Monteverde, Costa Rica

Summer Tropical Ecology + Conservation

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Information for term Summer Tropical Ecology + Conservation

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

April 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: April 1, 2020
  • Dates: Jun 14 – Aug 9, 2020 (8 weeks)
  • Credit: 10 semester hours / 15 quarter hours
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA


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Wake up to the sound of howler monkeys at our unique biological station, on the doorstep of the 57,000-acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Your classroom? Cloud forest treetops, sandy beaches, lush rain forests – all ideal for rigorous study of the incredibly diverse ecosystems of Costa Rica. Your summer adventure includes travel throughout the country, a strong boost for your Spanish language skills, a chance to carry out your own independent research project, and a satisfying taste of life in rural Costa Rica.

Unique Experiences

  • Camp and hike

    through rain forests, dry forests, mangroves, beaches and more, as you explore protected natural areas.

  • Put new skills into practice

    as you complete an independent research project that gives you an in-depth look at a favorite creature or plant, on a topic that fascinates you.

  • Live like a local

    during a three-week homestay.

  • species of plants and trees in Monteverde Preserve

  • species of amphibians

  • inhabitants


Location & Culture

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The small community of Monteverde sits atop the Continental Divide in the Tilarán mountains in northwestern Costa Rica.  Here, the treasure is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – home to a staggering number of species that includes pumas, monkeys, quetzal, and the endangered three-wattled bird. From this amazing home base, you’ll also travel to the coast and other parts of the country.

The Culture


  • Explore a lush lowland rain forest in Corcovado National Park, where inhabitants include white-crowned parrots, two-toed sloths, coatimundi, white-faced monkeys, and more.
  • Explore a dry forest recognized for its study of regeneration in Santa Rose National Park.
  • Visit Carara National Park, near the Pacific coast, home of the country’s largest groups of scarlet macaws.
  • See towering Arenal volcano. Dormant for some time, the surrounding park is home to some 850 species of birds and more.


Put your skills to work on an independent research project in tropic ecology or conservation, from observation to a presentation of your findings. At every step, you’ll be guided by an expert faculty advisor. Past projects have explored beetle habitats, hummingbird habits, and the prey of cane toads.
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Daily Life

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  • Biological Station

    For two months, students live next door to the Monteverde Cloud Forest at a biological station where they attend classes and sleep four to a room. Rooms have bunks, a private bath, and hot showers. All meals are provided – family-style. Two teaching assistants are stationed here for guidance and academics, and other staff members plan activities and keep students informed of community events. Field lodging - Students camp or stay in cabins during the field trips with instructors.


    All meals are provided.

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Where You'll Study

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    Getting Around

    Students either walk or pay for transport by taxi.

What People are Saying

  • It was an amazing experience, with everything I was hoping to experience - hiking, camping, learning about animals and plants, culture, language, and independent research. I really could not have imagined a study abroad program I would have wanted to go on more.

    Tamera, Temple University, Summer 16
  • Everything I expected, and I got more out of it than I had expected!

    Patrick, University of Wisconsin, Summer 16

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Program Details

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What you need to know

The program details

This intensive eight-week program immerses students in tropical biology and ecology and allows them to conduct independent research in a specific area. Spanish classes and a three-week homestay help students build their Spanish language skills. Science courses are taught in English by highly qualified faculty, with guest lectures from resident and visiting biologists.

Before the start of the program, students must complete one semester of college-level biology. One semester of college-level ecology, environmental science, or a second biology course, and some college-level Spanish is recommended.

Facilities: The Summer Tropical Ecology and Conservation participants live and take classes in the Monteverde Biological Station, located on the edge of the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest. The station has classrooms, a library, Wi-Fi, computers for shared use, a dining hall, and dormitories (rooms with bunks for up to 4 and suite bathrooms). There are extensive trails through the private forest reserve, plus native plant gardens and greenhouse, wide vistas of the Pacific slopes and the Gulf of Nicoya, and common areas for small-group work and socializing.


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    Students learn with other CIEE students in small, dynamic groups. Lessons are highly interactive and include classroom and field study to take advantage of Monteverde’s amazing biodiversity. Various levels of conversational Spanish allow students to improve their language skills at the right pace.


