Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

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Study Abroad in San José: Courses

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To follow is a sample list of courses that have been offered on previous programs. More courses are available - for a full and current list of courses please contact your AIFS Admissions Officer. Courses may change at the discretion of Veritas University. Recommended credits are shown in parentheses. Prerequisites may be required.

Spanish Language Courses

Courses are recommended for 4 credits. Students may take additional language hours for 1 extra credit (5 in total) for a supplemental fee in Session 2 only. Some specialized language courses such as Spanish for Healthcare Professionals may not be offered in every session. Please discuss with your Admissions Officer upon application.

Spanish Language Courses

Spanish SPN 101 (4) | Elementary Spanish I

This course is an introduction to Spanish for beginners with no previous knowledge of the language. Students will develop basic linguistic skills necessary in order to communicate in common situations. The course covers basic grammatical structures, vocabulary, communicative expressions and frequent situations in settings such as restaurants, stores, buses and others. Emphasis is given on understanding, speaking, reading and cross-cultural perspectives.

Spanish SPN 102 (4) | Elementary Spanish II 

This course is for students who have completed a minimum of 60 contact hours in Spanish studies and already have a command of elementary grammatical tenses. Students will advance on their previous experiential knowledge and further develop their oral, reading, written and listening skills. Students will expand their vocabulary and language usage in order to facilitate interaction with the Costa Rican environment and be able to express themselves in the past.

Spanish SPN 201 (4) | Intermediate Spanish I

Students in this course should have a good communicative command of usual everyday situations and a structural command of the present tense. The objective of this course is to develop the student’s skills emphasizing on oral and written presentations and more complex grammatical structures. Students should develop a good command of all past indicative tenses.

Spanish SPN 202 (4) | Intermediate Spanish II 

This course emphasizes the discourse enrichment on contexts related to description and simple narrations. The contents include vocabulary building and detailed work with the subjunctive mode and other complex grammatical structures. Students will also learn idiomatic expressions used in Costa Rica.

Spanish SPN 210 (4) | Intermediate Spanish Conversation

This course is for students who already have a high intermediate level of Spanish and wish to better their communicative skills and pronunciation. The emphasis is set on situational everyday conversation and certain cultural issues. The methodology enhances structured speech to provide a firm base in patterns of spoken Spanish progression towards free conversation.

Spanish SPN 301 (4) | Advanced Spanish I

This course is based on grammatical analysis, expansion of vocabulary, idiomatic expressions through readings, and student compositions at a complex level. The objective is for students to acquire a high level of communicative Spanish that will permit them to express their opinion and thoughts on complex and controversial subjects.

Spanish SPN 302 (4) | Advanced Spanish II

This course is for students who want to polish their oral and written skills. Students should have a high linguistic level and full knowledge of grammatical structures in order to work on polishing stylistics. Students will practice narrative constructions, reactions on non-expected contexts, how to report compiled information. The course also covers important aspects about myths, beliefs and other cultural issues in Latin America.

Spanish SPN 304 (4) | Spanish for Business

This course is for students with an advanced level of Spanish who wish to gain a basic understanding of Costa Rica’s main entrepreneurial settings. By the end of the course, students will have a general knowledge of business vocabulary and common business practices in Costa Rica. Coursework is complemented by field visits to developing businesses.

Spanish SPN 310 (4) | Advanced Spanish Conversation

This course is based on acquiring the skill of self-correction. Students will acquire higher levels of diction and fluency through the exposure to oral contexts, idiomatic language and the varieties of Spanish spoken in different Spanish-speaking nations. This course develops skills in reading, discussion, analysis, self-correction and research. Emphasis is given to pragmatic production and students must be prepared to spend a minimum of 2 extra hours per day for assignments.

Spanish SPN 320 (4) | Cultural Heritage in Latin America 

This course introduces relevant topics and issues in the development of Latin America’s cultural heritage. Students will develop an understanding of intellectual, artistic, social and historical perspectives in Latin America with emphasis on Costa Rica.

Spanish SPN 330 (4) | Spanish for Heritage Speakers

This course is for heritage speakers who need to acquire proficiency in the use of complex grammatical structures. Emphasis will be given to listening, writing and reading skills.

