study abroad monteverde backpacking jungle bridge
Monteverde, Costa Rica

Summer Tropical Ecology + Conservation

Study Program



8 weeks



10 semester hours

15 quarter hours


Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

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Explore the high biodiversity of the tropical cloud forest of Monteverde, where conservation initiatives, scientific research, environmental education, ecotourism, and the local community live together to preserve this unique place threatened by climate change. Students will carry out Faculty-led research projects where they apply the knowledge gained in the classroom and participate in activities to learn about different tropical ecosystems.

Unique Experiences


when you visit Costa Rica’s other fascinating natural habitats.


as you complete an independent research project that gives you an in-depth look at local flora or fauna.


where mosses and orchids dripping with mist decorate the boughs of gnarly trees and brightly colored birds dart through the fog for fruits.







  • paddleboarding monteverde costa rica
  • jungle exploring study abroad costa rica

Your Destination

Located in the northwestern region of Costa Rica, Monteverde lies along the continental divide at the crest of the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain chain, which is blanketed by a cool, wet cloud forest extending down into the Atlantic lowlands.  The cloud forest provides a striking contrast to the deciduous forest on the Pacific side.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was founded in 1972 to protect the entire ridge above Monteverde and down into the Peñas Blancas Valley.  As a result of its unique history and geography, Monteverde is a stunning home to exotic flora, fauna, and wildlife and sustainability projects including agriculture, energy production, water conservation, forest management, and biodiversity conservation.

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Monteverde.

The Culture

students cheers coconuts abroad costa rica

Excursions & Activities

Excursions and activities may include: 

  • Immersing yourself in the steamy jungle of the Lowland Rainforest.
  • Natural destinations, such as national parks or reserves to experience Costa Rica’s biodiversity and natural beauty.
  • Marvel at the diversity of a tropical dry forest, rare and endangered, and so vibrant with life.
  • Indoor and outdoor areas with access to forest trails and gardens for recreation, self-exploration and co-curricular activities.
  • Rising with the sun for birding tours or farm chores and experience biodiversity after the sun goes down with a guided night hike in the forest.
  • Optional weekend at a homestay where students can live with a local family in Monteverde and immersed themselves in the Costa Rican culture.
student research abroad monteverde


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.



Program Blogs


Happy Earth Day: Today and Every Day

By College Study Abroad at CIEE

Happy Earth Day! Every April 22, this global event comes around to remind us how precious our planet is, what sustainable efforts we can make to protect Earth, and that... keep reading


CIEE Monteverde Campus Used in Insect and Light Research Study

By College Study Abroad at CIEE

Have you ever wondered why insects are drawn to artificial light? From campfires to porch lightbulbs, moths and other insects appear to congregate around these sources of light as soon... keep reading


CIEE Global Interns Building a Sustainable Future

By College Study Abroad at CIEE

Global Internships are an important part of the work we do at CIEE to help individuals build bridges across culture and contribute positively to the world. Working abroad is the... keep reading

What People are Saying

  • "I love this program, we travelled a lot and got to see a huge portion of the pacific coast, and it was a really rigorous program that helped me get some courses done for my degree."

    Madeline B., SUNY at Fredonia

  • "Great experiences for a low cost, with wonderful professors."

    Elizabeth W., University of Virginia



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 an optional weekend 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.



Language Requirements

There are no specific language requirements for this program.

Additional Requirements

  • You must be able to tolerate and function effectively engaging in high-intensity physical activities, such as trail-hiking over rugged terrain, for a prolonged period of time, four-plus hours in a day.

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.


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.

Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.


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

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

Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.

Academic Culture

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.

Class Format

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.

Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.

Language of Instruction

English and Spanish


Individual courses may have additional prerequisites; for CIEE courses, these are listed in the syllabi below. Students are responsible for having their own course approval conversations with their advisors.


Course Information

Summer 2024

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.
"(GI)" denotes courses that originated at CIEE's Global Institutes and that are offered at multiple CIEE sites.


Scholarships & Grants

CIEE offers 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:

  • Wollitzer Merit Scholarships in Area or Comparative Studies
  • 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
  • CIEE Stem Scholarship

To be considered, submit the CIEE Scholarships & Grants application within your CIEE program application.

Learn more about scholarships

Dates & Fees

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.



Application Due

Start Date

End Date

Fees & Housing

Program Summer 2024 8 weeks Application Due Deadline Passed Start Date End Date Fees & Housing $8,850

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, your college or university may charge additional fees for study abroad, or may require you to receive a transcript via CIEE's School of Record, which carries an additional fee of $500.

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 protection with benefits.

Participation Confirmation = $300*

Educational Costs = $7,073**

Housing = $1,280***

Insurance = $197

Total Fees = $8,850

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

Personal expenses = $170

Total Costs = $920

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


**direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

***includes all meals

What's Included



Pre-departure Advising

Advising before you depart to set goals and answer questions

Optional on-site airport meet-and-greet


Introduction to your program plus practical information about living in your host city

On-site Staff

Full-time program leadership and support in your city

Cultural and/or Co-curricular Activities

Excursions and/or Study Tours

Travel Protection

CIEE iNext travel protection

24/7 emergency on-site support



Our Staff

Pablo Allen

Center Director

Pablo is a native Costa Rican, born and raised in San José. He is an an evolutionary ecologist interested in sexual selection, animal weapons, and phenotypic plasticity. Since rejoining CIEE...

Jessica Arias

Academic Director

Jessica is a PhD candidate on Agricultural Science from the University of Costa Rica. She earned a BSc. in Ecotourism and a MSc. in Sustainable Development, with a concentration in Conservation...

Jose Carlos Calderon

Student Life Manager

"Moncho" earned his BSc in Biology at the University of Costa Rica with a specialization in bats. He has worked for CIEE Monteverde for over 10 years as Assistant Instructor...

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