Semester in Costa Rica

Study in English or Spanish in the bustling capital city of San José. Explore nearby volcanoes, hike through a rainforest, and get to know Costa Rican culture while sipping some of the best coffee in the world.

We’ve got tons of options at a local university so you can study Spanish in Costa Rica and so much more. With an urban campus located in one of the most biodiverse nations on the planet and course options in English and Spanish, Semester in Costa Rica offers a unique way to learn a new language and explore a fascinating country.

We will help you get there. At CISabroad, all our advisors have studied or lived abroad. From watching toucans in the rain forest to drinking fresh jugo on a pristine beach, we love Costa Rican culture. We are here to help you fall in love with Costa Rica, too!

Support environmental efforts in your green host country. Your round-trip flight to San Jose will be offset by the work of volunteers around the world, and you’ll have opportunities to give back to the local community while you study abroad in Costa Rica.

On Semester in Costa Rica, you will study abroad in English or in Spanish at a local university, Universidad Veritas, in the bustling capital city of San José. In your free time, explore nearby volcanoes, hike through the rainforest, and get to know Costa Rican culture while sipping some of the best coffee in the world with classmates at a local café! You will experience:

Local and international students – Your fellow students will be a great balance of local Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, and international students.

Choose your language – Take courses ranging from Costa Rican culture and environment to art studies taught in English, take Spanish-language courses, or, if your Spanish is strong enough, choose from a variety of courses in Spanish to immerse yourself with local Costa Rican students and professors! Whatever you do, there's not a better way to learn than to study Spanish in Costa Rica!

Perfect location – Being minutes from the heart of the Costa Rican capital, you can explore the city with ease, but beautiful national parks, picturesque mountain villages, and relaxed beach towns are also nearby.

Extracurricular activities – The University provides weekly dance classes, intramural sports, martial arts classes, Costa Rican cooking classes, religious organizations, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Great excursions – While you study abroad in Costa Rica, you and your fellow study abroad students can take advantage of 2 day trips and 2 weekend excursions, all included with the program. Take a city tour, wander through the local markets, and try some exotic tropical fruit as you explore the rain forest. Experiencing the culture is all part of your study abroad in Costa Rica!

If you've always wanted to study abroad in Costa Rica, check out our Semester in Costa Rica program. Here are just a few of the key highlights that make this program unique:

  • One of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world!
  • Courses taught in English and Spanish. Small language classes to help you study Spanish in Costa Rica.
  • International and local students
  • Excursions throughout Costa Rica - discover the beauty and biodiversity 
  • Wide course selection ranging from business to tropical ecology to photography
  • Give back to the local community by volunteering
  • Cooking classes, dance classes, and sports events mean you’ll bond with your classmates outside of the classroom

While in Costa Rica, you will be given the opportunity to take two day excursions and one overnight excursion, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore the rest of this great country. Here are a couple of the places you might be visiting:

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The mountainous area of Monteverde is packed with tropical rainforest. Sitting at an altitude of over a thousand meters, cloud moisture is captured by the trees, often giving the area a humidity of 100% - phew! But it is well worth suffering the heat to get a good look at the staggering environmental diversity of these cloud forests. Endemic flora and fauna can be seen from skywalks and bridges suspended 60 meters up into the canopy!

Located on the north-west Pacific coast, Tamarindo bay is definitely the place if you are looking for an adrenaline rush, or simply some relaxing in the sun. On the numerous beaches there is plenty of surfing, swimming, sailing, kayaking, jet skiing and even ocean horseback riding! Plus, when you get into town you’ll discover that Tamarindo is extremely multi-cultural and laid back. With all of this to do, not to mention the Leatherback Turtle reserves, you will certainly have your choice of activities on your excursion to Tamarindo Bay!

Poas Volcano
An active strato-volcano in Central Costa Rica, Parque Nacional Poas Volcano is unique in that it has two huge lake-filled craters at its summit surrounded by forest. An astounding natural site, when you visit the Poas Volcano you are bound to be awed by this area of spectacular diversity.

One of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets, Cataratas del Toro is located in the Bajos del Toro Amarillo mountains. This magnificent 300ft waterfall pours into an extinct volcanic crater, creating a truly spectacular sight to be explored!

Semester in Costa Rica’s varied course options help you earn credit toward graduation while gaining fluency in Spanish at Universidad Veritas. The University is well regarded for its classes in architecture, design, and art, and it is also a great place to learn about Costa Rican history, culture, environment, politics, and more!

