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USAC Heredia Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year


Heredia, Costa Rica




GPA of 2.5, good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

9/24 for spring
2/24 for fall/academic year
3/4 for summer

Program Cost:

Click Application tab

This program offers academic coursework in Spanish language, Latin American Studies, and Ecological Studies. The intensive language approach allows students to complete up to two years of university foreign language coursework in only one semester. The academic courses are only a part of the value of USAC Studies in Costa Rica as students have the opportunity learn about contemporary Costa Rican society through personal interaction and immersion in the the host culture. The program is administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), of which the University of Iowa is a member. The USAC Resident Director and staff are present on-site full-time to welcome and support students during their term abroad.

Academic Program

Landscape photo of Heredia

Classes take place on the campus of the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA). All courses are taught 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. University of Iowa students earn resident credit for this program.


Students enroll in 12 - 18 semester hours comprised of language courses plus electives in Latin American studies and environmental studies. All students must complete a minimum of one language courses, but it is strongly encouraged that students complete the entire language track. Each language "Track" consists of four consecutive courses of intensive Spanish language. For updated course listings and descriptions, please visit the USAC Heredia Program webpage.


USAC offers two 4-week summer sessions. Students can do either session or both. During Session I, students in roll in three to six semester hours, and in Session II students enroll en three or four semester hours. One 3-semester hour course must be taken at all times. For updated course listings and descriptions, please visit the USAC Heredia Program webpage.

Cultural Activities

San Isidro Church

Many organized field trips are included in your program fee. These field trips may take students to Poás Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls, Punta Leona, and Monteverde Cloud Forest. Additionally, students will have field trips as part of many of their courses and have numerous informal activities that expose them to the local culture.

Program Dates

Fall: Late August to mid-December
Spring: Early January to early May
Summer Session I: Late May to early July
Summer Session II: Early July to early August

For More Information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with USAC, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa.
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353

Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA)

Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica was founded in 1973 and it's main campus is in Heredia. The university hosts over 19,000 students and is a public university. USAC has been in partnership with UNA since 1995 and all USAC classes and offices are located on the campus. UNA is located only a few blocks from downtown Heredia.


Colonial Fortress, Heredia, Costa Rica

Heredia is one of Costa Rica's most historical cities and was founded in 1705. With a population of approximately 135,000 inhabitants, it is nestled in the foothills just six miles to the north of San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Students can enjoy the excitement of living near the capital city but with a more calm and relaxed atmosphere. In the heart of the city, surrounding the main square, which is a popular gathering place, is the historic La Inmaculada Concepciónchurch built in 1796, with bells imported from Cuzco, Peru. The city is surrounded by coffee plantations and ranches and is on route to the majestic Poas Volcano which can be seen from the top of Monte de la Cruz.. The climate is temperate, with average daily temperatures of 70-80°F year-round. The only two seasons they have are the dry season and the wetseason. The most precipitation takes place in the months of May, June, September and October.

Costa Rica

Biodiversity Frog on a Bird of Paradise Plant

Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Panama to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. While occupying only 0.01% of the earth's land mass, the country hosts 5% of the world's biodiversity. Costa Rica has progressive environmental polices and is the only country to meet all five United Nations Development Program criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive series of national parks and other protected areas. Costa Rica aspires to become carbon neutral in 2050.

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


Students will move in with their host family upon arrival to Heredia. All families live within easy commuting distance of the university and will provide students with daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Students will have a private bedroom and laundry service. Host families are interested in their students and their students' activities and serve as a good resource for practical local information and advice. Students get to live and learn the Tico culture from their host family.


US Citizens

If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for a visa or leaving the United States.

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

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 USAC .

Local Transportation

Costa Rican License Plate

Heredia is easily walkable, however, it does have a public bus system and taxis are available as well.


This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Cumulative GPA of 2.5
  • Be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing - It is the policy of the UI Study Abroad office that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and good disciplinary standing at the time of their application. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will not be allowed to study abroad. Any student who must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.


    Costs charged to the U-Bill

    • Application fee (charged at the time of application, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
    • Course Fee- Includes program course fee, tuition, housing, meals, pre-departure advising, group flight airport pick-up, orientation, program-organized field trips, and host university student photo and ID card. (charged shortly before departure)
    • University of Iowa Study Abroad Administrative Fee (charged shortly before departure)
    • The mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance (charged shortly before departure)

    Out-of-pocket costs (not charged to U-Bill)

    • Food (paid by student at their discretion while abroad)
    • Round trip airfare (paid by student directly to travel agent or airline- approx. 6-8 weeks prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
    • Local transportation (paid at student’s discretion while abroad)
    • Passport (paid by student prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
    • Consular and visa fees (paid by student prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
    • Textbooks, copyright permission fees, course packets, and other course-related materials (paid upoon arrival to your host country)
    • Medical exam/immunizations (paid by student as needed prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
    • Personal expenses and personal travel (paid by student as needed while abroad)
    • Rental or purchase of required cell phone- does not include usage fees (paid as needed while abroad)

    Cost Sheet

    The cost sheet outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid and planning purposes. They include fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

    Costs for future sessions are usually similar to the current session, however students can expect a modest increase in overall costs each session.

    Semester Program

    PDFUSAC Heredia Program Cost Sheet for Spring 2023


    PDFUSAC Heredia Summer Session I - 2024
    PDFUSAC Heredia Summer Session I & II - 2024

    Scholarships & Financial Aid

    Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options. Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities.

    USAC funding opportunites are available for students participating in a USAC program. The comprehensive list of scholarships is detailed on USAC's Scholarships and Discounts webpage.

    How to Apply

    Steps to Studying Abroad

    1. Before initiating an application with USAC, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa.
    2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
    3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

    Students will need to complete a University of Iowa Study Abroad application and a USAC Online application. Information on these applications will come from the study abroad advisor. Final admissions decision is made by USAC.

    Application Deadline

    Fall and Academic Year: February 24
    Spring: September 24
    Summer: March 4


    It is highly recommended that students review the following information:

    Health & Safety Planning

  • Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information
  • Health Abroad
  • Visa

  • Embassy of Costa Rica (for visa information)
  • Orientation

    In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. In addition to orientations provided UI Study Abroad, USAC may have other required pre-departure orientations and information. Please see below for more information.

    Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

    You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

    Program-Specific Orientation

    This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to the University of Iowa including, but not limited to, billing, insurance, the Credit Approval Form (CAF), and transcripts. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on the type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

    USAC Orientation

    USAC provides students with pre-departure documents in their USAC GATEWAY that include such topics as; Visa Guide, Arrival Guide, Site specific COVID guidelines, Pre-Departure Timeline, Packing Lists, Study Abroad Toolkit, and On-site wellness guide. In addition to the information on the USAC Gateway, USAC has a Virtual Orientation for students and parents and students will have one mandatory advising Zoom or phone session with USAC. Moreover, USAC has site-specific webinars with enrolled students and/or on-site staff.