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CIEE Monteverde Sustainability & the Environment

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring


Monteverde, Costa Rica




2.75 GPA, 3 semesters of college-level environmental studies; some college level Spanish recommended.

Application Due:

Spring: 10/15
Fall: 3/15

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

For students with an interest in environmental studies, the CIEE Sustainability and the Environment program in Monteverde provides an insight into the complexity of the pressures that confront global biodiversity, such as population growth, consumption, urbanization and globalization. Students will get a theoretical foundation in principles of conservation and sustainability in the classroom, as well as experience real life applications through internships with local development and education businesses and NGOs, and excursions to remote locations to learn first-hand about threats and solutions. Classes are held with CIEE students only. Homestay with local families also provides exposure to Spanish language and Costa Rican culture. This program is administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) on behalf of a consortium of which The University of Iowa is a member. Participants join a group of students from other U.S. colleges and universities. UI students earn resident credit on this program.

Academic Program

Following a three-day orientation in San José, classes are held at the CIEE Center in Monteverde, when not on excursion. Students follow a prescribed program of five courses. This includes one Spanish class at beginning, intermediate or advance level; a class in Costa Rican natural history; a class in sustainability examining the interplay of environment, economy and society; a class in the scientific foundations for biodiversity conservation and how these inform environmental policy and management; and a one-month internship with a local agency. Classes are small and dynamic, and invite student involvement. Spanish language classes are at the Centro Panamericano de Idiomas, given at nine levels in groups of no more than four students per instructor. Students earn 17 sh for the semester.

For More Information

Students are required to meet with the program adviser in the UI Study Abroad office before initiating an application. Program details are found at this CIEE webpage.


Monteverde is a small bilingual community surrounded by a cloud forest that is the largest private biological reserve in Central America. The area has a long heritage of grassroots conservation and the cloud forest has been the subject of long years of study by biologists from all over the world. Twenty percent of the entire country of Costa Rica is national parks and biological reserves. Monteverde is a small community of 4,000 that hosts up to 200,000 tourists each year.

Students are housed in homestay in Monteverde or nearby towns. The capital city of San José is 184 km (115 mi) about four hours away by road.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a center for tropical ecology research in the Western Hemisphere. It provides a land bridge between North and South America and offers a great range of biodiversity and ecosystems in close proximity to each other. Twenty percent of the country is national parks and biological reserves.

Living Arrangements

Students are placed individually in homestays. They have their own room in the family house and are provided three meals daily. During overnight field trips, accommodation is in simple hotels or field stations.

Travel Arrangements

Students make their own travel arrangements to arrive in Costa Rica by a designated date. Specific information will be provided in post-acceptance materials from CIEE .


2.75 GPA, 3 semesters of college level environmental studies; some college Spanish is recommended.


The Program Fee is charged on the U Bill and covers tuition, housing, meals, group excursions, orientation and other support services, an iNext travel card that provides insurance and other travel benefits, and the UI administrative fee.

The semester fee Fall 2013 was $16,984 for students that are Iowa residents and $18,580 for non-residents. Additional costs include round-trip airfare, books and supplies, and personal expenses.

The Iowa Regents mandatory International CISI insurance will also be collected on the U bill.

How to Apply

Before starting an application for this program, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to discuss their program selection and receive information about supplemental materials that are required for an application. Appointments can be set up in person at 1111 UCC or over the phone at 319-335-0353. Applications are considered on a rolling basis and early application is advisable.

After meeting with your advisor, click here to begin the UI application.

Application Deadline

Application deadlines are October 15 for the spring semester and March 15 for the fall and academic year programs. Late applications may be accepted on a space-available basis.

Following acceptance, students receive arrival and other information from the Portland office, as well as a Program Handbook with comprehensive student information for Costa Rica.

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

CIEE also conducts online orientations for its students.

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