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SFS-Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies

Program Location Atenas, Costa Rica
Sponsor School for Field Studies
Program Type Co-sponsored
Course # SA 35003
Duration Semester
Upcoming Program Dates
Spring 2020 01/26/20 to 05/06/20
Current Program Dates
Fall 2019 09/01/19 to 12/11/19

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Overview Purdue Credit
Eligibility Academics
Housing Program Costs
Financial Aid Deadline
Returnee Info Resources

SFS-Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies
Costa Rica is currently undergoing a period of great economic and social change. As this resource-rich, wonderfully biodiverse country continues along a path of rapid development, it is becoming increasingly influenced by global policy such as the Central American Fair Trade Act (CAFTA) and foreign markets. Costa Rica's economy has shifted from one predominately based on agriculture to one driven by ecotourism and technology exports. At the same time, brisk population growth is straining natural and developed resources. The country now faces a critical juncture as resource management decisions are being made in an effort to keep pace with competitive global markets. SFS's goal is to study different sustainable management models that protect the biodiversity of Costa Rica's ecosystems while promoting socioeconomic benefits for its people.

Students will examine the effects of globalization on classic sustainability issues such as agro-ecology, national park protection, economic development, urban sprawl, population growth, trash management, and air quality. Students focus on evaluating the success of Costa Rica's world-renowned management systems as well as developing alternative strategies, such as sustainable practices and organic agriculture as an alternative to poaching around national parks, that conserve biodiversity and protect natural resources. Visits to cloud forests, dry forests, volcanic parks, lowland rainforests, and plantations offer opportunities to examine management schemes, identify the benefits of protected areas, and determine which systems offer the best option for economic development, the maintenance of cultural norms, and the preservation of biodiversity. Understanding the forces that are driving Costa Rica's policies as well as those driving change, will be key as students analyze potential natural resource solutions for Costa Rica, and hopefully, beyond.

For more program information, please visit the program website. This program is sponsored by:School for Field Studies.


SFS-Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies
The program is open to Purdue students who have completed at least two semesters of university study, one semester of college-level ecology or biology, and one college-level Spanish course by the start of the program. Successful candidates will demonstrate academic success, maturity and a desire to experience another culture. GPA Requirement: 2.8 on a 4.0 scale
Language Requirement: none

Purdue Credit
Direct Credit available from the following: [College of Agriculture][College of Liberal Arts]
Specifically from: All (AG) and Liberal Arts majors fulfilling their science requirement

Students interested in completing courses while abroad from Purdue colleges or departments that are not listed above should discuss this with their study abroad advisor before applying to the program.

Academic Program

Semester students are registered in five academic courses accredited through Boston University:

EE(NS) 377 Tropical Ecology and Sustainable Development (4 credits)
EE(SS) 303 Economic & Ethical Issues and Sustainable Development (4 credits)
EE(NS) 374 Principles of Resource Management (4 credits)
EE 491 or 492 Directed Research (4 credits)
(LS) 205E Language, Culture and Society of Costa Rica (2 credits)


The Center for Sustainable Development Studies is a small farm on a hillside with spectacular views overlooking the Rio Grande River in the fertile Central Valley. The field station includes a large house, an outdoor classroom, an organic garden, a patio, and pool. There is also a classroom, small laboratory, and a library/computer room with internet access.

Students live in a dormitory (up to four to a room) with bathrooms.

The field station is part of the small neighborhood of La Presa/Los Angeles. The friendly town of Atenas is a short walk from the field station while Costa Rica's tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes are within a day's travel.

Estimated Program Costs

Students should carefully note what costs need to be paid to Purdue University or to a co-sponsor or agency, and what costs need to be paid at the overseas study location.  This will vary by program.

The program fee includes tuition, all meals at the center, program-related ground transportation and park entrance fees, field equipment, supplies, and on-site orientation.

Costs for this program are estimated and subject to change. The cost figures listed below are for: Spring 2020

Costs per semester to be billed by Purdue and Co-sponsor
Program Fee$16,000.00
Study Abroad Fee$914.00
Purdue International Insurance (per month)$32.00

Approximate additional costs per semester
To be paid by the student.
Round-trip Airfare$800.00
Books and Supplies$65.00
Miscellaneous Personal Expenses $0.00 -$1,800.00
Travel Documents (passport, photos)$175.00

Financial Aid

SFS offers many scholarships and/or 0% interest loans (no FAFSA form required). Please see the SFS website for more details.

Purdue University financial aid may be applied to the costs of studying abroad. Students interested in receiving financial aid should

NOTE:  Recipients of certain tuition remission and scholarship programs should pay careful attention to the regulations for using those benefits for study abroad.  Ask your financial aid advisor about any limitations.

Click here for a list of scholarships and grants available to assist with the costs of studying overseas.

Application Deadlines

For full consideration, students must submit all supporting documents before or by the application deadline.  Popular programs fill quickly, often before the deadline.  To insure a place in a program, apply early.

As soon as a student submits an on-line application, a My Study Abroad account is created. Applicants should consult this page often to check on the status of the application.

Program Application Deadline
Most Fall Semester Programs Mar 1
Most Spring Semester Programs Sep 15

Returnees Information
SFS-Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies

Click below to search for Purdue students who have participated in this program and are willing to be contacted.  If you get no results, you can use the search form to find people who studied in the country you are interested in.


The websites listed below contain information about this program. The accuracy of information at external sites cannot be guaranteed.

For more information on this program, please contact the Study Abroad Office by phone (765) 494-2383 or email

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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