CIEE Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde

Video and Photos


Come explore Costa Rica’s diverse and imitable ecosystems and gain comprehensive insight into its conservation through theory, hands-on exposure, and direct experimentation.

Through rigorous coursework, and unique field opportunities including two extensive field trips to Costa Rica’s varied ecosystems and the Panamanian coast, studying abroad in Monteverde acquaints you with practical biological problems associated with agricultural development, eco-tourism, and grassroots conservation efforts in developing countries.

Study abroad in Costa Rica and you will:

- Gain hands-on experience through an independent research project

- Participate in two, two and a half week field trips, including a trip to Panama to observe marine diversity in the coral reefs off the Bocas del Toro Islands

- Live in a biological station surrounded by the Monteverde Cloud Forest

- Get to known rural Costa Rica during a one-month homestay with a local family

Questions & Answers

The program is very academically intensive and structured which means that personal travel/free time is limited. If you want to make independent travel plans please plan to do so once the program has ended.
There is a shorter summer option than condenses the semester program! A coworker has done it and had a similar experience to my semester program.


based on 19 reviews
  • Academics 8.7
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 19 of 19
Default avatar

Wish I could do it again right now...

I chose this program because academic advisors assured me that it would be fun, more intellectually challenging and research-focused than other ecology programs. The faculty and TAs are absolutely wonderful people who are fun, supportive, and have created a program which as physically and mentally exhausting as it is rewarding. I was never that outdoorsy, so a program with this much time in the bush was way outside of my comfort zone. 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. I have pushed many friends to considering this program because I really don't think it gets much better than Alan, Johel, and Kathy. Pura vida!

How can this program be improved?
Some sort of Costa Rican governmental mosquito elimination program. In Monteverde there are not too many, but in Santa Rosa the bugs were very challenging. Bring DEET.
Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible adventure with incredible people

If you're into nature, science, biology, the outdoors, or any of the above, I really can't recommend this program too strongly. Spending a semester in one of the most beautiful places in the world with a group of friends (none of whom I knew before the arriving) who share my passion for the natural world was a defining piece of my college experience, and a decision that I am incredibly glad I made.

The whole staff is great--they all know their stuff when it comes to science, but they're also genuinely awesome people to lead you around Costa Rica and be your friends for 3-4 months. The program they have arranged is set up perfectly, with plenty of time spent in beautiful Monteverde, enough to make it feel like a real home, but also enough travel time on the field trips to really explore the country (and Panama, one of my favorite parts of the trip). The workload can be a lot, and is probably more than most study abroad programs require, but the lessons add to the experience, and I walked away feeling like I learned a huge amount about where I was, and biology in general. And how many abroad programs have you take on an independent research project, which may have the potential to be published? One minor criticism might be that since the workload was concentrated in the Monteverde sections (not that I would want to have been working on the field trips), some of us felt like we didn't have as much time as we might have to fully explore the town and the surrounding cloud forest.

There are a million stories I could tell from the trip, from scaling waterfalls and swimming amidst bioluminescent waves, to getting way too close to eyelash vipers and bullet ants for the perfect photo, and partying with friends at Monteverde's very own Bar Amigos. But the most valuable thing I can say is that if you're considering this program, apply today and make your own stories!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar

Work Hard, Play Harder

My semester abroad in Costa Rica with the amazing staff of the TEC program was so great! I loved the wide range of activities we did, it felt like we fit an entire year into one semester. We got to travel around the whole country and see almost all of the highlights. We also stayed in homestay for a month and got to conduct our own research -- CIEE really had everything I was looking for in a study abroad program.

As an interactive learner, one of my favorite things was having class in the forest. It was really cool to talk about the different species of plants and animals when they were right there. Most of the lectures were like this, we spent very little time in a traditional classroom.

My favorite part of the program was homestay. It was so fun to live with a familia tica and get to know the culture and customs. Two years later, I am still talking to my host family every couple weeks.

How can this program be improved?
I wish we learned more about the conservation of tropical forests. We took a half unit class on the subject, which was great. But these were some of the lessons that stuck with me the most so I wish we spent more time on them.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar

CIEE Monteverde

The program was very rigorous while still worthwhile. It allowed us to experience and learn about things that are incredibly rare in the United States. The staff were incredibly supportive while still giving us room to learn and develop on our own in a country that in without equal in terms of environmental beauty and sustainability. The program allowed us learn about the connection between humans and the environment so that we could add that to our educations back home.

Yes, I recommend this program


Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

About CIEE

A nonprofit, non-governmental organization, CIEE is the world leader in international study and exchange programs. For 65 years, CIEE has helped thousands of students, professionals, and educators gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and...