Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

Study Abroad in San José: Academics

Academic Programs

Courses include:art, architecture, business, communications, economics, environmental impact and sustainable development, history, internships, literature, management, marketing, photography, politics, psychology, tropical ecology, tropical marine biology, Spanish language, Spanish for health professionals, and Spanish for law enforcement

Choose between three programs: Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Sciences Program, Spanish Language and Internship Program and the Certificate of Knowledge Program.

The Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Sciences Program is available for a period of 12 or 16* weeks. The Spanish Language and Internship and Certificate of Knowledge Programs are available as 16-week programs only.

All students are required to take Spanish language available at all levels from Beginner through Advanced and heritage speaker and will take electives depending on their chosen program – see below.

In addition to the electives listed in this catalog, students on the 16-week programs who have a minimum of 2 years college-level Spanish and test into the Advanced level may also take regular Universidad Veritas courses taught in Spanish alongside Costa Rican students for a fully immersive experience.

No AIFS student is permitted to take a course without receiving a letter grade. Pass/fail options are not available.

*In the spring, the 12 and 16 week programs are 13 and 17 weeks in duration because of the one week mid-semester break.

Program Options

This Program is designed for students who wish to begin or strengthen their skills in Spanish and take elective courses across a range of disciplines including art, architecture, business, communications, economics, environmental impact and sustainable development, history, literature, management, marketing, politics, psychology, tropical ecology, and tropical marine biology. Many courses take a Latin American perspective giving you a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges facing the region and some of the environmental electives include lab work or field trips which bring you closer to Costa Rica’s diverse ecology.

Spanish language is available at all levels from Beginner through Advanced and courses run in 4-week blocks. Classes are taught Monday through Friday in the morning for 20 hours per week for a total of 80 contact hours and are recommended for 5 semester credits. Classes are small to maximize language learning. Specialized Spanish language courses are also available for Health Professionals and Law Enforcement Professionals.

Elective courses run for the length of the semester in the afternoon, are 48 to 60 contact hours and are recommended for 3 or 4 semester credits. Most electives are taught in English. Electives taught in Spanish focus on literature and linguistics. There may be mandatory weekend field trips associated with some healthcare, environmental sciences or sustainability courses.

Students on the 12-week program may take one Spanish language course plus three electives, two Spanish language courses and two electives or three Spanish language courses and one elective for a total of 14 – 19 semester credits. If taking more than one Spanish language course students need to successfully complete the test at the end of each course before proceeding to the next level.

Students on the 16-week program take an additional Spanish language course either at the end of the semester in Spring or at the beginning of the semester in Fall for a maximum of 23 credits.

The language level you participate in and the electives you are eligible to take will be determined by a Skype oral and online written placement test prior to your arrival in Costa Rica. It is important to obtain pre-approval from your home institution for several levels of Veritas language courses and several alternate Veritas elective courses. Your final course schedule will be determined on site. Students wishing to take electives taught in Spanish must place into the high Intermediate or Advanced level.

Session/Term Credits Requirements
Fall or Spring Semester Up to 23 2.5 GPA

Students interested in a particular area of study may participate in the semester Certificate Program. Students choose one Spanish language course for 5 semester credits and four elective courses for 3 or 4 credits each from one of eight fields of study and earn a Certificate of Knowledge in that chosen field by the end of the semester.

Students on the Certificate of Knowledge Program take the same Spanish courses and elective courses as students on the Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Sciences Program. Students will also take the same placement test to determine the language level they participate in and should therefore obtain approval from their home institution for several levels of Veritas language courses and several alternate Veritas elective courses.

See the Courses page for available fields of study and courses for the Certificate Program.

Session/Term Credits Requirements
Fall or Spring Semester Up to 21 2.5 GPA

Internship programs provide you with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience and professional skills alongside your academic study. The Internship Program is offered as a 16-week program only.

Students must have a GPA of 2.6, be 20 years of age by the start of the placement, have at least 2 years of college level Spanish (or equivalent) and place into Advanced level of Spanish in order to participate in the Internship Program. Students should have also completed a minimum of 5 courses in a field of study related to their preferred internship. Students wishing to participate in the Biomolecular Lab and Conservation Biology Internship only need to have an Intermediate 1 (2 semesters of College Spanish) level.

Students begin this program with a preparatory 4-week Spanish language course to refresh or improve their existing Spanish language skills ready for their placement. The course is 80 contact hours for a suggested 5 semester credits. After these four weeks the 12-week placement will begin.

Internships are unpaid positions within companies or NGOs in the vicinity of Universidad Veritas or within the Central Valley, a bus ride away. Students are placed in positions related to their major and/or interests and are assessed by meetings, a major project and a presentation at the end of the internship. Students are supervised by a professor at Universidad Veritas who will guide them through the project work.

Intern placements are for 30-40 hours per week and last for three months. Each semester credit offered for the internship requires at least 45 hours of work within the placement. For further details about the Internship Program and application process please speak to an AIFS Admissions Officer.

Students on the Internship Program take one Spanish language course for 5 semester credits, one internship for a recommended 4 semester credits and, one independent study course recommended for 3 semester credits. Subject to the class schedule and internship, students may be able to take one additional elective class for a recommended 3 or 4 credits. Due to the intense nature of the internship hours and the availability of electives, this will vary for each student. The suggested total of recommended credits for the semester is 12 to 19.

*Please note that due to the intense nature of the internship, students may not be able to take additional electives. This will be determined by the number of hours spent at the internship placement.

Internship placements available on previous programs have included:

  • Business: travel agency
  • Education: public school
  • Social Work: daycare center, orphange, NGO
  • International Relations: International Exchange office
  • Sports medicine: national sports teams
  • Innovation and Digital Fabrication: Fablab Veritas
  • Biomolecular and Conservation Biology: Veritas Biomol Laboratory
Session/Term Credits Requirements
Fall or Spring Semester Up to 19 2.6 GPA

Universidad Veritas

Universidad Veritas was founded in 1976 as a college of the Universidad Autónoma de Centroamérica, the first private university in Costa Rica. In 1991, Universidad Veritas became an independent university and has since grown to become one of the most highly respected private universities in the Latin American academic community with a student population of almost 2,000 including several hundred international students. Veritas is fully accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education and is a member of NAFSA and the College Consortium for International Studies. It is housed in an urban campus, equipped with modern facilities, including computer labs, a well-maintained library and cafeterias.