How to Study Abroad in Costa Rica: Programs, Cost, Scholarships, & Visa

This article contains all the details you need to know on how to study abroad in Costa Rica, including the programs, costs, and requirements.

Costa Rica is one of the most industrialized and traveled-to countries in Central America. There are 4.5 million people living in the country, the majority of whom are concentrated in and around San Jose, the capital. 

The Costa Ricans refer to their carefree and tranquil way of life as “pura vida,” which translates to “pure life.” 

The country places a high value on education overall, with a 98% literacy rate for those who are 15 or older. 

Even further, they got rid of the regular army in favor of investing more money in education, which American college students looking for adventure haven’t missed.

The 2018–2019 academic year saw over 8,000 American students choose to study abroad in Costa Rica, making it the 10th most popular country overall. 

It is the preferred location for American students studying abroad in Latin America, more so than Mexico. 

After deciding to study abroad in Costa Rica, you have more options. Choose a specific location and program next. 

The best places to study abroad in Costa Rica, along with their prices and benefits for doing so, are listed below.

Check out also: How to Study Abroad in Mexico: Programs, Cost, Scholarships, & Visa  

Where are the best places to study abroad in Costa Rica in 2023?

1. Heredia 

Not far from Costa Rica is a smaller, but no less lovely city. The natural beauty of Heredia, which is situated in the smallest province, is breathtaking. 

If you’re feeling particularly daring, it is also only a short distance from the Nicaraguan border. 

One of the best locations in Costa Rica for studying abroad is here. 

Just two of Heredia’s trendy tourist attractions are the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Braulio Carrilo National Park. 

If you studied here, you could see all of them. Nevertheless, try to avoid the tourist traps and engage with the locals as much as you can. 

If you’re interested in studying agriculture or earth sciences, Heredia is a great place to go.

Read also: How to Study Abroad in Denmark: Programs, Cost, Scholarships, & Visa

2. San Ramón 

If you want to have an authentic experience in Costa Rica, San Ramón is a great choice. Old customs and methods are still very influential in this area. 

It’s a fantastic location to learn Spanish and acquaint yourself with the local way of life. One of the best locations in Costa Rica for studying abroad is here. 

San Ramón is a town with a university and a hub for youth activity. Regular art exhibits, neighborhood events, and a museum all set this small town apart from others across the country. 

Exiles from the capital founded San Ramón. This region, known as “the city of poets and presidents,” attracts intellectuals and free thinkers. To the beach from here, it takes just 45 minutes. 

Check: All International Student Scholarships to Study in the US

3. Monteverde 

If you’re looking for a cooler tropical location to study, take a look at Monteverde. 

There are plenty of things to do and see in this area even though it may not have the dramatic volcanoes or inviting beaches that draw tourists. 

One of the best locations in Costa Rica for studying abroad is here. 

The additional advantages of fewer pests and milder weather can also significantly differ depending on the semester you study abroad. 

The tiny village of Monteverde is frequently visited by students who are interested in science and environmental studies. 

There is a lot to learn about here, with the nearby rainforest and dry tropical plains. 

4. Samara 

All over Costa Rica, people talk about how beautiful nature is, and the Nicoya Peninsula is no different. 

The well-known coastal town of Samara is a favorite destination for both locals and tourists. 

Despite this, the length of the beach keeps it from ever truly feeling crowded. One of the best locations in Costa Rica for studying abroad is here. 

Visit the country if you want to learn about Costa Rica in its untouched, natural state. There is plenty to do, so there isn’t an excessive amount to do. 

Naturopathy, organic markets, and health food stores are all very popular in this area.

 It’s an excellent place to learn and study because it’s removed from a busy city like San Jose while still being reachable if necessary.

Read more: How to Study Abroad in Brazil: Programs, Cost, Scholarships, & Visa

5. Montezuma 

The famous city of Montezuma is located on the nation’s west coast. Despite being close to San Jose, it is a well-liked vacation and tourist destination. 

One of the best locations in Costa Rica for studying abroad is here. 

Previous students have valued the proximity to the ocean and the vibrant nightlife it provides. 

Yoga, which is very popular in the region, is a very effective way to greatly reduce the stress that comes with learning about and assimilating a new culture. 

At Montezuma, students have access to swimming pools, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities. 

Regional organizations like the Romelia Wildlife Reserve that work to protect and conserve turtles can benefit students of zoology, natural sciences, marine sciences, and environmental sciences.

6. Cartago 

Another nearby town with unique characteristics that is close to San Jose is Cartago. 

The country’s capital from 1574 to 1824 was Cartago, which is home to the Our Lady of the Angels Basilica, which attracts a sizable number of tourists and religious pilgrims every year. 

With a population of just over 156,000, it is a small enough city for students looking for immersion programs but big enough to have all the amenities they require. 

One of the best locations in Costa Rica for studying abroad is here. 

Walking is very popular because it allows for spontaneous conversations and frequent cultural observations and because everything you need is nearby. 

If you’re staying in the area shown in the above photo, the Iraz Volcano is just a quick bus ride away.

See also: How to Study Abroad in the Netherlands: Programs, Cost, Scholarships, & Visa

How much does it cost to study abroad in Costa rica in 2023?

The tuition is probably the most unpredictable cost associated with studying abroad in Costa Rica.

 It is challenging to compare programs because each one offers a unique experience; however, we can start by contrasting direct enrollment with studying with a third-party study abroad provider. 

Don’t forget to find out if you’re eligible for any scholarships to study in Costa Rica. 

Are you unsure of what “direct enrollment” or “third-party provider” mean? Continue reading to find out more about these options for studying abroad and how they affect the cost of your semester abroad.

