Semester Abroad in Costa Rica (Spanish-intensive Fall Semester)

Spanish-Intensive Fall Semester

Join Students International for a semester of ministry and cultural exploration in the beauty and diversity of Costa Rica. Through a combination of study, service, travel, and lively interaction with local residents, begin to uncover the richness of Costa Rican life.


Rigorous Academics

Earn 18 college credits. Courses are taught by both Costa Rican and U.S. professors.

SPN3015 Mission in Latin American Contexts (4 credits)
A survey of the biblical and theoretical basis for Christian mission with a special focus on the church’s ministry to the poor. Major attention is given to key paradigms for mission and their application to the students’ ministry practicum context. Drawing on students’ experiences in their ministry sites, this course will address social, cultural, political and spiritual issues with an emphasis on holistic ministry responses and the gospel’s impact on both individuals and society. Special attention is given to Latin American perspectives on ministry and unique aspects of ministering in Latin American contexts.

SPN3025 Peoples and Cultures of Costa Rica (4 credits)
“Pura vida” (pure life or full life) is a common phrase used in many contexts in Costa Rica. In this class students will explore the pura vida of Costa Rican culture with special attention given to the history, politics and religion of this Central American nation along with issues of race, immigration, class and family relationships that are unique to the country. Course sessions will be led by Costa Ricans with expertise in each of these areas and students will make visits to various sites of cultural significance.

SPN3640 Literature and Culture of Spanish America II (4 credits)
This course provides a historical view of political, social, economic, relgious, and artistic life in Spanish America from the 20th Century until today. It also explores the different forces and events that have formed the life and culture of the Spanish-speaking American territories. Students study general literary principals of the period and cover concepts of theory and literary analysis. Special emphasis is given to the study of figurative and symbolic language.

SPN4010 Advanced Spanish Grammar and Communication (4 credits)
This course covers grammatical structures of Spanish and includes the study of Spanish morphology, syntax, and lexicon. It gives special attention to analysis and correction of interferences and conducts discussions of specific structures in Spanish, followed by oral and written practice. 

SPN4995 International Internship in Costa Rica (2 credits)
The internship entails acquisition of knowledge of the Hispanic culture and application of Spanish communication skills in authentic contexts through service work in Spanish-speaking communities.

Meaningful Vocational Ministry

Gain hands-on experience through a practicum at a community ministry site related to your interests. Experienced missionaries from Costa Rica and the U.S. run SI’s ministry sites year-round and are committed to a long-term presence within the community.

“The ministry site leaders are amazing. They care about us and our growth, but they also care that we know the culture and the environment where we are working. They are sure to answer questions about situations and communities, and are happy when we ask. They are willing to share stories to help us gain a better understanding. Their love for the Lord is evident, it is clear that HE is at the center of all they do.”

Christian Mentoring & Community Life

Live and learn alongside our entire SI-Costa Rica staff through classes, debriefing, Bible studies, family nights, and other community-building events. Staff live minutes away, accompany students on all program-sponsored excursions, and actively disciple and mentor students. Additional support is provided by SI staff and your sending school before, during, and after your semester.

Location, Housing & Food

 “I would encourage everyone I know to have an experience like this because it will change you.” 
SI-Costa Rica is based in Costa Rica’s central valley in the area called Desamparados on the outskirts of the capital city of San José. It is a mountainous region with higher altitudes (3000 feet above sea level).

Most ministry sites are within walking distance or a short bus ride from where students stay in carefully-selected host homes. Students usually eat daily breakfast and dinner with their host family and a lunch packed by their host mom. SI works to accommodate dietary restrictions with advance notice.

On average, the temperatures are always high. The rainy (cool) season is May-November. Daytime temperatures between August-December run in the 70°s-80°s F, with evening temperatures in the 50°s-60°s F. San José has dry periods in January, February and March, and its warmest season is March-April.


A number of excursions are included in the program, allowing students to experience various natural, cultural and historical treasures. Typical excursions include:

 “The experience is very wholistic and is stretching in so many good and yet hard ways.” 
  • Sarapiquí – discover nature and adventure in the jungle
  • Volcán Irazú / Cartago / Orosí Valle – check out a volcano, visit the most important church in Costa Rica, and explore a breathtaking valley
  • Nicaragua – experience a new Latin culture, one that is home to the Nicaraguan immigrants that SI works with in its ministry sites


Program dates are August 28 – December 11, 2019. Here is a general breakdown of the semester (weekend excursions not included):

August 29
Week 1-3
Weeks 4
Week 5-7
Week 8
Week 9-14
Two days
December 12
Arrive in Costa Rica, Orientation & Team building
Intensive Spanish at language school 
Ministry sites
Intensive Spanish at language school 
Cross-Cultural Experience (Nicaragua, October 21-29)
Ministry sites
Return home

*Program schedule, ministry sites, and excursions are subject to change.


See your study abroad advisor or contact Students International for information on cost. In most cases, your financial aid package applies.

Academic Partners

bienvenidogreenSI partners with the following schools to offer this semester program:

  • The University of Northwestern, St. Paul
  • Crown College
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Northwest University

Students from other schools may participate through an agreement with Crown College and will receive Crown course credit.

Next Steps


  • Visit your study abroad advisor.
  • See your academic advisor to discuss how this program compliments your major / minor.
  • Contact Students International with any questions using the information listed below. We are happy to set up a time to talk and can even put you in touch with past participants!


Reference our Student Handbook for more information (works best in Chrome browser).