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Study abroad in
San José, Costa Rica

Flight Credit Get a Flight Credit worth up to $350 when you apply with code* by May 6, 2024

From prestigious universities to hip gastropubs, a vibrant artistic culture to a booming music scene, San José blends urban color and stunning natural beauty; when you study abroad in San José, more than 800 miles of coastline and acres of lush rainforests lie just a short drive from this diverse metropolitan center. When you’re studying abroad in San José, your immersion opportunities are limitless: You can hike on a volcano, explore the rainforest, and get up-close-and-personal with sloths. You can give back to your host community through volunteering, learn new dance moves, and lounge on the beach (Pacific or Caribbean? Take your pick!) Choose from a range of academic offerings in fields uniquely suited for study in San José, like Health Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Liberal Arts, and Spanish Language.

CEA CAPA Related Links
Programs to love in San José

Programs to love in San José

Spanish Language, Liberal Arts & Environmental Sciences

Improve your fluency, delve into local culture, and learn about environmental issues in a country known for its amazing biodiversity. Designed for all levels of Spanish language proficiency, you’ll take at least one Spanish language course and choose from a range of electives.

See Details

  • ST
  • SU
  • SE
  • YR
  • Starting at $4,795
Medical Spanish & Health Sciences

Acquire the language skills and understanding of cultural elements that may come into play when working with Spanish-speaking patients. Designed for students at all levels of Spanish ability who wish to work in the medical and health sciences fields, this program offers health science courses (taught in English) that provide insight into Costa Rica's health care system and offer active learning components that reinforce lessons learned in class. From recognizing medical vocabulary to describing patients' physical and mental states to communication with patients and other medical personnel, language courses focus on developing the ability to effectively communicate with patients through intensive speaking and listening practice set within a medical context. Advanced students will fine-tune their language skills, discussing topics such as advantages and disadvantages of traditional vs. holistic medicine and preparing talks or presentations given at clinics or conferences. Regardless of the level of instruction, expect to give presentations that simulate medical provider-patient interactions. An Early Start option, offered for semester programs, helps you jump start your (regular) Spanish language skills before your Medical Spanish course begins in the semester.

See Details

  • ST
  • SU
  • SE
  • YR
  • Starting at $4,795
Intensive Spanish Language

Intensive Spanish Language

Veritas University

The Intensive Spanish Language Program allows students of all language levels to focus on language improvement in a short time frame. Your language courses will focus on oral comprehension and expression, listening comprehension, and grammar components appropriate to your language level.

See Details

  • ST
  • SU
  • SE
  • YR
  • Starting at $4,595

Frequently Asked Questions

Studying abroad in Costa Rica is a life changing event for many students. When you study abroad in San José, you experience learning outside the traditional classroom setting, gain international insight, and expand your sense of cultural awareness. Considering this small country contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity and acts as a pioneer in sustainability efforts, it’s an ideal destination to study environmental sciences.
San José is the most expensive city in Costa Rica. While it’s typically cheaper than other U.S. capital cities, it’s pricier than places in South America like Buenos Aires and Valparaiso. Reach out to your financial advisor to come up with a financial plan!
San José is known as a peaceful place, but petty theft in popular tourist areas and on public transportation is common. Costa Rica is considered the safest country in Latin America with low violent crime rates, so it’s generally a safe city for study abroad students.

CEA CAPA offers one housing option while you're studying abroad in San José. In some study locations you may also have the option of arranging your own independent housing. For more information on housing, connect with your student advisor.

The CEA CAPA San José study abroad programs offer homestays as the standard housing option for culture-seeking students who want to live life abroad like a local. Students are typically placed with host families that live within walking distance (around 10-20 minutes) from the CEA CAPA San José Center and Veritas University.

