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Costa Rica is one of the most remarkable countries in the world. The tiny Central American country is well known for its biodiversity and commitment to environmental sustainability. The tropical climate of Costa Rica supports 5% of the earth’s biodiversity, which is vastly more than would be expected based on its landmass alone. The Costa Rican population is among the most highly educated, prosperous, and happy of any Latin American country.


The “Nature, Governance, and Sustainability in Costa Rica” study abroad program focuses on exposing students to both the natural beauty of the country and to the policies and practices of the Costa Rican people that have helped turn the country into the extraordinary destination that it is. This is a new program starting in the summer of 2019 sponsored by the School of Biological Sciences, the Office of International Education, and the Office for International Initiatives. Students will spend 5 weeks studying and traveling to 4 different cities in Costa Rica: San Jose, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Monteverde, and Canton de Quepos. The program is open to undergraduate students from all majors and backgrounds at Georgia Tech. Knowledge of Spanish is not required to participate in the program. Costa Rica is a unique location to study biology and its ethical and governance dimensions because of its legislative policies focused on sustainability and the environment.


Check out our webinar for a brief overview of the program:



The program will travel to multiple locations throughout the country to sample the biological, economic, and human diversity present within Costa Rica.

A. San Jose: Students will spend several weeks in the capital city of Costa Rica. Here they will experience the bustling city life and interact with Costa Rica citizens in the economic hub of the country.

B. La Selva Biological Station in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui: Students will stay in the Organization for Tropical Studies la Selva Biological Station. This is one of the most important field sites in the world for the study of tropical biological systems. Here, students will engage in real scientific research aimed at exploring the natural systems in the rainforest.

C. Monteverde Institute: The Monteverde Institute is located in the cloud forest of Costa Rica. According to its mission, “The Monteverde Institute (MVI) is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to advancing knowledge on the sustainable management of resources through innovative programs linking international study and community development.” We will work with the MVI and engage in activities focused on the integration of sustainable living in natural systems.

D. Manuel Antonio National Park: The Manuel Antonio national park is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Students will stay near the beach and visit one of the most biological diverse parks in the world. Students will also enjoy the Costa Rican beach life and swim, surf, and sun in the tropics.


Map with Location Pins


The “Nature, Governance, and Sustainability in Costa Rica” program will offer two 3 credit courses: BIOL 4813- Tropical Biology and Sustainability and PHIL 3127- Science, Technology, and Human Values. All students will take both courses for a total of 6 credits.

2019 Courses Credit Hours Course Attributes/Notes Professor
BIOL 4813: Tropical Biology and Sustainability
Pre-req: Any Core Area D Lab Science
Satisfies Biology Elective (pending) or Free Elective
 Mike Goodisman
PHIL 3127: Science, Technology, and Human Values
Satisfies Engineering Ethics or Humanities requirement Juan Rogers


BIOL 4813 will introduce students to the biological diversity of Costa Rica. Students will learn about the natural systems that make Costa Rica unique and engage in scientific research in the tropical rainforests to gain firsthand experience of the remarkable biological systems present. Any student who has taken a Core D lab science is eligible to take BIOL 4813 and no advanced biological knowledge is required.

PHIL 3127 will introduce students to the governance practices and challenges posed by the focus on biodiversity, quality of life and environmental conservation of the Costa Rican people. Students will learn how to analyze the interplay between scientific knowledge about biological systems, social practices and local cultures and the private, non-governmental organizations and government policies. The course will be both methodological and substantive in coordination with BIOL 4813.

Program Costs

Cost Breakdown

In-state Tuition & GT Fees: $2,652.60
Out-of-state Tuition & GT Fees: $2,902.60
Program fee: $4,400

  • Program fee includes: Housing cost, some meals, local transportation, field trips, mandatory study abroad insurance, and administrative fees.

Estimated Out of Pocket Expenses: 

  • Round-trip Airfare: $800
  • Meals not included in program fees: $600

Cancellation Policy

Students should notify OIE and the Program Director by email if they wish to withdraw from the program. Students will be subject to the following fee schedule if they withdraw from the program:

  • Students cancelling on or before Feb. 15th will lose just their $500 deposit.
  • Students cancelling on or before March 15th must pay 40% of the program fees.
  • Students cancelling after March 15th will be responsible for paying 100% of the program fees.



Students will be housed in hotels and hostels in groups of two or more. Housing will range from modern conditions with air conditioning, television, and hot showers in the major cities to more ‘rustic’ accommodation in the tropical rainforests. Students will have same-gender roommates as appropriate.


There are direct flights from Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport to Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Students will be transported from location to location via modern, comfortable bus or similar vehicle.


The NGS Costa Rica Program is affiliated with Serve-Learn-Sustain. For more information about SLS, visit their website.
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