Semester Abroad in Guatemala

Study & Serve in


Adventure and discovery await you in the fascinating Central American country of Guatemala. Join Students International for a semester of ministry and cultural exploration through study, service, travel, and lively interaction with local residents.




Rigorous Academics

Earn 15-16 college credits. Courses are taught by both Guatemalan and U.S. professors.

International Development Theory and Practice (3 credits)
A survey of international development theory and practice with special attention to Christian perspectives on transformational development. The theoretical components of the course will focus on theories of inequality, development and globalization with special attention given to issues related to religion, gender and education in development. The practical components will stress holistic, contextualized responses that provide students with the analytical tools and basic skills needed for transformational development work.

Peoples and Cultures of Guatemala (3 credits)
In this class students will explore the Guatemalan cultures with special attention given to the history, politics and religion of this Central American nation along with issues of race, immigration, indigenous peoples, class and family relationships that are unique to the country. The course will include numerous sessions led by Guatemalans with expertise in each of the course topics. Students will also make visits to various sites of cultural significance.

International Internship in Guatemala (3-4 credits)
An intensive semester-long experience in which the student is fully immersed in Guatemalan culture, involved in hands-on service and guided by a mentor. Goal setting and journaling activities will help students engage in self-reflection and mentor evaluations will provide them with constructive feedback about their ministry and cultural skills.

Spanish (6 credits)
Choose from beginning to avanced course. Receive personal instruction at language school.

Full listing of Spanish courses.

Meaningful Vocational Ministry

“I love how ministry sites are included into the study abroad experience. I’m thankful that I got to be a part of this.”

Gain hands-on experience through an internship at a community ministry site related to your interests. Seasoned missionaries from Guatemala and the U.S. run SI’s ministry sites year-round and are committed to a long-term presence within the community. Most ministry sites are within walking distance from where students stay.

Christian Mentoring & Community Life

Live and learn alongside our entire SI-Guatemala staff through classes, debriefing, Bible studies, family nights, and other community-building events. Staff live minutes away, accompany students on all program-sponsored excursions, and actively disciple and mentor students. Additional support is provided by SI staff and your sending school before, during, and after your semester.

Location, Housing & Food

“The program is unique and pushes students out of their comfort zone.”
SI-Guatemala is based in the village of Magdalena Milpas Altas (“Magdalena” for short), about 45 minutes from Guatemala City. Magdalena has a population of around 10,000, and is in Guatemala’s Central Highlands near the popular tourist town of Antigua. The region is characterized by strong traditional indigenous culture. Languages spoken include Spanish and Quiché.

The climate of Magdalena is usually warm days and cool mornings/evenings from March to October and cool days and cold mornings/evenings from November to February. March and April are the hottest months, with temperatures usually in the 80s. Magdalena tends to have cooler weather much of the year though. During the rainy season of May-October, mornings are typically dry with a few hours of rain in the mid-late afternoon.

Host families? Students will stay in carefully-selected host homes in Antigua. Students will receive three meals per day by the host family except for Sundays. Each student will receive a stipend to cover meals not included on Sundays.



To broaden your experience of Guatemala as a country full of diverse people groups, majestic natural beauty and fascinating historical and cultural landmarks, a number of excursions are built in to the semester. Students are required to participate in group excursions. Our travel schedule is subject to change, but trips generally occur about one time per month and frequent destinations include:

“I loved the combination of school/Spanish and ministry. I also absolutely loved that we got to be so deep in the community while in Magdalena and in our sites.”

Overnight trips:

  • Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes, it is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world
  • Tikal, one of Central America’s  premiere Mayan archeological sites
  • Pacific Coast, featuring quaint seaside villages and black sand beaches

5-6 various day trips around our area:

Students often choose to engage in additional travel (at their own cost), guidelines and ideas for which are provided by program leadership.


2020 Program dates are August 26 – December 9. Here is a general breakdown of the semester (weekend excursions not included):

Aug 26
Week 1
Weeks 2-4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8-10
Week 11-14
Dec 9
Arrive in Guatemala
Orientation & Team building
Intensive Spanish at language school
Ministry sites
Intensive course week
Ministry sites
Intensive Spanish at language school
Ministry sites
Return home

*Program schedule, ministry sites, and excursions are subject to change.


See your study abroad advisor or contact Students International for information on cost. In most cases, your financial aid package applies.

Academic Partners

SI partners with the following schools to offer this semester program:

  • Crown College
  • Greenville University

Students from other schools may participate through an agreement with Crown College and will receive Crown course credit.

Next Steps

  • Visit your study abroad advisor.
  • See your academic advisor to discuss how this program compliments your major / minor.
  • Contact Students International with any questions using the information listed below. We are happy to set up a time to talk and can even put you in touch with past participants!