Programs

Semester Programs

Social Justice and Development Internship


  • 4 weeks of Spanish in San José

  • 1 week in Nicaragua
  • 8 week Internship Placement

  • 1 final week in San José

Back Title

Integrate theoretical concepts and real-world experience through hands-on experience. Move from classroom theory to actual practice in your internship placement, learning how communities are seeking to create lasting social change.

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Environment and Sustainable Development Field Program


  • 4 weeks of Spanish in San José

  • 1 week in Nicaragua

  • 4 week Field Trip through Costa Rica

  • 4 weeks of Independent Research

  • 1 final week in San José

Back Title

Gain research experience in the natural and social sciences while learning to address environmental issues from a multidisciplinary perspective, and explore the idea of “sustainable development.”

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Language & Society


  • 4 weeks of Spanish in San José

  • 1 week in Nicaragua
  • 8 week Intensive Spanish and Volunteer Opportunities

  • 1 final week in San José

Back Title

Language learning isn't only grammar and composition. Expand your Spanish skills a a means to understand culture and to interact with real people in real contexts.

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Gap Semester


  • 4 weeks of Spanish in San José

  • 1 week in Nicaragua
  • 8 week Internship Placement

  • 1 final week in San José

Back Title

Your Gap Semester is a time to explore, to get to know yourself and the world. But we suspect you want something more than just adventure, which is plentiful in Costa Rica. Study with us and make the most of your gap semester!

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Short Term Programs

Summer Internship

Don’t have time to dedicate a whole semester? Come for the summer! Learn Spanish in San José, live with a host family, and participate in a 6 week internship.

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Spanish Intensives

Looking for a fun and effective way to learn Spanish? Come spend a month or more with us! Spend the mornings in an intensive Spanish class and the afternoons and weekends getting to know San José and Costa Rica. Plus live with a Costa Rican host family and continue your learning outside of class.

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Custom Programs

Each year ICADS partners with universities to develop custom programs to meet their specific needs. Past programs have focused on Social Work, Healthcare, Literature, Sociology, and Ecotourism. If you are interested in a custom program, contact us today!

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Social Justice and Development Internship

Study in San Jose and the Central Valley. Students live in San Jose with Costa Rican families and study Spanish for four hours daily in the morning. In the afternoon students learn about different topics pertinent to the Central American context such as globalization, health care systems, environmental issues, and history, among others. A constantly evolving reading anthology, expert guest speakers and local field trips are the tools used in getting at these topical issues. One week in Block I is spent in Nicaragua where students are able to see first hand the current economic and political conditions in Nicaragua, and are challenged to compare and contrast its reality with neighboring Costa Rica. Students prepare for their field internships during this first month by choosing the country in which they will work and by planning their particular internships in consultation with faculty advisors who are experts in the culture of the country chosen and in the students’ areas of interest.

After the first block in which staff closely evaluate students’ specific educational needs, interests, and Spanish proficiency, students are placed in an individualized internship to gain experience in urban or rural areas in a field of their interest. Only one student is placed at each internship site. ICADS offers over 65 structured internships and research opportunities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the areas of environment, education, health, development, and wildlife conservation, and women’s studies. Internship placements are determined based on a number of factors, including student interests, previous experience, formal education, and level of Spanish competency. Internships with stricter requirements include those in the medical field and all placements in Nicaragua.

Upon completion of the eight-week internship, students return to ICADS to complete written work and oral presentations, while processing their experiences as a group and together with their faculty advisors (including a reentry workshop). Students have done internships including, but not limited to, the following:
  • Assisting in a regeneration project at the Iguana Reintroduction Farm with the Bribri indigenous tribe.
  • Working at Las Hormiguitas, a support center for children and adolescents who work in the streets of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
  • Working with women and children who are victims of violence at a non-profit organization in San Ramon, Costa Rica.
  • Setting up a workshop on birth control and sexually transmitted disease prevention for mothers in the community of Rio Azul, San Jose.
  • Turtle conservation work in the Cahuita National Park.
  • Assisting a healthcare workers union in Nicaragua.
  • Working with a campesino small farmer’s organization to promote sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Working in a soup kitchen for children and developing a worm composting project for waste management in the same organization.
  • Participating in medical brigades and workshops with an institute of psychologists.
  • Creating a publicity documentary for a Nicaraguan farmers’ cooperative agro-eco tourism project.
ICADS recommends 15 credits for the Social Justice and Internship Program, broken down as:

  • 3 Credits Spanish
  • 3 Credits ECON/SOC 421 Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development
  • 9 Credits Directed Internship

Keep in mind that the final number of credits granted is up to the university. Be sure to check with your university if you have questions about credits.

