Study Abroad

The Best Study Abroad Programs in Costa Rica

Photo of Rebecca Alwine
Rebecca Alwine
Topic Expert

Rebecca is a freelance writer, army wife and mother of three who thoroughly enjoyed her undergraduate study abroad program in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The Best Study Abroad Programs in Costa Rica
Photo by Demitra K, CEA Study Abroad in San Jose, Alum

You’ve made the decision to study overseas and have even decided upon the country. Your adventure in Costa Rica awaits, but first, you have to figure out what program is the right fit for you. While some accounts of studying overseas may give you the impression that there isn’t much studying involved, choosing the right academic program is very important.

Adventure, travel, and new experiences await, but academics are the primary reason you are heading out. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing your program, so we’ve put together our top Costa Rica programs so you can easily compare them and make the best decision.

  1. Sol Education Abroad: Study Abroad in Costa Rica
  2. CIEE: Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde
  3. Costa Rica Study Abroad: Social Entrepreneurial Mentorships
  4. AIFS: Study Abroad in Costa Rica Semester or Academic Year
  5. CEA: Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica
  6. USAC: Costa Rica: San Ramón
  7. ISA: Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica

If you want to read more about each of these programs, click the links above or read on to learn more about each one.

How Did We Pick These Programs?

In choosing the best study abroad programs in Costa Rica, we took into account two main factors: the review scores of each program, and the number of reviews that program had received.

For all study abroad programs on Go Overseas, we ask reviewers to rate five variables: (1) Academics, (2) Support, (3) Fun, (4) Housing, and (5) Safety. We average these scores, compare them to other Costa Rica programs, and take into account the total number of reviews each program has received. In total, we compared over 250 reviews to determine which programs should be included on this list.

From there, our goal is to choose those programs which are truly the best: they have more and better reviews than the average for similar programs and are verified by enough reviews for us to feel confident giving our stamp of approval.

#1. SOL Education Abroad: Study Abroad in Costa Rica

SOL Education Abroad: Study Abroad in Costa Rica
Photo by Jordan Z., SOL Education Abroad Costa Rica Alum

SOL Education Abroad is our highest rated Costa Rica program. Study in the college town of Heredia, at the local campus of the Latin University of Costa Rica. The university has a large group of international students, so you’ll be exposed to more than one culture while there.

The beauty of the campus, as well as the first-rate academics, make this a favorite among Go Overseas students. SOL offers some great excursions as well, including a trip to a volcano! Students have given SOL’s Costa Rica program a 98% rating, and have ranked support, fun, and housing as their favorite parts.

Here are some other highlights from alumni reviews of the SOL Education Abroad program:

  • "I felt like the educators, directors, and the Tico family I lived with really cared about my health and well-being. They were always kind and willing to help with anything I needed." -- Heather
  • "I attended regular classes, both focusing on the Spanish language with students in my program, as well as classes with locals at the Universidad Latina. I am so thankful to Sol for the opportunity to get to know a different culture and immerse myself in a variety of experiences I would never have dreamed possible in the U.S." -- Emma
  • "Sol study abroad was an amazing experience and being in high school still, people in the program did a fantastic job of helping me along the way. I became a family with my host family and I always felt welcome and safe. The director made one on one relations with her students and truly cared for us." -- Sarah

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of SOL Education Abroad's review performance:

SOL Education Abroad in Costa Rica Review Snapshot

#2. CIEE: Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde

CIEE: Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde
Photo by Lauren S., CIEE Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde Alum

When looking for a program in Costa Rica that is focused on ecology and conservation, the CIEE Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde is a great option. Rated second among all of our Costa Rica programs, it also has a 98% rating from former students. The academics are intensive in this program, which according to many students is a positive thing.

This program utilizes host families for housing, which explain its high rating for housing, safety, and fun. Students participate in two, two and half week-long field trips and gain hands-on experience while conducting an independent research project in Monteverde. Both city and country life are experienced during this program.

