- North/Central America /
- Costa Rica /
- Atenas /
- The School for Field Studies / SFS: Costa Rica - Sustainable Development Studies
The School for Field Studies / SFS: Costa Rica - Sustainable Development Studies
The rugged rainforests and sandy beaches of Costa Rica are brimming with life – from sloths and frogs to brightly colored toucans and hummingbirds. Costa Rica hosts an astounding 5 percent of Earth’s species despite covering only 0.03 percent of ... read more
Although I would choose a different program with a different focus I'd do so more because of personal reasons, not because the program was bad. My SFS experience was overall fantastic, much learned, many life lessons and friends. Daniel H - Colby College View Entire Review
Absolutely worthwhile. I'm much more of a culture relativist now. Although I'm not sure exactly how my experiences will play a part in my life later down the road, they've definitely ingrained a love for field work into me. James M - Trinity University View Entire Review
yes! i think it opened a lot of doors for me and gave me a bigger international picture that my academic experience was lacking Tess M - Allegheny College View Entire Review
This experience just couldn't have been more worth it. It had a great academic focus, a great hands-on project, and a great balance with community, weekend trips, and social. I am happy knowing that I worked hard in this program and I really used my time abroad well. I came home to the States feeling like I knew about the people... Macy B - University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign View Entire Review
Deffinitely was worthwhile. I learned a lot about Costa Rican culture, politics, and economics. I am more interested in conservaiton and sustainable development after completing this program, and am now looking to pursue a career in this field. Chris C - Villanova University View Entire Review
Absolutely. Field experience and new atmospheres can make all the difference. Elizabeth G - University of San Diego View Entire Review
It definitely was worthwhile. Vanessa B - Wellesley College View Entire Review
I gained field work experience. Radost S - Barnard College View Entire Review
Yes it was worthwhile but I like freedom. I am an independant person and I have trouble with others dictating how I live. The lack of free time was hard for me. It was great and I'm glad I did it, but I might have chosen a program with more freedom, had I known. Hannah T - Clark University View Entire Review
Very worthwile, I gained a different perspective on the world and different cultures around the world. I also gained practical experience, it was amazing. Costa Rica is a great country to study abroad in. Angela M - Clark University View Entire Review
Absolutely. Bill I - Paul Smith's College View Entire Review
I feel I gained a larger cultural understanding, considering that going on this program was my first time outside of the United States. Being around individuals with similar environmental motives and interests was very beneficial for this experience, and the research I did during my DR class helped shape my overall interests. Be... Christina C - Gonzaga University View Entire Review
Absolutely worthwhile. Though the program was expensive, it was well-worth every penny. I have become so much more culturally aware, and I have become so much more passionate about saving the planet and preserving local culture. Now, I feel as if I learned a whole world of information that completely changed my academic interest... Elise E - University of the District of Columbia View Entire Review
Yes, it was amazing and has broadened my understanding of how sustainable development is carried out in different parts of the world. I will definitely spend more time in Central America after I graduate and will build off of the experiences I had in CR. Rachel G - Dickinson College View Entire Review
Yes, this program was worth it to me because of the great academic experience and opportunity to live in a small town and get a glimpse at the true Costa Rican life. Corinne C - Clark University View Entire Review
I would do this program a thousand times over. I gained an understanding of myself and the natural world. I plan to go back when I graduate and work as a yearly intern. I rate this program a ten out of five. Anna C - Franklin College Switzerland View Entire Review
Yes - I got to see a lot of the country, which is gorgeous, and I learned a lot about local culture and natural resource management. My field research experience will definitely help me in my future environmental work. Pin P - Wellesley College View Entire Review
A world perspective on things was definitely gained while on this program. While learning about issues at our home institutions, we get the American scope of things, while in Costa Rica we learned how to take issues from different angles which was cool. I still think America as a community is very far from living sustainably but... Andrew N - Texas A&M University - College Station View Entire Review
Yes, it was a lot different from what I had expected initially and from what I understood the program to be from the description. I gained a better knowledge and comfort of speaking the Spanish language. I gained a better perception of local knowledge and culture. I gained field experience and experience doing research adn writi... michelle s - Clark University View Entire Review
The rugged rainforests and sandy beaches of Costa Rica are brimming
with life – from sloths and frogs to brightly colored toucans and hummingbirds. Costa Rica hosts an astounding 5 percent of Earth’s species despite covering only 0.03 percent of its area. Shaded coffee farms integrated into the rainforest constitute just one example of the sustainable conservation strategies for which the country is known.
These efforts to preserve the wild beauty of Costa Rica are recognized worldwide, but climate change and increased urban development bring new and unforeseen challenges. Conservation leaders, farmers, land managers, and policymakers must work together using regenerative strategies to build ecological resilience and minimize climate change impacts. Our research in Costa Rica contributes vital data to innovative efforts that balance conservation and development.
Sustainable Development Studies (SEMESTER PROGRAM): Experience a semester of sustainability in Costa Rica, home to rainforests, volcanoes, rushing waterfalls, and a laid-back culture that reflects the national motto: “Pura Vida.” Immerse yourself in the country’s many national parks, farms, and tropical ecosystems full of incredible biodiversity. Design and conduct a rigorous field research project and learn how Costa Ricans are creatively addressing conservation and development issues.
Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems (SUMMER I PROGRAM): Using coffee and chocolate as case studies, explore the relationships between food systems, ecology, conservation, and sustainability. Learn how different agricultural techniques have the potential to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. Study the sociocultural history of coffee and cacao, from Indigenous histories to modern production and exports.
Fundamentals of Sustainability Research (SUMMER II PROGRAM): Spend your summer investigating issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainability in Costa Rica’s vast network of national parks and protected areas – the perfect natural laboratory. Hone your research skills in the field as you design and conduct a research project, collecting data and presenting your results to your peers and key community stakeholders.
SFS students live and study at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies. The Center is an active organic farm overlooking the vibrant Central Valley, where green is the predominant color as far as the eye can see. Dorms and classrooms intermingle with orchards and gardens, while Center dog Hera keeps watch over it all. The friendly town of Atenas is a 10-minute cab ride away, offering restaurants, shops, parks, and cultural events.
Program Type(s):Study Abroad
- January Term
Relevant Study Subject(s):
- Agriculture General
- Natural Resources, Conservation
- Natural Resources and Conservation
- Environmental Studies
- Environmental Science
- Natural Resources Management
- Latin American Studies
- Botany, Plant Biology
- Ecology, Evolution Biology
- Biological and Physical Sciences
- Natural Sciences
- Global Studies
- Sustainability Studies
- International Relations
WebsiteTake me there!
The School for Field Studies / SFS Scholarships
All students are eligible to apply for these need-based awards. SFS will work with you and your home school to understand and meet your financial need.
This need-based scholarship is available for students with a cultural and/or ancestral connection to the country in which they plan to study abroad with SFS.
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for all SFS semester programs to students who use their Pell Grant to help pay the cost of their SFS program.
SFS seeks to broaden and strengthen the participation of traditionally underrepresented minority students in all of its programs. The SFS Diversity Scholarship is one of the ways we broaden the participation of underrepresented groups of students in study abroad. For SFS, underrepresented groups include, but are not limited to, students who identify with a certain race, sex, color, religion, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, age, marital status, national origin or ancestry, ethnic origin, or veteran status. Underrepresented groups also include first generation college students and students from low income families.