Cuban Art Schools: Admission, Programs, Tuition & Ranking

Want to study in a Cuban art school, or learn what it is like in Cuban art school? Then read on. 

Cuba, one of the most ethnically diverse countries of the Caribbean, may not exactly be famous for its education as it is for the breathtaking museums, galleries, and tourist attractions that are its historic trademark.

But that is what makes it a prime location to study Caribbean culture while experiencing it in real-time.

Home to some foremost artists such as Wilfredo Lam, Roberto Fabelo, Zaida del Río, Gilberto Frómeta, and Magdalena Campos, as well as a hotspot for music styles from Afro-American jazz to rock and roll and salsa.

This and with schools such as the Universidad de las Artes, Cuba is certainly a place to be trained in a blend of artistry that is simply unique. 

School Life in Cuba

Studying in Cuba is a very unique experience. Still very much influenced by the socialism of its forefathers, its culture is vibrant and buzzing.

There are tons of opportunities for personal growth, forming new friendships (both with friendly locals and fellow students) and learning new ideas.

A strongly Spanish-style country, it is a beautiful place to gain a new perspective about life, because studying in Cuba, as they say, is not just about academics. 

While the quality of living is generally not as high as that of Europe, the cost of living is also far less, with a dozen eggs selling for only half a dollar. Finding accommodation is not always easy, which is why it is encouraged to book a place before flying to the country. 

However, when you do find accommodation, it is often of remarkably good quality, often well-ventilated, spacious, and with 24-hour security. 

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What are the Types of Student Accommodation Available in Cuba?

#1. Residence Hall/Dorm

Life in a Residence Hall/Dorm is like a combination of living with a family and living in an apartment. You will most likely have a room with a bed, desk, and closet under this setup.

You will also probably have communal bathroom and shower facilities, communal cooking and dining facilities, and communal laundry facilities.

#2. Home–stay

Homestay host families come in many shapes and sizes. You may be living with a traditional family comprised of a mother, father, children, and pets of course.
You may live in a divorced household, a single-parent household, a household with young children or teenagers or college-age children who go to the same college or university where you’ll study.

#3. Apartment

You will find that apartment life will give you the most independence (preferred by most students), but the most work.

If you do not think you can handle paying rent and utilities, paying bills, marketing and cooking for yourself, doing the dishes, doing laundry, cleaning, and working out roommate challenges on your own, then maybe apartment life in Cuba is not for you.

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On the other hand, you gain a lot of independence and freedom because you can make your own rules and follow your own schedule without interference. So, whatever your preference — there is something for you. 

As for student work, unlike European countries and the USA, most Cuban university programs and college so programs allow students to work on a part-time basis, with a maximum limit of 35 hours per week.

The pay generally is not sufficient for tuition but will help you with minor expenses such as bills, feeding, and travel expenses, and if the job duties are relevant to your professional career, it would be a great addition to your CV. Besides, it provides an excellent means of interacting with locals, building your skills, and building lasting connections.

 Usually, your program director will help you in finding part-time work opportunities inside the campus, for example; work in a cafeteria, library, college canteen, security, laundry or gardening, etc. With higher qualifications (such as a Bachelor’s, or Master’s), your work opportunities improve significantly, and you may even be hired by professors to teach undergraduate courses to junior students. 

Some colleges reserve part-time appointments such as working in the library, cafeteria and administrative assistantship positions for students, all opportunities which you can avail yourself of. Other colleges, even offer summer internships to college students, so if you think you are an excellent fit, you can apply. 

For relaxation and fun, Cuba is perpetually buzzing and swaying to life and love, and there is a wide variety of options to explore Cuba from. At its very heart, a blend of Amerindian Taino, Spanish, French, Asian and English culture, Cuba has distinct mettle, which drives its cultural vibrancy. 

Whether it’s dancing the night away to the mambo, charanga, or rumba; or cheering for a talented baseball team (baseball is Cuba’s popular sport, although tennis, football and volleyball are hugely popular); or simply relaxing on a sunny Havana beach, options for fun are plentiful and varied. 

Art in Cuba take many forms; 

#1. Visual Arts

Cuba has galleries, art museums, and community cultural centres that regularly display the works of Cuban painters. The most important (all in Havana) is the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Haydée Santamaría Gallery of the House of the Americas, the Gallery of Havana, and the Fortress Castle.

There Cuba’s foremost contemporary artists—Wifredo Lam, René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, Servando Cabrera Moreno, Raúl Martínez—share space with younger artists. The Ministry of Culture provides most of the materials needed by artists and also guarantees jobs to graduates of the Higher Institute of Art.

Painters in Cuba tend to work in many genres: they design fabrics (called by the trade name Telarte), sets for movies and theatre, and posters for films, books, cultural events, and community campaigns. Posters are one of Cuba’s best-known cultural exports.

The Ministry of Culture promotes numerous art exchanges and sends exhibits of Cuban art throughout the world. The government works to promote art from the countries of the developing world, primarily through the Havana Biennial, which started in 1984.

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#2. Music and dance

Cuban music has Spanish and African roots, a blend that has contributed to a unique sound in both traditional and popular music. The Cuban rumba, son, guaracha, habanera, bolero, danzón, conga, and cha-cha, as well as salsa and the Nueva Trova (“New Song”) movement, have influenced much of the hemisphere.

The Cuban folk anthem “Guantanamera,” which derives from a nostalgic poem by José Martí, is frequently heard throughout Latin America, as are the popular love songs “Habanera Tú” and “Siboney.”