Spanish SPN 410 (4) | Advanced Composition

This course is for highly advanced students who wish to further develop their written skills through various composition practices and techniques. The course studies complex and difficult syntax topics, with special attention to stylistics and composition structure.

Spanish SSP 141 (4) | Basic Spanish for Health Professionals

This course is designed to provide healthcare professionals without any previous Spanish experience with the tools necessary for interacting with and interviewing Spanish-speaking patients. During this course, students will work through simulated interactions with Spanish speaking patients to acquire the basic linguistic knowledge and skills that will allow them to comfortably tackle these interactions when they return home.

Spanish SSP 241 (4) | Intermediate Spanish for Health Professionals

This course is designed for healthcare professionals who have a minimum of 100 contact hours in Spanish studies. Students will deepen their knowledge of medical-related Spanish and increase the competency of communications in specific, simulated situations with Spanish speaking patients.

Spanish SSP 341 (4) | Advanced Spanish for Health Professionals

This course is designed for healthcare professionals with an advanced background in Spanish, who wish to improve their linguistic competency in order to interact with Spanish speaking patients and their families.

Additional Courses Taught in Spanish
Spanish SPN 305 (3) | Phonetics and Phonology
Spanish 411 (3) | Contemporary Costa Rican Writers
Spanish SPN 439 (3) | Latin American Cinema and Literature

Spanish Language, Liberal Arts, Healthcare and Environmental Sciences Program (Sessions 4and 5)

In addition to a Spanish language course chosen from those listed students can choose one 3 or 4-credit elective taught in English. A limited number of courses are available in Spanish for students at an advanced level.

Elective Courses Taught in English

Architecture 311/ARCH 3112 (3) | History of Latin American Architecture and Art

A chronological overview of main inventions and influences that contributed to the making of past and present architecture in Latin America analyzing the artistic manifestations.

Art 210/ART 2100 (3) | Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice

This course is designed for beginners. You will find personal meaning in works of art and develop a better understanding of the nature and validity of art (line, shape, volume, light, space, time, motion, color, and texture). Students learn about the essentials of art through experience and experimentation. Emphasis is on the diversity of form and content in artwork. Upon completion, students should understand the basics of art materials used and have a basic overview of the history of art and how art represents its society, especially Latin American culture.

Art 213/ART 2130 (4) | Mural Painting and Public Art

This studio art course introduces the theoretical and practical aspects of large-scale painting, murals and public art. The course includes a practicum using large-scale media. Students will also experiment with early and contemporary techniques such as drawings, fresco, paints, aerosol and various industrial materials. Students will develop an understanding of the social roles of art and the impact of murals to communities, based on both historical and contemporary applications. Students will learn to control scale, color, specific techniques and safety measures in public spaces. A Service Learning component will be incorporated, either by facilitating a workshop for children in a rural community or painting a collective mural as a donation to a community. A fine arts background will help students grasp the complexity of the final project; however, no previous painting experience is required.

Economics 340/ECON 3403 (3) | Introduction to International Economics in Latin America

The course will analyze aspects of economic integration, globalization and conditions needed for successful integration between economies, and the effects of free trade and protectionism in the region. Special focus will be given to foreign investments and joint ventures in Latin America.

Environmental Sciences 304/ENV 3044 (4) | Tropical Ecology

Students will learn about the interaction between earth and land and how this interaction affects our life and the stability of the planet. Students will gain an insight into basic ecological concepts, natural environments, organisms and their interactions, and about human impacts on the environment. Emphasis will be given to the study of the most relevant tropical ecosystems such as: tropical rainforest, cloud forests, coral reefs and mangroves.

Environmental Sciences 305/ENV 3005 (4) | Environmental Impact and Social Development

This course covers major environmental problems and issues confronting modern society. Students will examine ecosystems, population patterns and dynamics; use and misuse of resources; population and environmental quality; environmental citizenship and economic incentives and Costa Rican initiatives in ecotourism.

