One of the most prosperous and progressive nations in all Latin America, Costa Rica can be a rewarding destination to pursue any number of different academic degrees. Costa Rica famously has no standing military, and therefore has more money to invest in social infrastructure projects such as in education, healthcare, and environmental preservation. The result is a small country which makes a big statement; earning your degree abroad in Costa Rica is the chance to become part of something truly special!
Costa Rica is nestled in the heart of the Americas between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. With a population of just over 4.5 million citizens, Costa Rica is the 5th largest country by population size in Central America. Because of its auspicious position near the global equator, Costa Rica is also home to an almost unparalleled amount of biodiversity for its size; though constituting only .1% of the world’s landmass, it is home to 5% of the planet’s plant and animal species.
As the capital and largest city, San Jose is the most popular destination where to earn a degree abroad in Costa Rica. With roughly a quarter of the population living in its metropolitan area, San Jose is the major economic, political, cultural, and educational hub of Costa Rica. Many of the nation’s premier universities, such as the Universidad de Costa Rica or Universidad Nacional Costa Rica, which are both globally ranked, are located in or near the capital city.
While most degree abroad in Costa Rica programs are rooted in San Jose, you could also look to study in more remote destinations of the country. Puerto Limon, San Francisco, and Alajuela are examples of much smaller urban areas where you might look to pursue a degree in Costa Rica.
Academics & Degrees
There are more than 60 universities, both public and private, where you could look to pursue a degree abroad in Costa Rica. Some of these schools, such as the Universidad de Costa Rica (the nation’s premier university) are easily accessible to international students, and can offer a full course catalogue of potential degrees to choose from. Other smaller, localized schools may be currently less acclimated to accommodating foreign students, but the country is taking measures to globalizing its entire education system (the World Bank has already invested over $250 million on this project).
Some of the most popularly pursued degrees abroad in Costa Rica among international students tend to include subjects such as ecology, biology, sustainable development, international relations, and Latin American studies. Students can travel to earn their degree abroad in Costa Rica for any of these subjects and many more at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
As you might have guessed, Spanish is the common language of education at most universities across Costa Rica. Many schools will require you to pass a language proficiency exam in order to be eligible for enrollment; some will alternatively offer an intensive language course at the outset of earning your degree abroad in Costa Rica, to bring you up to speed.
Scholarships & Costs
Tuition will vary widely between public and private universities and across Costa Rica, and regardless of these costs, you can also often expect to pay additional fees as an international student coming from abroad. For further information about available scholarship opportunities while earning your degree abroad in Costa Rica, be sure to check out our Scholarship Directory.
Beyond tuition, on-the-ground living costs in Costa Rica remain largely affordable for many students travelling from the industrialized world (usually hovering between $600-800 per month, depending on your lifestyle). The local currency is the Costa Rican colon, which fluctuates around 535 CRC to $1 USD.
Accommodation & Visas
Student dormitories are generally the most popular housing option upon the outset of a degree abroad program in Costa Rica, though many international students also choose to pursue off-campus housing at some point during their tenure. Living in a separate apartment is generally more expensive than student housing, so it would be a good idea to search for roommates to live with as well if you go this route.
Whether or not you will need to apply for a student visa in Costa Rica depends on what country you are travelling from and how long your are planning to stay for your studies. For more information on Costa Rica’s visa policy as it applies to your individual circumstances, check out our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Sustainability. Costa Rica is widely respected for being one of the most progressive countries on the planet when it comes to environmental legislation. If you are an eco-minded individual, this is a great country where to earn your degree abroad.
Language Immersion. If you are currently in the process of learning Spanish, travelling to earn your degree abroad in Costa Rica can tip you over the scale towards fluency. Nothing will improve your comprehension quite like living in it!
Culture Shock. Costa Rica boasts a diversity of Latin American cultures, and while it may be challenging to adapt to a new way of life at first, you will soon find yourself right at home in a hospitable and friendly country.
Earning your degree abroad in Costa Rica will be a tremendous academic adventure into one of the planet’s most ecologically and culturally diverse nations. Though a small country, Costa Rica certainly packs a punch.