In Costa Rica, locals say pura vida, but this is more than just a phrase. Studying abroad in Costa Rica for a summer (1-2 months), trimester, semester or full academic year will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in this way of life that values less stress and a slow pace – and a deep appreciation for nature. In this country famed for its commitment to environmental protection (over 20% of the territory is protected reserve or animal refuge) students get full language and cultural immersion by living with a local host family and attending a local high school. And not to mention an instant buddy: for summer and trimester students, you’re guaranteed to live with a host sibling your age.

Are you ready to make pura vida your motto? If you check off any of the below, Costa Rica might be the next stamp on your passport:

  • You prefer to go with the flow – schedules are flexible, and you roll with whatever changes come your way
  • You have a commitment to speaking Spanish – even if you’re a complete beginner (all levels welcome – language courses include in semester and academic year programs)
  • You’re an environmental justice warrior and want to learn from the experts (and live their values)
  • Internet might be spotty but you’re okay with less screen time. Bring on the IRL interactions!
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Program Dates

Application Deadline: March 15th

  • Trimester: July – October
  • Semester: July – December
  • Academic Year: July – July

Arrival and Departure 

All students are required to book flights on their own. An airport transfer upon arrival is included in the cost of the program. The exact arrival and departure dates will be provided after acceptance, as well as the exact timeframes you should arrive/depart, so that you can start to search for possible flights. We require prior approval of a proposed itinerary before you purchase any flights.




Packaged into the Price:

  • Airport pickup upon arrival
  • Host family accommodation and 2 meals (semester or academic year) or 3 meals (trimester or summer) per day
  • Comprehensive medical/accident insurance
  • Arrival Orientation in San Jose
  • Certificate of Completion upon successful completion of the program for use on college applications.

Semester and Academic Year lengths includes all of the above, and: 

  • 2 weeks (semester) or 3 weeks (academic year) of Spanish classes (20 hours/week)
  • 1 full weekend excursion 
  • half-day excursion
  • Tuition in a Santa Ines High school in Heredia

Payment Details

  • $1,500 Application Fee due by the program deadline to formally apply.
  • $5,000 Commitment Payment due 14 days after acceptance
  • Remaining balance is due 16 weeks prior to your start date. If your program starts within 16 weeks of acceptance, the remaining program balance payment will be due at the same time as the commitment payment. 

Academic Info

The government of Costa Rica invests much of its funding toward their education system. To fully embrace your local Costa Rican community, you will attend a public school and all of your classes will be taught in Spanish. Mandatory school uniforms minimize economic differences among classmates and will make your packing process much easier! Typical classes include Math, Spanish, English, Science, Geography and Agriculture.

So, what about credits? 

Your host school abroad will not provide high school credit. All credit must be granted through your home school in the U.S. or Canada. All U.S./Canadian schools have different policies. 

In Costa Rica, it is not guaranteed your host school will provide you an official transcript. If your school will not, some host schools will provide documentation, letters, and any other materials you require upon request. You must have good behavior, attendance, and performance in order for the school to fulfill this request.  

Then, you should take this documentation back to your home school as proof of your participation in the program. Your home school is responsible for awarding you credit for this program or not.  

Before You Go Abroad

You should meet with your US high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines for Costa Rica with your guidance counselor and/or teachers.  

Because the curriculum will vary by school and we cannot guarantee you’ll take any specific classes, it is important that you arrange the required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad. 

Once You’re Abroad

Please keep in mind that the grading system in other countries is different than the US. Most host schools will not grant grades or transcripts as it is too difficult to evaluate your work due to the language barrier. If your host school is able to award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.


Support and Services: 

  • Visa Assistance in applying for the visa ahead of arrival, including visa paperwork and extensive directions and support.
  • Extensive pre-departure advice and support from your US-based program manager! They will be with you from your first inquiry, all the way through preparing to leave and your arrival in Costa Rica.
  • Support from in-country staff upon arrival to Costa Rica.
  • Online pre-departure cultural and logistical orientation before you leave.
  • 24-hour in-country and emergency support for the duration of the program, including 24-hour emergency phone numbers to reach a program manager at any time.

Additional Expenses to Budget For:

  • Flights to/from Costa Rica
  • Public transportation to/from school (if needed)
  • Personal spending money for entertainment, extracurriculars, toiletries, etc.
  • Local SIM card and any other cell phone costs


In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:

  • Be between 14 and 18 years of age (at the time of travel)
  • Be from the United States or Canada
  • Possess a high school cumulative GPA of at least 2.75/4.0
  • Be in great mental* and physical health
  • Have a genuine interest in becoming a part of your host family and community
  • Be willing to study and learn Spanish. If your command of Spanish is not sufficient to follow lessons in school, you will be expected to take additional language lessons at your own cost
  • Fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before departure

*What does it mean to be in good mental health?

Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.

Therefore, students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness, specifically within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition, may not be accepted. Each student will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and ultimately it is the in-country partner who holds the right to accept or decline a student based on their individual policy.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Chronic debilitating migraines
  • Bipolar Disorder

All students who currently experience one or more of these conditions will be required to submit an addendum to the terms and conditions as well as a letter of support from their current mental health specialist. If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will still require a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc.) as part of the application process.  We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with us directly, before securing these documents.

Please note that students who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD will not be guaranteed any academic accommodations plans by the host school abroad.