Skip to main content

Courses & Credits

The program curriculum includes four courses, of which one is an elective:

Course offerings are subject to change based on the number of students enrolled in each course. In fall 2018, the elective in Climate Change will not be offfered.

Recommended credit is 16 semester credits, which includes four semester credits for each course. All courses are taught in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Second-year college-level coursework in Spanish, completed in the year prior to the start of the program, is recommended. Students who do not meet the equivalent of this coursework may be asked to refresh or augment their Spanish skills prior to the start of the program.

Additional options:

  • Dual Enrollment Option — Students with advanced levels of Spanish language proficiency have the opportunity to enroll in classes at the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR).
  • Fall semester 12-credit option — This option is available to students from quarter/trimester colleges, pending home campus approval. Contact the ACM office in Chicago for more information.

  More information about credit distribution and grades

Spanish in Context: Introduction to Costa Rica

Instructor: César Sánchez
Required course, 4 semester credits

See a course syllabus

This course will explore Costa Rica through geographical, biological, social, cultural, and environmental themes, and discuss how related events have shaped the current character of the country and its people. This multidisciplinary course introduces students to the history and cultures of Costa Rica through topics that include a biogeographic overview of the country and current environmental issues, and the thriving contemporary arts scene — literature, art, film, and music. Students will work with an anthology including a series of essays, reports, and studies that offer different perspectives of the Costa Rican identity. All coursework, including guest speakers, readings, cultural activities, and field trips, will be in Spanish. The course also incorporates workshops with local students and field excursions in San José and the Central Valley.

 Back to top

Community Engagement in Costa Rica

Including a Community Practicum
Instructor: Marco Castro Rodriguez
Required course, 4 semester credits
See a course syllabus

This course is designed to immerse students in a sector of Costa Rican society through a volunteer placement in an organization whose work is relevant to each student's academic interests as a context for understanding specific contemporary social, political, and economic challenges. Guided and facilitated by the course instructor and the supervisor at the host organization, each student writes a proposal to define the goals of the practicum and describe how the practicum will be carried out and its projected outcomes. Students will spend approximately 20+ hours at their community placement work site each week, submit journal entries reflecting on their experiences, and complete a number of related assignments, including a final community engagement learning project to be shared with the placement site. See examples of community projects from recent years.

 Back to top

Spanish Language and Culture

Required course, 4 semester credits

Instructor: Karina Soto

See a course syllabus

The class integrates language practice and learning, while it also includes a study of linguistic-cultural aspects. Students will learn to use Spanish in real-life contexts closely related to their areas of service learning during the month-long Community Engagement practicum period. The student will be able to acquire language tools allowing them to learn and interact with the Costa Rican culture and enrich their sociolinguistic experience in the program. In order to achieve this objective there will be a series of cultural and pedagogical activities that are an integral part of the course. The language department will work together with the students’ Community Engagement class as they develop and carry out their practicum, so there will be a constant monitoring of the students’ language proficiency.

Groups will be formed according to the student’s linguistic level, which will be assessed by two placement tests: oral and written. In order to provide every student with the same opportunities to enjoy the socio-linguistic language experience, all groups will study the same grammar and culture topics, however the methodology used when teaching or reviewing those topics will vary according to the group's level and needs.

 Back to top


Students choose one of the following elective courses:

The Impact of Education in Costa Rica

Instructor: Marisol Mayorga
Elective course, 4 semester credits
See a course syllabus

In Costa Rica public education is an opportunity for social mobility which aims to provide, in a manner that is equitable, access to a quality education that promotes the full development of people’s capabilities in order to enhance both their well-being and their contribution to society. This course focuses on the Costa Rican education system as a promoter of human development and aims to create an opportunity to talk and reflect on its evolution from inception through its current situation. This course explores the factors that have influenced the development of the educational policy of the Ministry of Public Education up to the present. It looks at the background of the education system and the challenges that are faced in Costa Rica in the 21st century.

The Impact of the Health System in Costa Rica

Instructor: Dr. Luis Bernardo VIllalobos-Solano
Elective course, 4 semester credits
See a course syllabus

The Health System in Costa Rica is considered one of the pillars of Costa Rica's democracy and has impacted the human development indices achieved by the country.  This course will allow students to get to know its historical development and current situation. It also explores the major challenges faced by the system, as there are changes in the epidemiological profile of the population, access of various sectors of the population to health care, and economic sustainability.

 Back to top

Credit Distribution & Grades

The course credit you receive for the Costa Rica: Community Engagement in Public Health, Education, & the Environment is determined according to policies at your college. Check with your advisor and college registrar in advance to find out how much credit you will receive and how it will be distributed, especially if you plan to use your courses in Costa Rica to fulfill college or departmental requirements.

Grade reports

All students who complete an ACM off-campus study program receive a grade report which lists their courses, credits, and grades. Most colleges accept this grade report as an official academic document. If a college requires an official academic transcript, ACM can arrange to have an official transcript issued through Beloit College for a $350 processing fee. To request an official transcript, students must make a formal request through ACM at the time of acceptance.