    Students are graded with standard A-F letter grades based on midterm and final exams, quizzes, field practical, written reports from field experiments, and participation. Independent study grades are based upon a proposal, manuscript, research effort, and symposium presentation.


    Intense and rigorous, with amazing experiences along the way. Courses (except Spanish) are taught in English with an academic focus on ecology and include classwork, field study, lab work, and observation.



    Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5.


    One semester of college-level biology. One semester of college-level ecology, environmental science, or a second biology course is recommended. Some college-level Spanish is recommended. Best suited for students who are outdoorsy, interested in ecology and conservation, and want a challenging and transformative experience.


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Course Information

Program Credit
Total credit: 10 U.S. semester/15 quarter credits per session

Course Credit
CIEE courses: 2-4 U.S. semester/3-6 quarter credits; 30-60 contact hours

Language of Instruction
English and Spanish

All students take four CIEE courses including two biology courses, Independent Research, and one Spanish language course.

Summer 2020 CIEE Courses

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Semester Credit

Note: This course listing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract between CIEE and any applicant, student, institution, or other party. The courses, as described, may be subject to change as a result of ongoing curricular revisions, assignment of lecturers and teaching staff, and program development. Courses may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment.


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Scholarships & Grants

CIEE offers more than $8 million in scholarships and grants annually to help students like you make your study abroad dream a reality.

Students who apply to this program are eligible for the following scholarships and grants:

  • Ping Scholarships for Academic Excellence
  • Ritzmann Tropical and Marine Ecology Scholarships
  • Global Access Initiative (GAIN) Grants
  • Stohl International Undergraduate Research Scholarships
  • CIEE Gilman Go Global Grant
  • MSI Grant

To be considered, submit the CIEE Scholarships & Grants application within your CIEE program application. Learn more at the Scholarships & Grants section of our website.

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Dates & Fees

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Dates & Fees

You get more for every dollar when you study abroad with CIEE, because our high-quality programs include everything from excursions to insurance. There are no hidden charges, and no disappointing surprises when you arrive.


  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Advising before you depart to set goals and answer questions
  • Optional on-site airport meet-and-greet
  • A two-day orientation in San José to introduce students to Spanish culture, the academic program, and surroundings, plus practical information about living in Costa Rica
  • Full-time program leadership and support in your host country
  • Cultural and/or Co-curricular Activities
  • Excursions and/or Study Tours
  • Insurance and other travel benefits, with CIEE iNext
  • 24/7 emergency on-site support


Application Due

Start Date

End Date

Fees & Housing

Summer 2020 8 weeks Apr 1, 2020 Jun 14, 2020 Aug 9, 2020
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Program Fees

CIEE offers the most student support of any provider in its program fee, including an airport greeting, full-time leadership and support, orientation, cultural activities, local excursions, pre-departure advising, and CIEE iNext travel insurance with benefits.

Participation Confirmation = $300 *

Educational Costs = $6,603 **

Housing = $1,280 ***

Insurance = $167

Total Fees = $8,350

Estimated Costs

Students are responsible and manage costs related to travel, meals, books, and personal expenses. Below are estimates for consideration.

International Airfare = $650

Local Transportation = $100

Books & Supplies = $50

Personal expenses = $350

Total Estimated Costs = $1,150

Financial Aid

CIEE offers the most grants and scholarships of any study abroad organization, including $8 million/year in travel grants, merit-based scholarships, institutional and MSI grants, and Gilman Go Global Grants.

See Scholarships

This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.

Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $500 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.

* non-refundable

** direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

*** includes all meals

Round-trip based on U.S. East Coast departure

To help you budget, keep in mind that students are responsible for the cost of international airfare, local transportation, books and supplies, visas, and personal expenses. In addition, ask your college or university study abroad advisor if your school charges additional fees for study abroad.

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Our Staff

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Here's what you need to do to take the next steps:
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    Apply Now
  • 2

    Share your plans and confirm you're on track to meet all required steps to go abroad. 

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    Contact Us

    Send us an email if you still have questions or need information about applying to this program.