GPA Required: 2.5. If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement, do not despair! Use the "Contact An Advisor" button on this page or call us to let us know your situation. We'll do all we can to find the right program for you.

How to choose your courses
Now the fun part! As part of the application process you will be required to complete the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet found in the CISaborad Application Page. The following instructions will guide you through the steps of choosing your courses. Semester in Costa Rica has numerous academic options; please read carefully and be sure to find the option that best meets your academic and personal goals.

Course load: 4–5 classes (12–24 US credits)

Approval for Spanish-language courses: Placement Exam
Once you’re accepted into the program, we will send you instructions for taking an online Spanish placement exam so that Veritas can begin to assess your language level. Following the online (written) placement exam, you will be assessed orally by staff in Costa Rica via Skype, allowing you to be placed in the most appropriate language level before you arrive in Costa Rica. Language courses are taught in 4-week blocks, Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 12:00pm. You will be tested at the end of each block and have the opportunity to move to a higher level.

Course approval for English electives
Classes meet for 48–60 contact hours per trimester, or 4–5 classroom hours per week. During the Spring and Fall Semesters, courses are taught in 12 week trimesters, in the afternoons. Before you go abroad, it is best to get approval for twice the number of elective classes you intend to take during the trimester. This gives you some flexibility in setting up your class schedule. Think about courses required for your major, but also courses that fulfill your elective requirements.

Course descriptions and catalog:
For Spanish Intensive courses, please click here.
For English and Spanish Elective courses, please click here.

Study Options

Language and Culture Exploration

Trimester Option 1: Three Spanish-language courses (15 US credits) and 1 elective taught in English (3–4 US credits). Total of 18–19 US credits in 12 weeks. Please note you will be in class up to 6 hours per day Monday through Friday.

Trimester Option 2: Two Spanish language courses (10 US credits) and 2 electives taught in English (6–8 US credits). Total of 16–18 US credits in 12 weeks. For the weeks with Spanish classes (two 4-week blocks during the trimester), you will be in class up to 6 hours per day Monday through Friday. For the weeks with electives only (one 4-week block during the trimester), you will be in class up to 2 hours per day.

Trimester Option 3: One Spanish-language course (5 US credits) and 3 electives taught in English (9–12 US credits). Total of 14–17 US credits in 12 weeks. For the weeks with Spanish classes (one 4-week block during the trimester), you will be in class up to 8 hours per day Monday through Friday. For the weeks with electives only (two 4-week blocks during the trimester), you will be in class up to 4 hours per day.

Trimester Option 4: Zero Spanish-language courses and 4 electives taught in English (12-16 US credits). Total of 12-16 US credits in 12 weeks. During the trimester you might be in class up to 6 hours a day.

Intensive Spanish Language

Trimester option 5: Three Spanish-language courses (15 US credits). Total of 15 US credits in 12 weeks.

Semester program

Want to spend more time overseas and study for 16 weeks in the fall or spring? Options 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 above are 12-week trimester programs. Simply add a month to the beginning of the Fall Trimester or the end of the Spring Trimester, and you have the 16 week program. For both Spring and Fall, you take an additional Spanish-language course, and receive another 5 US credits, for a total of 19–24 US credits in 16 weeks.

Direct Enroll program
To apply to our Direct Enroll program, you must have an advanced level of Spanish and wish to take classes with local undergraduate Costa Rican students. All classes are taught in Spanish and operate on a 16-week semester system. The list below are the fields of study offered; contact us for more info and course descriptions.

Digital Animation
Film and Television 
Interior Design
Product Design

Did you know that 70% of all CISabroad students receive scholarships or grants to study or intern abroad? You can get a grant for something as simple as applying early, or a scholarship for blogging. 

For details on all scholarship and grant offerings and to apply, please click here.

Costa Rica boasts a warm climate year-round and is well-known throughout the world as the “Switzerland of Central America” for its peaceful, democratic culture and government. Several international surveys deem this environmentally friendly nation to be the greenest, happiest country in the world, so you will be sure to have a great time!

Costa Rica, which translates as “rich coast,” is bordered by both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and has hundreds of miles of beautiful shoreline. And nearly a quarter of the country is protected as national parks. Rain forests, rivers, and volcanoes fill the interior of the country with diverse wildlife, and adventure opportunities abound (tread lightly!). The country is ranked 3rd in the world in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. Imagine whitewater rafting, hiking through a national reserve to see howler monkeys, or watching a leatherback turtle lay eggs on the beach. All are possible within a few hours of San Jose!

