monteverde birds flying
Monteverde, Costa Rica

Tropical Ecology + Conservation

Study Program

Dates

-

16 weeks

Costs

Credit

17 - 18 semester hours

25.5 - 27 quarter hours

Eligibility

Application Deadline

Apply Now

Request Information

Contact Us

Dates

-

16 weeks

Costs

Credit

17 - 18 semester hours

25.5 - 27 quarter hours

Eligibility

Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

Apply Now

Request Information

Contact Us

Dates

-

16 weeks

Credit

17 - 18 semester hours

25.5 - 27 quarter hours

Eligibility

Application Deadline

Apply Now

Request Information

Contact Us

Overview

Explore the high biodiversity of the tropical cloud forest of Monteverde, where conservation initiatives, environmental education, ecotourism, and the local community live together to preserve this unique place threatened by climate change. Students interested in environmental and natural sciences will learn valuable skills through hands-on experience courses. The high biodiversity of the tropics comes with the ecological processes that shape tropical communities and affect how human activities harm the environment. Students also have the opportunity to learn Spanish and interact with the local community in their native language. During the last weeks of the program, students carry out independent research projects where they apply the knowledge gained through the program courses.

Unique Experiences

EXPLORE BEYOND MONTEVERDE

when you visit Costa Rica’s mangroves, lowland rainforest, dry forest, and other fascinating natural habitats.

PUT NEW SKILLS INTO PRACTICE

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

BE ENCHANTED AND INSPIRED

when you hike under the dripping boughs of the cloud forest and observe colorful plants and animals.

3,021

SPECIES OF PLANTS AND TREES IN MONTEVERDE PRESERVE

26

NATIONAL PARKS IN COSTA RICA

146

SPECIES OF FROGS AND TOADS

Experience
  • monteverde student group bridge
  • student with chicken monteverde 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

monteverde students look at tree roots

Excursions & Activities

Excursions and activities may include:

  • Immerse 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. 
  • See how local coffee farms, livestock, and butterfly gardens add to Monteverde’s vibrant landscape. 
  • Discover local foods and customs in the town of Monteverde. 
  • Optional weekend at a homestay where students can live with a local family in Monteverde and immerse themselves in the Costa Rican culture. 
students fish with nets river monteverde

Research

Put your skills to work on an independent research project in tropical ecology or conservation, from observation to data collection and then to a presentation of your findings.  At every step, you will be guided by an expert faculty advisor.  Past projects have explored beetle habitats, hummingbird behavior, the prey of cane toads, orchids and their pollinators, and much more.

VIEW STUDENT RESEARCH

Program Blogs

From CIEE

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

From CIEE

Our program through the eyes of a Student

By Moncho Calderon at CIEE

Our Summer student Maddie Beale from the State University of New York at Fedonia wrote a blog about how she found us, the process of choosing our program and the... keep reading

From CIEE

Independent Research Projects: Part I

By Moncho Calderon at CIEE

The Tropical Ecology & Conservation students are working on their independent projects right now, many different ecology topics are being cover that involve both field and lab work. From Leaf-cutting... keep reading

What People are Saying

  • "it was an amazing experience that I don't think many people at my school know about it was great for people interested in academics, adventure, community, nature"

    Elizabeth H., Macalester College

  • "I would 100 percent tell everyone to do this program. It is amazing and so hands on and honestly the best experience of my life."

    April M., Hobart and William Smith College

  • "I felt CIEE did a very good job responding well to pandemic restrictions and safety while still maintaining many parts of the normal study abroad experience. I also appreciate the fact that they employ all or mostly academics, program cooridinators, and staff from the country of study."

    Sylvie M., Indiana University-Bloomington

Housing
Academics

Academics

This program is designed for students interested in learning about tropical ecology and conservation through rigorous work in the classroom and field, including field trips and an independent research project. Work is complimented with optional weekend homestays and Spanish language study. Courses are taught by biology professors from universities in Costa Rica and the United States who hold degrees in ecology and have extensive experience in tropical ecology. Guest lectures by resident and visiting biologists enhance the learning process. 

There is a wet laboratory, an herbarium, and organic gardens to support a wide array of STEM studies and research opportunities. An extensive trail system through forests and fields, links classrooms to a bota

GPA

2.5

Language Requirements

There are no specific language requirements for this program.

