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Costa Rica: Community Engagement in Public Health, Education, & the Environment

San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Immerse yourself in the Spanish language

See how Costa Rica preserves its beautiful natural environment and implements key public health and education policies while addressing issues such as sustainability and global economic pressures. Immerse yourself in the Spanish language, live with a host family, and get involved in the community by volunteering at sites related to your academic interests.


Fall semester (late August–early December)
See full schedule

Who can apply

Undergraduates from any four-year US college or university

Host institution

Optional dual enrollment at the University of Costa Rica (UCR)

Living arrangements

Homestays with Costa Rican host families

Courses & credits

Recommended credit is 16 semester credits or the equivalent. See course descriptions

  • Spanish in Context: Introduction to Costa Rica
  • Community Engagement in Costa Rica
  • One Spanish language elective course
  • One elective course from among topics in public health, education, and the environment

Language requirement

Second-year college-level coursework in Spanish, completed in the year prior to the start of the program, is recommended. All courses are taught in Spanish.


Program brochure
Costa Rica program video: Academics

Application deadlines

Fall 2018 deadline

March 15, 2018

Fall 2019 deadline

March 15, 2019

If the deadline has passed and you are interested in applying, contact the ACM Office immediately. Late applications may be accepted on a space-available basis.


Marlee Stein, Off-Campus Study Program Coordinator
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60603
312.561.5933 /

Begin your adventure

 Watch Learn about academics on the Costa Rica program in 60 seconds.

Sharpen your Spanish every day

“I grew as a Spanish speaker and critical thinker through a variety of unique and intimate classes with highly knowledgeable and caring professors.”

Sarah Laven, Lawrence University, environmental policy major

Intensive Spanish language classes, conversations with your Costa Rican host families, and day-to-day travels throughout Costa Rica will help you become a more confident and fluent Spanish-speaker.

Find your new home

“The program is unique because it provides the opportunity to live with two separate host families, and I left feeling as if I was, and still am, a genuine part of each family.”

Zachary Steedman, Colorado College, mathematics major

Form lifelong connections with the people of Costa Rica! As you explore different regions and meet new people, you’ll see how life in a Latin American country can differ across households and communities.

Discover what pura vida means to you

“The program's staff, bi-weekly field trips, and three-week rural stay did a spectacular job of immersing us in the 'pura vida,' the Costa Rican way of life—its vibrancy, vivacity and utter delight.”

Carmelita Rosner, Oberlin College, English major

¡Pura vida! is Costa Rica’s signature slogan, used in a variety of ways to express an overall state of well-being. After you encounter Costa Rica’s beautiful green landscapes, amiable people, and strong traditions, you will fall into step with the pura vida lifestyle.

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences

Karen Skadow
Monmouth College

Every day in Costa Rica I learned through experiences, observed natural and cultural beauty, and had a chance to apply what I was learning in Spanish class through conversations with native speakers.

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Jacob Brenner
Ithaca College, Department of Environmental Studies and Science

My career as a geographer is largely made possible by perspectives I gained in Costa Rica. I can't think of another experience, career-wise, that has had a greater influence.

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Natalie Talbert
Lake Forest College

My semester in Costa Rica was the best semester of my college career so far. Both my San José and rural stay families welcomed me into their homes and provided me with their own unique perspectives on Costa Rican life and culture. 

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More student experiences »