Monteverde, Costa Rica

Service & Leadership

Apply by 5/1 and get $400 off!
Click to scroll down and read more

Information for term Service & Leadership

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

June 1, 2019

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: June 1, 2019
  • Dates: Sep 5 – Nov 30, 2019 (12 weeks)

Application Deadline

December 1, 2019

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: December 1, 2019
  • Dates: Feb 7 – May 5, 2020 (13 weeks)


Click to Open

Let your learning run wild, from the cloud forest to the sea.

Explore the natural wonders of Costa Rica, one of the world’s most unique, innovative, and wild countries. Travel to the rainforest, pristine beaches, dry forest, and wet and windy mountains.

In spectacular settings, you’ll delve into two wildly different internship projects and embark on multiday field trips – all related to core coursework taught in our mountaintop classrooms.

In your downtime, you’ll enjoy family meals at your homestay, hang out with friends in rural Monteverde, and meet local Costa Ricans who share your concern for the environment.

Fall Gap Semester: Biodiversity

Investigate Tropical Biodiversity in the world renown Monteverde Cloud Forest, as well as visits to tropical wet forest, tropical dry forest and coastal habitats with mangroves, beaches and rocky intertidal. Study the sources of tropical diversity, what maintains it and what is necessary to save it. Meet local and international biologists and conservationists who created the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserves and have spent their lives saving Costa Rica’s ecosystems and the amazing species they contain. Create an action plan to help while working with local conservation projects.

Save the sea turtles! Work alongside biologists and field assistants on this wildlife conservation/internship project to help protect marine animals and their beach environment. After a few days of training and beach patrolling (day or night), you’ll be ready to get to work – monitoring and recording data on nesting turtles and their hatchlings. Capture the moments as they come out of the nest and run to the sea. Other duties deal with recycling, maintenance, composting, reforestation, and assisting researchers and field assistants with environmental education. Come away with a deeper understanding of the impacts we are having on this fragile species and their ecosystem.

Spring Gap Semester: Sustainability

Experience the gears that promise our sustainable future. From wind farms to internships with indigenous communities, get firsthand experience with the concrete methods Costa Rica is using to improve our world.

Study tropical biodiversity in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a world-renowned treasure chest of endemic species. Immersed in an indigenous community called the Bribri, you’ll discover a life like no other deep inside the Talamanca mountain range. Along with a traditional homestay, you’ll have the chance to live, eat and work alongside community members, helping with day-to-day chores while learning about the indigenous culture, beliefs, and traditions. Then switch gears, reach out, and teach English in the local school or community center.

Apply by 5/1 and get $400 off! Learn More.

The Take-Aways

  • Service

    Service experience is 80 hours (20 hours/week for 4 weeks); each semester, students will spend 4 weeks in the field in two separate sites.

  • Leadership

    Improved leadership skills and empathy through serving others

  • Certificate

    A certificate of completion of CIEE’s Global Competence course providing you with a strong foundation in the core components of intercultural learning

  • of alumni said their language skills improved

  • said they learned to interact with different cultural backgrounds

  • said their level of independence increased


Location & Culture

Click to Open
Welcome to the jungle!

Set more than 4,500 ft. above sea level, Monteverde (or “Green Mountain”) finds itself enveloped with fog and clouds year-round. The moisture trickles from tree branches down to the organisms below, helping to sustain an amazingly rich ecosystem. With 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 2,500 varieties of plants, it’s no wonder National Geographic called this “the jewel in the crown of cloud forests.”

Far below the mountains are small coastal towns offering pristine beaches, basic shops and restaurants, and tidal shores ripe for exploration.

Did you know?

Costa Rica is the happiest and most sustainable country on Earth, according to the World Economic Forum. The country generates nearly all its electricity renewably and plans to be carbon neutral by 2021.

Daily Life

Click to Open

Daily Life

"After my trip with CIEE I have definitely grown in ways I never could if I had stayed in the US."

Learn more about daily life on a high school study abroad program by reading our blog.


  • Housing

    Private bedroom in home of carefully screened host family while in Monteverde; shared rooms in dorms with other CIEE students for overnight excursions.

  • Local Support

    CIEE resident staff available 24/7.


Click to Open

Sample Activities

  • Tour innovative green industries, from coffee farms to wind farms
  • Observe monkeys and more on a trek through a magical cloud forest preserve
  • Kick up your heels in a folkloric or Latin dance class
  • Whip up authentic specialties in a Costa Rican cooking class
  • Play some footy in a soccer match with local peers
  • Get artsy in a creative arts & crafts workshop with local artists



Field Trip & Day Trips

For 7 nights and 6 days, travel to a variety of interesting sites to learn about biodiversity (fall) or sustainability (spring). Enjoy hikes, hands-on activities, and talks by resource people, plus time off for fun and relaxation.

Embark on a 3-hour night hike along the trails of the beguiling Bajo del Tigre. Catch a rare glimpse of nocturnal species in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.
Get your head in the clouds! Study forest ecology and natural history up close on this 4-hour day hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Spanning six distinct ecological zones, the preserve helps to protect birds and butterflies, mammals, insects, and thousands of species of plants.

Tour a sustainable coffee farm and learn about the entire process of coffee production.

Learn all about renewable energy sources while touring hydro, geo, solar and wind power plants.

Multiday Internship Project

Work and learn alongside biologists and other professionals to help protect endangered sea turtles.

Live, learn, and work with an authentic indigenous community in the Talamanca mountains.

What People are Saying

  • Taking a gap year was the best decision that I could have made before heading off to college. I have come out a more mature, open-minded, culturally aware, and ultimately happier person. I entered college with a sense of accomplishment for already having spent a year in transition and I find that it is already paying off both socially and academically. If anyone is considering taking a gap year, the answer should be yes!

    Kira F., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna

Eligibility & Fees

Click to Open

Eligibility & Fees


Fall: Rolling Admissions
Spring: December 1
Contact CIEE for more information


High school graduates in good academic standing.
Students must demonstrate, through the application and interview process, flexibility and maturity.
Students must be 18 years or older at the time of their departure.
No previous language experience required.

Application Fee


You can create a duo program by combining any two CIEE Gap Year Abroad semesters and get 10% off the second semester.

Apply four weeks before the application deadline and receive $400 off the cost of your program.

Program fee includes iNext travel insurance. Full inclusions are found online.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Fall 2019 12 weeks Jun 1, 2019 Sep 5, 2019 Nov 30, 2019


Spring 2020 13 weeks Dec 1, 2019 Feb 7, 2020 May 5, 2020


Our Staff

Click to Open

Ready to change your life?