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  • Locations: Atenas, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: The School for Field Studies (SFS) 
  • Restrictions: WWU applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2019 10/15/2018 ** Rolling Admission 01/28/2019 05/08/2019

** 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.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Field Study, Study Abroad Language of Instruction: English, Spanish
Fields of Study: Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Culture, Ecology, Economics, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geography & Land Studies, Hospitality & Tourism, International Studies Housing Options: Student Residence/ On Campus
Minimum GPA: 2.8
Program Description:




  • Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Credits: 18 semester-hour credits
  • Prerequisites: One semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science; 18 years of age
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admissions. Early applications encouraged
  • Financial Aid: All accepted students can apply for need-based scholarships, grants, and loans


Experience a semester of sustainability in Costa Rica, known worldwide for its innovative conservation and economic development strategies. This program examines the different models that Costa Rica uses to balance biodiversity conservation with socioeconomic benefits, especially in rural communities. Students examine the effects of globalization on development issues such as agriculture, urban sprawl, population growth, waste management, and water quality. Students visit cloud forests, dry forests, volcanoes, lowland rainforests, farms, and plantations as they explore environmental policies and sustainable solutions in the context of the environmental changes facing Costa Rica.


  • Climate change and tropical ecosystems
  • Land use practices congruent with conservation
  • Tourism sustainability
  • Sustainable agriculture and climate change mitigation
  • Carbon sequestration strategies
  • Socioeconomic  and environmental impacts of tourism
  • Environmental justice and environmental ethics


  • Expedition to Nicaragua to hike the volcanoes of Ometepe Island and examine tourism and development in a neighboring country
  • Visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve to study hummingbird ecology and tour a shade-grown coffee farm
  • Overnight camping trip to the dry forest of Santa Rosa National Park
  • Assessment of park management strategies and tourism capacity in Carara National Park 


Through Directed Research (DR)—as opposed to basic, applied, or independent research—students conduct research on a specific topic that is part of the SFS Center’s long-term strategic research plan, which has been developed in partnership with local community stakeholders and clients.

The course, taught by resident SFS faculty, provides students with the opportunity to apply the scientific process in a mentored field research project that addresses a local environmental issue. Through the DR project, students contribute to a growing body of scientific research that informs local conservation and resource management decisions.