Environmental Sciences 312/ENV 3120 (4) | Land Vertebrates of Costa Rica

This course is an introduction to the zoology of terrestrial vertebrates in Costa Rica. Students will gain insight about various biological characteristics of the groups of land chordates in the country. Costa Rica has an immensely rich animal biodiversity, with an influence of both North American and South American fauna and is a world-renowned hot spot for animal research and conservation. Emphasis will be given to the study of Costa Rican species, but others will be discussed as well.

Environmental Sciences 315/ENV 3150 (4) | Tropical Botany

This lecture/field course will provide students with a general overview of tropical plants. Students will gain insight about basic botanical concepts and be able to explore a variety of ecosystems, their plants and the multiple and complex ecological interactions that can be found in these areas. Costa Rica is a tropical country with an immensely rich biodiversity and for this reason a very representative area to these studies. Emphasis will be given to the most common plant families in Costa Rica, but others will be discussed as well.

Environmental Sciences 319/ENV 3190 (4) | Tropical Marine Biology

The course studies the balance between ecosystems and human stress and demands on the constantly changing marine environment. All field trips are mandatory.

Environmental Sciences 374/ENV 3740 (4) | Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptations

This course is an introduction to climate change, its causes, consequences and the effects it is having on natural populations of plants and animals across the planet, including humans. Mankind is facing several problems due to climate change . These phenomena are linked to population growth and the increased use of fossil fuels, particularly after the industrial revolution. There is a general interest among societies to gradually move toward renewable energies to meet future human needs. The course will also focus on comprehending the effects of climate change on worldwide habitats and the natural populations occupying them and analyze the evidence supporting climate change.

Environmental Sciences 403/ENV 4030 (4) | Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

This course will examine agricultural and food systems from an ecological systems perspective. After establishing a foundation of basic ecological concepts (relationships and interactions between abiotic/non-living and biotic/living components of an ecosystem), different applications of these concepts to agricultural systems will be investigated. Consumption and production issues related to food system sustainability will be analyzed, and students will explore their own role in the food system. Field trips will provide opportunities for direct observation of (and interaction with) different approaches to food production and distribution in Costa Rica.

Environmental Sciences 404/ENV 4040 (4) | Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Development

This course considers current worldwide problems in natural resources management and conservation, and their effects on sustainable development efforts in tropical countries. Current issues that condition the possibility for development such as poverty, global warming, deforestation and potable water will be analyzed. It presents a multidisciplinary approach to environmental issues that pertain to the concept of sustainable development and its applicability.

Health 102/HHD 1020 (3) | Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Exercises for Common Sport Injuries

This course explores how physical therapy helps to maintain, restore, and improve movement, activity and health, enabling individuals of all ages to have optimal functioning and quality of life. It enables students to understand the role of the physical therapist within the healthcare system and have a general idea of biomechanics of human body, exercise therapy techniques and massage therapy. Covers the history of Physical Therapy, PT core values and principles, mechanical principles applied to human body, an introduction to exercise therapy, massage therapy and physical therapists’ approach after a stroke.

Health 105/HHD 1050 (4) | Holistic Health Approaches

This course introduces the basic concepts of alternative medicine. We will also explore and evaluate alternative approaches and philosophies to personal health and wellness. Topics include: Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture, Herbal and Nutritional Therapies, Massage, Chiropractic Therapy, Electromagnetic Therapy, Breathing Exercise and others.

Health 307/HHD 3070 (4) | Conflict Resolution and Healthcare

Health service delivery today encounters frequent conflicts, disputes and other difficult situations, many derived from larger changes occurring in healthcare systems around the world. These conflicts include differences due to multiculturalism; the appropriateness and quality of care; gender issues; power disputes; and arguments between providers and recipients over institutional and funding policies. The costs and effects of violence will be part of this course, particularly in regard to the WHO definition of health. Costa Rican healthcare systems will also be touched on.

This interactive, hands-on course offers a framework to integrate professional experience with functional communication and mediation skills. Students are encouraged to explore and develop their leadership on matters of public health. Mandatory fieldwork sessions will be conducted at a medical facility, community or school.

History 323/HIS 3293 (4) | Costa Rican Healthcare and Tropical Medicine

Costa Rica’s healthcare system is unique in that it is socialized and ranks excellent in health indicators. The course focuses on the history and development of the public healthcare system within the context of the Costa Rican sociopolitical and economic situation. A strong emphasis is placed on how the system works, pointing out both its strong and weak points. An additional objective, of fundamental importance in understanding this system, is the study of Costa Rica as a tropical country, specifically the prevention and transmission of relevant tropical diseases.

