Significantly improve your Spanish language skills while gaining insight of the realities of life in the developing world in the Dominican Republic.
In Santiago, you’ll immerse yourself in Dominican life both on and off campus, through a combination of intensive coursework, homestays, volunteering opportunities and a variety of cultural activities and excursions. From coursework in regional literature and art, to rural work retreats, studying abroad in the Dominican Republic offers you the unique opportunity to not only learn about the country’s society culture, but become a participant in it.
Study abroad in Santiago and you will:
Interact at multiple levels of Dominican society through homestays, university courses, rural and urban volunteer activities, language partners, and activities with Dominican and Haitian support students
Consider an optional Community Service course or optional Teaching English as a Second Language course (earn a TESL certificate from PUCMM), both with hands-on practicums
Contrast the daily realities of the Dominicans and Haitian who share the campus and the city
Learn outside the classroom on class trips ranging from visits to local Santería altars to the Free Trade Zone; trips to sites of ecological and historical-cultural importance; and weekend excursions to the Samaná Peninsula and mountains of Constanza
The CIEE Difference
Enroll in one of three distinct academic tracks based on your level of language proficiency. Each track offers a variety of courses on the evolution of society, culture, economics, and politics of Hispaniola and the Greater Hispanic Caribbean. Study regional literature, history, and the widely variant socio-cultural issues facing the region.
Enjoy an extensive agenda of daylong and extended excursions throughout the country including visits to agricultural and industrial projects, a Dominican tobacco company, the Valley of Constanza, high in the central mountains, and the Samaná Peninsula.
Two rural work retreats per semester are designed to bring breadth and depth to your stay in the Dominican Republic by introducing you to the country’s non-urban reality while providing opportunities to partake in a service project and reflect on the issues affecting service work and community building. Work alongside community members on a variety of projects in such areas as community development, education, health, and construction.
Total recommended credit for the semester is 15–18 semester/22.5–27 quarter hours. Total recommended credit for the academic year is 30–34 semester/45–51 quarter hours.
Course contact hours are 45 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours, unless otherwise indicated.
All study abroad participants must enroll in a Spanish language course; the CIEE core course, Contemporary Dominican Republic: Political and Socioeconomic Processes; and a minimum of three elective courses.
According to the results of an on-site language proficiency examination at the beginning of the program, students are placed into one of three levels, which determines the required language course and electives they may take. Those students who test into Advanced Level II are encouraged to take a direct enrollment class; those who test into Advanced Level III are required to do so. Academic year students must continue their language study during their second semester on site.
Level I: Students who place into Advanced Level I Spanish are required to take the 6-credit language course and the CIEE core course. Students then choose up to 7 credit hours from PUCMM Spanish for Foreigners elective courses.
Level II: Students who place into Advanced Level II Spanish are required to take the 4-credit language course and the CIEE core course. Students then choose up to 9 credit hours from PUCMM Spanish for Foreigners elective courses or direct enrollment in PUCMM course offerings.
Level III: Students who place into Advanced Spanish III are required to take the 4-credit language course and the CIEE core course. Students take up to 9 credit hours of electives, one of which must be a direct enrollment PUCMM course.
Regardless of language level, all CIEE study abroad students may choose electives among a variety of dance, sports, and arts courses that they take alongside PUCMM students. Contact hours for these courses are 20 hours and recommended credit is 1 semester/1.5 quarter hours per course. CIEE students are expected to do required readings as part of these courses, and most require a written exam. CIEE students may also enroll in the 2-credit CIEE Seminar on “Living and Learning in Santiago, Dominican Republic.”
Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, is surrounded by mountains in the lush valley of the Cibao region. Places of historical, cultural, and ecological interest are nearby, and it is just a little over an hour’s drive to the Atlantic Coast. Known as La Ciudad Corazón (City of the Heart), Santiago is the commercial and cultural center of the fertile Cibao Valley region, housing over 100 industrial free-trade-zone factories, the León Jiménez Cultural Center and cigar factory, and the lively commercial street of Calle del Sol. Although it is a growing city with a population exceeding 800,000, Santiago retains many features of a small town.