On Semester in Costa Rica you will be integrated with local Costa Ricans, aka Ticos, known for their friendly, laid-back demeanor. Your university is located in San José, the cultural hub of Costa Rica, famed for its National Theater, busy market life, and easy-to-use public transportation. There are plenty of international restaurants, ranging from Lebanese to Italian, in addition to local sodas, where you can eat large helpings of gallo pinto, the delicious national dish. After class, you can head to one of the many local theaters, concert venues, cinemas, and salsa clubs. 

Semester in Costa Rica is located minutes from the heart of San José at one of the best private universities in Central America, Universidad Veritas. Founded in 1976, Veritas is accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education and authorized by the National Council of Private Higher Education (Consejo Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Privada, or CONESUP). Recognized as the first private university in Costa Rica, Veritas is well-regarded for architecture and design.

You can enroll in a variety of English- and Spanish-language classes and also immerse yourself through on-campus activities, local excursions, and a Costa Rican language-exchange partner. The University has approximately 1,500 Costa Rican students and over 300 study abroad students from all over the world.

As a CISabroad study abroad student, you’ll get outstanding staff support, from academic advising to personal and cultural counseling. At the same time, you’ll have all the freedom you need to explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world and make it your home.

Improve your Spanish in their small classrooms oriented to advance your language skills while studying in your major. The Universidad Veritas is renowned for its Architecture, Marketing and Design courses and so much more! Earn credits for your major while studying in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Semester in Costa Rica in San José offers so much to explore, taste, smell, and see … even on a modest student budget! You will have no trouble finding art exhibitions, theater events, music and dancing, film festivals, and more. The University itself offers many activities that international students can participate in, including salsa dance lessons, intramural sports, a conversation-partner program with Costa Rican students, lessons in cooking typical Costa Rican food, city excursions, and free self-defense and martial arts classes.

Semester in Costa Rica also gives you the chance to fill your free time with volunteering experiences, such as working with underprivileged children. This can be a great way to give back to the local community and learn more about your host city!

Semester in Costa Rica offers an extensive orientation program. This helps you get comfortable, get energized to start classes, and meet fellow study abroad students from all over the US and the world. On-site staff help prepare you to immerse yourself in a new culture and make the most of your semester in San Jose.

With Semester in Costa Rica, you'll have ample opportunity to get to know your vibrant new home and your fellow international students with possible excursions to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the exciting and sunny Tamarindo bay, the active Poas Volcano, the  300 foot Cataratas del Toro waterfall and more! Living in the capital city, there will always be something to do!

Worried about being away from the comforts of home? In Semester in Costa Rica, you'll stay with a local family with your own room, meals and weekly laundry! You'll also be within walking distance of the university with public transport easily accessible. Students typically say that living with a local family was their favorite part of going abroad.

On Semester in Costa Rica, you’ll really immerse yourself with a home stay! Most of the host families (95 percent) are located within walking distance of the university, although students can also use public transportation. Students typically say that living with a local family was their favorite part of going abroad.

You will enjoy your own room, with all towels, bed linens, blankets, and pillows provided by the family.  In addition, you will have access to cooking facilities, and a weekly laundry service. You will need to buy your own lunch but both breakfast and dinner are provided by the host family—what better way to experience true Tico cooking!

CISabroad’s Site Director in Costa Rica:

Lisa was born in Costa Rica and has lived in the United States on several occasions. She is an alumni of Veritas University, where she majored in photography, and is currently pursuing her bachelors degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She is passionate about travel, and has had 10 years of experience leading study abroad groups all throughout Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. In her free time Lisa enjoys going to art exhibits, watching movies, dancing and learning new languages. She speaks Spanish, English and Portuguese, and is currently learning French.

1. What is the cost of program tuition? What is included in the program fees?

The program cost for the Semester in Costa Rica program can be found here.

2. When are the program fees due?

Program fees for the Semester in Costa Rica program are due on December 1st for Spring term and July 15th for Fall term. CISabroad will email invoices to students approximately one month before the program payment deadline. For example, if your payment deadline is July 15, you should expect your invoice in mid-June. If you are using financial aid, please ensure all financial aid paperwork is returned to our office by the payment deadline. If your financial aid does not cover your entire balance, CISabroad accepts these payment methods.

