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UVA in Costa Rica
Alajuela, Costa Rica (Education Abroad Programs Program)
Program Terms: Summer
Budget Sheets Summer
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2019 01-MAR-2019 10-MAR-2019 12-MAY-2019 20-JUN-2019
NOTE: Students accepted to this program will need to commit to accept or decline participation by March 15.
Fact Sheet:
Class Status:
1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.5
Language Requirement:
1000 level, 2000 level
Open to Non-UVa Students:
Housing: Homestay Language Courses Offered: Yes
Language of Instruction: Spanish
Credit Type:
Direct Credit
Program Type:
Faculty led
Tuition Payments Made To:
Education Abroad Advisor:
Martha Sadler
Application Fee:
Study Abroad Administrative Fee:
Subject Area:
Program Description:
Mountain in Costa Rica

UVA in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is a democratic and prosperous nation which boasts some of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet. Ranging from rainforests to stunning beaches, mountain ranges to mangrove swamps, Costa Rica is an ecological treasure with a dazzling array of flora and fauna. Ticos, as Costa Ricans refer to themselves, are warm and friendly people, at once traditional, and proud of their modern accomplishments which have rendered Costa Rica the most stable, democratic and literate country in the region.

Location IconLocation

UVA will partner in Costa Rica with the Instituto de Cultura y Lengua Costarricense (ICLC).The host Center is located just outside of the traditional city of Alajuela, about 10 miles from the capital of San José. The Center is located on a hilltop, surrounded by mango trees and other tropical plants, providing a peaceful, pleasant and safe environment in which to study. Downtown Alajuela is only a few minutes by bus away, and the bustle of San José is easily accessed by 24 hour bus service.

Costa Rica Ox cart Costa Rica Group Certificates

Courses IconCourses

This is a 6 or 7 credit program. Students will select one of three tracks. The first track, Intermediate Spanish, covers the work of both SPAN 2010 and SPAN 2020 in 6 weeks. Students will receive direct UVA credit upon successful completion of the coursework and will have satisfied the CLAS foreign language requirement. The second track, Grammar Review and Composition I and Latin American Cinema, will cover both SPAN 3010 (Grammar Review and Composition I) and SPAN 3031 (Latin American Cinema).

The third track, Grammar Review and Composition II and Latin American Cinema, will cover both SPAN 3020 ( Grammar Review and Composition II) and SPAN 3031 (Latin American Cinema).

Track one is open to any student who has either successfully completed the SPAN 1020 and SPAN 1060 sequence, scored over 515 on the SAT Spanish language exam, or placement at level of SPAN 2010 on the department's placement exam. Students applying to track two should have completed SPAN 2020 prior to the start of the program. Students on track three should have completed SPAN 3010 prior to the start of the program.

Participants have an option to enroll in an additional 1-credit course, SPAN 2100, as a part of this program. Those in SPAN 2100 will complete a service experience and will write a final research paper to earn the additional credit. Those interested should speak with Professor Sprague at the time of application, and include this course in the course interest section of the application. Additionally, please review the program Budget Sheet for tuition information.

Intermediate Spanish
(SPAN 2010 & 2020; 6 credits)
Intermediate Spanish and Latin American Cinema
(SPAN 2020 & 3031; 6 credits)
Grammar Review & Composition I and Latin American Cinema
(SPAN 3010 & 3031; 6 credits)
Grammar Review & Composition II and Latin American Cinema
(SPAN 3020 & 3031; 6 credits)

Course Information

SPAN 2010_2020 syllabus
SPAN 3010 syllabus
SPAN 3031 syllabus


Students will be given an intensive orientation session covering issues related to Costa Rican culture and society as well as program-specific topics. Host family rules and general expectations will also be discussed along with academic goals, health and safety issues and emergency procedures. A walking tour of Alajuela will be provided and, normally on the first Tuesday of the program, a city tour of nearby San José, Costa Rica's capital. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Students enrolling in either track of the program may elect to complete a volunteer experience in addition to their courses. These volunteer placements are in a broad range of areas, and include opportunities in local clinics, schools, or community outreach. (See ICLC Newsletter). These opportunities may be of particular interest to School of Nursing students. Volunteers will work approximately 6 hours / week in local clinics. Please contact Professor Gerli for further information.


ICLC provides a series of optional activities which take place during the week. The activities are free of charge and vary from week to week. Some activities may involve an entrance fee which the students will have to cover out of pocket. Activities may include: the National Museum, the Juan Santamaria Historical Museum, walking tour of Old San José, the National Gallery of Contemporary Arts, and the Central Market. Additionally the ICLC offers a series of guest lectures and mini-courses on topics in Costa Rican art, history, politics, and culture. These are optional and free of charge. Students will also have the opportunity to see some of the natural wonders of Costa Rica through several guided field trips. Field trip destinations include La Paz Waterfalls, Basilica of Cartago, Orosi Valley, and Tortuguero.

Faculty IconFaculty

Paula Sprague |
Dr. Paula Sprague is an Assistant Professor (General Faculty) in the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Department. She has a Ph.D. in Spanish and has taught Spanish language, and Hispanic culture and literature for over 20 years. Prof. Sprague has directed study abroad programs in Spain, where she lived for many years, and she has travelled extensively in various Latin American countries.

Accommodation and MealsAccommodation and Meals

Students will be housed with local families in Alajuela. Students will be placed in private bedrooms (which will include students' linens to be changed weekly). Bathroom facilities are normally shared with the host family. Students should bring their own towels and an international phone card (may be purchased in Costa Rica). Breakfast and dinner are provided daily by the host families.

Cost and Financial Aid

The program cost and payment schedule are listed under the "Budget Sheets" link at the top of this page. Students with identifiable financial need are encouraged to apply for fellowships, scholarships, and financial aid.

Costa Rica Arenal Volcano

Accessibility IconAccessibility

The University of Virginia believes in providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities on an individual basis. If you believe that you would require adjustments in order to fully participate in this program, please contact the Student Disability Access Center at 434-243-5180 as early as possible in order to begin this dialogue.


Passport IconPassport and Visa

All participants will need a valid passport in order to participate in the program. Students must ensure that their passport is valid at least six months past the program return date. US passport holders will NOT need a visa to participate in this program, but must have evidence of a return flight out of Costa Rica. International students should meet with their International Student Advisor and Education Abroad Advisor in the International Studies Office as part of the application process.


Health Info IconHealth and Safety Information

All students considering Education Abroad should consult the Students Abroad section of the U.S. Department of State’s web-based travel resources and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health web resources to research health, safety, and security conditions; visa requirements; immunization requirements; and recommendations on staying healthy and safe in their target destination(s). Students should also carefully review the UVA Education Abroad Health & Safety Abroad web page. Parents and guardians are strongly advised to review all of these resources, as well. UVA students and visiting students enrolled in UVA Education Abroad programs are subject to the University of Virginia’s Policy on Student International Travel.

Vaccine Information
All travelers should consult with their doctor and the CDC webpage to see which vaccines are recommended.