Where You’ll Study
The Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) is a private, non-profit institution of higher education. Founded in 1962, PUCMM has been ranked by the Inter-American Development Bank as the best academic institution of higher learning in the Dominican Republic. It has five academic divisions: social sciences and administration, science and humanities, engineering, health sciences, and tourism/ restaurant management. With a population of approximately 8,000 students, PUCMM offers the academic resources, support services, and physical facilities of a superior-level Latin American educational institution.
Housing & Meals
Housing and all meals are included in the study abroad program fee. Students live in Dominican private homes and meals are taken at the place of residence. Housing assignments are made by the Office of International Students at PUCMM based on questionnaires that students submit to CIEE. The families are middle to upper-middle class, with a working class option, and all live within walking distance of PUCMM. Students and their families are asked to speak Spanish exclusively. Living in private homes is considered the best housing arrangement in Santiago because of its practicality (there is no student housing on campus) and its positive contribution to the program’s objectives. CIEE works closely with host families to provide students the opportunity for integration into the Dominican community.
The CIEE Liberal Arts study abroad program in Santiago was established in 1987 with a dual focus: to enable students to achieve advanced Spanish language skills, while studying and actively participating in the society of a developing Caribbean country. The program is designed for students who have taken two years of college-level Spanish and would like to significantly improve their skills in conversation and grammar. Liberal Arts courses offer a solid foundation and unique insight into the evolution of society, culture, economics, and politics of Hispaniola (an island shared by the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti) and the Greater Hispanic Caribbean, providing courses on regional literature, history, and on the comparison of the widely variant socio-cultural issues that are pertinent for contemporary society in this region.
At the start of the semester, all CIEE study abroad students are tested to determine their oral and written Spanish level. Students are then placed in one of three distinct academic tracks (Advanced Level I, II, or III) according to their language proficiency, each offering a different configuration of required and elective courses.
Those with strong motivation, independence, and a high level of Spanish may continue for a second semester at the CIEE Study Center in Santo Domingo or on the Service-Learning program in Santiago. Academic year students have a three-week break between the first and second semesters.
Most PUCMM students specialize in a profession such as law, medicine, engineering, architecture, education, or business. The only social science majors are psychology and social communication. Although PUCMM is considered to be the country’s premier private university, like other Latin American universities, it has limited resources compared to most U.S. colleges and universities.
Study abroad students who place into the two most advanced levels of the program have the opportunity to take direct enrollment classes with PUCMM students. U.S. students commonly find some striking differences between teaching goals and methods at PUCMM compared to what they are accustomed to at home, which can be challenging, but also educational. Teaching methods are less formal, employing a mix of tutorials, readings, discussions, reports, and tests, but with more reliance on memorization than analysis. Many of the presentations for a particular class are researched and presented by individuals or student groups, not by the professors, thus stimulating students to take more initiative in their own learning process.
Nature of Classes
The advanced Spanish language and CIEE core course are for CIEE students only. Electives through PUCMM’s division of Spanish for Foreigners include other international students and may include up to five Dominican and/or Haitian students. In direct enrollment courses, CIEE students enroll in University courses alongside Dominicans and Haitians.
CIEE Community Language Commitment
Students take part in the CIEE Community Language Commitment by speaking Spanish at all times (except in emergencies). This fosters a learning community that contributes to both Spanish language proficiency and a better understanding of Dominican society.
In CIEE and PUCMM courses, students are normally graded on any combination of the following: quizzes, exams, papers, student presentations, and class participation, much as in the U.S. Letter grades of A-F are given without pluses or minuses. Attendance is mandatory and incompletes are not accepted.
Language of Instruction
Spanish (except TESL and the Seminar on Living and Learning in Santiago)
Professors are from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra or contracted by the Department of Applied Linguistics and the Area of Spanish for Foreigners.