Student Exchange - OPI

Do you want to participate in an exchange program? Learn about the requirements, application process, and options for foreign universities.

The Office of International Programs (OPI) offers USFQ students the opportunity to spend a summer, semester, or a year of study at one of the 100 universities with which we have agreements around the world.

    About Us

    The Office of International Programs (OPI) offers USFQ students the opportunity to spend a summer, semester or a year of study at one of the 100 universities with which we have agreements around the world.

    • It is a unique experience in student life.
    • Improve language.
    • Learn to be independent.
    • Understand global perspectives.
    • Create friendships from all over the world.
    • Optimize CV and make it more competitive.


    Requirements for participating in the exchange program

    • To be a regular and in-person USFQ student.
    • Be studying at least the third consecutive semester and have completed at least the minimum load established in the ordinary academic periods at USFQ at the time of applying.
    • Not being in the last year of a degree program or about to graduate.
    • Not having open cases or serious penalties to the code of honor.
    • Minimum GPA of 3.00 at the time of applying and maintaining it until the moment of participating in the exchange.
    • Have the results of the language certificate until the application deadline. (i.e. Toefl Results). If a university does not require TOEFL, you must at least have passed level 5 of English at USFQ or have a TOEFL of at least 60.
    • OPI will consider that the student has performed well throughout their studies, so they may deny the application of a student with grades “D” or “F” in the specialization or General College courses, even if they have repeated and passed those courses.

    Applying to the exchange program

    Applying to the exchange program and the host University

    1. Attend an informative talk

    The International Programs Office (OPI) offers informative talks for students interested in being part of an exchange program. To find out the hours of operation, visit the Casa Corona 101 office.

    2. Identify four Universities as options

    An extensive investigation of the Universities to be chosen as the four options must be carried out.

    You should search for available courses that you want to take in each of the Universities and consult your Dean or Academic Coordinator to find out if they will be validated.

    3. Complete the online application until the deadline depending on the semester to which you want to apply:

    • August 15th to leave from the second semester (January).
    • January 15th to leave from the first semester (August) or summer.
    • Pay $35 to the OPI account (account number is detailed in the online application).
    • Request a letter of recommendation from a teacher through the online application.
    • Upload an essay about the reasons to go on the exchange program.
    • Upload the unofficial kardex that you can get from your banner.
    • Upload the results of the language proficiency certificate (if applicable).
    • Upload the Financial Aid/Scholarship certificate (if applicable).

    4. Application analysis

    The international programs office will review all the applications and place the students in one of the four Universities that they chose. In exceptional cases, you may not receive a place in any of the selected options, in which case the OPI will present your options in alternative Universities with available places.

    5. Receipt of acceptance notification by email.

    Four weeks after the application deadline, you will receive an email from OPI notifying you of your acceptance or rejection of the exchange program.

    6. Accept or Reject the Exchange Program

    You will have 10 days after receiving the email notification to deliver (in the online application) the Acceptance or Rejection Form to the received offer.

    7. Apply to the host university

    Apply to the foreign University directly with the direction of OPI, until the deadline set by that University.

    8. Apply for foreign visa

    With the acceptance letter issued by the foreign University, you can apply for the visa and later organize your trip. It is the student's responsibility to complete the entire student visa process.

    9. Delivery of post-acceptance documents

    Complete necessary documents before making the trip, with the instructions of the exchange coordinator.

    10. Attend an Orientation (mandatory)

    Attend a mandatory Orientation that will cover important topics before your exchange.

    Exchange program costs

    Students from the Cumbayá Campus: 100% of registration and tuition fees continue to be paid to USFQ.

    Galapagos Campus Students: The partial in-person attendance student pays the same registration and tuition fees per semester to USFQ.

    If you have a Scholarship or Financial Aid, it is maintained during the exchange.

    You pay to the host University: accommodation, food, medical insurance, books, visa, and special fees. These costs vary according to the country and the University. You pay for transportation (to and from the city where the University is located). You can find the estimated costs of these items in the fact sheets for each University in the "Exchange Universities" tab.

    You pay for transportation (to and from the city where the University is located), accommodation, food, medical insurance, books, visa, and special fees directly to the host University. These costs vary according to the country and the University. You can find the estimated costs of these items by clicking on each University in the "Programs" tab.

    Financial Aid for Foreign Exchange Program

    If you want to go on an exchange program and require support from USFQ, you can apply for financial assistance for an exchange; such help may include a scholarship percentage and a loan percentage.

