Costa Rica

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country of natural beauty, political stability, friendly people, and a temperate climate. Since dismantling its army in 1948, it has been known around the world as one of the most stable countries in Latin America and has often been a mediator in other Central American conflicts. The International Community acknowledged this contribution in 1987 by presenting President Oscar Arias with the Nobel Peace Prize. Costa Rica has devoted itself to environmental conservation and educational achievement. This forward thinking country took formal measures to protect its natural assets in 1955. Today, Costa Rica's National Conservation Areas System (SINAC) covers more than 134 areas - national parks, reserves, and refuges - comprising roughly 27 percent of the national territory. This commitment provides an abundance of natural wonders, biodiversity and wildlife. The relatively small size of the country allows one to explore the beach, jungle and moun- tains all in one day.

About San Joaquín de Flores

San Joaquín de Flores is a quaint, colorful and charming colonial town located ten miles from San Jose, the national capital. The small setting and slower pace of life allow for exceptional opportunities for linguistic and cultural integration. Everything can be reached on foot and students can visit historic landmarks and admire the 18th century architecture of the town. San Joaquín is noted for its small- town friendliness and sense of community.

The Program

HWS has established a partnership with Academic Programs International (API), which will deliver the academic program and oversee all logistical arrangements, including orientation, excursions, homestay and cultural programming.


All courses are taught in Spanish but in the context of an institute for non-native speakers. Students must take at least one Spanish language course (i.e. grammar, literature, composition, conversation) at an advanced level and will take several electives in areas such as Latin American studies, cultural studies, history, sociology, and environmental studies/ecotourism for a total equivalent of 4 HWS courses. Students with advanced Spanish language proficiency may elect to take one course at the local university alongside Costa Rican students. For course options and course descriptions, please consult the API website. Click on Costa Rica, San Joaquín de Flores, Spanish Language and Latin American Studies program, course offerings.

Academic Focus

This program is geared towards those studying Spanish language and culture, Latin American studies, environmental studies and sociology.


Open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who have demonstrated competence in Spanish (at LEAST through 4th semester Spanish or equivalent at the time of application). Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.


Students will live with a host family in San Joaquín de Flores. The homestay provides students a perspective into Costa Rican family life and the opportunity for daily practice of the language. API students are placed one to a family with their own bedroom, and they receive two meals per day during the week and three meals per day on weekends.


Four excursions per semester are included in the program to various locales that include historic sites, national parks, botanical gardens, rainforests and other areas of cultural interest.

Going Abroad With the CGE

Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and fees, room fees, a 2/3 board fee, and a $600 administrative fee. This will cover credit for a four-course semester, health insurance, housing, 2 meals a day during the week and 3 meals a day on weekends, and all course-related expenses, including excursions. Students should bring the remaining 1/3 board fee (about $900) with them to cover the meals not included. Additional expenses not covered include airfare, books, visa, immunizations and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, ground transportation and independent travel). We estimate airfare for this program at $600-$800 from the East Coast, books at $200, and visas and immunizations at $200. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1200 above and beyond meal expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation.



  • This program is offered every spring semester.
  • Applications are available at the Center for Global Education.
  • Applications are due at the CGE office on a selected date in March.
  • For specific date contact the CGE.

NOTE: This information is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.


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