Here are some other highlights from alumni reviews of the CIEE Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde program:

  • "My favorite part of the whole program was the experiential learning model they employed and the fact that were we literally learning about the place we were in. Class time was often spent hiking through absolutely gorgeous forests." -- Neha
  • "The beauty of this program is the diversity of ways in which the curriculum is taught to you. I would say that the entire program is split up into three different parts. The three parts were split up into field trips, normal classroom setting, and independent research." -- Caleb
  • "I chose this program because academic advisors assured me that it would be fun, more intellectually challenging and research-focused than other ecology programs. I had the time of my life, met lifelong friends, and know more about plant identification than I likely will ever need to as a microbiologist."-- Madison

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of CIEE's review performance:

CIEE: Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde Review Snapshot

#3. Costa Rica Study Abroad: Social Entrepreneurial Mentorships

Costa Rica Study Abroad: Social Entrepreneurial Mentorships
Photo by Garret A., Costa Rica Study Abroad Alum

Our number three rated Costa Rica program is Costa Rica Study Abroad: Social Entrepreneurial Mentorships which has a 100% rating! These mentorships are perfect for those ready to make a difference, right away. One interviewee mentioned, “Do not attend this if you aren't looking to get your mind straight on the future, because the powerful energy of Costa Rica mixed with Marc Angelo's spirit will leave you craving to get to work on your life's passion.”

Housing for this program received a 10 out of 10, and attendees stay in either apartments or with host families. There is more than enough time for fun, and networking, both of which will be beneficial later in business life.

Here are some other highlights from alumni reviews of the Costa Rica Study Abroad: Social Entrepreneurial Mentorships program:

  • "What I experienced working hands-on with the students in Costa Rica inspired me to believe that this an event which can truly get anyone out of their rut and rigid mindset and really help them move forward in their lives." -- Daniel
  • "Over the course of the week, the team helped break down these barriers holding me back. My confidence and clarity were strengthened. This confidence I have kept with me since, and I use constantly to break down the doubts in pursuing my goals. I now use social media as a powerful tool in this pursuit." -- Bradley
  • "I went to Costa Rica last year hoping to have a good time and learn a thing or two and ended up with much more than I could have imagined. I made long-lasting friendships, learned to surf, hiked a waterfall and a volcano and FINALLY put an action plan together to run my own business."-- Nadia

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of Costa Rica Study Abroad's review performance:

Costa Rica Study Abroad: Social Entrepreneurial Mentorships Review Snapshot

#4. AIFS Study Abroad in Costa Rica: Semester or Academic Year

AIFS Study Abroad in Costa Rica: Semester or Academic Year
Photo credit: David Berkowitz via Flickr

The AIFS Study Abroad in Costa Rica program offers so much for students looking to spend a semester or the full academic year in San Jose. Veritas University offers classes ranging from the Spanish language to environmental studies to political science. This program has a 96% rating with high marks in fun and housing.

Students live with a Tican family, close enough to walk to school, and can find time to explore, both within San Jose and outside of it. San Jose is a great location, as it’s centrally located. This is the program I used, and I loved it! My Spanish improved so much thanks to my host family and the opportunity to practice it each and every day.

Here are some other highlights from alumni reviews of the AIFS Study Abroad in Costa Rica program:

  • "I chose AIFS not only due to the fact that it was incredibly cost-effective, provided three different travel opportunities included in the cost of the program, and gave us the option of a homestay, but also because of the interactions I had with the AIFS staff as they helped me through the process of applying for, and going, on this adventure to Costa Rica." -- Courtney
  • "The cultural excursions that were included in the program forced me to get out there and see how traveling can be done so easily. I formed relationships with friends I still talk to today and I matured immensely over this time, being on my own but always having the support of AIFS to have my back." -- Mackenzie
  • "One of the key reasons that I chose AIFS was because of the optional flight package that they offer; I didn't have much experience in domestic airports, let alone airports in another country, so it was very comforting to have it already taken care of." -- Goldie

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of AIFS' review performance:

AIFS Study Abroad in Costa Rica Review Snapshot

#5. CEA Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica

CEA Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica
Photo by Lindsey C., CEA Study Abroad in San Jose Alum

Ranked fifth in our list, the CEA Study Abroad in San Jose is one of the top programs when it comes to logistical support. From the beginning to the end of this program, you will be taken care of! The academics are also top-notch, and courses taken while studying overseas are easily transferrable and fulfill graduation requirements.

