Semester Abroad in Costa Rica (Spring Semester)

Study & Serve in



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

Incarnational Mission: Biblical Perspectives on International Ministry to the Poor (3 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 will be given to key paradigms for mission and their application to the student’s 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. Incarnational and contextual approaches to mission will be highlight throughout along with an overview of various contemporary missiological tends.

Peoples and Cultures of Costa Rica (3 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.

International Internship in Costa Rica (4 credits)
An intensive semester long experience in which the student is fully immersed in Costa Rican culture, involved in hands-on ministry and guided by a mentor. Goal setting and journaling activities will help students engage in self-reflection and mentor evaluations will provide them with constructive feedback about their ministry skills.

Spanish (6 credits)
Choose from beginning to advanced courses. Receive personal instruction at language school. 

Full listing of Spanish courses

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 from where students stay in carefully-selected host homes. Students usually eat daily breakfast and dinner with host families, a packed lunch, and a community dinner with other program participants about once a week. 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 January 8 – April 29, 2020. Here is a general breakdown of the semester (weekend excursions not included):

January 8
Week 1
Weeks 2-4
Week 5
Week 6-8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13-16
April 29
Arrive in Costa Rica
Orientation & Team building
Intensive Spanish at language school
Ministry sites
Language school and other courses
Cross-Cultural Experience (Nicaragua, March 3-11)
Intensive course week
Ministry sites
Semana Santa (Spring break, March 24 – April 1)
Ministry sites & Debriefing
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:

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

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).