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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Universidad Americana

Known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua is abundant in untouched tropical landscapes that range from pristine beaches to lush rainforests. Nicaragua also offers a fascinating history from the settling of the Aztecs to the Spanish conquest to nearly hosting what became the Panama Canal.

While the images of the revolutionary war-torn 80s have made an imprint in the world’s perception of Nicaragua, it is important to note that Nicaragua is now a peaceful country that embraces democracy and was recently voted the safest country in Central America. In fact, it is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourism, retirement, real estate, and business investments.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about Universidad Americana here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Exchange or Direct-Enroll


Managua, Nicaragua

Languages of Instruction

Spanish, English - Depending on which option you choose, 2-4 semesters of university-level Spanish or equivalent is required

Program Dates

Fall 2018: February to June

Spring 2019: August to December

All dates are tentative and may change. ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


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 have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • 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 2.75.  
  • ISEP EXCHANGE: Language Requirement: A minimum of 2 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to program in order to enroll in courses in the College of University Studies in English (CUSE). 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to program in order to enroll in regular courses taught in Spanish outside of CUSE.
  • ISEP DIRECT: Language Requirement: A minimum of 2 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. ISEP Direct students with less than 4 semesters of university-level Spanish may only take regular university courses taught in English. Students with 4 semesters or more of university-level Spanish may take regular university courses in English or Spanish. 
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.


Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.


ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Very Good.

ISEP Direct chance of placement for all students is generally Excellent


Nicaragua is the largest republic in Central America. The capital, Managua, is near the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Unlike other Central American capitals, it has no mountains enclosing it, allowing a gentle breeze. Nicaragua also boasts beautiful beaches, rivers, volcanoes, rain forests, and mountains within reach of Managua. The university is located in the new heart of the city, el Camino de Oriente.


Study in English or Spanish in the safest country in Central America! Universidad Americana (UAM) offers a variety of courses including the Spanish language. The International Programs office plans regular excursions throughout Nicaragua, including volcano boarding! Discover life the Nica way!

UAM offers courses in both Spanish and English (through the College of University Studies in English-CUSE). Students may register for classes in either language (or both). The ISEP Coordinator is also available to recommend courses that are appropriate for international students.

Students generally enroll in four to six courses per semester and spend 15 to 21 hours a week in class. Semesters are 16 weeks in length.



Programs in Spanish: Faculty of Architecture: (Architecture); Faculty of Economics and Business Administration: (Marketing and Advertising, Business Administration);Faculty of Juridic and Social Sciences:(Law); Faculty of Diplomacy and international Relations: (Diplomacy and International Relations); Faculty of Design and Visual Communication: (Design and Visual Communication); Faculty of Engineering:(Information Systems Engineering, Industrial Engineering); Faculty of Medicine:(Medicine); Faculty of Dentistry: (Dentistry)

Please Note: Programs in Spanish are only open to students on ISEP-Exchange or ISEP-Direct students who have completed 4 or more semesters of university-level Spanish. See Language Notes for further detail.


The College of University Studies in English (CUSE), is an American style English language college within the University.

Degree Programs: Natural Resource Management, Strategic Marketing, Global Finance, Global Management, International Development. 

For course descriptions and more information visit the College of University Studies in English (CUSE) Website

Please Note: CUSE courses are open to both ISEP Exchange and ISEP Direct students who meet the English language proficiency requirements detailed below. See Language Notes for detail.



ISEP Exchange:

Language Requirement: A minimum of 2 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to program in order to enroll in courses in the College of University Studies in English (CUSE). 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to program in order to enroll in regular courses taught in Spanish outside of CUSE.

Language Courses: Spanish language courses are offered in addition to regular classes during the Academic Year and Semester, and may be included in ISEP benefits. Students who wish to take Spanish courses will take an evaluation on arrival to determine their level.

ISEP Direct:

Language Requirement: A minimum of 2 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. ISEP Direct students with less than 4 semesters of university-level Spanish may only take regular university courses taught in English. Students with 4 semesters or more of university-level Spanish may take regular university courses in English or Spanish. 

Language Courses: Students on ISEP Direct will have access to Spanish as a Second Language course for credit. Students with less than 4 semesters of university-level Spanish are required to take this course. Students with 4 semesters or more of university-level Spanish are not required to take this course but may do so.

For more information on courses and language options, see the:
ISEP Spanish Language Advising Guide for US Students



Placement in the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry will require prior approval. Please contact the ISEP Program Officer for Nicaragua for more information


Students should keep in mind that Universidad Americana is a smaller university. Students should list be flexible in regards to the courses they can take, and list several alternative courses should a course(s) not be offered the semester they are abroad.


For Programs In Spanish:
1. Click on: Courses in Spanish
2. Select a major you are interested in. Scroll down to the section that says “Descargar Archivos Adjuntos,” to download the plan of study (plan de estudios) and course descriptions (discriptores de cursos). 
3. Please note that the Programs in Spanish operate on the Southern Hemisphere Academic Calendar. Courses offered in semesters 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 will be offered from February to June and courses offered in semesters 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 will be offered from August to December.

For Programs In English:
1. Click on: Courses in English
2. Select “Undergraduate Programs” from the blue bar on the left. 
3. Select a School from the next menu and a degree title from the next menu.
4. You will then see the list of courses taught in that degree and may scroll down to the bottom of the page to download course descriptions. 
5. Please note that the Programs in English follow the Northern Hemisphere calendar, meaning semesters 1, 3, 5 and 7 are offered from August to December and semesters 2, 4, 6 and 8 are offered from February to June. This is different from the courses offered in Spanish.

Coursework And Grades

Classes will likely be smaller in size and may be lecture or lab based (especially for science disciplines). Attendance is an important component of the grading system. At Universidad Americana, you are required to attend at least 80% of all classes to have the right to sit for your final exam.

Grades are given on a 0-100 point scale with 100 being the highest possible grade. A grade of 70 is considered passing at the undergraduate level (80 for post-graduate). Courses are normally one semester in length and assigned credit depends on the material and course hours. Grades may be based on a variety of factors including attendance and participation, homework assignments, exams or papers. Some classes may consist only of a midterm and final exam


Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Can review the country handbooks for ISEP here as well:



ISEP Placement info: http://www.isep.org/Coordinators/us_placement_notes_english.asp


Please review country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Student Life

Universidad Americana (UAM), a private institution of higher education, was founded in 1992 by a group of university professors who shared a dedication to the development and improvement of higher education in Nicaragua. UAM’s campus is new and its installations are equipped with the most modern technology, including four computer labs. Since the university is still so young, the library collection is not extensive; the collection housed at the university is extremely up-to-date and in many ways superior to many other library collections in Nicaragua.



Orientation is given by the ISEP Coordinators upon student’s arrival. Orientation day will help students get acquainted with life at UAM and the education system. During this day, they will get to meet the staff and learn about the university’s procedure, in order to make their time at UAM and their learning experience, pleasant and effective. Students will also receive information about immigration requirements, volunteer opportunities, extracurricular activities and tourism in Nicaragua. 


UAM will send a representative to pick the students at the airport and will take the student to his/her host family.


The university offers a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, ranging from arts, theater, poetry groups and a wide range of sports. The campus has attractive, new facilities for volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball, football, and soccer. 

Check out the International Programs Blog!

Housing and Meals

Students are housed with host families. Students may eat breakfast and dinner with the host family, and receive a monthly stipend for lunch. UAM provides money in the stipend for students to take recommended transportation from the host family to the university, and back.

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 a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

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

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition



Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost



College Deposit (credit)



Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College



ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)



ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated) Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP



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.

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.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

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