San Jose, Costa Rica PDF Print E-mail

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Quick Facts

Host Institution: International Center for Development Studies & Universidad Latina de Costa Rica - Semester, Summer & Academic Year programs
Eligibility Rules: click here
Language/Academic Focus: Courses available in Spanish and English.  Subject areas include Development in Latin America, Spanish Language, Latin American Film, Central American Literature, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Human Rights, International Business, Latin American Society & Culture. (Click here for Course Offerings)
Housing: Students will live with host families to improve their Spanish and gain a better understanding of Costa Rican culture. Host families will provide weekly laundry, 2 meals per day during the week (Mon-Thurs) and 3 meals per day on weekends (Fri-Sun).
Sample Day Excursions: Guayabo, Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley, Doka Coffee Estate
Sample Overnight Excursions: Tortuguero, Nicaragua, Punta Leona, Monteverde


Why San José?

  • Capital of Costa Rica
  • Large student population
  • Easy access to the rest of Costa Rica
  • Courses taught in English and Spanish
  • Housing with a host family to improve your Spanish
  • Small class sizes

Country Description

For such a small country, Costa Rica has a lot to brag about. It covers only 0.03 % of the surface of the globe, but it proudly shelters 6% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world. It is also one of the most peaceful countries on earth and has not had an army since 1949. The money saved by not having an army has been invested in the Costa Rican people (known as "Ticos"), who benefit from one of the best health care systems in the world.

Located in Central America, south of Nicaragua and north of Panama, Costa Rica is blessed with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. While the overall climate is tropical, the weather at higher elevations can can be cooler than the weather near the coast.

Around five million people live in Costa Rica in one of the seven provinces, which are San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, and Limon. While it may seem like 19,730 square miles and seven provinces is a lot of space, 25.6% of the country is composed of conservation and natural protected territory.

For those who love outdoor activities, Costa Rica is the place to be. From surfing and snorkeling to ziplining and hiking, there is no lack of things to do. Thanks to beautiful beaches on both sides of the country, and mountains and volcanos in the interior, there is always something to keep you busy and active.

International Center for Development Studies (ICDS)

With a highly qualified and professional international team, ICDS organizes a great variety of technical and educational programs, providing international students with the opportunity to sharpen their Spanish skills, gain an understanding of Central and Latin America's cultural richness and acquire in depth knowledge and hands-on experience on the challenges of cultural diversity, environment, and development in the region.

ICDS offers study abroad programs during the spring and fall semesters, spring quarter, and summer. All programs are interdisciplinary and highly participatory, offering experiential learning opportunities through field trips and site visits related to the course subjects. ICDS programs offer students the chance for complete cultural and language immersion through homestays with local families and by the progressive incorporation of their developing Spanish skills into the course dynamics, thus making the programs practically bilingual.  In addition, Costa Rican students from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica are now taking ICDS classes along with American study abroad students, allowing our students the chance to easily make friends with locals!

Costs and Dates

Please CLICK HERE for Costs and Dates.


What's Included - San José

  • ROOM & BOARD with a Costa Rican host family.  Includes 2 meals a day on weekdays, 3 meals a day on weekends and holidays, and one load of laundry per week.  Rooms are single occupancy - 1 student per family.
  • EXCURSIONS: 2 overnight excursions and 5 day excursions/cultural activities are included with all semester and quarter programs.  2 day excursions are included with all summer programs.
  • TUITION at ICDS and the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica.
  • ACADEMIC CREDITS: Students who receive pre-approval from their home institution can transfer the credits they earn to their home institution. Possible number of semester credits: 15 per semester program, 10 per quarter program, or 6 per summer program.
  • OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT: At the conclusion of the program, an official transcript from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica will be sent to your home institution.
  • CELL PHONE: ASA provides one cell phone for each student.  Students are responsible for the cost of phone usage.
  • INTERNET ACCESS at their host institution.
  • AIRPORT PICK-UP at San Jose (SJO) airport for students who arrive on the official arrival date by the designated time.
  • AIRPORT DROP-OFF at San Jose (SJO) airport for students to depart on the designated date.
  • MEDICAL INSURANCE: for a Description of Coverage, please visit our Information Library.
  • SITE DIRECTOR: Students will have an on-site director to assist them with any academic or cultural difficulties they may encounter.
  • VISA ADVISING:  While students are ultimately responsible for obtaining their visa (if required for their term/host country), ASA will provide detailed, helpful information upon acceptance as to which visa students will need and how to go about applying for one.  Please click here and scroll down to "Student Visa Information" to find out if a visa is required for your program.

Not Included:

  • Airfare
  • Books & materials
  • Personal expenses
  • Local transportation
  • Student Visa, if required
  • Lunch (weekdays)
  • Meals on excursions

Click here for Billing Information and Cancellation/Refund Policy

NOTE: If you need a "Costs of Attendance" budget for your financial aid office, or simply need more details about the additional costs listed above, please email chelsea(at) 

Program Itinerary

Please CLICK HERE for detailed program itineraries.

Volunteer and Internship Opportunities

ICDS is a knowledge center that promotes experimental and service learning in Costa Rica. Motivated students are encouraged to participate in a variety of fields pertaining to sustainable development in Latin America. As part of its study abroad programs, ICDS offers students.

  • The opportunity to complement their studies by volunteering
  • Internship possibilities for students who want to stay longer after the academic program or who want to come to Costa Rica for a semester or summer to intern.

Volunteer work and internships give ICDS students the opportunity to put into practice what they learn in the classroom and to use their Spanish skills, to be involved with leading practitioners in the field, and to contribute to the efforts for sustainable human development in Costa Rica.  Placements can vary from semester to semester and depend on ICDS’s and partner institutions current projects as well as the current political and social situations of the country. Placements in both research internships and work co-ops are determined based on students’ interest, language proficiency, and research skills and experience, as well as the host institution’s needs.

Please click HERE for examples of opportunities available.  To find out what opportunities will be available during your time abroad, please email chelsea (at)

If you are interested in Volunteering during your summer or semester, you will need to complete this application form and return it to chelsea (at)


 If you have questions about HOW TO APPLY and make sure your credits transfer back to your home university, please CLICK HERE.

We encourage both prospective students and parents, as well as those who have already been accepted to an ASA program, to visit our INFORMATION LIBRARY. Here you will find tons of helpful info to help you know what to plan for and what to expect, such as:

  • ASA Guide to Study Abroad
  • Student Visa info
  • Medical Insurance info
  • Booking your flight
  • Financial Aid info