Group in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Spanish Institute

Before you meet with an education abroad advisor be sure to complete the "Advising Form" linked at the top of this page.

Please note that you will not be able to apply for semester or yearlong study abroad program until you've met with an education abroad advisor. To make an appointment, please contact or call the Center for Global Education at 630-637-5132.


Program Overview

Fall Term

Eligible participants must be at sophomore, junior or senior level with a 3.0 GPA preferred.

Language Requirement: no Spanish required, however, two years of college-level Spanish is required to be eligible to do an internship.

For the first eight weeks of this program, students travel to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, where they enroll in intensive Spanish language courses, take one course with an accompanying North Central College professor, and live with a family in the town of Quepos. Students take Spanish language classes for four hours a day at Costa Rica Spanish Institute (COSI), an intensive language school overlooking the coast and just a few miles from Manuel Antonio National Park. Local buses bring students from their homes in Quepos to COSI and the nearby beaches. Before their mid-semester break (including a four-day excursion to Nicaragua), students move to the capital city of San José, where they live with a new host family. Spanish-language beginners (100-200 level) continue language study and engage in volunteer community work, while advanced language students (300-400 level) begin a six-week internship.

Students study and become immersed in Costa Rican culture, not only by living with two host families, but also by participating in weekly cultural events and weekend excursions around the country.

No prior knowledge of Spanish is required, though many students study Spanish before going. The program is open to all majors and upper-level academic credit is awarded for internships.

This program fulfills North Central College’s foreign language requirement.

Note: This program must have a minimum of 15 participants to run.

NCC-in-Costa Rica group program brochure

Internship or service learning component included in program depending on language level.


Students earn 12 credits toward their degree. In addition, students are required to complete GLS 277 in the spring term prior to studying abroad in the fall. All grades earned abroad affect your North Central College GPA when transferred back. You cannot take courses pass/fail.  

GLS 277 Seminar:  Study Abroad (0.00-2.00 credits)

A workshop in intercultural learning designed for students enrolled in North Central College study abroad programs. In this pre-departure course, students explore the concept of culture, compare cultural values, investigate social relations and communication styles, prepare for adjustment, and begin to develop intercultural competence. Journals are kept while students are in their host cultures; required activities and a final reflective essay are completed upon return.

GLS 363:  Seminar in Costa Rica (3.0 credits)

Taught by the accompanying North Central College faculty member twice a week for two hours. The topic of the seminar varies according to the expertise of the faculty member and is designed with the assumption that students may not have prior knowledge of the topic.

Intensive Spanish (6.0-7.0 credits depending on language level)

Students take their Spanish course at COSI 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, for the first 8 weeks while in Quepos. Each class consists of 3-5 students and it is not uncommon for the accompanying North Central College faculty member to enroll in a Spanish language course.

Internship or Community Service (2.0-3.0 credits depending on language level)

Internship and Community Service experiences cannot come back as Spanish credit. However, credit is awarded as internship credit through one of the four North Central College divisions (i.e. Arts and Letters, Economics and Business, Human Thought and Behavior, Science) depending on work completed in the internship or community service.

To view and print this information in PDF format, please click here.

Housing and Meals

Students are required to stay with host families, who live a short distance from the school. Host families provide students with a private or double (shared with another North Central College student) bedroom, laundry services, breakfast, and dinner. Students are responsible for their own lunches, which can be bought at the Institute.

Please Note:  the housing/host family application you complete once you have been accepted to study abroad is quite brief. If you would like to include additional information or details you feel are important regarding your host family placement, it is encouraged that you write an additional paragraph on the application or attach a separate sheet.

Estimated Costs

Participants pay tuition and a $4,000 program fee to North Central College. A $30 non-refundable application fee is due at the time of application submission. Fee includes room and board for 15 weeks, Nicaragua excursion, orientations, weekly field trips, internship placement/guidance, and health insurance. Fee does not include airfare, Costa Rica airport departure taxes, books, daily bus fare, meal in Nicaragua, spending money, and extra personal travel. North Central College-based financial aid does apply.