    If your exchange is for one year, you must take into account that you will have Financial Aid for exchange for one semester only.

    When you apply, you must notify the Financial Aid Office that you are applying to an exchange program.

    In the documentation delivered to AF, you must include the details of expenses during your stay abroad and indicate if you have a scholarship or aid from the university you are going to. This estimate of expenses must be detailed in the

     Expense Form for Financial Aid of ExchangeThis form must be sealed by the Office of International Programs.

    If you have an Excellence Scholarship, you could apply for a loan for an exchange semester.

    For the analysis of Financial Exchange Program Aid, USFQ will consider the need for financial support and the granting of scholarships for "room and board", textbooks, insurance, stay, tickets, etc. that the host university can grant. USFQ may deny a request.

    Requirements to apply for Exchange Program Financial Aid

    For more information on Financial Aid, please go directly to the Financial Aid Office, located at Galileo G-109.

    Requirements to apply for Financial Aid for the Exchange Program

    If you want to apply to our Financial Aid Program, click on the following link to fill out the online form:



    Upon being accepted into the exchange program, you must submit an Acceptance Form that commits you to participate in the exchange.

    If you decide to withdraw your application after you have submitted the acceptance form to the exchange, you will have to pay a fine of $300. To consider a waiver of the fine, you must write a letter to OPI explaining the reasons for the withdrawal.



    Deadline for the academic year, first semester and summer January 15th

    Deadline for Calendar Year and Second Semester August 15th

    Universities offering Exchange Programs

    Deadline for the academic year, first semester, and summer: January 15th.

    Deadline for the second semester or calendar year: August 15th.

    You can also consult these documents:


    Instructions for finding universities:

    1. Search for your degree program in the file of "Universities by degree 2018-2019", which is divided by colleges.
    2. In the SPOTS tab, check if the university you are interested in has spots available for the 1st semester 2018-2019.
    3. In the SCHOLARSHIPS tab, check if the university you are interested in offers some type of scholarship.
    4. To get more information about the universities, download the factsheet for each one in the University Finder tool.


    >> Recommendation Form
    If the professor did not receive your request through the system, you can download the Recommendation Form here and send it to the professor by email and then bring/send it to OPI. The professor may be from your program, from the General College or from an elective, but they must know you as a student of their class for at least 1 year. The Recommendation may be written in English or Spanish.

    >> Exchange Financial Aid Expense Form
    You will need this Form if you apply for Financial Aid for the exchange program. You can find the estimated cost for each of the four Universities in the information sheets in the "Programs" tab.

    >> Exchange acceptance/rejection form
    You must fill out this Form after being accepted for the exchange program and placed in a foreign University by USFQ. By signing it, you agree to participate in the exchange program and if you decide not to attend without a health reason or circumstances beyond your control proven with relevant documentation, you must pay a $300 fine to USFQ.

    >> Behavior Agreement
    By signing this Agreement, you agree to behave responsibly during your exchange program and assume all risks that your conduct may entail.

    >> Credit transfer form
    The courses that you will take during the exchange program to be transferred appropriately, you will have to speak to your Academic Coordinator and review the syllabus of the subjects you want to take to be approved. You must list the approved subjects and their equivalences at USFQ on this Form, the Coordinator indicates the percentage of content coincidence and signs next to each subject.

    >> OASA Form
    You only have to sign the first section corresponding to your information. The second part remains empty.

    >> Health Form
    You must fill out this form after having been accepted for the exchange program and placed in a foreign University by USFQ.

    Frequently Asked Questions


    I had a D or F in a class but took it again and improved the grade. Can I still apply? Yes, in case the class is absolutely the same with the same name (letter by letter) and you got at least a C, you can apply to the exchange program  Additionally, the OPI has the power to analyze your academic journey throughout your career and may deny your application.

    I have a GPA of 2.98 but the minimum requirement is 3.00. Can I still apply? Yes, you can apply. The Office of International Programs will review these types of applications on a case-by-case basis. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be accepted by the foreign University because many have a 3.00 GPA as a minimum requirement.

    I am about to finish my degree program, can I participate in an exchange? You must take into account that you have to take all the degree classes at USFQ. You cannot participate in an exchange program during your last semester. You may do so during the penultimate semester, but upon return, you will have to take the degree courses (and complete the thesis if your program requires it) and you can fall behind.

    Can I take a USFQ online class during the exchange program? You can take one course online at USFQ maximum during the exchange year.

