Valpo’s Study Center in San José, Costa Rica offers exciting programming. Ms. Heidi Michelsen, an alumna of Valparaiso University (Theology and Christ College) and head of the PRAXIS Center of Costa Rica which hosts our Center, serves as the Resident Director. In addition to teaching two courses, she manages the on-site operations and support for students, and coordinates group activities and excursions.
This program offers a wide variety of course offerings and internship placements in addition to Spanish language courses, and a Costa Rican history and culture course. Furthermore, the Cultural Diversity general education requirement and Christ College seminar credit can be fulfilled by participating in the program.
First Seven Weeks (Spanish & History)
All students will take Spanish language at the University of Costa Rica 6 cr. (3-9 credits available with approval). Students will take a placement exam upon arrival and be placed into one of several levels of Spanish language course-work according to their skill level.
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. This course is required for all Center students and may partially fulfill Humanities general education requirement.
Second Seven Weeks: (Optional Internship & Elective Course)
International Internship 1-3 cr. - Students may choose to participate in a direct, supervised internship experience. 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 of previous placements include:
- Healthcare: small primary care clinics, small hospitals, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, dentistry, rehabilitation, alcohol & substance abuse, etc.
- Social work/psychology: agencies and programs involved with: women, domestic violence, LGBTQ issues, AIDS, children, immigrants, substance abuse, etc.
- Government & international agencies: Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
- Education: schools, daycare centers, after school programs
- Religion: programs with children and youth, music
- Business, small business, cooperatives, larger companies
- Engineering: alternative energy - wind, solar, geo-thermal energy etc.
- Students have also made up their own by working with Heidi as early as possible so that she could work to find a suitable placement for them.
Some academic departments offer internship credit, so see your academic adviser for credit details and requirements (i.e., FLS 486/BIO 486/CHEM 486 and so on). If there isn't a specific internship course, students may enroll in INTL 486.
Elective Course Options:
INTL 335: Perspectives on Healthcare in Costa Rica 3 cr. - This class, taught by the Resident Director, provides an in-depth study of health care topics relating to gender roles, environmental 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. Additionally, excursions 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. This course is open to students of all majors.
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. Students looking for specific coursework should work with Heidi as early as possible to see what may be arranged.
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. Dates listed above are estimated and will be officially determined around the time of acceptance into the program.
Application Requirements and Deadlines
This program is open to students of all majors. 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 (placing into 203/204 or higher), but not required. Applicants with lower Spanish level will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The application deadline for Fall 2018 is March 1, 2018. 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. Tuition, general fee and program fee will all be posted to Student Accounts as they would for a normal semester 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.
Start your scholarships & funding search as early as possible so that you are able to plan and ensure you are able to meet any deadlines. Your study abroad advisor can also help you with brainstorming potential resources as well.
Program Contact Information
Study Abroad Advising:
Cherelle Dunn - Study Abroad Assistant
Office: Gandhi-King Center, Union 2nd floor
Phone: (219) 464-5333
Contact Cherelle 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.