Valpo’s study center in San José, Costa Rica offers semester-long programs for Fall and Spring, year-long programs, or shorter summer and spring break programs to choose from. Ms. Heidi Michelsen, an alumna of Valparaiso University (Theology and Christ College), will serve as Resident Director, teach two courses and coordinate group trips and excursions. Ms. Michelsen also heads the Praxis Center of Costa Rica, which hosts the Valpo Study Center.
Cultural Diversity requirement and Christ College seminar credit fulfilled by participating in the program.
First Seven Weeks (Spanish & History)
Spanish language at the University of Costa Rica 6 cr. (3-9 credits available) upon approval from the Spanish section. Students will take a placement exam upon arrival and are placed into one of several levels of Spanish language course-work.
INTL 337: The Ethnology & History of Costa Rica 3 cr. Through readings, discussion, lectures, films, field trips, and personal interviews, students will be introduced to the historical, political, economic, and environmental factors which shape the Central American reality. Special attention will be given to racial, ethnic, and social diversity present in Costa Rica. In addition, students will gain perspective on the role of the United States in the region, the effects of globalization, and ongoing struggles for social change. Costa Rica Center only. May partially fulfill Humanities requirement.
Second Seven Weeks: (Internship & Elective Course)
INTL 486: International Internship 1-3 cr. Direct, supervised experience in an organization or agency involved in international service, cooperating business, or government agency, abroad or in the United States. Some academic departments offer internship credit, so see your academic adviser for credit details and requirements (i.e., BIO 486/CHEM 486 and so on). Students will be placed into a 7-week internship during the second half of the semester working in one of these sectors: healthcare, education, government, music education, engineering, social work, religion, international development, art, sociology, business, human rights, and environmental science
Examples are: small primary health clinics, dental, physical therapy and veterinary clinics, World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, Rainforest Alliance, Costa Rican National Assembly, Nature Air (a small tourist airline), a church-based after school program in an immigrant community, the Helen Keller Institute, Heredia domestic violence program, a program for people living with HIV, etc.
Elective Course Options:
INTL 335: Perspectives on Healthcare in Costa Rica 3 cr. This class provides an in-depth study of health care topics relating to gender roles, environment issues, and immigrant status. Students will delve into the study of health through an introduction to demography, social factors related to health and illness, epidemiology and comparative health systems. The class also assesses the ethics of universal health care in a developing nation. Field trips to public and private hospitals, neighborhood health centers, HIV centers, and urban immigrant communities will provide a broad understanding of the sociology of healthcare in Costa Rica. Costa Rica Center only. For all majors. May partially fulfill Social Science req.
University of Costa Rica Spanish Elective 3 cr. Literature, culture and fine arts course work available through the Spanish language program.
University of Costa Rica Direct Enrollment Option: Advanced Spanish students may opt for the direct enrollment option at the University of Costa Rica. The semesters run March-June and August-November, so students would have to conform to this schedule. Students electing this route would still take the History class and may also sign up for an internship.
Additional Electives: Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana: Optional: Theology course in Spanish. 3 cr. to fulfill upper-division theology requirement. Antiguo Testamento, (Hebrew Scriptures); Nuevo Testamento (New Testament); Análisis de textos bíblicos (Analysis of biblical texts); Sociología del período bíblico II (Sociology of the biblical period II); etc.
Program dates for Spring 2018 have not been determined yet, but are similar to the Valpo semester dates, thus running from approximately early January to mid-May.
Application Requirements and Deadlines
You must be a sophomore, junior or senior. The minimum GPA is a 2.75, but a 3.0 is encouraged.
All majors are encouraged to participate, as the internship can be tailored to your field of study or personal interests. Almost all Valpo students can study in Costa Rica without delaying graduation IF they plan ahead with their academic adviser.
The equivalent of two semesters of college-level Spanish are recommended, but not required. Students who place into Spanish 203 or 204, or who have taken those classes before the term abroad, are ideal for this program.
The application deadline for Spring 2018 is October 1st. Applications will be reviewed by the Resident Director, and the Spanish Department alongside the Office of International Programs study abroad staff after the deadline has passed. Once a decision has been made, applicants will be notified via their Valpo e-mail.
Click the "Apply Now" button at the top of this page to begin an application.
See the Budget Sheet above. Students pay the same tuition and general fee they would pay at Valpo. All financial aid (except work-study and some 'on-campus' aid) applies. Be sure to meet with your Financial Aid Advisor to determine the exact cost. Students pay one $4,000 program fee which covers housing in a homestay with two meals per day as well as group travel/excursions, activities and some meals.
Tuition, general fee and program fee will all be posted to Student Accounts as they would for a normal semester at Valpo.
Program Contact Information
Study Abroad Advising:
Erin Kunert, Associate Director of Study Abroad
Office: Gandhi-King Center, Union 2nd floor
Phone: (219) 464-5333
Contact Erin with administrative questions about application, registration, program cost, etc.
Contact the Resident Director with questions about courses, or specific information about the Center
Phone: (011) 506-8647-0436 (Cell)
(011) 506-2244-8965 (House)
Apply for a Passport
Passports need to be valid for at least six months past the program’s end date. As part of the application, students must upload a copy of a valid passport, or a receipt or similar proof that the student has submitted a passport application. Information on how to apply for a passport can be found here.