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USAC Heredia Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year


Heredia, Costa Rica




2.5 g.p.a. or endorsement of academic advisors

Application Due:

9/24 for spring
2/24 for fall
3/4 for summer
late applicants are accepted on a space-available basis

Program Cost:

Click Application tab

The Spanish Language, Ecological and Latin American Studies Program is offered at two possible locations, Heredia or Puntarenas, in affiliation with the Universidad Nacional de Heredia. The programs are administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) of which the University of Iowa is a member, and enroll approximately 60 students from various U.S. colleges and universities at each location. The program allows students to experience the culture and physical beauty of Costa Rica through study in specially designed courses combined with family home stay and some program travel. Students will expand their Spanish language skills through personal interaction with the host culture in the homestay setting, through field trips and optional tours, and in the classroom via accelerated study according to Tracks. The program offers a one week optional tour to northern Costa Rica and Nicaragua, or to Bocas del Toro in Panama, depending on the session. UI students earn resident credit on this program.

Academic Program

Semester: Students with little or no language study enroll in an accelerated language track that enables them to fulfill two years of college foreign language in one semester. Students in the advanced Spanish level can supplement language and literature with a selection of classes, taught in Spanish or English, in culture, political institutions, tropical ecology and conservation. Field trips constitute an integral part of certain classes. All courses are taught exclusively for program participants by local faculty, with the exception of one or two courses offered each semester by a visiting U.S. faculty member from one of the USAC consortium institutions. UI students earn resident credit on this program, and typically earn between 12 sh – 18 sh depending on the classes selected.

Credit may be applied toward the following General Education Areas: [Foreign Language, Foreign Civilization & Culture, Humanities, Natural Science without laboratory, Health & Physical Activity.] [Foreign Language, Literary, Visual & Performing Arts, International Global Issues, Values, Society & Diversity.]

Certain courses satisfy requirements for the Spanish major or minor. Students at the beginning and intermediate Spanish levels are typically limited to accelerated language study.

Summer: During each session, students typically enroll in one 3 s.h. course supplemented by 1 s.h. courses on various topics. Students interested in Spanish can choose accelerated language classes at intermediate or advanced levels, or a Latin American literature class. Otherwise, students can take a biology class taught in English (Intro to Tropical Ecology in June, Maintaining Biodiversity in July) or exceptionally in Summer 2012, a course in Spanish language and Cultural Knowledge through Music or The Psychology of Happiness. Students can supplement their core study with additional 1 s.h. classes touching on culture, dance, and history.

Students with one year of college Spanish may satisfy the Gen Ed Requirement in Foreign Language by participating in the two month session.

UI students earn resident credit on this program, and can earn 4 s.h. - 6 s.h. per month session, depending on the classes selected.

Program Dates

Fall Semester: August 16, 2013 – December 6, 2013

Spring Semester: January 17, 2014 – May 16, 2014

Session I: May 17, 2013 - June 21, 2013 (June 30 if participating on the southern Costa Rica tour)
Session II: June 30, 2013 (June 24 if participating in the southern Costa Rica tour) - August 2, 2013
Students can elect to participate in either or both sessions.

For More Information

More information and instructions are available from the program adviser in the Study Abroad office, 1111 Capitol Centre.

Universidad Nacional de Heredia

Classes take place on the campus of the Universidad Nacional de Heredia. Affiliation with the university affords student privileges such as use of the fitness center and access to a small gym for playing volleyball or indoor soccer. There are other recreation centers within walking distance of the university as well.


Heredia is a colonial city of 80,000 nestled in the foothills above San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The National University, where USAC courses take place, is situated only a few blocks from downtown Heredia. The city is surrounded by coffee plantations and ranches and is on route to the majestic Poas Volcano. The climate is temperate, with average temperatures of 70-80 degrees F year-round. Only 25 minutes by bus from San José, the capital with a population of one million, Heredia offers the peace and rural beauty of a smaller place at the same time that it affords easy access to the activities of the bigger city.

Costa Rica

The geography of Costa Rica displays a stunning panorama of nature, which includes the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean coasts, mountains that soar to 12,000 feet, lush rain forests and active volcanoes. Enlightened Costa Rica has been a forerunner in the development of national parks and in the preservation of wildlife.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Semester: USAC arranges home stay lodging. The families are located within easy commuting distance to the university. The semester program fee includes room and three meals daily, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If students wish to live in an apartment, the Resident Director will provide information. However, it is the student's responsibility to locate the apartment and to make all rental agreements.

Summer: USAC arranges home stay lodging. The families are located within easy commuting distance to the university. Room is included in the program fee. For an additional cost, students can also choose to be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Travel Arrangements

Once accepted to the program, the USAC central office will provide information about travel to Costa Rica.


Minimum eligibility requirements include good academic standing and a GPA of 2.5 or the endorsement of academic advisors.




How to Apply

Before starting an online application for this program, students should 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.

After meeting with your advisor, click here to apply.

Application Deadline

Application deadlines are September 20 for spring, February 20 for fall or academic year, and March 4 for summer. Late applications may be accepted on a space available basis.

Upon acceptance, students will receive Pre-departure information directly from the program’s central office.

All students attend a general TIPS orientation for UI Students Studying Abroad. Additional small group 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