Type of Program: Semester
Cities: Monteverde, Costa Rica, and various
When offered: Spring Semester Only
Cost: See Program Costs page

Nestled in the Tilaran mountain range of Costa Rica, Monteverde is located approximately 80km northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica's capital.  It is home to dairy farmers and coffee producers, including the agricultural cooperative Finca La Bella ("the beautiful farm"). Monteverde's beauty and exceptional biodiversity make it a destination for both eco-tourists and research biologists.

The MVI occupies 42 acres in the center of Monteverde.  It is bordered by the renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which offers some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and numerous hiking trails for research and recreation.  MVI facilities include classrooms, wet and dry laboratories, studio spaces, a research library, and a high-speed wireless computing network.  The semester-long program is open to all majors.  It offers students a wealth of opportunities to analyze the challenges of sustainability and to search for solutions within the specific context of Costa Rica and Monteverde.  How has Costa Rica's development path been shaped by both global and national forces, and how have these in turn, affected the development of Monteverde and its unique cloud forest environment?  What does sustainability mean in light of rapidly growing ecotourism and disappearing species? 

With an emphasis on place-based learning, the program examines not only the theoretical underpinnings of sustainability, but also how these theories play out with real people, organizations, and localities.  Classes include overnight field trips, site visits, and guest lectures by local grassroots activists as well as world-renowned scientists.  Students conduct their own independent research, in the social or natural sciences, and may also have the opportunity to volunteer with a local organization.  Site visits and trips may include a women's cooperative, a defunct goldmine converted to a hot springs resort, and a hike and overnight stay in a remote field station, an afternoon with a farmer's cooperative, or a day trip to the provincial capital of Puntarenas. The program expects students to participate in research and community interactions that will require the use of Spanish language. In addition, students will live with a Spanish-speaking family for the duration of the program. Thus, we strongly recommend that students have one semester of Spanish prior to their arrival. All classes except for the Spanish Language Course are taught in English.

Check out these introductory videos created by the Monteverde Institute!

Eligibility and Prerequisites

Students must have declared a major and taken prerequisite courses.  Students are strongly urged to have one college level of Spanish or the equivalent.  Students must have completed three semesters in college-level residence.  Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.70 or higher to apply.  A pre-requisite of one course in Biology or Ecology with a lab or field work component is required for Tropical Ecology.

Application and Study Abroad Deposit Deadlines


For Study in Spring 2016

Application and $500 deposit

September 25, 2015

Please note that both the application and fee are due in the Office of International Studies. All students must attend an advising session at least one week prior to the deadline in the Office of International Studies to obtain an application.

If interested, please contact Carol Donhauser for an application or additional information.

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