Heredia, Costa Rica

IFSA January in Costa Rica

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Program Overview

Eco-minded? With stunning national parks, live volcanoes, and 500,000+ species of plants and animals, this is the place to fill an elective or science requirement while you get in the field to see why ecological recovery matters—and what’s standing in the way. Highlights include visits to Irazú volcano, a sustainable cacao farm, and a tree reforestation project.

Students attending select Australia universities are welcome to participate in this program

Details at a Glance

Application deadline

Winter: Nov. 1

Minimum GPA


Credit load

3 U.S. Semester Credit Hours


Single Room;Homestay

Instruction language


Language prerequisites

Class taught in English. No Spanish required.

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Ecology and Sustainable Development in Costa Rica 
Exploring environmental conditions in Costa Rica through practical field experiences, this course addresses the importance and challenges of ecological recovery, preservation, and protection. Using interdisciplinary approaches, students will confront the task of society to raise awareness for conserving natural resources long-term in Costa Rica and globally. Students will also expand theoretical concepts of ecology and its history in Costa Rica by examining the socio-economic and political relationships that promote—or sometimes prevent—sustainable goods and services such as ecotourism, development, and conservation research. (3 U.S. Semester Credit Hours)

Australia Outbound Program
Students enrolled at select Australia universities are invited to participate in this program. The program is open to students of all year levels and all fields. Students will earn 45 contact hours credit; the equivalent of one subject.

Please see the Australia Outbound term below in the Dates and Fees section for program fees and expected expenses in Australian dollars. For more information on the Australia Outbound program, please reach out to us at



  • You must be at least 18 years of age. Students under 18 may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
  • You must be currently attending or recently graduated from a U.S. or Canadian community college, technical college, two-year college, four-year college, or four-year university. Students attending select Australia universities are also eligible.
  • You must have completed at least one (1) full-time semester of study at your home institution before the beginning of the term.

Recommendation Letter
Not required.

Visa Requirement
Not required for U.S., Canadian, or Australian citizens. A visa may be required if you are a citizen of another country.

Upon completion of your program, IFSA will send an official Butler University transcript to your home university with your coursework converted to the U.S. semester credit hour system. You will also have access to an unofficial transcript in your IFSA Student Portal. The transcript reflects classes taken, credits attempted, and grades earned during your term abroad. This service is included in your study abroad program at no additional cost. See our Transcripts page for more information.


Activities and excursions are designed to pull you into the communities you visit and encourage cultural connections of every kind. There’s no extra fee to participate in these optional outings—everything is included in your program fee.

Below are examples from previous terms; outings may be different for your program. We’ll make every effort to run them all, but sometimes things we can’t control, such as local regulations and health protocols, get in the way. As result, we cannot guarantee activities and excursions.

  • A day trip to the Irazú volcano and a nearby coffee plantation.
  • Hiking in national parks and discussion of Costa Rica’s national park system and management.
  • A day trip to Sarapiqui to participate in a native tree reforestation project.
  • A visit to a sustainable chocolate farm and processing plant.
  • A meeting with owners of environmentally friendly hotels to discuss eco-tourism.

Housing and Meals


Single Room (May Incur Added Costs), Homestay


All Included


In Costa Rica, students live in the providence of Heredia with families in what’s called a homestay. Homestays are a fabulous way to soak up as much culture as you can and provide plenty of opportunity to make language gains. Many students keep in touch with their hosts after they return home.  

Homestays: Who’s at home?  

We place students with carefully screened families in safe neighborhoods, with up to two students per family, though students can request to be placed individually. Many families have been hosting IFSA students for years. Often, they have grown children who have left home, and enjoy having young people around.  

You might live with a retired couple and their beloved terrier, with frequent visits from their young grandchildren. Your hosts might have high school-age children and a grandparent living with them. Or you might join a single mom who shares her home with her adult daughter and grandson, with another adult child living nearby. 

  • Location. Most students live in Heredia within an easy walk or bus ride to the university and downtown Heredia. Public transportation is excellent, and though these are urban areas, there’s no shortage of greenery. 
  • Commute. No more than 15 minutes on foot or 10 minutes by bus to Universidad Hispanoamericana, where IFSA staff are based. 
  • Living space. Hosts live in private houses. Expect to have your own bedroom, likely smaller than a typical U.S. space, and share a bathroom with other family members. Hosts provide a desk or other suitable place to study.  
  • Language. Few families are fluent in English, but most can communicate. We do our best to place students without Spanish skills with English-speaking families.  
  • Meals. Three meals a day included. Students occasionally eat out with friends and buy snacks independently. Hosts appreciate a heads up in advance if you plan to eat out.  
  • Other details. Hosts do your laundry once a week. Keep in mind that washing machines tend to have smaller capacity here than in the U.S.  

Dates and Fees

Term begins
Term ends
Program costs
Application deadline
January 2024
January 3, 2024
January 20, 2024
January 2024 (Australia Outbound)
January 3, 2024
January 20, 2024
$5,375 AUD

Get Started

Selena Rincon

Selena Rincon

Enrollment Counselor