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About Costa Rica
Country Handbook

Universidad Nacional

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Program Snapshot

Overview of GEP Program:
Beginning in the 2012-13 academic year, the ISEP program in Costa Rica became a designated Global Engagement Program Site, enabling students to extend their ISEP experience beyond the classroom through ISEP-facilitated community engagement opportunities. These opportunities may include: volunteer work, service learning, independent study, community service, internships and/or research projects.

GEP Benefits:

The GEP program in Costa Rica includes the following additional benefits:
  • ISEP-facilitated community engagement opportunities
  • On-site Resident Director assistance
  • ISEP-excursions
GEP Fees:
A supplemental GEP fee of $700 will be charged to all ISEP Exchange participants studying in Costa Rica to offset the cost of the added GEP benefits. The GEP benefits will be included as part of the program fee for ISEP Direct participants.


The city of Heredia is the capital of the province of Heredia. Surrounded by coffee plantations, it is located in the central plateau about 7 miles from San José. Heredia is the smallest province of Costa Rica, representing 5.2% of national territory. Heredia hosts the Universidad Nacional, one of the most important universities in Costa Rica.

Heredia, Costa Rica (pop. 433,677)
Elevation: 3,773 feet
Average Temperature: 73.4°F
Annual Rainfall: 59-79 inches

ISEP Exchange: undergraduate programs available for single semesters only
ISEP Direct: undergraduate programs available for an academic year, semester, or summer

ISEP-Exchange for US students.
ISEP-Direct site for students from all member institutions.
Summer program available.

Chance of Placement
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is extremely limited.
For the most current chances of placement, see the Sites Open for Applications for US Students

ISEP Direct chance of placement is Excellent.

Program Dates
Academic year: February through November
Semester 1: February through June
Semester 2: July through November
Please note that this site observes the Southern Hemisphere academic calendar. If you want to study for a full-year in the southern hemisphere, consider starting your program at the beginning of their academic year in February or March. Some institutions offer annual rather than semester courses. For southern hemisphere programs, ISEP benefits do apply during the recess between semesters (June-July), whereas they do NOT apply between the end of one academic year and the beginning of a new academic year (December to February-March).

Information about ISEP Direct fees and deadlines.

The ISEP-Direct program fee includes the benefit package for: Tuition, Housing, Meals and Insurance

ISEP-Direct Program fees:
Summer 2016: $3,850
U.S. Full Year 16-17: 18,950
U.S. Semester 1 16-17: $9,950
U.S. Semester 2 16-17: $9,950
Includes additional GEP benefits

For priority consideration, applications for the following semester should be received before February 15 and September 1 unless otherwise noted. Rolling admissions are considered for ISEP-Direct before these final application deadlines:
SM1: June 1, 2016
SM2: November 15, 2016

Summer Program
Spend six weeks exploring the culture and language of beautiful Costa Rica, known for its rich rainforests and ecological awareness. Universidad Nacional (UNA) offers this cultural immersion language program for students at all levels. Students live with host families and participate in exciting day-long excursions as well cultural workshops that include Costa Rican cooking, and popular dance. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a week-long community service project, where they can do an array of volunteer activities, ranging from working on organic coffee plantations to organizing activities with the children of the community.

See summer program information

Fast Facts
Heredia, Costa Rica (pop. 433,975)
Student Enrollment: 18,500
Language of instruction: Spanish
University Home Page
Courses for Exchange Students (see "Hints for Researching Courses" below)
Calendar of Events: February – June 2016

  • Earth and Marine Science (agriculture, environmental science, geography & topography, marine biology, environmental management, forestry engineering)
  • Education
  • Health and Sport Sciences (physical education, physical health promotion)
  • Philosophy and Letters (French, Latin American studies, literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, Spanish)
  • Sciences (chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, biology, topography)
  • Social Sciences (economics, history, international relations, planning & social development, sociology, business administration, psychology)
  • Fine Arts (dance, music, plastic arts, theater)

Course Descriptions for Popular Courses:

- Sociologia de la vida
- Taller de iniciación a la traduccion
- Teatro, humanismo y sociedad
- Vision humanista del setimo arte
- Voces femeninas cultivado el silencio: mujeres latinoamericanas entre los barrotes y lo aterrador
- Analisis de la comunicación internacional
- Analisis de medios de comunicación desde una perspectiva filosofica
- Bullying y cyberbullying en los centros educativos
- Fonologia y morfología basica
- Morfologia y sintaxis
- Pensamiento femenino indigena
- Repertoria danza
- Sintaxis
- Humanismo, ética y filosofia
- Introduccion a la sociologia
- La imagen periodística en Costa Rica
- Lexico Costaricense
- Literatura infantil
- Literaturas del caribe centroamericano

Humanities Course Catalogue 2016

Academic Notes

Students must enroll as full-time students, according to their home university criteria. A term runs for 17 weeks.


Transcripts are generally released in August or September for Semester 1 and in March or April for Semester 2. Full year transcripts are sent as per the final semester. Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the student's home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Language Notes
Language Requirement: A minimum of 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to program.

