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Program Highlights for Puntarenas, Costa Rica

  • Live in a small beach town on the Pacific Ocean with ferry access to the Nicoya Peninsula.
  • Take courses from four levels of Spanish and/or in Ecological Studies.
  • Study in small groups with field experience.
  • Participate in independent research or volunteer in field-related institutions.
  • Savor your proximity to breathtaking national parks and nature reserves.
  • Discover interesting and beautiful areas of Costa Rica on field trips.
  • The USAC Resident Director and staff are present on-site full-time to welcome and support you during your term abroad.

Why Study in Puntarenas?

The Puntarenas program is ideal for students who are committed to learning the Spanish language and diverse cultures of Latin America. Through formal coursework and personal interaction with the host culture, you will greatly expand your language skills and knowledge of Costa Rican society. Puntarenas offers a small beach town environment where you’ll be able to practice your Spanish regularly and immerse yourself in local culture. Costa Rica as a whole is well known for its extraordinary natural beauty, preserved in its many national parks and reserves, which you will have the opportunity to discover firsthand. You may choose to stay for a January session, one or two summer sessions, one semester or a full year.

The Puntarenas program offers three diverse academic areas: Spanish Language, Ecological Studies, and Latin American Studies. The intensive language approach allows you to complete up to two years of university foreign language coursework in only one semester to meet Spanish minor or major requirements. You may also complement your language curriculum by taking courses in literature, political science, economics, history, art history, biology, ecology, and dance.

The summer Puntarenas program offers two sessions, one five-week and one three-week, that can be taken individually or back-to-back for an eight-week session. Courses are available in Intensive Spanish Language, Ecological Studies, and Latin American Studies; the intensive language approach allows you to complete one semester of university foreign language coursework in five weeks.

The January Puntarenas program offers a three-week session with courses in Tropical Marine Biology, Spanish Language, and Latin American Studies. You may participate in the session alone or combine it with the semester program.

However, the academic courses are only part of the value of the program. Participation in formal and informal activities also provides valuable learning experiences and interaction with the local culture. These activities include cultural events, village festivals, and field trips to the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, rain forests, nature reserves, parliament, and governmental entities. The program also offers a field study course focused on Latin America and its cultures. Taking this field study course gives you the opportunity to explore Costa Rica and its culture, environment, and contemporary issues on a deeper level outside of the classroom.

Quick Details

2021-22 App. Cycle

Summer Sessions: Suspended

Fall/Yearlong: Open

January session: Open

Spring: Open


Minimum GPA: 2.5

Program Type



US Credit

Program Capacity

65 students


English | Spanish

Passport & Visa

Passport & Visa Information