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ECUADOR - Minnesota Studies in International Development

Experience contemporary Ecuadorian culture—a blend of indigenous and Spanish colonial—while improving your Spanish language skills. You’ll also contribute to an internship or research project with a nonprofit organization while you are there. Explore the complex realities around issues such as environment, globalization, public health, and social justice.

Learning from experience is the core of Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID). The program puts you in direct contact with the social and economic realities of actual communities and of people working within them to address complex problems. Through classes, field trips, internships, and research, MSID strives to establish a continual dialogue linking experience with theory and critical analysis. Learn more about the MSID mission and educational philosophy.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND  (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus)  
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5.
  • Language Requirement: Four semesters of college-level Spanish. 

Few, countries as small as Ecuador contain such remarkable geographic and biological diversity. Geographically, it ranges from coastal deserts to temperate mountain valleys to Amazon forests. Culturally and racially, its population includes a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and African elements. The program is based in Quito, an Andean city that houses a remarkable combination of colonial and modern, rich and poor. Internship sites are scattered within a 3-hour radius of Quito.


Spend 7 weeks engaged in coursework in Quito, followed by 6 weeks in a rural area working as an intern or conducting a research project with a local grassroots organization. MSID students enroll in 4 required courses, in addition to an internship or research project:

  • International Development: Critical Perspectives on Theory and Practice
    Choose a track to focus your studies and prepare you for your internship or research project. See track descriptions for more information.
    • Arts and Cultural Studies
    • Education and Literacy
    • Entrepreneurship and Alternative Economies
    • Public Health
    • Social Service
    • Sustainability and the Environment
  • Ecuador Country Analysis
  • Spanish Language
  • Community Engagement in the Global South 


Courses are intensive and personal.  The program is worth 16 credit hours, or 4 Lake Forest College credits. Though letter grades will appear on the Lake Forest transcript, they will not factor into a student’s GPA except in calculations of honors or the Dean’s List.  

Student Life

Although excursions change from semester to semester, students can expect to visit a variety of sites that may include local markets, development agencies, and other areas of interest around Quito.  

Learning Outcomes
  • Foster an understanding of the global context through classroom and experiential learning
  • Cultivate awareness and appreciation for development issues through engagement with diverse communities
  • Translate insights gained into thoughtful and respectful long-term perspectives on concepts of social justice and sustainable development
  • Strengthen communication skills through acquisition of local languages and cultural awareness
  • Gain cross-cultural competencies through extended engagement at a local grassroots organization
  Internship Opportunities

The internship and research experience is the cornerstone of the MSID program and may be where you learn the most. Your placement will be with an agency engaged in grassroots work related to your selected track and will immerse you in the social realities of the poorer strata of the population. During the classroom phase, on-site staff will review your interests and attempt to place you with an agency whose goals match your objectives. Most requests within a general field can be accommodated, but adjustments may be made based on availability. Details about the internship and research process are in the program’s On-Site Guide.

The internship or research objectives will be agreed to by MSID, the agency supervisor, and you and will involve at least 25 hours per week of work. Twelve contact hours are incorporated into the classroom phase and provide specific training on research methodology to prepare students for their research or internship project.

Sample internships can be found here.

Housing and Meals

Homestays are an integral component of the learning experience, and often a highlight for participants. Your family provides not only housing and most meals but is also a vital connection to Ecuadorian culture and daily life. All families have been carefully screened by our partner organization in Quito and complete an orientation prior to hosting students. Nearly all families have hosted program participants before and have been chosen for their genuine interest in sharing Ecuadorian life with an MSID program participant. Most students will experience living with two host families—one in Quito during the classroom phase and a second one in the rural area during the internship/research phase.

Host families provide 2 meals per day—breakfast and dinner. Students will be responsible for providing their own lunches. Several inexpensive dining options are within walking distance of Fundacion CIMAS, where all classes are held.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for the MSID Ecuador program includes orientation, housing, some meals, internship support, several local excursions, and insurance.  

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office