    Will I be able to work during my exchange program? It depends on the country and the visa. For example, the US J-1 visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week on the host University campus. If you want to work off-campus, your work will have to be connected to the theme of your studies (you will not be able to work as an off-campus waiter). In other countries, you should find out with the Exchange Program Coordinator at your host University.

    Selection of universities

    How do I know which University is the best for my career? As you can see in the list of Universities by degree, there are some options of Universities that offer your degree. Please talk to your Professors/Coordinator/Dean because they are the experts in your area of ​​study and can advise you.

    What if the University where I want to go is not on the list? If this University is Berklee College of Music or Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) you can go directly to the College of Music or the College of Architecture respectively since they are the ones who manage these agreements. If you want to go to another University, you must apply on your own and find out in the Registry the procedure to approve the courses you take there because in this case, OPI will not be able to advise you.

    Exchange period

    Can I apply for 1 semester and then stay longer? Yes, you can generally do so. You will only have to notify the exchange Coordinator of the foreign University and OPI at USFQ in due time. You will also have to do all the paperwork to extend the visa.

    *If you are not sure which period to apply for, OPI advises you to apply for one academic year and return sooner. It is easier to return to Ecuador earlier than to extend the study visa while you are abroad.

    Can I apply for 1 year but come back after 1 semester? Yes. You will only have to notify the exchange Coordinator of the foreign University and OPI at USFQ in due time.

    Can I spend 1 semester at one University, then apply to another and go the other semester to a different University? Yes, you can do it, but the condition is that at the time of applying you must be studying at USFQ. This means that you will not be able to go to different universities in consecutive semesters.

    Can I leave for a calendar year (Spring + Fall)? If you want to apply for the January semester, you can usually stay for one calendar year of exchange. This means what you would do the second semester of one school year and the first semester of another school year. Usually you are not forced to leave the country during the summer and you can travel. However, you may not be able to take classes during the summer. Not all Universities offer the option of Spring + Fall, consult the IPO in due time.

    Costs and Scholarships

    I have a scholarship at the USFQ, does it remain during the exchange? If you have any type of scholarship or financial assistance at the USFQ, it will be maintained when you go on an exchange.

    I need financial support for my exchange! USFQ is giving Financial Aid specifically for students who want to go on an exchange. For more information you can go to the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. More info here.

    I need a scholarship! We have many options of Universities that offer some type of scholarship. In the tab “Exchange Universities” you can find in the second tab the universities that offer scholarships for living costs. You can also use the university search engine to see these scholarships. There are secure scholarships and uncertain scholarships.

    If I am leaving for an academic year, do I also have to pay for 1 full year or can I initially pay for 1 semester? Yes, you can only pay for 1 semester. On the dates established in the Academic Calendar, someone will have to go to the Treasury Office with your student code to pay for the second semester. Payment for the full year is also possible.


    I just want to study English, where am I going? We have certain summer programs at partner universities to study English (English as a Second Language Programs). Ask in the IPO about the available programs.

    Where can I take the TOEFL? Visit the official Toefl page, register and search for all the dates and places where you can take the exam. It will take you at least 10 days to receive the result, so you have to plan the exam according to the application dates.

    I want to study in Europe/Asia but I don't speak the language of the country, can I go? Yes, almost all options in Europe and Asia offer classes in English. There are some exceptions, see the factsheets in "Programs".

    Will the Composition and Rhetoric course be waived if I participate in foreign exchange? It is mandatory to study Composition and Rhetoric at USFQ regardless of going on an exchange program. The only way to have this waived is by taking the exam in the Department of Foreign Languages (DLE) or taking advanced level subjects like Academic Writing etc. during the exchange and get approval from the Composition and Rhetoric Coordinator.

    If a university does not ask me to have TOEFL, can I apply? Even if a university does not require the TOEFL, USFQ requires being able to verify your level of English by:
    having passed level 5 of English at USFQ or
    scoring at least a 60 on the TOEFL.

    Courses, Credits, and Grades

    What about transcripts and transfers? After your exchange, you must make sure that the host University sends the official transcript with the courses you have taken abroad and the qualifications directly to your exchange program coordinator. According to the Credit transfer form, there will be a validation of all the courses you took during the exchange.
    This process is carried out at OASA with Dely Jaramillo

    How do I know which classes I can and can't take? In each fact sheet of the Universities in the "Programs" tab, you will find the link for the courses offered. You will be able to see which courses are opened in the academic area of ​​your interest. In the factsheet, you can find the restricted areas for international students.

