Program Overview

On our Semester in Costa Rica program you’ll study in English or Spanish at Universidad Veritas, a local university in bustling and beautiful San José. Use the capital city as your launch pad to explore nearby volcanoes and rainforests in your free time. Get to know Costa Rican culture while sipping some of the best coffee in the world with classmates at a local café. We’ll show you the true meaning of “Pura Vida” through eye-opening cultural activities and breath-taking excursions.

GPA Requirement
Application Deadlines
Fall: July 1
Spring: November 1
Avg Course Load
4–5 classes (12–24 US credits)
Language(s) of Instruction
English and Spanish
  • One of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world
  • Course options in both English and Spanish alongside international and local students
  • Cooking classes, sports events, and dance classes to fully immerse in the culture
  • Small Spanish-language class sizes, with no prerequisites
  • Excursions to beaches and volcanoes
Your Journey Begins Here
  • Connect with your Global Advisor to start planning. Apply by the application deadline.

  • Meet your Program Coordinator to finalize acceptance paperwork, housing, courses, flights, visas, payments, etc. Attend a pre-departure orientation.

  • Fly away. You'll be greeted at the airport, participate in a robust On-site Orientation and La Vida Local Curriculum with your Site Director.



Located minutes from the heart of San José, Universidad Veritas is considered one of the best private universities in all of Central America. Students flock to the Universidad Veritas for its art, design, and architecture programs, but the university offers so much more.

You can take courses in a range of topics, such as Costa Rican culture, environmental studies, or political science. Study in English or Spanish depending on your needs. If you’re looking to improve your Spanish language skills, Veritas’ Spanish language program is for you. Enjoy small class sizes that give you one-on-one attention, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced Spanish speaker.

Veritas offers many cultural, artistic, and athletic activities so you can dive deep into the local culture. You can improve your Spanish outside of the classroom with a Costa Rican language-exchange partner. You can join on-campus activities, such as dance or cooking classes and intramural sports. Finally, you can get to know the community through local excursions or volunteer opportunities. With 1,500 Costa Rican students and over 500 students from around the world, you’ll benefit from a close-knit but cosmopolitan campus.

Founded in 1976, Veritas is the first private university in Costa Rica.

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)

How to Choose Your Courses

Now the fun part! You get to pick the courses you will take abroad. Review the course information on this page. Once you’ve decided which courses you want to take, fill out the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet in your online portal.

Course Approval

Make sure to talk with your home university about course approval and get additional classes approved before you go abroad. For example, if you are taking 4 classes abroad, we recommend getting 8 approved. 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.

GPA Requirement

If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement listed at the top of this page, do not despair! Get in touch to let us know your situation. In many cases, there are additional application materials that you can submit to make your case for acceptance.

Choose your courses, making sure to get them approved by your home university and then fill out the Course Selection Worksheet.

Course Information

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!

Course descriptions and catalog:

For Spanish Intensive courses, please click here.
For English and Spanish Elective courses, please click here.

Please note: Course availability may vary from semester to semester. For more information on which electives are offered during the 2019 academic year, please click here.

Approval for Spanish-language courses: Spanish Placement Exam

Once you’re accepted into the program, we will send you instructions for taking a two-part 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.

Study Options

Language and Culture Exploration

Please know that students who participate in the 12 week program have up to 4 courses included with your CISabroad tuition and fees.  Below please see the course combinations available to you by participating in this program.

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.

16-Week Semester Program:

Please know that students who participate in the 16 week program have up to 5 courses included with your CISabroad tuition and fees.  Below please see the course combinations available to you by participating in this 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

Life in San José

Welcome and Orientation

On your first day in Costa Rica, you’ll have a chance to walk and get to know your new city. See important landmarks in downtown San Jose, such as the National Theater and Gold Museum, and enjoy the welcome lunch where you’ll try some local goodies! During orientation you’ll learn all about excursions, your home stay, and what to expect of your time in Costa Rica.

Farewell and Re-entry Program

Though you’re not an astronaut returning from space, re-entering your home culture after being abroad can be shocking to the system. We’ll walk you through some of the things to expect, rehash your time abroad so that you can remember the highlights and, yep, we’ll feed you again as part of our farewell to Costa Rica.

Housing Options

On Semester in Costa Rica, you’ll really immerse yourself with a homestay! Our experienced homestay families are fully vetted to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for you. 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 traveling abroad.


  • Private room
  • Towels, bed linens, blankets, and pillows provided by the family
  • Weekly laundry service
  • You’ll need to buy your own lunch, but your host family will cook you both breakfast and dinner. What better way to experience true Tico cooking!?

Local Life

  • National Theater: Enjoy the tour and learn all about the history and architecture of this gem of San Jose!
  • Coffee, coffee, coffee!: Try some of the world's best coffee in one of the many coffee shops around town, or take the Coffee Tour, where you'll learn about the history of Costa Rica and coffee production in the country.
  • Art City Tour: Take advantage of this one night where all the museums in San Jose are open to the public (that's right, they're free!!). You'll also have a chance to see some amazing dance and music performances, as well as buy designer products made by locals!
  • Volunteering: Take part in a volunteer project and give back to the community. Paint a school, work with children, or visit Territorio de Zaguates, a local dog sanctuary home to over 900 lucky dogs! Take some time to go play with the pups in this Dog Heaven and help out the organization.