  • The direct enrollment cost for a semester at Valparaiso University is $20,260 (2019/2020). 
  • Augsburg University’s Center for Global Education and Experience: $18,995 for the upcoming academic year. 
  • Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnologa in Costa Rica: $6,855 (2020) 

The semester’s tuition for a non-affiliated provider 

  • Study Abroad with San Jose ISA: $9,950 (2020) 
  • USAC Heredia: $8,048 (2020) 
  • The API San Jose (Quarter) ranges from $9,480 to $15,480 depending on the field of study. (2020)

Also Read: Top Scholarships for Students to Study in the USA

What are the visa requirements to study abroad in Costa Rica in 2023?

  • letter signed by the consul or notarized requesting a provisional visa under the Special Category. The letter must contain the information listed below: 
  • Your country of birth, full name, date of birth, and address 
  • Passport PIN for your city of residence 
  • Occupation/profession 
  • The exact location of your hotel in Costa Rica 
  • Contact information 
  • Your name, date, and signature 
  • a letter of acceptance from your school and a birth certificate 
  • copies of each page in your passport, along with a valid passport, are required for the police clearance certificate. The passport must be valid for an additional six months after the date of entry. 
  • evidence of sufficient financial means.

Also Read: Best Hack To Help You Make Money With A Part-Time Job As A Student Studying Abroad.

List of study abroad scholarships available;

In light of this, we have compiled a list of worldwide scholarships for study abroad here. Despite the fact that they are divided into the following categories: 

  • Government Scholarships with Full Funding 
  • University Scholarships with Full Funding 
  • Study Abroad in General Scholarships & Grants 
  • Program-Specific International Study Scholarships 
  • study abroad for only graduates Scholarships 
  • Member-Based International Study Scholarships 
  • Travel Awards for International Education Scholarships for Travel

Why study abroad in Costa Rica?

1. Livin’ la Pura Vida 

In recent years, the Happy Planet Index poll from the New Economics Foundation named Costa Rica the “happiest country on earth” not once, but twice. 

The Ticos take great pride in upholding “la pura vida,” or living “life as it should be,” which is an extraordinarily calm and relaxed way of life.

 In actuality, since the dissolution of its standing army in 1949, Costa Rica is one of the very few countries in the world without one. 

The average life expectancy is close to 80 years, and many people are active well into their 100th year, thanks in part to their environment, diet, and attitude. 

There is a diverse mix of young and old, as well as people of all ages and races, in terms of the population

See also: How to Find, Apply & Get a Scholarship to Study Abroad

2. Never too cool for class 

The literacy rate in Costa Rica, which is 97 percent, is among the highest in all of Latin America when looking for opportunities to study abroad. 

The Ministry of Culture declared that “an army of teachers” would take its place because the elimination of the standing army allowed more funding to be directed toward the educational system. 

In Costa Rican schools, the study of human development is an essential part of the curriculum. 

Education is accessible and encouraged at all levels, including elementary, secondary, and private or public institutions. 

Costa Rica offers a top-notch academic environment that will be extremely beneficial to students who choose to study abroad there.

Check out: How to Study Abroad in Canada: Programs, Cost, Scholarships, & Visa

3. Sustainability: Not Just a Fad 

A large part of Costa Rica’s high standard of living is due to the nation’s admirable commitment to environmental protection. Actually, 25% of the country is covered by legal protection. 

In 2009, it was even recognized as the world’s greenest country. 

The government has also implemented a number of limitations on activities like hunting and other damaging environmental practices in an effort to better protect the nation’s natural beauty. 

Costa Rica is a perfect example of what ethical ecotourism looks like. 

When you study abroad in Costa Rica and take classes from practitioners and theorists alike, anyone with a passion for sustainable development, the environment, or conservation can quickly become an authority in these fields.

4. Natural Wonders 

This lovely country is home to some of the most amazing natural features and creatures the world has to offer. 

There are many mountains there, as well as tropical forests, beaches, rivers, National Parks, 14 recognized volcanoes, six of which are active. 

Not to mention that it is one of the most biodiverse places on earth with over 500,000 species, including the zebra longwing butterfly, smokey jungle frog, and scarlet macaw. 

Students studying zoology, biology, ecology, and wildlife science will undoubtedly find this to be a paradise, but anyone who is exposed to such wonderful diversity will value it.

5. The Adventure of a Lifetime

Studying abroad in Costa Rica is an adventure waiting to happen because the country is home to so many amazing natural wonders. 

Students can burn calories on the beach during their free time by surfing, sailing, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. 

Try ziplining through ceiba trees, hiking up a volcano, or volunteering with one of the many different turtle species. It will be pleasant to occasionally take a break from your studies and renew your energy.


Between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America, Costa Rica is a gem of a tropical utopia. 

With a population of about 4.5 million, the majority of whom live in the capital city of San Jose, this country stands out as one of the most progressive societies in Latin America today. 

Despite the fact that there are numerous advantages, we hope the details in this article have been able to provide some insight into what it’s like to study abroad in Costa Rica.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Costa Rica suitable for foreign students? 

Many international students have chosen Costa Rica because of its lovely climate and excellent educational system. The nation provides affordable tertiary education and is home to several universities. 

How much does studying abroad in Costa Rica cost? 

After airfare and program fees, budget $2,500 to $3,500 for one semester in Costa Rica.

Are students safe in Costa Rica? 

Are students safe in Costa Rica? More than 1.7 million tourists travel to Costa Rica each year, and it is a secure country to do so. For high school students and first-time visitors looking for educational cultural experiences in a secure nation, it’s a great place. 

What courses can I take in Costa Rica? 

Additionally, private institutions like business schools, medical schools, and engineering universities can provide specialized vocational programs. With Student, you can find the ideal school in Costa Rica whether you want to pursue a BA, BSc, MBA, or doctorate degree.



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