San José Housing options include:

  • Homestay
  • Independent Living
With the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, San José is home to over 800 miles of coastline and lots of lush rainforests to explore. Costa Rica’s capital city blends urban life and natural beauty with prestigious universities, popular gastropubs, and vibrant artistic culture to national parks, wildlife, and waterfalls. It’s a very walkable city, famous for its commitment to sustainability and environmentalism. San José is most known for its world-class museums, parks, theaters, and historic buildings.
San José is in the central valley of Costa Rica, in the center of the country surrounded by an impressive range of environments to explore and species to encounter.
What's Included in your Program'

What's Included in your Program

From housing to excursions, our inclusions make studying abroad easy!
  • Personalized Pre-Departure Advising
  • Visa & Immigration Advising
  • Financial Advising
  • Tuition and Registration
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Onsite Orientation
  • City Tour
  • Onsite Staff Support
  • 24/7 Emergency Assistance
  • Travel Medical Insurance
  • International Emergency Service Support
  • Welcome & Farewell Events
  • Centrally Located Housing
  • Wellness Activities
  • Cultural Engagement
  • Language Exchanges
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Excursions
  • Student Clubs & Organizations
  • Host Institution Services & Amenities
  • Career & Re-entry Workshop
  • Official Transcript(s)

Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna

Manuel Antonio National Park

Doka Estate Coffee Tour & Poas Volcano

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Explore the region around your host city and gain a better understanding of local culture through CEA CAPA excursions! Excursions are offered for all semester and summer programs. You’ll receive a calendar of available excursions during your onsite orientation. Below are excursions we’ve offered in the past.

Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna (Summer)
Arenal Volcano is located next to La Fortuna, built in 1969 after the original town was destroyed by a huge eruption. On the way to La Fortuna, you’ll stop at Finca Don Juan, an organic farm where you’ll learn about organic products like cassava. Next enjoy a hike to La Fortuna Waterfall, where you can swim in cool waters hidden in the jungle. Finish your day with a visit to Baldi Hot Springs , where you can relax in the many water pools naturally heated by Arenal Volcano.
Excursion includes some meals.

Manuel Antonio National Park (Summer)
Located on the Central Pacific Coast in Puntarenas Province, Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular and beautiful national parks and home to many endangered species, such as the Titi monkey. On the way to Manuel Antonio, you’ll stop at the Tárcoles River to watch huge crocodiles in their natural habitat. Once inside Manuel Antonio, keep your eyes open for monkeys, sloths, and many species of birds and insects as you enjoy the pristine beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and impressive lookout points in this lush tropical forest. Colorful and plentiful crafts sold on the beach make this the perfect place to buy souvenirs for loved ones back home.
Excursion includes some meals.

Monteverde Cloud Forest (Semester & Summer)
Visit a cloud forest that boasts a complex, far-reaching ecosystem that’s home to thousands of species of mammals, birds, insects, and plants, including many endemic and endangered species. Take a night walk to observe fascinating nocturnal animals like spiders and snakes, and immerse in the cloud forest through a tour of hanging bridges. During your free time, you can explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and experience being both the Caribbean and the Pacific sides of the country at once by stepping on the Continental Divide.
Excursion includes some meals.

Doka Estate Coffee Tour & Poas Volcano

Enjoy beautiful views from the mountainside and savor a warm cup of coffee as you gaze out at the coffee plantations of Alajuela. Thanks to eruptions from Poás Volcano, this land’s rich soil is perfect for growing coffee, one of Costa Rica’s major exports. Next, you’ll head to the volcano where you’ll take a short hike up to its crater, which is one of the biggest in the world (2 kilometers in diameter). There the turquoise acid pool and fumaroles are visible coming out of the sides of the crater.

Take advantage of the unique flavors of San José! CEA CAPA offers a variety of local immersion activities to match your interests. Whether you enjoy concerts, clubs, sports, cooking classes, language exchanges, or something entirely different, our resident staff helps you get involved in the local culture.

Soccer and Other Sports
Soccer is Costa Rica's national sport and one of the things that makes ticos and ticas vibrate. It’s also a great way to get to know people and stay in shape! Veritas University organizes a soccer team with international students who play against local students or other guest teams. Soccer practice takes place at a nearby park two or three times a week, depending on student schedules. You’ll make many new friends and learn why this sport has such a strong global following. You’ll also have the chance to attend a soccer game between national or international rivals, a great experience for sports lovers.