With the option of staying with a host family, while studying in San Jose, students can really get the best of both worlds. A home-cooked meal after a long day of studying is so refreshing. CEA also puts together some great trips for its students, and great opportunities to learn about the Tican culture.

Here are some other highlights from alumni reviews of the CEA Study Abroad in San Jose program:

  • "I loved my experience with this program. One of the classes I took (Revolution, Religion, and Spirituality in Latin America at Veritas Universidad) changed my life in so many ways." -- Megan
  • "This by far was the most amazing, eye-opening, soul finding experience of my life. I made some of the most amazing friends and an entirely new group of people that I call family. The country was absolutely stunning and there was never a dull moment. The Program CEA was beyond accommodating. The staff was always helpful and assisted with anything that was ever needed."-- Symone
  • "With CEA, I was able to go to San Jose for a medical Spanish and health psychology program that changed my life! Not only was I able to learn Spanish that I use every day at work in a hospital but I also was able to experience adventures like nowhere else in the world!" -- Caitlyn

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of CEA's review performance:

CEA Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica Review Snapshot

#6. USAC Costa Rica: San Ramón

USAC Costa Rica: San Ramón
Photo by Robin E., USAC Costa Rica Alum

The USAC Costa Rica program in San Ramon is a great option for students in the health, ecology, and conservation biology fields. Hands-on experience is key for these fields, and the USAC program has it! Live with a host family, have the opportunity to pursue independent research, and complete some of those graduation requirements in San Ramon.

If you’re not sold on studying in San Ramon, or your field is not compatible with those listed, consider the USAC program in Heredia. It has all of the same benefits and fantastic student reviews, including a 94% rating. Students love the host family aspect of USAC programs.

Here are some other highlights from alumni reviews of the USAC Costa Rica San Ramón program:

  • "There are really no words to describe an experience like this. USAC was an incredible program. They set up everything from classes to home-stay. The science classes that I took came with an awesome field study. USAC also had planned weekend field trips that were always very fun. I would recommend this to anyone!" -- Tyler
  • "I loved this program! I had so much help from USAC before I went so I wasn't nervous at all. They walked me through the whole process. Once I got to Costa Rica I met my host family and the USAC staff and they were so welcoming and friendly and made me feel right at home." -- Julia

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of USAC's review performance:

USAC Costa Rica: San Ramón Review Snapshot

#7. ISA Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica

ISA Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica
Photo by Brooke M., ISA Costa Rica Alum

Not far from San Jose is the Tican town of Heredia, where students love to explore and study. The ISA Study Abroad in Heredia program is a great option for those looking to improve upon their Spanish language skills. Students live with a host family and genuinely enjoy the college town, complete with excellent cafes and nightlife.

When there is some downtime from studying, ISA has several options for excursions available. From volcanoes to mountains to beaches, Costa Rica has it all, and with Heredia being located near San Jose, there are several ways to travel to these places. You will love studying in Heredia with ISA!

Here is a highlight from an alumni review of the ISA Study Abroad in Herediaprogram:

  • "I went to Costa Rica on a complete whim. I chose my program randomly and ISA's Costa Rica Heredia program was the hands-down absolute best experience I could have ever dreamed about. I loved the classes and my professors. The directors are absolutely amazing... They end up as your good friends at the end of your trip." -- Kendra

Read more reviews →

Here's a snapshot of ISA's review performance:

ISA Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica Review Snapshot

Where Will you Study?

Have you decided yet? All of the programs on this list are fantastic, and it is comforting to know that Go Overseas students have been there before. As you can tell, these programs are top of the line, and we know you will have a wonderful experience, learn about the Costa Rican culture, and improve your Spanish. We can’t wait to hear about your experiences.