Semester in Costa Rica
Universidad Veritas

Best Value
Gap Year Friendly
Virtual Options

Live and learn in one of the world’s most lush destinations.

On our Semester in Costa Rica program, 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 breathtaking excursions.

What to Expect:

  • Language: English and Spanish
  • Average Courseload: 4–5 classes (12–24 U.S. credits)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.5


  • Option to take your courses online, in-person, or both!
  • One of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world
  • 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

Program Details

Universidad Veritas

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)

Areas of study with 3 to 7 classes available

  • Health

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

Areas of study which have more than 8 classes available

  • Art & Design
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Natural & Applied Sciences
  • Humanities
  • World Languages

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

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 2020 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

Why Life in 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 CIS Abroad 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.

Live La Vida Local

  • 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.

Homestay in San Jose


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.


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!?

Inclusions and Amenities

  • Bed linens
  • CommuteWalkingPublic Transportation
  • Laundry
  • Meals
  • Private Room

What's Included


Program fees are in U.S. dollars and include the following:

  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Homestay
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • CIS Abroad support services before, during, and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure 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
  • La Vida Local cultural program

Welcome & Orientation

On your first day in Costa Rica, walk around and get to know your new city while engaging with the locals. See important landmarks in downtown San José, such as the National Theater and Gold Museum. Enjoy the welcome lunch, where you’ll try some local goodies! During orientation, learn all about excursions, your homestay, and what to expect of your time in Costa Rica.

Farewell & 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. Your site director will walk you through some of the things to expect and help you reflect on your time abroad so that you can remember the highlights. Also, enjoy a group meal as part of your farewell to Costa Rica.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad 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.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

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.



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.

Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs

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.

Site Director

Lisa Pinheiro
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!

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!


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.

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 text, phone call, email or personal visit—you will find that our passion for international education is contagious. We’re ready to launch you abroad.

Hadley Byrne
Travel Tip:

When in doubt, reach out! More often than not, locals will respect and respond matching the effort that you put into communication. Practice makes perfect, and leaving your comfort zone means expanding your comfort zone!

Alexandra Woolner
Travel Tip:

Expect the unexpected! Sometimes culture shock is stronger in countries where you expect things to be more similar to your home country and environment. Traveling abroad is an excellent way to learn more about your own culture, habits, style, and adaptability.

Virtual Program Delivery

It is possible to take your full fall 2020 semester at Universidad Veritas online. Gain international exposure while staying close to home! Want the best of both worlds? Choose the Virtual Hybrid Semester option to start your semester from home and finish it in Costa Rica.

Full Virtual Semester

Take courses from Veritas University while staying close to home. 

Please note that if the on-site portion of this semester is suspended the remaining coursework will be done online.

See the tentative course list here.

Hybrid Virtual and On-Site Semester

Start your fall semester online and then join your classmates on-site to complete the last month of course work from Costa Rica! This is the best of both worlds, allowing yourself the flexibility to take courses close to home with the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.

The on-site portion of this hybrid semester is November 19 -December 18

See the tentative course list here.

Application Instructions

To choose a Virtual or Virtual Hybrid semester in Costa Rica:

  1. Apply for the Semester in Costa Rica- Universidad Veritas Fall 2020
  2. When prompted to choose a session select either:
    • Virtual 12 Week Semester
    • HYBRID: 12 Weeks Virtual, 4 Weeks Onsite

 You will see both program application and payment deadlines for your session after you have submitted your initial program selection and application. You can also reach out to your program coordinator with questions at any time.

COVID-19 Plan

We believe that study abroad is still possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but certain policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure every student can be safe and healthy during their semester abroad.

We monitor international indicators and health standards in the country and our risk management team makes decisions based on those and our own policy. We will make a decision no less than 45 days before a program starts what options are available to you and what the contingency plan is for your program. We will do all that we can to support you during this time. 

Learn more about CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Team’s three step process for operating  our programs around the world and important program refund policies.

On-Site Program Modifications

We are excited to offer you this program after many months of travel restrictions! Just as you’ve experienced at home, many aspects of day-to-day life and program components may be altered to keep you and the community you are visiting safe. These may include single accommodations, certain academic offerings being delivered online, safety protocols such as mask-wearing, and other changes.

While some excursions and activities we’ve offered in the past may not be available, we do know that you’ll still be able to soak in the beauty of the country and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Prices and dates are subject to change based on any changes that are required to accommodate changing local laws and guidelines.

See our COVID-19 page for more information. Speak to your Program Coordinator or Advising Team for the most up to date information about any changes to this program.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline:
    EXTENDED!Aug 1
    Jul 1
  • Arrival: September 26
  • Departure: December 19
  • Price: $9,490 - $11,390
  • Application Deadline: Aug 1
  • Arrival: September 26
  • Departure: December 19
  • Price: $4,990
  • Application Deadline: Aug 1
  • Arrival: September 26
  • Departure: December 19
  • Price: $7,990
  • Application Deadline: Nov 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: January 4 (Estimated)
  • Departure: March 28 (Estimated)
  • Price: $9,990 - $11,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Nov 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: January 4 (Estimated)
  • Departure: May 2 (Estimated)
  • Price: $9,990 - $11,990 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

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

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