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ISEP Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Heredia, Costa Rica




2.8 GPA, minimum five semesters college Spanish

Application Due:

Exchange: 1/30 for fall, academic year;
8/15 for spring
Direct: rolling through 10 days before deadline posted on ISEP webpage

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

This program is no longer available. Please contact the Study Abroad Office to learn about similar programs that are available.

Through the University of Iowa’s membership in ISEP, the International Student Exchange Program, UI students have the opportunity to study for a semester or academic year at Universidad Nacional de Heredia in Cost Rica. Students on ISEP have access to the courses, services and activities of the host university as any local student. An ISEP coordinator facilitates housing arrangements and assists with registration. ISEP students enroll in classes from the regular curriculum for local degree-seeking students. Direct enrollment at a host institution abroad means adjusting to a new and different academic system and can require a fairly high level of proficiency in the foreign language. Planning for additional language study prior to the beginning of your ISEP session can be an option.

The ISEP program in Costa Rica is a designated Global Engagement Program, where additional support from a resident director locally offers organized excursions and facilitates involvement with the community beyond the classroom.

Recommended fields of study at Universidad Nacional include fine arts (dance, theater, plastic arts, music), history, international relations, Latin American studies and literature. Students can also choose from the broad spectrum of Estudios Generales (general education courses) in the humanities, sciences and social sciences.

The program fee for study on ISEP Exchange is based on 12 s.h. of your regular UI tuition. ISEP Direct was developed as an affordable alternative at sites where spaces generated by outgoing Exchange students are not sufficient to accommodate the demand for incoming exchange. The ISEP Direct fee varies by host institution.

UI students earn transfer credit on ISEP programs.

Program Dates

The university follows the Southern Hemisphere academic calendar that runs January – mid-November. Fall semester runs early July to November. Spring semester runs January to early June. Students contemplating year-long study abroad are encouraged to consider beginning in spring for a calendar year January - November.

For More Information

Visit the ISEP webpage here. Hover your cursor over the bar For U.S. Students. Go to Costa Rica and click on the name of the university. Also be mindful of the section on Sites Available, which changes over time.
Once you have explored, proceed no further until you have met with the ISEP advisor in the UI Study Abroad office. Meet to discuss the ISEP process and receive instructions for application.

Costa Rica lies smack in the middle of the Central American isthmus connecting Mexico to Panama. Its eastern border is the length of its coast on the Atlantic ocean; likewise, it’s western border is a long coastline (comprising two small peninsulas) on the Pacific. It is a land of lakes and active volcanos, of great environmental consciousness (25% of its national territory is classified protected conservation areas), and of abundant flowers and vegetation due to its varied tropical climate. Costa Rica is also the only Latin American country listed among the world’s older democracies and one that ranks high in the Human Development Index (which refers to standard of living and quality of life.)

Heredia, often described as the City of Flowers, lies in the central valley just north of the capital city of San José. While the two urban centers run together, Heredia provides a smaller comfortable context for students to live and study. The university campus is surrounded by coffee plantations and rainforest parks.

Travel Arrangements

Students make their own travel arrangements to arrive on campus by a designated date. Specific information will be provided in post-acceptance materials from ISEP. An Institutional Information Sheet will provide detailed information for travel, contacts in the international office, details about housing and other nuts and bolts.


2.8 GPA and a minimum of 5 semesters of college Spanish at the time of application.


The Program fee, collected by the University of Iowa, includes tuition, administrative fees, room and board.

The semester program fee on ISEP Exchange is based on 12 s.h. of your regular tuition plus an administrative fee of $425, and room and board in the Mayflower residence halls.

The ISEP Direct fee is posted on the website, and covers tuition, housing and meals; an additional UI administrative fee for the semester is approximately $980 for students classified resident, $2570 for nonresidents.

The Iowa Regents mandatory International Health Insurance is also collected on the U bill.

Additional expenses include air fare, ISEP insurance, visa fees, vaccinations as required, and personal expenses.

In general, financial aid received to attend the University of Iowa may be applied toward the cost of studying abroad. Aid eligibility is adjusted to reflect the total cost of participating on the program. In addition, students are encouraged to apply for need- and merit-based scholarships awarded by the Study Abroad office. Complete information is available in the office.

How to Apply

Students submit their application to the ISEP adviser in the UI Study Abroad office. Please schedule an appointment to review placement options and to obtain a Supplementary Instructions for Application sheet.

Students should also discuss their plans with their academic adviser and other appropriate faculty.

Application Deadline

Exchange: The on-campus application deadline for fall or year is January 30. For best chances of placement on Exchange, students should have met with the ISEP adviser in December prior to the end of the semester.

Deadline for spring semester placement is August 15. Students should have met with the ISEP adviser in May prior to the end of the semester or during the summer.

Deadlines for ISEP Direct vary by site and are posted on the ISEP webpage. On-campus deadline is 10 days earlier.

A Country Handbook, found at Placed Students on the ISEP webpage, provides practical information and initial visa instructions.

Once confirmed by your host university, you will receive a Participant Placement Acceptance packet from ISEP covering all aspects of your placement. You will also later receive a welcome mailing from Católica de Valparaiso with important academic and arrival information.

All UI students attend a general TIPS orientation for Students Studying Abroad. Additional individualized meetings address specific topics, as well as billing and credit procedures at Iowa.

There are no photos available for this program yet. Do you have any photos to share with us? If you do, please contact us at:

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343