More About San José

San José is the bustling capital of Costa Rica and the place to learn about the country’s fascinating culture. Food, art, and people flow in from all directions. Likewise, you can use the capital as your launching point to discover the rest of this friendly country. Beautiful national parks, picturesque mountain villages, and relaxed beach towns are nearby and easily accessible. Spend your weekends exploring volcanoes, zip-lining through the jungle, or visiting a sloth sanctuary.

As a CISabroad student in San José, you'll get to know local Costa Ricans (aka Ticos), who have a friendly, laid-back demeanor. Local classmates will show you the meaning of pura vida. Being minutes from the heart of the Costa Rican capital, you can explore the city with ease. Imagine sipping some of the best coffee in the world and nibbling on a churro with friends at a local café.

Chepe, as the city is known locally, is 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. Visitors and residents adore the street food in San José or grabbing a cheap and cheerful meal at Mercado Central. After class, you can head to one of the many local theaters, concert venues, cinemas, or salsa clubs. Then, spend the evening with new friends in the Plaza de la Cultura watching the pigeons and a marimba band. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CISabroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.

CISabroad Study Abroad Semester Program monteverde costa rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

The mountainous area of Monteverde is dense with tropical rainforest. At an altitude of over 1,000 meters, the trees capture cloud moisture, often giving the area 100 percent humidity. In this reserve, you’ll see the staggering environmental diversity from skywalks and bridges suspended 60 meters up in the canopy.

CISabroad Study Abroad Semester Program costa rica beach excursion


Located on the northwest Pacific coast, Tamarindo Bay is ideal if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or some down time on the beach. Swim, surf, sail, kayak, or jet ski in the ocean — or ride horses on the beach! Plus, you can visit the leatherback turtle reserves to spot these incredible creatures.

CISabroad Study Abroad Semester Program arenal volcano and baldi hot spring excursion costa rica

Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs

Take a hike down to the La Fortuna Waterfall, where you’ll be able to swim in the cool water. Soak in the naturally heated waters of Baldi Hot Springs and enjoy the view of Arenal, which is a perfect cone volcano.

Your Support Staff

Global Advising Team

Travel Tip: We love what we do and want to talk to you! The Global Advising Center is here to help you decide on a program, and complete the Online Application. From the moment you first hear from us be it through a phone call, email or personal visit, you will find that our passion for international education is contagious. We’re ready to launch you abroad.

Jackie Langdon
Senior Program Coordinator - Spain, Latin America, January Mediterranean Culture

Travel Tip: Never forget to give yourself credit for making the decision to study abroad. Immersing yourself in another culture is challenging, but the memories and sense of personal growth you return with make study abroad all the more rewarding.

Learn more about Jackie

Lisa Pinheiro
Site Director in Costa Rica

Travel Tip: Dont limit yourself to the more popular tourist spots. There are tons of lesser known places that are beautiful and rich in culture where you can really experience what Costa Rica is all about!

Learn more about Lisa

Student Feedback

Studying abroad enhanced my Spanish-speaking skills, gave me deep friendships, and positively challenged the ways I viewed my own family, culture, and country. I’ve become a better student, sister, daughter, and friend. I can never see the world through the same lenses again. To that I am forever grateful.

Jacqueline Mullen, Semester in Costa Rica, Point Loma Nazarene University, Social Work

The adventures were insane and I couldn’t have done them anywhere else besides Costa Rica. And the people I met will forever hold a special place in my heart. I became so close with some students and my housemates, but I also met “Ticos” (Costa Ricans) that it almost broke my heart to leave them.

Moeryae Smith, Semester in Costa Rica – Universidad Veritas, University of Central Missouri, Professional Photography

Program Fees & Dates

Advisor Tip: Please do not book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Fall 2019: 12 weeks
    Application Deadline
    July 1
    September 28
    September 29
    Classes Start
    September 30
    Classes End
    December 20
    December 21
  • Fall 2019: 16 weeks
    Application Deadline
    July 1
    August 31
    September 1
    Classes Start
    September 2
    Classes End
    December 20
    December 21
  • Spring 2020: 12 weeks
    Application Deadline
    November 1
    January 4
    January 5
    Classes Start
    January 6
    Classes End
    March 27
    March 28
    $9,490 (Estimated)
  • Spring 2020: 17 weeks
    Application Deadline
    November 1
    January 4
    January 5
    Classes Start
    January 6
    Classes End
    May 1
    May 2
    $10,990 (Estimated)

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

Program Inclusions

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

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 service and two meals a day with a homestay
  • Two day excursions and one overnight excursion
  • Universidad Veritas official transcript
  • NYTimes Digital Subscription
  • La Vida Local cultural program