With its sparkling beaches, laid back lifestyle and buzzing cultural scene, the Caribbean is often portrayed as the perfect beach getaway, and not quite as often as a study abroad destination.
Yet, the Caribbean has a complex and rich history -- from slavery and colonization, to the disappearance of indigenous populations, and the current culture that blends all of its previous histories and backgrounds in one. Beyond that, many of the Caribbean's islands are a focus of hot political and environmental issues. On top of all that, you can find English, Spanish, French, and Dutch spoken in the Caribbean (depending on which island you're on).
What this means: if you look beyond the white sandy beaches and tourist resorts, you'll see that the Caribbean makes a great study abroad destination for everyone from anthropology and language students to environment, medical, or political majors.
The top 3 universities in Dominican Republic are the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, and Universidad APEC. In particular, the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo is the best university in Dominican Republic. It is the public university system in the Dominican Republic with its flagship campus in the Ciudad Universitaria of Santo Domingo and with regional campuses in many cities of the Republic. With a wide range of courses from the Humanities to Engineering and Architecture. UASD promises a world-class education in a large campus teeming with ideas and vibrance. Spanish can be a language of instruction – perfect for students looking to brush up their language skills!
Many of the best universities are located in Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic. Home to one of the oldest churches, streets and the oldest surviving European fortress in the New World, Santo Domingo has a rich culture and heritage that would especially delight students interested in historical and cultural studies. Santo Domingo is not only home to colonial-era relics however. It is intensely urban as well, packed with hot clubs, museums and elegant restaurants – all this with a laid-back casual spirit and fringed by aquamarine waters. What better way is there to spend a hectic school semester?
Cuba has more than 60 universities to choose from, all of which are public universities. Cuba’s best universities include Universidad de La Habana, Universidad de Oriente Santiago de Cuba and Ciudad Universitaria Jose Antonio Echeverria. Spanish is the official language and a common medium of instruction – providing you the opportunity to strengthen your Spanish skills! English is common too however, so you need not worry in times of distress.
With its tropical climate all year round, you can expect to spend days lazing around Jamaica’s beautiful beaches and dipping your toes into its warm waters. When evening comes around, chill with friends to live music played in one of Jamaica’s many restaurants and hotels, or experience Jamaica’s swinging nightlife! In particular, Havana City is the capital of Cuba and home to many of Cuba’s top universities. Havana City is great for students seeking to experience the vibrance of Cuba. With Jamaica’s glorious old towns and pulsing activity, you can look forward to a study abroad experience straddling grand history and dynamic modern culture.
The best universities in Puerto Rico are the Inter American University of Puerto Rico (UIPR), the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), and the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (PUPR). UIPR is a private university system and the largest private university in the Western Hemisphere. UPR offers a wide range of academic programs, while PUPR is a leading private non-profit institution specializing in Engineering, Architecture, Land surveying and Geomatics, and Business Administration.
Like other countries, many of the country’s universities are situated in its capital. San Juan is the largest City in the Caribbean and the center of culture, art and history in Puerto Rico. With romantic and historic Old San Juan, sparkling beaches, pulsing nightlife and ancient monuments, this city is sure to offer something for you. Students studying abroad in San Juan can look forward to enjoying the best harbor in the Caribbean via the Condado and Isla Verde beaches, immersing yourself in Spanish culture along the narrow streets of Old San Juan and living it up at one of San Juan’s many nightclubs. Looking for a low impact adventure? Tour the La Marquesa Forest Reserve via zip line! With so much to see and do, study abroad will never be boring in San Juan.
Some of the best and top universities in Jamaica are University of Technology, Jamaica, Northern Caribbean University, The University of the West Indies, Mona, University College of the Caribbean and Mico University College. Jamaica has a mixed population amongst students, ensuring that you get a truly international study abroad experience! Faculty in Jamaican universities are highly qualified, and in fact, most of them are qualified from UK and US universities. With a wide spectrum of courses offered, you can be sure to find a university that appeals to you.
