Cuban Social Policy Issues

The University of Pittsburgh's Center on Race & Social Problems and School of Social Work are once again pleased to offer the Cuban Social Policy Issues program for graduate students. 
Cuban Social Policy Issues is a Center on Race and Social Prob-lems study abroad program for graduate students in the School of Social Work. The objectives of this program are to carry out first-hand observation of social issues and policy in Cuba, enhance understanding of the ways in which Cuba formulates and implements policies aimed at contemporary social issues, and learn about alternative policies, programs, and services that might be useful in the U.S.
A one-credit Center on Race and Social Problems study abroad course, Cuban Social Policy Issues, will be offered to graduate students in the School of Social Work for the spring term. The course will focus on several different fields, such as education, public health, gender concerns, social security (i.e., safety net), and social work. Students will meet in Pittsburgh four times before traveling to Cuba. At these meetings students will discuss a book on Cuba and hear lectures by Cuba experts. Early in the course each student will choose a social issue of interest and will then gather information on the topic throughout the course. After re-turning from Cuba, each student will write a research paper on the social issue in Cuba, how it is addressed through policies, pro-grams, and organizations, and possible lessons for the U.S.
Students will leave for Havana, Cuba, at the beginning of the spring break recess, remain there for the week, and return before classes resume at the University of Pittsburgh. The visit will consist of lectures by and meetings with key officials and social service providers as well as field trips that offer opportunities to observe social conditions and services.
Application for the program will be available in early October 2019.

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an active and engaged participant in the program, you will develop:

  • An understanding of social services in Cuba
  • The role that race and skin color play in access to social services in Cuba
  • A comparative analysis of social services and race relations between Cuba and the United States

As the cultural, economic, and political capital of Cuba, La Habana is a dynamic city that will never cease to amaze you.  Founded in 1509, it is rich with history of the founding of the New World by Spanish conquistadores and the hope for creating a gleaming civilization.  You will experience Cuban culture through music, food, dancing, baseball, and nightly strolls along the Malecon.  Havana is a popular tourist destination (for non-US citizens, of course) with plenty to take in during your time abroad.

Where You'll Live: 

El Costillar de Rocinante (also known as the Journalist Hotel, El Hotelito, and many other names) is your home for the program. Located just 5 minutes on foot from La Universidad de Habana and 15 minutes from the Malecón, El Costillar de Rocinante is a comortable and typical Cuban residence.  A large dining room (with two meals per day included) and a spacious and cool lobby open onto a wrap-around veranda.  Enjoy the Cuban breeze as you work on school work, relax with friends, or chat with other guests at the hotel.  Double rooms (with air conidtioning) open onto a second-floor veranda as well. El Costillar is no Hilton but is a safe and comfortable place to stay in Havana. 
Housing location is subject to change due to availability with similar ammenities.

What You'll Study: 

This one-credit course will take place primarily in Cuba with 4 pre-departure meetings in late-January and February.

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Brice Lynn

Hey there.  I'm Brice and I'm one of the Assistant Directors at Pitt Study Abroad.  I'm a born-and-raised Pittsburgher (and have the accent to prove it).  My own study abroad experience as a Pitt student took me to Granada, Spain.  Between my host family, the food, and all of the embarrassing language mistakes I made, it turned out to be some of the best months of my life. Now, I'm here to help you make your own study abroad experience a reality.  When I'm not in the office, you can usually find me falling out of yoga poses, riding my bike, and ruining all of these physical activities with a plate of pierogi (extra butter and onions, please).  Get in touch with me at or 412-383-1029.

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Dr. Anita Sanz

Dr. Anita Sanz is a Professor of Biology at the University of Havana and has been working with Pitt students studying abroad in Cuba since 2008.  As the Pitt contact in Havana, Anita will help you get settled in to your residence and accompany you on most of your excursions.  Anita will also serve as a resource for questions of culture, language, and general life in Cuba!

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $776 $776
Program Fee $2273 $2273
CRSP / SSW Guaranteed Scholarship -$1,000 -$1,000
Total Billed by Pitt $2,049 $2,049

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Meals and Personal Expenses $300

Total Estimated Program Cost

  In-State Out-of-State

Total Estimated Cost of Program
(Includes items billed by Pitt and additional expenses)

$2,349 $2,349


You must plan to bring cash for all expenses incurred in Cuba.  The use of ATMs, credit cards, and any other form of payment is not permitted.

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

The amounts above are for the 2019-2020 academic year and should be used as estimates only. Pricing for 2020-2021 will be posted and announced in the fall term.

What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 1 credit
  • Health insurance
  • Housing in Havana
  • Most breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
  • Group transportation from the airport on arrival and departure days
  • City tour of Havana
  • Round-trip airfare from Pittsburgh to Havana
When You'll Go: 

Dates for the 2020-2021 academic year will be posted in the fall! 

What Else You Need to Know: 

This program is offered to graduate students in the School of Social Work.  Undergraduates from the School of Social Work and graduate students from related fields may apply, but preference is given to MSW and PhD students in SSW.