Costa Rica

A student stands by the sign for the University of Costa Rica

Qualified St. Lawrence University students have the opportunity to spend the semester (fall or spring) or academic year in Costa Rica with the  University of Kansas’ Universidad de Costa Rica program. Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, diversity of flora and fauna, social and political stability, high educational levels and its motto of living "pura vida."

The program begins in early July / late January with a month-long orientation course in San José.  Students will take all remaining courses at the Universidad de Costa Rica. 

  • Based in San José
  • Fall semester, Spring semester, or academic year
  • Enrollment caps may be limited to less than 15 per semester based on space limitations
  • Pre-requisites: 3.0 GPA, Spanish 201 
  • All courses taught in Spanish
  • Live with homestay families
  • Program brochure

Apply to Study in Costa Rica

Location     Academics     Co-Curricular     Housing     Calendar     Orientation      Program Contacts


A group of students stand in the streets of San Jose

San José, a modern city with a population of over one million people, is the capital of Costa Rica. It is the cultural, economic and political center for the country as well as the hub of the national transportation and communication systems. Costa Rica's tropical location produces an astonishing number of ecological life zones and an overwhelming variety of plants and animals. From San José, students can easily reach several national parks and rain forests, beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and magnificent volcanoes. Costa Rica is considered the most politically and economically stable country in Central America.

Students directly enroll in 4 courses at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the oldest, largest, and most prestigious institution of higher learning in Costa Rica.

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Required Course:

SPAN 370 Hispanic Language, Culture, and Civilization.

The program begins in early July/late January with a month-long orientation course that includes Spanish writing projects, lectures on the history and culture of Costa Rica, and extended field trips.

At the end of the month-long intensive language and culture orientation unit, students enroll in regular courses at the Universidad de Costa Rica.  Visit the program website learn more about the courses offered.  With advice from the Grupo de Kansas program staff and past student evaluations for various courses taken at UCR, students select appropriate courses for the remainder of the academic semester. The courses are taught for native speakers; therefore, it is extremely important that a student be ready to meet the challenge of successfully completing courses in Spanish.

The program director, who is familiar with the UCR curriculum and professors, can offer excellent advice on appropriate courses. Students should heed that advice.

UCR's semesters are approximately 17 weeks long and end with final exams in early December for the fall semester and in early July for the spring semester.

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A group of students stand by bins of coffee beans

While participating in the program, students have several opportunities to become actively involved in the community through Community Service/volunteer opportunities. Current placements include: Voluntariados ADVO, working on trail management, camping maintenance and environmental interpretation at the national parks; Habitat for Humanity/Costa Rica; Hogarcito María Ulloa, working with children who are in the process of being adopted; teaching English to UCR students; and Arías Peace Foundation.

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As with most SLU Study Abroad Programs, students are required to live with homestay families.  Living with a Costa Rican family and taking part in its daily routines and conversations provides students with a unique and valuable insight into Costa Rican culture that they could not otherwise attain.  The homes are carefully chosen, all having been visited and inspected.  Students eat all of their meals with host families. 

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See the University of Kansas website for program dates. The Fall semester typically begins in early/mid-July and ends in early December. The Spring semester typically begins in mid-January and ends in late May.

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Pre-departure: The CIIS office organizes in-depth orientation sessions on-campus prior to the students' participation in the program. This includes a program-specific session(s) in which the students will learn more about the program, local culture, academic expectations, and other important information. There is also an orientation session led by the CIIS office on culture shock, pre-departure preparations, as well as safety and security while abroad. Students accepted to the San José program receive orientation material from the University of Kansas while they are still at St. Lawrence. 

On-site: In San José, there is a month-long language, history and culture orientation course. The course introduces students to Costa Rica through lectures and field trips. It is designed to help prepare students for the challenges of rigorous academic work in a foreign language and culture. It is not a basic grammar review but, rather, a cultural and historical introduction to Costa Rica, with an emphasis on upper-level academic writing skills. Orientation field trips usually include trips to art museums, the Central Market, the National Theater, volcanoes, the rainforest, and beaches on both Gulf Coast and Pacific shores.

Students are required to participate in all classes and educational activities of the month-long orientation. Three credits (.83 SLU unit) are awarded for the successful completion of this orientation course.

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Program Contacts

If you are interested in learning more about the Costa Rica program please contact one of the following people.

CIIS Office: Kim Longfellow, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Programs - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.

Faculty CoordinatorDr. Susan Willson - Questions about program academics.

Apply to Study in Costa Rica

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