Jamaica is also a wonderful country to study abroad as it offers a diverse range of experiences outside of school. Known as the “Heartbeat of Jamaica”, Kingston is Jamaica’s capital of contrasts. Whether you enjoy nature, heritage or modernity, you will never have a dull moment in Kingston. Start your day with a picnic at Devon House Heritage Site, and live up your nights at Bull Bay, where the coastline pulsates with rhythms from the various nightclubs that line the beach! Kingston is also a great launch-pad to explore the rest of Jamaica. Be it visiting the “Hip Strip” at Montego Bay, admiring the natural beauty of the waterfalls, rivers and beaches in Ocho Rios, or navigating the crocodile-filled Black River along the South Coast, you can be sure to get the most out of your study abroad experience in Jamaica!
Study abroad is about gaining new experiences and exposing yourself to a whole new world, lifestyle and culture – and the Caribbean offers just that. The diversity and vibrance of the region is incredible, and if you are not afraid to step out of your comfort zone, you will find the Caribbean to be perfect for you.
Planning Your Trip
In order to have the best study abroad experience possible, it is vital that you have a clear idea of what you want so that you can choose the program that is most suited for you. Below are some factors that you should consider, and conduct further research, so that you can make an informed decision. After all, studying abroad is often one of the best college memories one can have, and you certainly want to do it right!
The islands of the Caribbean have come together in support of superior high education, with the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institutions acting as a catalyst for collaboration and cooperation in higher education. This means that you can rest assured that you will received a high quality education while studying abroad.
If you're interested in medicine, the Caribbean is also a popular destination for medical school with its small student-professor ratios and the benefits of personalized attention. Universities in the Caribbean also have an extremely diverse study body, thus you can expect to have a truly international experience both inside and outside of the classroom.
English, French, Spanish, and Dutch are all spoken within the Caribbean. For students who want to focus on practicing, improving, or simply learning from scratch a new language, you have French, Spanish, or Dutch to choose from. For those who prefer to keep their studies in English, that option exists as well! In fact, the Caribbean might be one of the least thought of destinations to study abroad in English.
If you were hoping to improve your Spanish skills, the NRCSA Spanish Language Program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and San Juan, Puerto Rico will have you speaking Spanish like a local in no time. Cuba has also opened its borders to study abroad students from most nationalities.
French speakers can study in Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, and St. Martin (though a French creole might be used more frequently in day to day life on these islands).
Dutch learners, look towards Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.
Accommodation is often included in the costs of whichever program you select, and can take the form of home-stay, apartments or hotels. Some universities like the University of Puerto Rico have university housing that exchange students like you can be privy to as well. However, the type of accommodation you have ultimately depends on the specific guidelines of your program/university, and can very differ greatly.
Visa requirements vary from country to country in the Caribbean, thus it is crucial that you check the necessary details from the specific consultant/embassy. As a general rule, student visas for the Caribbean must be renewed each year and the documents required include criminal record certificate, medical certificate, legible photocopy of your National Identity Document and acceptance certification of the University you will be attending.
Social Life and Student Culture
Studying in the Caribbean means that you will often find yourself whiling days away on the beach and in its clear waters. From the famous Punta Cana coastline in Dominican Republic to Playa Paraiso in Cuba, it is no surprise that the Caribbean beaches are a popular gathering for students and locals alike.
Feeling active? Jump on a jet-ski with your friend or go scuba diving amongst one of the Caribbean’s beautiful coral reefs. When fatigue sets in, you can look forward to strengthening friendships while chilling on glistening sandy beaches and dining by the beach with the wind in your hair.
From dress-to-the-nines salsa clubs to barefoot-in-the-sand beach bars, the Caribbean also offers a distinctive party scene that will spice up a sedentary school week. These clubs are popular amongst students and come nightfall, will be pulsing to the rhythm of both local and international music (reggae in Jamaica, anyone?).
Costs & Funding
There are a number of scholarship opportunities available in the Caribbean, although it is notably less than other regions such as Asia. General scholarship and financial aid providers include the Fulbright Scholarships, and Gilman Scholarships. There are plenty of other Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships out there that aren't region specific as well.