Composer-singers Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez, among the founders of the Nueva Trova movement, are acclaimed throughout Latin America for their lyric social criticism. Festivals of Cuban music and song are held throughout the year, encompassing works of every genre from every period, including the internationally popular Afro-Cuban jazz.

The worldwide success of the Buena Vista Social Club album (1997) and concert series, as well as the subsequent film documentary (1999), introduced listeners throughout the world to those genres and revived the careers of such once-popular artists as Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, and Omara Portuondo.

Classical music is of relatively minor importance in Cuba, but there is a National Symphony Orchestra that also has a chamber orchestra and instrumental ensembles. One of Cuba’s foremost artistic figures is Alicia Alonso—a dancer of international acclaim, the prima ballerina and founder (1948) of the company that would become the National Ballet of Cuba, and the head of its school.

The Ballet of Camagüey, under the direction of Fernando Alonso, was established in 1971, and a second Havana company was founded in the mid-1980s. Besides classical ballet, there is the Modern Dance Company in Havana, the Tumba Francesa (a black folk group) in Santiago de Cuba, and dozens of smaller troupes.

#3. Theatre

Cuban theatre has been state-supported since 1959, mostly under the direction of the Ministry of Culture. There are several national dramatic groups, such as the Studio Theatre, whose directing councils create their own repertoire.

Provincial theatre groups are also well established. Cuban theatre reached a new maturity in the 1980s, producing plays focusing on contemporary social problems as well as developing efforts to integrate music and dance.

However, like most aspects of Cuban life, the theatre suffered during the “special period” of the 1990s. National and international theatre festivals feature Cuban companies and troupes from the rest of the Americas.

The National Theatre has an excellent library, and the House of the Americas (Casa de las Américas), an international cultural institution, sponsors regular encuentros (meetings) with theatre professionals. Increasingly, Cuban theatre troupes travel abroad as part of an active exchange program.

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#4. Film

Cuban filmmaking since 1959 has been supported by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, which has produced feature and documentary films. The institute also has an extensive film library, and its movie house, the Charles Chaplin Theatre, regularly shows the best of both world and Cuban cinema.

The institute provides a variety of support services throughout the hemisphere and sponsors the prestigious annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. The Foundation for New Latin American Cinema was established in Havana under the direction of the Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez.

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Long popular in Latin America, Cuban films have enjoyed wider international audiences since the 1990s, especially after the critical and commercial success of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío’s film Fresa y chocolate (1994; Strawberry and Chocolate), which won the 1994 Berlin International Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize and was nominated for an Academy Award as best foreign-language film.

Tabío’s Lista de Espera (2000; Waiting List) and Fernando Pérez’s La Vida es silbar (1999; Life is to Whistle) were also well received.

Programs at Cuban Art Schools

Cuban art schools generally offer a specialized Bachelor of Arts program, with programs in Theater Arts, Audiovisual Media Arts, Visual Arts, Music, Dance, and Cultural Heritage Conservation. 

What are the Admission Requirements?

Most Cuban universities have entrance exams divided into subjects depending on the program you are interested in. The process may also include interviews. 

Different universities have different requirements akin to their establishment, for example in Cuba to apply for an undergraduate program you must be between 18 to 25 years.

Generally, here are the requirements for the Bachelor’s program

  • Senior Secondary/High School Certificate
  • Signed online application form
  • International passport or travel document
  • Health report
  • Senior Secondary/High School Results

Master’s Program

  •  Bachelor’s certificate
  •  Academic transcripts from an undergraduate program
  •  International passport or travel document
  •  Health report

Ph.D. Programs:

  • Masters degree certificate
  • Bachelor’s degree certificate
  • Transcripts from a masters program
  • Transcripts from a bachelors program
  • International passport or travel document
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A further interview assessment by the admissions committee and the department of the university

Note that the country is a Spanish-speaking country, students must be fluent in the language. Students who cannot speak the language would be required to enrol for a 1-year intensive course in Spanish.

How Much is Cuban Art School’s Tuition?

The value of tuition at a Cuban art school (or art faculty) varies, generally from about $1,000 to $3,000. 

Cuban Art School Rankings

Art schools in Cuba rank moderately well, with The University of Havana (Cuba’s top university) ranking within the world’s top 2000 according to the Center for World University Rankings and Times Higher Education. The University of Havana has also been shown to rank among the world’s top 9% of universities.

All 8 universities offering Art degrees in Cuba are certified and approved by the Junta Nacional de Acreditación (JAN), Cuba’s highest regulatory body for tertiary institutions. They include:

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  • University of Havana: 
  • ISA University of Arts: 
  • University of Granma: 
  • University of Guantanamo: 
  • University of Cienfuegos: 
  • University of Holguin: 
  • University of Pinar del Rio: 
  • Pedagogical University Enrique José Varona: 

Are there Scholarships opportunities for Students at uban Art School?

Institutional scholarship opportunities vary by institution. However, the Cuban government and other institutions provide Cuba scholarships for international students, national students, and students who are citizens of Cuba mostly. 

The Cuban government offers both merit-based scholarships, as well as a diversity scholarship for both Cuban college and qualifying international students. These scholarships come in form of opportunities, contests, fully-funded scholarships, tuition waivers, grants, fellowships, and internships.


Cuba is a good place to study for those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and experience a rich, well-rounded educational experience in the Caribbean. With an excellent cultural heritage and a unique perspective to be benefited from, anyone who is interested will find Cuban art schools quite the thrill. 



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