Costa Ricans are known for being great dancers — in fact, one of the most popular activities for both young and old is going dancing on weekends! Join the Veritas dance class and learn to salsa, merengue, cumbia, and swing dance like a true tico. Local students often stop by to listen to the music and help out the dance teacher. After a few classes, you’ll join the dance group and CEA CAPA and Veritas staff to practice your new skills at a popular dance club in town. Classes are free and meet twice a week in the evenings.

There’s no better way to learn about the culture of a country than by experiencing its culinary art—and now you can learn to cook your favorites to share with your friends and family back home. Join a cooking class and learn how to make delicious regional dishes like gallo-pinto, empanadas, pati, casado, sopa negra, arroz con pollo, and more. You’ll be surprised by the many types of fruits and vegetables incorporated into Costa Rican cuisine. Classes meet once a week and require a $15 contribution for ingredients.

Volunteer Opportunities
CEA CAPA has established relationships with local and international non-profit organizations to provide you with the opportunity to help those less fortunate. During the second week of each term, CEA CAPA onsite staff present available volunteering opportunities. Please note, most volunteering opportunities require basic knowledge of Spanish language (Basic II level).

Here a few of the volunteer projects students have participated in the past:

  • Assisting At-Risk Children: Volunteer at an orphanage and/or day care center. You must bring a criminal background check issued by your local police in the U.S. in order to participate in this volunteer opportunity.
  • Special Olympics - Costa Rica: Assist health professionals at occupational and physical therapy sessions to improve cognitive development and physical skills of the kids from 4 - 12 years old. Spanish required: intermediate level.

CEA CAPA Tandem Language Exchange
Join Costa Rican English students from the CR-US Binational Center and engage in informal conversational activities. Half the time is dedicated to speaking Spanish, and the other half to English.

Veritas Conversation Club
Veritas University faculty leads a conversation club that helps you practice your conversation skills and receive immediate feedback from the professor. Meet other local students and make new friends when you participate in this university activity.

Content Creator Program
Want to build your digital portfolio while you study abroad? Join the CEA CAPA Content Creator Program! You’ll blog, photograph, and video your experience abroad, then share them on social media.

Alumni Ambassador Program
Your study abroad adventure doesn’t have to end when your program is over. Keep sharing your study abroad love on your home campus…become an Alumni Ambassador! This internship allows you to help other students on their study abroad journeys while gaining work experience and growing your professional network.

Career and Re-entry Workshop*
Explore the skills and knowledge you’ve gained and learn how to articulate your growth in your future job searches. In this interactive workshop, you’ll reflect and process your study abroad experience, connect study abroad with your career goals, and obtain practical advice to help you transition back to the U.S.

*With the exception of students participating in short-term and intensive month programs

¡Dale!: Doing And Learning Events*
Join the ¡Dale! program and participate in healthy activities. You'll get:

  • Workshops
  • Yoga classes
  • Fruit Mondays

*Subject to availability

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San José Housing

San José Housing

*Housing options may change term over term and will be confirmed on the housing application form prior to the start of the term. Below are the housing options that have been offered in the past.



Engage in San Jose’s pura vida culture firsthand when you live in a homestay with a local Costa Rican family. For the culture-seeking type who want to live life abroad as their host locals do, homestays enable students the opportunity to dive headfirst into Costa Rican life.

Typical Commute

  • CEA Office in San Jose: 10-20 minutes, walking
  • Veritas University: 10-20 minutes, walking


Meals Included

• 2 meals per day – Breakfast & Dinner (Mon - Sun) included, except on excursion days


  • 1-3 students per room; may be up to 5 students per room, depending on enrollment  
  • Up to 4 students per Homestay; may be up to 8 students per Homestay, depending on enrollment  

Unit Amenities

  • Limited kitchen
  • Shared-single sex bathroom
  • Bed linens included
  • Internet Access
  • Telephone access available
  • Washer Only
Homestay Photo #1
Homestay Photo #2
Homestay Photo #3
Homestay Photo #4

Download Overview

While CEA CAPA highly recommends that you choose one of our San José housing options provided, you also have the option to arrange independent housing. If your ideal housing scenario includes living in a particular neighborhood, having specific amenities or living with a specific person as your roommate, then independent housing could be just the ticket for you.