Language Courses:
- Pre-session: A 6-week pre-session, intensive ISEP Direct Spanish language course is offered in the Summer for an additional fee from High beginner to Advanced level students.
- Tutoring: Individual tutoring is offered for an additional fee. Contact hours per week: 3. This is a non-credit bearing program, but it is based on an official syllabus and ISEP will issue a certificate of participation.

Additional Information: Language Exchange Club: Students have the option of joining the Language Exchange Club, where they will be matched with local Costa Rican students to exchange language practice and cultural knowledge. UNA will issue a certificate of participation.

For more information on courses and language options, see the:
ISEP Spanish Language Advising Guide for US Students
ISEP Spanish Language Advising Guide for I-to-I Students

Note: The host institution ultimately determines your proficiency level and course eligibility.

Special ISEP Application Instructions

ALL applications MUST include a Language Proficiency Report (LPR) regardless of language level or having a background as a native/heritage speaker.

When filling out your Course Request List, be sure to follow the instructions in the "Hints for Researching Courses" section below.

Sophomores may apply.

Hints for Researching Courses
1. Go to the Courses for Exchange Students page to find a list of the programs offered at UNA.
2. Click on the different departments and then on the different majors to get course descriptions. It is recommended that students choose courses from levels I and II ("I Nivel" and "II Nivel").
3. IMPORTANT: Students can only take one (1) course from Estudios Generales.
4. Optional courses*: Spanish Tutoring Program (carries an additional fee).
5. Reminder: The program also includes a week-long, off-site community engagement program. Students will receive a certificate of participation. Look under the "Campus Life" tab for more information.

*NOTE: Tutoring is a non-credit bearing program, but UNA will issue a certificate of participation which will be sent to your ISEP Home Coordinator along with the UNA transcript at the end of the program.

**IMPORTANT** You can only select courses from the Programa de Intercambio Estudiantil page.

Syllabi of the Spanish Tutoring Program (optional) can be found here:
Tutoring Program Syllabi


Transcripts are generally released in August for Semester 1 and in March for Semester 2. Full year transcripts are sent as per the final semester. Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the student's home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Housing and Meals
All students are housed with host families and receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the host family.


You are responsible for all of your personal expenses including: optional fees (e.g. computer, language, science lab fees), books, local transportation, entertainment, etc. The amount below is provided as a guide; the actual amount needed will vary depending on courses and personal habits. Your personal expenses per month, including books, are estimated at $200 USD.

Orientation is held on-and off-campus and covers academic issues, registration, counseling, academic life and information on cultural and social aspects of Costa Rica. It includes tours to the campus and downtown Heredia. It also includes a fieldtrip to downtown San Jose, plus a guided tour of the National Theatre.


Students arriving on the Official Arrival Date will be picked up by a member of their host family at the San Jose Airport.

Student Activities
Language Exchange Club: Students are welcome to participate in this club which is organized and run by UNA's International Student Office. Students are matched with local Costa Rican students to exchange language practice and cultural knowledge. Inquire with the ISEP Resident Director upon arrival.

Cultural workshops: UNA offers a variety of workshops that allow you to meet other students and have some fun while you're at it! Some workshops include popular Latin dances, soccer, judo, and yoga. Some workshops require an additional fee.

Community Engagement (Internships, Service-Learning, Volunteering, etc.)
Community Engagement Activity: The week-long community engagement activity is included as part of your ISEP benefits. Students will be taken off-site and will have the opportunity to volunteer for an organization that works to benefit the socioeconomic development of the region and the preservation of natural resources. Students will also have the opportunity to live with a local host family. The project will take place at Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center or Asociación de Productores la Amistad (ASOPROLA), depending on the number of participants. The projects offer an array of opportunities ranging from working on an organic coffee farm, to working with local women’s groups, and more. To read more about the different projects, click on the hyperlinks for each location above.

The Universidad Nacional is aimed at meeting the needs of Costa Rican society. It furthers the integral development of the student through a humanistic curriculum based on the study of domestic reality and world culture. There is a growing international student body, with students from Central, South, and North America. Total enrollment: 10,500 at the Campus Omar Dengo.


About Ms. Ivelina Romagosa, Resident Director:

Ms. Ivelina Romagosa became the Resident Director of the Costa Rica program in 2004 and is deeply invested in helping students find volunteer opportunities. As a Social Anthropologist, Ivelina began doing fieldwork and community service as a student and continued working in indigenous and rural communities for over 15 years. The Global Engagement Program in Costa Rica allows Ivelina to extend her personal and professional interests in looking for volunteer opportunities for the ISEP participants in biological conservation, in social and development programs of state institutions, and in various organizations and communities. In Ivelina's spare time, she enjoys being outdoors and trekking.

"Ivelina was excellent. She did everything she could to make all of our experiences as enjoyable, educational, and comfortable as possible. Ivelina was sincere and really cared about all of the students. I hope everyone who travels abroad will be as fortunate to have someone as caring and overall great as Ivelina."
- Katherine, Miami University

What Past Students have to Say

For a fun and interesting read about an ISEP student's experience in Costa Rica, check out Renee M.'s blog, The Quest for Pura Vida

Disclaimer: While we encourage you to use the personal blogs of ISEP students as resources to learn more about study abroad, the content of such third party sites is not within our control, and we cannot and will not take responsibility for the information or content thereon. Links to such third party sites are not to be taken as an endorsement by ISEP of the third party site.