Study Abroad in Mérida, Mexico



Program Information

Mérida, capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan is a colonial city with a strong Mayan cultural presence. Characterized by colonial architecture, a tropical climate, and Caribbean atmosphere, Merida is a magnet for tourists, and has the reputation of being one of the safest cities in Mexico. The City of Merida, founded in 1542 on top of an ancient Mayan city, is known for its lofty Catholic churches and colonial mansions as well as the comingling of Mayan and Western rituals and beliefs which has created a unique, vibrant cultural identity that continues to shape this dynamic city.

The IFSA-Butler Merida Universities Program provides students the opportunity to combine coursework offered by IFSA-Butler with fully integrated classes taught in Spanish at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (UADY) or the Universidad Modelo (UM).

The Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, founded in 1922, is the largest and oldest university in southeastern Mexico. It is a comprehensive university of 15 colleges grouped in five separate campuses by academic focus. The campus where most Pacific students will take classes is the Campus de Ciencias Sociales, Econonomico Administrativa y Humanidades, which houses the faculties of Business, Law, Social Sciences and Humanities, Education, and Psychology. Enrollment at UADY is 15,000 undergraduates, and 1500 graduates.

Universidad Modelo, founded in 1988, is a private, secular, comprehensive university with a self-contained campus and enrollment of approximately 3,000 undergraduates. At UM students can take options in the life sciences, law, business, and art and design. UM’s campus is compact, with modern classrooms and also an expansive gymnasium.


The Merida Universities Program, which requires a minimum of 4 semesters of college-level Spanish, is a facilitated direct-enroll program in which students enroll directly in classes with local Mexican students at UADY or UM, in addition to taking an advanced Spanish course and mandatory 3-credit Yucatan Community and Culture class offered directly by IFSA-Butler.                                                                            

The program also has a public health track, which offers students in-depth exploration of the subject by completing coursework on public health and life sciences at UADY, and working with local health professionals in rural and urban settings to examine traditional and non-traditional approaches to health care. Students in the Public Health track typically would take a course load that consists of  a 3-credit class Contemporary Issues in Public Health in the Yucatan, the Community and Culture class, Advanced Spanish, 1-2 classes in life sciences, and 1-2 general classes (yielding a total of 12-18 credits).  Students in Social Work with advanced language skills will also find academic and community engagement opportunities through UADY’s Social Work Department.                                                                 

Finally, students may also opt to take the IFSA-run Directed Research  class, which provides the opportunity to conduct field research on a contemporary issue of interest to him/her.

Housing and Meals

Students will be accommodated in homes with local families and will receive three meals per day.

Community Engagement Opportunities

Students will have the opportunity to participate in service learning and volunteer activities through Hoy en tu Comunidad a UADY student-run volunteer program. The mission of the Hoy en tu Comunidad program is to raise social awareness in students, as well as help rural Yucatán society by providing a broad range of services through volunteerism. Each Saturday, approximately 120 students from all disciplines at UADY spend the day in a Mayan pueblo, where they divide into teams to provide a variety of services to the Mayan population. This is an extraordinary opportunity for Pacific students both to experience a Mayan pueblo and interact with its citizens and to meet and work with Mexican students from a broad range of disciplines


Minimum GPA: 2.75

Language : Must have successfully completed four semesters of college-level Spanish. For students fulfilling the requirements of a language major or minor, or the International Studies major, a 3.0 GPA average in language classes are required prior to beginning the program. 

Must have attended Pacific University full-time for at least one semester.

Important Dates

  • Advising Appointment | During Fall Semester
  • Application Deadline | February 10

Merida Program