Use the online housing application form to request permission for this option no later than the application closure date. If your request is approved, you will receive a rebate for your housing payment, however CEA CAPA will not provide you with any assistance setting up independent housing. Keep in mind, rebates are not granted to students who move out of their CEA CAPA housing or choose to pursue independent living arrangements after the application closure date.

Typical Commute

  • N/A

Meals Included

  • N/A


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Unit Amenities

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Veritas University
Veritas University

Since its founding in 1976, Veritas University has become one of the most highly recognized private universities in Latin America. Not only is Veritas fully accredited by the Costa Rica Ministry of Education, but it is also a member of the College Consortium for International Studies and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

With approximately 2,000 students, 500 of whom are international, Veritas University is located in the eastern part of the city (Zapote), ten minutes from downtown San José and only one kilometer from the Casa Presidencial. The school offers a complete range of subjects and a great variety of cultural, artistic, and athletic activities.

The university’s spacious campus is equipped with modern facilities, including several computer labs and a well-maintained library. CEA CAPA offers a practical and well-organized Spanish language program, led by a highly trained and experienced staff of university professors.


Ranked among Costa Rica’s top 10 universities, Veritas is fully accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education and is a member of the College Consortium for International Studies and NAFSA.


The grading system at Veritas University is the same 100-point scale used in the U.S. Please note that this grading scale is recommended by CEA CAPA and Veritas University, but final credit and grade evaluation is ultimately determined by your home university.

Letter Grade

Grade %


97 - 100


93 - 96


90 - 92


87 - 89


83 - 86


80 - 82


77 - 79


75 - 76*


Below 75






No Pass


Sufficiency Pass

*Note: For Veritas Language courses, students must earn a grade of 75 or above in order to continue to the next level. Students with a grade under 75 in any level must repeat the level before continuing on to the next level.
Classroom and Information

  • International faculty from Veritas University teach your language and elective classes.
  • Attendance in all classes is mandatory and monitored by each professor.
  • Periodic exams, homework assignments and final exams will be administered.
  • Teaching styles in Costa Rica may differ from those in the U.S. Be prepared to adapt to different classroom structures and coursework expectations.
  • Class size ranges between 10 and 25 students and includes CEA CAPA participants and other international students.

  • Student Offices
  • Clubs & Organizations
  • Study Room
  • Counseling Services
  • University Library
  • Computer Lab
  • Printing Facilities
  • Student ID
  • Multi-Media
  • Internet Access & Wi-Fi
  • Academic Advising
  • Tutoring
  • Language Learning Services
  • Language Exchange with Local Students
  • Cultural Engagement
  • Dining Facilities
  • Free Campus Shuttle
  • Copy & Mail Center
  • On-campus ATM
  • Museum & Art Galleries
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Hear from Costa Rica students

My Study Abroad Journey as a Black Woman in Costa Rica | Zoë Spencer | February 19, 2024

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Introducing Our CEA CAPA Study Abroad Vloggers for Fall 2023 | CEA CAPA Content Creator | September 27, 2023

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Introducing Our CEA CAPA Study Abroad Vloggers for Fall 2023

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VIDEO: My Virtual Internship in San José, Costa Rica | Judy Ortega | August 17, 2020

August 17, 2020

VIDEO: My Virtual Internship in San José, Costa Rica

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VIDEO: The Beauty, History & Culture of San José, Costa Rica | Haley Sommer | April 02, 2020

April 02, 2020

VIDEO: The Beauty, History & Culture of San José, Costa Rica

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San José Staff

Maggie Banchs

Maggie Banchs

Program Director, San Jose
Yeison Carvajal

Yeison Carvajal

Student Services Coordinator