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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Monteverde, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: CIEE 
  • Restrictions: WFU applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2024 03/01/2024 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Program Description:


Spend the summer exploring Costa Rica’s diverse and imitable ecosystems and gain comprehensive insight into their conservation through theory, hands-on exposure, and direct experimentation.

Through rigorous coursework, Spanish language instruction, extensive travel throughout Costa Rica, and an independent research project, study 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:

  • Camp and hike in some of Costa Rica’s most amazing protected areas, including rain forest, dry forest, mangroves, beaches, and more
  • Live in Monteverde, an internationally recognized area of research and natural beauty, and home to a world famous Cloud Forest
  • Gain research experience conducting your own independent project
  • Experience rural Costa Rica through a homestay with a local family
  • Enjoy cultural activities in the town of Monteverde

The CIEE Difference


In Monteverde, the field is your classroom. Explore issues of tropical diversity, community ecology, and human impact in the tropics firsthand, from your biological research station in the Cloud Forest.
You’ll also spend eight days traveling with your professors throughout Costa Rica to explore a variety of the country’s ecosystems.


Explore ecosystems outside of the Monteverde region, including the Santa Rosa National Park, a Tropical Dry Forest known as a center for the study of regeneration. Other sites visited during this trip include the Corcovado National Park, a lush rainforest that serves as home to such birds as the chestnut-backed antbird and the white-crowned parrot, as well as to the two-toed sloth, coatimundi, howler, and white-faced monkey. You’ll also visit Carara Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which has an active volcano, as well as other places of biological interest.

Independent Research

Use your newly minted skills and knowledge to carry out an independent project in tropical ecology or conservation. Beginning with personal observations, you’ll formulate a hypothesis and design an appropriate test, gather and analyze data. The project culminates in oral presentations and submitted written reports on your work.


Total recommended credit for the summer is 10 semester/15 quarter hours. Total contact hours for the program are 150 hours.

Course contact hours are 30 and recommended credit is 2 semester/3 quarter hours unless otherwise indicated.

Program Requirements

Study abroad participants are required to take all of the courses offered: Tropical Biology, Independent Study, Humans in the Tropics, and Spanish Conversation at their level.

About Monteverde

Monteverde is a small community of 4,000 that accommodates up to 200,000 tourists each year. Its forest is located in the largest private reserve in Central America and reflects a long heritage of grassroots conservation. The reserve encompasses not only Cloud Forest but everything from Dry Forest to Rain Forest habitats. Monteverde’s forests house over 2,500 species of plants, including over 500 species of orchids. In addition, Monteverde has over 60 species of amphibians, 100 species of mammals, and over 450 bird species, including the Resplendant Quetzal.

Where You’ll Study

The CIEE Study Center in Monteverde is located at the edge of the forest in a small, friendly, bilingual community surrounded by a cloud forest. Monteverde is free of biting insects and green all year-round. Monteverde’s Cloud Forest has been studied for more than 25 years by both visiting and Costa Rican biologists. This widens the research opportunities available and acquaints students with practical biological problems associated with agricultural development, eco-tourism, and grassroots conservation efforts in developing countries.

Housing & Meals

Housing and all meals are included in the study abroad program fee. Students live in a biological station where all classes are taught. It is beautifully situated adjacent to the Cloud Forest. Students stay in four-person rooms (two bunk beds) with private baths and hot showers. Meals are provided at the biological station and served family style. Vegetarians can easily be accommodated. During the week prior to exams and presentation of the research projects, participants live and take their meals with rural Costa Rican families. In addition, participants spend two weeks in cabins or camping during the various field trips conducted throughout the program.

A teaching assistant/student services coordinator lives with the students during the program and is available to answer questions about health issues, living conditions, and the academic program. The coordinator also plans social activities and makes the group aware of cultural and community events.

Academic Program

Established in 1989, the CIEE summer study abroad program in Monteverde was developed to fulfill several goals. The first is to introduce students to all aspects of tropical biology and ecology, including forestry, entomology, and environmental sciences. The second is to allow students to pursue a specific interest in tropical biology and ecology through independent research. Finally, the program gives participants an opportunity to study the language and culture of Costa Rica and enhance their Spanish language skills.

Academic Culture

The small, rigorous courses with a biological focus (taught in English) are offered for CIEE students only and contain extensive experiential components. The required courses combine classroom-based academics with broad practical experience. Professors prepare the students in the classroom and accompany students on field trips.

Given the number of projects and visits required for these courses, students should expect an intense, yet rewarding summer. With its setting in the natural classroom of the forest, the program provides a unique experience that integrates classwork, field study, lab work, and observation.


Classes are held with CIEE study abroad students only, and are quite small and dynamic.


Students are assessed based on participation, quizzes, field practicals, reports from field experiments, and mid-term and final exams. Independent study grades are based upon a proposal, two submissions of a manuscript, and a symposium presentation. Letter grades of A-F are given with pluses and minuses.




The courses are taught by the resident director and local faculty. Guest lecturers are invited to discuss their areas of expertise.