Costa Rica: Applied Tropical Biology

CIEE Custom Program

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Program Highlights

This innovative program on tropical rainforest ecology and conservation gives students hands-on experience in research and fieldwork.


Nestled high in the clouds of the Costa Rican continental divide is a tropical mountain that host tens of thousands of species. The area is a lush haven for biodiversity and ideal for students seeking to further their studies in tropical biology.


Opportunities for economic development are met with resistance when they threaten nature, quality of life, and peacefulness. Students are forced to reconcile the question, “Is sustainable development possible?”


Students gain in-depth understanding of sustainability issues and conservation techniques through visits to rural farms, plantations, and coral reefs, plus firsthand knowledge of camera tracking and water quality testing.

This is an example program. All CIEE Faculty-Led & Custom Programs can be customized to meet your academic goals and financial requirements.

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Our Staff

Karen Masters and Alan Masters are the directors of CIEE Monteverde, Costa Rica. Karen Masters has a B.S. from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. She has been directing and teaching for the Sustainability and Environment Program since its inception in 2009. Her research is on the effects of climate change for cloud forest ecology. More recently, she has been involved with climate-smart conservation and agriculture. Alan R. Masters, Ph.D, has an M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Florida and a B.S. from Illinois State University. He has lived in Monteverde for over 20 years. Since 1993, he has been director of CIEE’s Tropical Ecology and Conservation summer study abroad program. While originally a lepidopterist, Alan studied over 22 species of mimetic butterflies in Monteverde: what makes them taste bad and what that means to predation risk. Since teaching with CIEE, Alan’s interests include not only plant-animal interactions but also all facets of tropical diversity and conservation.


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Contact us at 855-214-9559 or