Marketing 301/MKTG 3010 (3) | International Marketing Management

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of international marketing—both its challenges and opportunities. Students enrolling in this course should be familiar with basic marketing terminology and have a basic/intermediate understanding of marketing concepts. We will examine the concepts of international marketing through the analysis of case studies, and will propose ideas through class assignments.

Photography 210/PHOT 2100 (4) | Ecological Photography

In this course, students will gain a general understanding of the possibilities and stages of digital photography as applied to ecological exploration. Through practical exercises and field trips, students will gain the basic skills needed to consciously create and manipulate digital photographic images, while exploring Costa Rican ecological systems.

Photography 213/PHOT 2130 (3) | Cultural Photography

The course offers the acquisition of basic photographic skills as a means of cultural exploration. Through practice exercises and field trips aiming to apply the information provided through lectures, students will consciously explore Costa Rican culture through the creation of photographic images and essays. Students will be able to consciously create photographs that document different aspects of Costa Rican culture through portraiture and landscapes.

Politics 342/POL 3420 (3) | Costa Rican Environmental Policy: A History of Policy, Politics and Action

In this course, we will explore the dynamics of environmental management, history, policy, politics and action in Costa Rica and beyond. We will study environmental history and policy at a regional and national level, and will explore the emergence of Costa Rica’s cutting edge environmental politics and government commitments (the greening of the public sector, carbon neutrality and others). We will look back at Costa Rica’s conservation history and critically review its sustainable development model, and will explore the “state of the nation and region” in regard to environmental indicators (land use methods and statistics, deforestation and reforestation data, contamination and waste indicators). We will identify the individuals and organizations taking authentic action in environmental protection, and will take a close look at how government policy translates into practice by reviewing case studies of community and grassroots action in forestry, organic farming, recycling, cooperatives and women’s environmental groups. Lastly, we will address some of the central issues and challenges facing these activities and the resulting environmental conflicts.

Psychology 220/PSY 2200 (3) | Health Psychology

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Based on this definition, the concepts of health and illness have changed. Today, healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, etc.) must have a bio-psycho-social approach to patient health. It is extremely important that they have a general understanding of health psychology, which studies how biology, behavior and social context influence health and illness. This provides a truly integrated approach to treating patients. In this course, we will discuss some of the most common topics related to health psychology that are pertinent to the healthcare professions.

Additional Courses

For a full and current list of available courses please contact your AIFS Admissions Officer. Courses may change at the discretion of Veritas University.

Other courses which may be offered include:


Architecture 320/ARCH 3200 (4)
Tropical Architecture and Design

Art 130/ART 1301 (3)
Basic Principles of Drawing

Art 250/ART 2500 (3)
Experimental Printmaking

Spanish 301/SPAN 3010 (3)
Latin American Literature in Translation


Communications 307/COMM 3070 (4)
Creative Conflict Resolution

Communications 320/COMM 3200 (3)
Intercultural Communication

Business 335/GEB 3350 (3)
Introduction to International Business

Business 350/GEB 3500 (4)
Ecotourism: The Costa Rica Case

Business 312/GEB 3120 (3)
Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Management 303/MGMT 3030 (3)
Creative Leadership Skills

Marketing 315/MKTG 3150 (3)
Sustainable Consumption and Production

Psychology 305/PSY 3050 (3)
Cultural Psychology


Environmental Sciences 250/ENV 2500 (4)
Introduction to Genetics

Environmental Sciences 300/ENV 3005 (4)
Environmental Impact and Social Development

Environmental Sciences 310/ENV 3100 (4)
Neotropical Ornithology: Birds of Costa Rica

Environmental Sciences 312/ENV 3120 (4)
Land Vertebrates of Costa Rica


History 230/HIS 2302 (3)
Contemporary Latin American History

Politics 310/POL 3100 (3)
Costa Rican Tradition: Peace and Democracy

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Costa Rica programs! Offerings!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Costa Rica programs!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Costa Rica, San José programs!