3. What is due with my application and when is my application due?

The application process can be broken into easy steps!

1. The first step is to fill out the online application, which includes your contact information, what program you are applying for, etc. (Only takes five minutes!)

2. After filling out the online application, an advisor from our Global Advising Center will grant you portal access with a set of preliminary forms. 

3. The next step is to pay the $200 application deposit in order to secure your space in the program. This amount will be applied toward the final cost. 

4. Within a day after submitting your deposit, you will receive a welcome email from your Program Coordinator—the person you will work with until departure. Your Program Coordinator will then give you program-specific items in your portal. (Note: Both preliminary portal pieces and program-specific tasks must be completed by the application deadline.)

#CISabroadTip: Contact your school’s registrar and have them send us your transcript early on in the application process (you can send us your transcript even before you’ve made the $200 deposit!) since snail mail makes this the slowest piece to submit. (We also accept electronic OFFICIAL transcripts if your school provides them.)

For detailed instructions, see application instructions. The application deadline for Semester in Costa Rica is usually in early November for the Spring term and early July for the Fall term. For exact dates, check here or call an advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

4. Do I need a passport or visa? When should I apply for my passport/visa?

Yes, you do need a passport to travel to Costa Rica. Your passport must be valid for 6 months BEYOND the date you return to the United States. For detailed passport instructions, U.S. citizens should check the State Department's Travel Site. For the Semester in Costa Rica program, you can obtain a visa if you wish, but it is not required. Contact an advisor at for more information.

5. Is there a GPA requirement?

Yes. The GPA requirement for the Semester in Costa Rica program is 2.5, but sometimes a lower GPA is accepted. Use the "Contact a CISabroad Advisor" button on this page or call us at 1-877-617-9090 to let us know your situation. We'll do all we can to find the right program for you!

6. What are my housing options? 

The Semester in Costa Rica program uses local homestay families that have been hosting international students for many years. They are thoroughly vetted and evaluated on a regular basis. Homestays are a great way to get to know the local culture and eat delicious, homemade food.

7. Will other students participate in the program with me? How many?

CISabroad programs are not only a great way to meet local and international students, but also students from around the United States. Program size varies each year - if enrollment size is important to you, contact a CISabroad advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

8. How many credits are offered in the program?

For Semester in Costa Rica, a student will receive between 12 and 24 credits. For a more detailed breakdown of program and course options in Costa Rica, go here.

9. Can I combine this program with another CISabroad program like intern, summer, or semester abroad?

Yes! A great way to extend your CISabroad experience is participating in another program. Combine semester programs to create a full academic year or if an academic year is just a little too long and a semester is too short, combine a semester and summer session or a semester and January term program. You can also participate in a semester abroad and combine that with a summer intern abroad. To find out more information on the application process for more than one CISabroad program, contact a CISabroad advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

Term: Fall 2017
Arrival 12 Week Semester (without extra intensive Spanish Course) September 30
CISabroad Orientation October 1
Classes Start October 2
Classes End December 22
Departure December 23
Application Deadline July 1
Arrival 16 Week Semester (includes extra Intensive Spanish Course) September 2
CISabroad Orientation September 3
Classes Start September 4
Classes End December 22
Departure December 23
Application Deadline July 1
Term: Spring 2017
Arrival 12 Week Semester (without extra Intensive Spanish Course) January 7
CISabroad Orientation January 8
Classes Start January 9
Classes End March 31
Departure April 1
Application Deadline EXTENDED TO: November 15
Arrival 17 Week Semester (includes extra Intensive Spanish Course) January 7
CISabroad Orientation January 8
Classes Start January 9
Classes End May 5
Departure May 6
Application Deadline EXTENDED TO: November 15
Term: Fall 2017 Price: $8,990-10,690 more info
Term: Spring 2017 Price: $9,290-10,890 more info

Dates posted here are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.

To view expected additional expenses for this program, click here.

Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:

•    Full-time tuition and fees
•    Homestay
•    Breakfast and dinner
•    Medical and accident insurance
•    CISabroad support services before, during, and after the program
•    Academic advising
•    Financial aid counseling
•    Assistance with travel arrangements
•    Predeparture orientation
•    Airport pickup
•    Universidad Veritas orientation
•    On-site support
•    On-campus internet access
•    Weekly laundry
•    Two day and two weekend excursion
•    Universidad Veritas official transcript
•    Carbon offset of travel & Green Travel Guide

CISabroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.