Return to the search form Return to your search results

CIEE Monteverde Sustainability & the Environment

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Summer


Monteverde, Costa Rica




2.5 GPA, 2 semesters of college-level courses in the natural sciences or environmental studies completed is required for the semester program and recommended for the summer program.

Application Due:

Spring: 10/1
Fall: 3/1

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

CIEE is offering free flights to San Jose, Costa Rica to students who participate in this program!

See the Logistics tab for more information.

Academic Program

The Monteverde Sustainability and the Environment program is designed for energetic, outdoorsy students who are committed to fully immersing themselves in academics, local culture, and nature. Students see what it is like to live sustainably in Costa Rica, where low-impact practices are a way of life. They investigate engineered responses to the need for managing energy, water, and nutrient flows in the production of food, fuel and electricity. This program is administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) on behalf of a consortium of which The University of Iowa is a member. Participants join a group of students from other U.S. colleges and universities. UI students earn resident credit on this program.


Students take three biological/environmental courses, a Spanish language course at one of nine levels, and an internship. Science courses are taught in English. Students will dig into today's pressing environmental issues and focus on Costa Rican history, environmental studies, and sustainability. Learning takes place in both the classroom and the field as students travel to remote parts of Costa Rican and Panama that most visitors never see.
Students earn 17 semester hours for the semester.

Program Dates

Fall semester, mid-August to late November; Spring semester, early February to late May.


There are two-four week Summer Sessions offered for this program. Students can do either of the sessions or do both sessions for an eight week experience. In each session students are required to take the 3 semester hour environmental course. The first session focuses on sustainable economic development while the second session focuses on environmental engineering. A communicative Spanish course for one credit is offered in both sessions.

Program Dates for Summer

First session is Mid-June to mid-July, and the second session is mid-July to mid-August.

Eligibility Requirements

Semester Program: Students must be an environmental studies/science major and have completed two college-level courses in natural science, environmental studies or agriculture. Some college-level Spanish is recommended.

Summer Program: It is recommended that students participating in this program have completed two college-level courses in the natural sciences, environmental studies, sustainability, or agriculture.

For More Information

Before initiating an application with CIEE students are required to meet with the Study Abroad Advisor for this program, Kristine Djerf. Please contact the Study Abroad office by stopping by 1111 University Capitol Centre, or calling 319-335-0353, to schedule an appointment. More program details can be found at the CIEE portal. Summer program CIEE Summer Sustainability + The Environment; semester program CIEE Sustainability + The Environment.


"Monteverde" is a cluster of towns that make up the area and include; Monteverde, Santa Elena, Cerra Plano, and San Luis. Each town has its own small "downtown". Students attend their classes at the CIEE Global Institute Monteverde. CIEE's campus is on the edge of the cloud forest and offers unparalleled opportunities for students to take full advantage of all the Monteverde offers. The 150-acre campus includes tropical forests and gardens full of wildlife, an organic vegetable garden, animal stables, plus modern classrooms, laboratories, and cozy accommodations.
The town of Monteverde was founded by Quakers from the United States in the 1950s. The Quakers and some pacifists chose the area for it cool climate, which would facilitate dairy farming, and because of the country's nonviolent, army-free constitution, and its friendly Costa Rican inhabitants. The Quakers stewarded and farmed a large tract of land, part of which they eventually set aside for conservation, which today is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Today, tourists contribute the principal revenues to the zone, though coffee plantations and dairy farms still dot the landscape. The region, comprising numerous small towns, is home to about 5,000 people of diverse backgrounds.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It declared its independence from the United Provinces of Central America in 1847 and since then it has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive nations in Latin America. After it's brief civil war, Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army. 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.

CIEE Latin America Flight Voucher Program

All semester participants for Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 are eligible for this program. The value of the voucher is $1000. This $1000 does not count towards scholarship/grant awarding caps. Students cannot also receive the GAIN or Open Campus travel voucher. Additional details:

  • Once the Confirmation of Participation is signed students will receive a unique voucher code to use with Student Universe
  • Must be an economy flight; any upgrades or insurance must be paid for by the student
  • It is a one time use for round-trip flights only

Living Arrangements

Students live at the CIEE Global Institute in "bungalows" in shared rooms with en suite bathrooms for about one third of the program. Three simple, but hardy meals are served in the dining hall. The campus includes indoor and outdoor common areas for recreation and study and allows exclusive access to forest trails and gardens. For another third of the program students stay with Costa Rican families in simple, rural homes. They are provided private rooms and three meals a day. Bus transportation from the town center and the CIEE Global Institute is provided. For another third of the program students and staff travel extensively around Costa Rica and into Panama. During those excursions, the group stays in simple lodges with all meals provided. All classes are taken at the CIEE Global Institute Monteverde.

During the summer sessions, students live at the CIEE Global Institute and spend one week with a Costa Rican family for a homestay experience.

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 CIEE .


Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Students who have an active case with the dean of students or who are on academic or disciplinary probation will not be accepted into the program. Students must have a UI and Cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 to be considered. Additionally, for semester the semester long program students must be an environmental studies/science major, and have completed two college-level courses in the natural sciences, environmental studies, or agriculture. Some college-level Spanish is recommended. For summer program participants it is recommended that students have completed two college-level courses in the natural sciences, environmental studies, sustainability, or agriculture.


Students are charged a Program Fee on their Ubill. This charge covers tuition, housing, optional on-site airport pick-up, multi-day on-site orientation, cultural and/or co-curricular activities, excursions and/or study tours. In addition to the Program Fee, students are assessed a University of Iowa Study Abroad Administrative Fee . Also, on the Ubill will be the mandatory Iowa Regents International CISI insurance .
Other costs include but are not limited to, application fee, round trip airfare to the program site, passport and visa fees, meals, local transportation, books and supplies, and personal expenses.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

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. The Study Abroad office has several scholarship opportunities as well and more information can be found on UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities websites and Non-UI External Awards.

CIEE has several scholarships available to University of Iowa students. Please visit the CIEE Scholarship web site to find out more about their scholarships.

How to Apply

Before starting an application, students must meet with the study abroad advisor for Costa Rica. Appointments can be set up in person at 1111 UCC or over the phone at 319-335-0353.

After meeting with your study abroad advisor, click the following application link to being the UI online application: Link to UI Study Abroad online application.

You will also need to apply on CIEE's website. Click the following application link to being the CIEE online application: Link to CIEE Study Abroad online application.

Application deadline

Fall and Summer: March 1

Spring: October 1


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. 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 this program and the host country. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Before Traveling

Students must complete certain documents and activities for the University of Iowa and CIEE before leaving for their study abroad experience and these include:

  1. Uploading a copy of the information page of their passport to their UI study abroad application.
  2. Completing and turning in a copy of their Credit Approval Form (CAF).
  3. Registering in MyUI for the appropriate study abroad course.
  4. Completing the ICON Course

CIEE Orientation

Students start their study abroad experience before leaving the United States with CIEE’s Online Pre-departure Orientation. Students and the Resident staff meet online to discuss information about the academic program and the city that students will soon be living in. Resident staff also highlight issues that program alumni have said are important and they give students time to ask questions. In addition to this orientation, students will have mandatory orientation sessions conducted in Costa Rica at the beginning of the program.

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