    How are grades from other countries with different rating systems transferred? Your exchange program coordinator will provide you with a validation table where you can see how the transfer of courses is carried out depending on the country you are going to.


    Where am I going to live? Almost all Universities have accommodation options for international students. Whether on-campus or off-campus, you will have the opportunity to live close to the University. Housing costs vary depending on the amenities you want. You can see in each fact sheet of the Universities the estimated cost of housing.

    I already have accommodations in the University city, can I live off-campus? Yes, many students have gone to study at a university where they already have accommodation nearby. In this case, you will be responsible for your home and the host university will not be on the duty to ensure you a place to live.

    Online Application

    If I complete the application before the deadline, do I have a better chance of being approved? all applications are evaluated equally after the deadline. There is no advantage if you finish the application earlier. On the contrary, there is a disadvantage if you do not have the complete application including the TOEFL result until the deadline.

    If you want to watch a video of how to complete the application, click here

    Selection of students

    The international programs office evaluates the documents you send in the application, focuses on your GPA, TOEFL, Letter of Recommendation, the number of applicants for this University, and the availability of places in it. If there are not many places and there is a high demand for this University, the profiles of the students would be compared and the best one would be chosen. It is about placing students in the best possible way and within their four preference options.


    Why haven't I received an email from OPI yet? My friends have already received theirs. Do not worry. This happens because OPI emails are sent depending on the deadlines to send the application to foreign universities. This means that the University where your friend goes has an application deadline earlier than yours.

    What if I'm not happy with the OPI location? We can place you in the next option of the four Universities that you chose in the application. That is why it is so important that you do a conscious search for all four options. If for some reason it is not possible to place yourself in the following options, we will help you find alternative options.

    How likely is it that the foreign university will accept me? OPI is in charge of verifying that you meet the requirements and the profile that the foreign University looks for in international students to give you the spot - this way we make sure that there is a positive response from the host University. However, you must take into account that it is your responsibility to fill out the application and send all the documents that the foreign University asks you before the deadline that they put you, OPI can help you in what you need but it is up to you to send it in completed and on time.

    What if the foreign University does not accept me? OPI will try to quickly find another option so that you can leave as long as they have not passed all the deadlines of foreign universities. If the deadlines have passed, you can reapply for the next semester (you will only have to update some parts of your application online without paying the $35 again or request another Recommendation).

    Can I graduate from a foreign university? No, our academic exchanges allow you to do either summer, a semester, or an entire academic year, but you must return to USFQ to finish your studies. If you wish to graduate there, you must transfer on your own.


    Does OPI help me with the visa procedures? No, submitting all the documentation for the study visa is your responsibility. OPI notifies you when your Letter of Acceptance (usually in a hard copy form) arrives at our office and with this Letter you must apply to the visa.

    What happens if they don't give me the visa? It may take a long time for the student visa to be granted. In this case, OPI would contact the host University to save your spot for the following semester when all the documents and the visa are ready. Remember that the applications to the host University and for the visa are your responsibility, so we expect you to be careful with the documents that are requested in each instance.

    Direct Enroll Summer Programs

    The International Programs office receives calls for Summer programs that are not within USFQ's exchange programs and that may be of interest to you. It is important that you know that the specific information about the programs, the application process, as well as the costs and the course validation process are directly dealt with the foreign University.

    Participating in one of these programs does not guarantee that the courses you take will be validated at USFQ upon your return.


    GLAA Opportunities

    Global Liberal Arts Association (GLAA) invites students from USFQ to participate in the one-week Leadership Program at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco in June 2020 thanks to the Endeavor Foundation.

    Participation criteria:

    • The student must lead an ongoing project (that is not close to being completed) and that will be executed after the seminar (2020-2021).
    • The Student must still be a USFQ student for the academic year (2020-2021).
    • The project may be in the following areas: Learning Service (volunteerism tied to career skills development), social or impact entrepreneurship, or social commitment.
    • Ideally, the project is focused on the local community. Projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals will have greater weight.
    • Email by December 30th, 2019 with the following information:
      • Full name and last names, student ID number, GPA, and CV in English.
      • A personal letter of recommendation from a professor in your degree ƒprogram who can highlight your leadership.
      • The application attached to this email.

    Once the applications have been received, we will call interviews from January 2nd to 7th to select the 2 students who will be nominated by USFQ.

    For more information: