Whatever enchants you—the damp breezes of the tropical rainforest you’re exploring, the warm hospitality of the local people you meet as you practice your Spanish, learning about topics that really interest you—Costa Rica is sure to offer it.
You care about the earth and the people around you—that’s why this country is the ideal place for you to study abroad. Costa Rica serves as an example of how a developing country can create positive social, economic, and environmental change through a commitment to peace, equality, and sustainability championed by its government and citizens.
Based in Heredia, a suburb of San José, our Spanish- and English-taught study abroad program in Costa Rica allows you to engage in experiential, hands-on learning as you examine topics in environmental studies, sustainable business practices, Central American culture, and human rights. In Costa Rica, every day is a new adventure.
Through our course-related excursions and day trips, Costa Rica will be your classroom. This program gives you one-of-a-kind opportunities, such as working alongside a scientist involved in environmental research, learning about sustainable business at a local coffee plantation, and helping local people make a difference in their communities.
You shape your academic experience by choosing from courses in disciplines such as Business, Environmental Studies, Biology, Latin American Studies, and Literature. Each course will expand your knowledge about Costa Rican society and the challenges and opportunities of development. You will also take a Spanish language course taught by a professor from Universidad Nacional that incorporates lessons about Costa Rican culture. During the last month of the program, you can enroll in an internship or service learning placement that helps you understand some of Costa Rica’s most pressing social, environmental, and business issues. An accompanying academic seminar will help you contextualize what you're learning.
We want you to feel at home in Costa Rica, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in San José and Heredia. From cultural events at our Center to extracurricular activities at Universidad Nacional, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic study abroad experience possible.
After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.
We offer unparalleled courses that explore complex issues through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.
You must take at least 16 credits per semester. All courses are worth three credits except for Spanish language courses, which are worth four credits. Most courses are taught in English, excluding the Spanish language courses and some area studies courses, and are offered both fall and spring semesters.
Craft your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components:
For a complete list of IES Abroad courses and syllabi, visit www.IESabroad.org/sanjose.
Below is a list of potential course offerings. A final course list will be available in your MyIESabroad account after you are accepted to the program.
Spanish CoursesSpanish courses will be taught at various levels through the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.
Universidad Nacional (UNA)
Universidad Nacional – Dedicated to equality, well-being, sustainability, and democracy, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica is a public research university with a large campus in Heredia. During your time in Costa Rica, you have access to many of the extracurricular activities and facilities available at Universidad Nacional.
Interning abroad as part of your study abroad experience will help distinguish your application for graduate school or a job opportunity in today’s competitive market. It’s an exhilarating challenge, and we’re here to help guide you in securing your placement and succeeding in your internship.
Participating in an internship abroad helps you:
All of our internships are supervised and earn IES Abroad credit. You participate in a seminar to complement the practical experience you gain during the internship.
Past students have interned in the following fields:
Don’t see your field listed here? Just talk to your IES Abroad Advisor—new internships are always being added and we're committed to finding the right placement for you.
While adding study abroad to your resume is impressive enough, adding an international service learning experience is even more powerful, and can help distinguish your application for graduate school or a job opportunity in today’s competitive job market.
An IES Abroad San José service learning placement also provides an invaluable cultural experience and helps you develop professional and personal skills.
All of our service learning placements are supervised and earn IES Abroad credit. You participate in a seminar to complement the practical experience you gain during your placement during Module 4.
A wide variety of options are available throughout Costa Rica for your service learning placement. Some placement examples include:
We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave San José, it will feel like home.
Homestays - You live in a private home in Heredia, a suburb of San José, with a family or señora. Homestay hosts provide three meals daily.
Part of making you feel at home in San José is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you to places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services. This is just one of the things we’re known for.
The program begins with a week-long orientation that introduces you to the IES Abroad San José staff, your fellow students, the city of San José, and Heredia, the suburb where the program is located. Topics such as academics, housing, transportation, and health and safety are covered.
Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.
Redefine the way you live and learn in San José through our cultural events, such as:
Although your adventure begins in the San José area, our course-related excursions and day trips take you to other great destinations in Costa Rica to provide contrast and context for what you are learning in San José. Course-related excursions are dependent upon course enrollment. Three of the five day trips will be offered to all students and are included in the program fee. Destinations vary based on season, weather, and student interest. Destinations may include:
Your courses will take you beyond Heredia and San José to exciting locations around Costa Rica where you will interact with ticos who are putting into action what you're learning about in the classroom. Past destinations have included:
About the Center
The IES Abroad Center is located near the beautiful botanic garden at the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), a biological park in Heredia designed to educate the public on the rich biodiversity of Costa Rica and issues of sustainability.
Features of the Center include:
Sarah Cordero Pichansky holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Costa Rica and a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard. She is currently completing her doctorate at MIT with a focus on economic development and sustainability. She served previously as Profesora Asesora of Management Consulting practice at INCAE, one of the leading business schools in Latin America, where she also directed an INCAE - Carlson School of Management joint workshop on business and sustainability for eight years. She also served as Dean of the faculty of the Business School at the Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT) in San José. Sarah's academic interests parallel two of the primary themes of our San José Center: Sustainability and development, and environmental protection.
IES Abroad Staff
Kattia Garro SeguraStudent Services Coordinator
Sharon SpringerEnvironmental StudiesEd.D., Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language
Mildred LinkimerEnvironmental Studies & Biology
Master's in Tropical Agroforestry
Alvaro HerreraEnvironmental Studies & Biology
Master's in Biology
Rodolfo Meoño SotoLatin American Studies
Ph.D. in Human Rights and Development, Master's in Educational Sciences, Licenciatura in Philosophy
Francisco Robles RiveraLatin American Studies
Master's in Latin American Studies
Jane YeomansEnvironmental Studies & Biology
Ph.D. in Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry
Ramón LeónEnvironmental Studies & Biology
M.Sc. & Ph.D. in Crop Production & Physiology, PhD. in Genetics