 

Improve your Spanish. Start your semester off with a two-week intensive course. Then, depending on your level, take a semester-long language class or Spanish-taught electives. More advanced students can even choose to take classes at UAO or Univalle alongside other Colombian undergraduates.

Proudly Afro-Colombian: A Discussion Series. Highlight Afro-Colombian leaders in this event hosted by CET and Univalle. Step on stage and facilitate public discussions with prominent artists, scientists, or activists and bring attention to their important work.

Traveling Seminar: Comparative Learning

On your Traveling Seminar, concepts from your core course will come to life as you explore the dynamics of race, ethnicity, and identities across Colombia with your cohort.

Day 1
: Travel to San Basilio de Palenque. Meet with community members to discuss local history and culture.
Day 2: Learn about the local justice system from La Guardia Cimarrona. Meet with a doctor of ancestral medicine, and explore traditional (natural) medicines. Then participate in a music workshop that examines the diverse rhythms of the Caribbean coast.
Day 3: Hike to the local farming spot and assist a Palenquero farmer for the day. Then in the evening, eat dinner with Palenquera women and hear them talk about their individual projects in the community, their fight against oppression, and their resilience.
Day 4: Travel to Cartagena. Explore the city and then relax on the beach.
Day 5: Head to La Boquilla, a village outside the city with a large Afro-Colombian population. Hear about the negative effects of rapid-growth tourism for livelihoods dependent upon fishing from locals. Learn about Colombia’s biodiversity and the techniques of traditional fishing. Afterward, help cook a delicious meal with the local community.
Day 6: Meet with local social leaders as you visit neighborhoods populated by those displaced by armed conflict and gentrification. Then engage in an intercultural exchange activity with a local school in the neighborhood that helps empower students to stay off the streets through performance arts.
Day 7: Travel back to Cali.

Housing and Meals


Living Like a Local

Local Roommates. Want to learn where to find the best manjar blanco (Colombian dulce de leche)? How to navigate the local bus system? Not only does sharing a home with a local roommate give you instant insider’s access to the city, it brings language and local culture out of the classroom and into your home life. Learn more about living with a local roommate. 

Eating in Cali. For meals, take your pick of Cali’s many inexpensive eateries or use your student ID to try the cafeteria, where a full meal costs less than 1 USD for students. Feeling like a home-cooked meal? Grab ingredients at the supermarket and have a night in with your roommates. Learn more about accommodating your dietary needs in Cali. 

CET Colombia study abroad students and Colombian roommates have a picnic in a park

Life in Cali

CET Colombia study abroad students pose in front of giant letters spelling "Cali"

In a city where the influences of diversity are ever-present, your everyday surroundings will inform your studies and Cali’s active calendar of cultural activities will fill your days. Enjoy a cold champú (refreshing local drink) as you relax in town. Spend the weekend at the mountains or on the beach (3 hours by bus!) with your roommate. Go dancing with friends at Tin Tin Deo, an iconic local salsa club. Listen to the storytellers weave a tale atop the hill in the San Antonio neighborhood.

Experience Cali with CET

Around the city. Each term, the program offers different extra-curricular activities that allow you to explore Cali and Colombian culture. Take a salsa class to try your hand at the national pastime. Spend time in the beautiful Farallones mountains. Explore different neighborhoods around Cali. And there’s even more to see on your own.

A Weekend Away. Let us show you another side of Colombia. Spend the weekend in San Cipriano, a nature reserve two hours outside of Cali. Hike a waterfall. Explore the small town. Meet with locals to discuss how tourism impacts their community. On another weekend, explore Buenaventura—home to the country’s most important port and a large Afro-Colombian population. Listen to local students share stories of their community. Learn about ancestral practices from traditional midwives.


Student Resources

"In the classroom, we learned about the social complexities of identity, the history of Colombia, and the social issues that are currently prevalent. In real life, we were having these same conversations with our peers and witnessing the realities of these play out. I feel like I have been educated about this country and these social issues in the most complete and holistic way and that has made me a more intelligent person and able to connect these experiences back to other parts of the world and my life."
— Audrey Friedman,
George Washington University | Fall student
"Being able to see and talk with local communities, have Afro-Colombian roommates, and have first-hand conversations has really brought my education to a whole new level."
— Vanessa Vigier,
Kalamazoo College | Fall student

On-site Staff


Mariela Palacios
Director of Operations

Beatriz E. Balanta, Ph.D.
Academic Coordinator

Alexia Martin
Resident Coordinator

Armando Zuñiga
Program Assistant

Program Fees



What's Included

All of your classes and program-related learning are included with your tuition.

We arrange your housing in a fully-furnished apartment about a 10-minute walk from campus. Your program fees go toward rent, utilities, furnishing, and other management costs.

We cover your transit, housing, and most meals during your Traveling Seminar to Cartagena and Palenque. Don’t forget to bring a camera and your curiosity. 

The activities and excursions that we arrange are included in your program fee. All you need to do is remember to bring your camera!

From pre-departure to orientation, from on site to re-entry, CET provides you with the support you need every step of the way. 

You’re provided with a comprehensive insurance plan through GeoBlue that even includes medical evacuation coverage.

We guide you step-by-step through the visa process. You’ll need to do the legwork, but we pay the consular fees if you obtain your visa through the channel we recommend. Your local registration fees are also included.

Your textbooks and course supplies are covered and waiting for you on site.

You receive a transcript from the University of Minnesota, CET’s School of Record.

More on finances

CET Colombia group on a hiking trip
Program Fee Breakdown. Of the total program fee, $14,130 goes to tuition and fees, and $1,760 goes to housing and other student life fees.

Local Cost of Living. The cost of living in Colombia is considerably more affordable than that of the US. An average cost of living is estimated at 350 USD/month, though this varies depending on how often students eat at restaurants and/or participate in nightlife.

Estimated out-of-pocket expenses: 

How to Apply

  • •  Pre-requisites: None. Open to students of any Spanish level, but students with more Spanish language experience have more curricular flexibility.
  • •  Must be 18 or older at the time of program participation.
  • •  Open to students from any US college or university
  • •  GPA: 3.0 or higher preferred, but admissions decisions are made on a case-by-case basis;  lower GPAs still encouraged to apply

Complete the application through your online CET account. This is a brief form that asks for basic information and has a few short answer questions about why you want to study abroad.

Upload a scan of your passport to your online CET account. This should be a single scan that includes the signed signature page and the photo/personal details page. Don’t have a passport yet? Let us know and we can help advise you.

Use the link in your online account to send a recommendation request to one of your previous instructors.

This is an online form that your study abroad office completes to let us know you meet the requirements to study abroad. To send the electronic form request,  simply enter the name and email address of your study abroad advisor in the designated fields of your online account.

Your online CET account has specific instructions for submitting an official transcript.


Fall Semester:

April 1

Spring Semester:

November 1


Have a question? Get in touch!

Melanie MacKenzie

Senior Student Services Coordinator
[email protected]

Price Subject to Change:

CET reserves the right to increase quoted charges at any time without prior notification, based on increased instruction costs, exchange rate fluctuation or other cost increases beyond CET’s control.

Course Availability

Our goal is to offer every single course every term, but sometimes factors like faculty availability and program enrollment keep us from reaching that goal. If you’re concerned about needing to enroll in any one particular course, please contact us! We’ll try our best to get you the course you need.

Learn More about our Programs!