Additional Requirements

Two semesters of college-level biology.

Please refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

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.

Requirements

All participants take 5 required courses: 

  • 3 CIEE biology and ecology courses  
  • 1 Spanish language course at the appropriate level  
  • 1 Independent Research course  

Program Credit

Total credit: 

  • Through Fall 2023: 17 U.S. semester/25.5 quarter credits  
  • As of Spring 2024: 17 – 18 U.S. semester/25.5 – 27 quarter credits

Course Credit

  • CIEE Biology and Ecology courses: 2 - 4 U.S. semester/3 - 6 quarter credits; 30 - 60 contact hours per course
  • CIEE Spanish language courses: 3 - 4 U.S. semester/4.5 - 6 quarter credits; 45 - 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

The program is highly rewarding. Fall Schedule: mid-August to early December. Spring Schedule: Late January to mid-May.  

Class Format

Students learn with other CIEE participants in small, dynamic groups, taking five classes that are required for this program. Learning happens through lectures, fieldwork, excursion, interviews, small group work, and discussions. Because of the focus on critical thinking, assignments and exams are writing intensive.  Classes are typically held Monday through Friday and are for CIEE participants only. Instruction is supported and augmented online by Canvas, our e-learning management tool.  

Grading

Participants are graded with standard A-F letter grades based on midterm and final exams, quizzes, field practicum, written reports from field experiments, and participation. Independent study grades are based on a proposal, manuscript, 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

Spanish and English

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.

Courses

Course Information

Spanish Language classes
All students take a Spanish Language class, at an appropriate level (as determined by a placement evaluation) from the list below. Participants should be attentive to the scheduling of the placement tests which will be communicated well in advance of the program start date.

Biological and Physical Sciences

Course
Language
Semester Credit

Languages and Cultural Studies

Course
Language
Semester Credit

Biological and Physical Sciences

Course
Language
Semester Credit

Languages and Cultural Studies

Course
Language
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

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

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.

Program

Application Due

Start Date

End Date

Fees & Housing

Program Fall 2024 16 weeks Start Date End Date Fees & Housing $19,950
Program Spring 2024 16 weeks Application Due Deadline Passed Start Date End Date Fees & Housing $19,950
Program Spring 2025 16 weeks Start Date End Date

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 = $16,456**

Housing = $3,000***

Insurance = $194

Total Fees = $19,950

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 = $230††

Other = $100†††

Total Costs = $1,080

Optional Housing

CIEE accommodation options are detailed in the Housing section. Based on availability, Select or Select Plus Housing can be chosen during the application process for an additional fee:

Select Housing Fee = $750^

Select Plus Housing Fee = $1,500^^

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

*non-refundable

**direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

***includes all meals

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

††$100 emergency fund + cell phone expense + toiletries

†††Covid test fees for entry to the US, if required

^first-come, first serve, based on availability

^^first-come, first serve, based on availability

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 = $16,456**

Housing = $3,000***

Insurance = $194

Total Fees = $19,950

Estimated Costs

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

Meals not included in program fee = $0

International Airfare = $650

Local Transportation = $100

Personal expenses = $230††

Total Costs = $980

Optional Housing

CIEE accommodation options are detailed in the Housing section. Based on availability, Select or Select Plus Housing can be chosen during the application process for an additional fee:

Select Housing Fee = $750^

Select Plus Housing Fee = $1,500^^

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

*non-refundable

**direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

***includes all meals

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

††$100 emergency fund + cell phone expense + toiletries

^first-come, first serve, based on availability

^^first-come, first serve, based on availability

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.

Estimated Costs

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

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

What's Included

Tuition

Housing

Pre-departure Advising

Advising before you depart to set goals and answer questions

Optional on-site airport meet-and-greet

Orientation

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

Meals

Staff

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...

Get Started Steps

Get Started

Here’s what you need to do to take the next steps:

1

START AN APPLICATION
You're one step closer to an amazing study abroad experience!

2

CONNECT WITH YOUR CAMPUS STUDY ABROAD OFFICE 
Share your plans and confirm you're on track to meet all required steps to go abroad.

3

CONTACT US

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

Request Info