Environment and Sustainable Development Field Program

Study in San Jose and the Central Valley. Students live in San Jose with Costa Rican families, and study Spanish for four hours daily. In afternoon sessions, students learn about different topics in social and natural sciences through related readings, guest speakers, and field trips, as well as fieldwork on urban issues. One week in Block I is spent in Nicaragua where students are able to see first hand the current economic and political conditions in Nicaragua, and are challenged to compare and contrast its reality with neighboring Costa Rica.

Students carry out brief social and ecological research projects while living and traveling together primarily in rural communities. A short stop over in San Jose is included to allow students to conduct research for their independent study projects, prepare written reports, and lead group discussions. In Block II, students visit 3 to 4 different areas within Costa Rica where they learn about a diversity of ecological zones and systems of regional development. Some of these destinations may include the wet tropics in the Atlantic Lowlands, the Cloud Forest in the Talamanca mountain ranges, the tropical dry region in the Guanacaste province, and the Northern zone. Topics and field sites vary from semester to semester in response to new study opportunities and environmental conditions. Topics studied in the Field Program include, but are not limited to, the following:

• The roots of underdevelopment, particularly Costa Rica’s dependency on transnational companies and First World governments
• Natural and managed ecosystem dynamics, with emphasis on the origin and maintenance of biodiversit
• The tools for measuring health of ecosystems via floral and faunal indicator species
• The environmental and economic implications of plantation agriculture, small-scale farming, ecotourism, bioprospecting, and national park management
• The impact of export-oriented development on family structure, class hierarchy, and racial divisions
• Strategies for conserving natural resources (e.g. organic agriculture, agro-forestry and sustainable extraction of timber and other products from forests), facilitating community organization (e.g. women’s groups, farmers’ cooperatives) and promoting local control over systems of production (e.g. home gardens, marketing cooperatives)

Students return to one of the previously visited field sites to conduct in-depth research on a topic of their choice. They independently develop research proposals, collect data, and analyze their results. Topics may emphasize either the social or natural sciences. Students are encouraged to develop projects that have practical value for their host communities or organizations. During the course’s final week, students prepare written reports and give oral presentations of their research findings.
ICADS recommends 15 credits for the Field Program, broken down as:

  • 3 Credits Spanish
  • 3 Credits ECON/SOC 421 Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development
  • 3 Credits Ecology of Managed and Natural Ecosystems
  • 6 Credits Independent Research

Keep in mind that the final number of credits granted is up to the university. Be sure to check with your university if you have questions about credits.

Language & Society

Study in San Jose and the Central Valley. Students live in San Jose with Costa Rican families, and study Spanish for four hours daily in the morning. In the afternoon students learn about different topics pertinent to the Central American context such as globalization, health care systems, environmental issues, and history, among others. A constantly evolving reading anthology, expert guest speakers and local field trips are the tools used in getting at these topical issues. One week in Block I is spent in Nicaragua where students are able to see first hand the current economic and political conditions in Nicaragua, and are challenged to compare and contrast its reality with neighboring Costa Rica. Students prepare for their practicum experience during this first month by choosing the organization in which they will work and by planning their particular practicum in consultation with faculty advisors who are experts in the culture of the Costa Rica and in the students’ areas of interest.

In Block II, participants in this program continue to take formal language classes four hours each day, but also commence with a structured and personalized language-related practicum during the afternoons.

Practicum experiences include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Doing translation work to help organizations promote their mission
  • Assisting at any of a number of human rights organizations in the San Jose area
  • Working at a soup kitchen in a shanty town: serving food and spending time with children
  • Assisting teachers at local public schools
  • Supporting the work of doctors and nurses at local clinics
Upon completion of the eight-week practicum, students spend a week at ICADS completing written work and oral presentations in Spanish, while processing their experiences as a group and together with their faculty advisors (including a reentry workshop).

Gap Semester

Study in San Jose and the Central Valley. Students live in San Jose with Costa Rican families, and study Spanish for four hours daily in the morning. In the afternoon students learn about different topics pertinent to the Central American context such as globalization, health care systems, environmental issues, and history, among others. A constantly evolving reading anthology, expert guest speakers and local field trips are the tools used in getting at these topical issues. One week in Block I is spent in Nicaragua where students are able to see first hand the current economic and political conditions in Nicaragua, and are challenged to compare and contrast its reality with neighboring Costa Rica. Students prepare for their internship experience during this first month by choosing the organization in which they will work and by planning their particular work in consultation with faculty advisors who are experts in the culture of the Costa Rica and in the students’ areas of interest.

In Block II, participants in this program take on an independent internship in the Central Valley to dive into the local culture and contribute to the mission of an organization working on social or environmental goals. During this time, Spanish professors answer your questions about the language and challenge you to get that extra edge you need in your communicative skills in Spanish. Internship experiences include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assisting teachers at local public schools
  • Doing translation work to help organizations promote their mission
  • Assisting at any of a number of human rights organizations in the San Jose area
  • Working at a soup kitchen in a shanty town: serving food and spending time with childrena.
Upon completion of the eight-week internship, students spend a week at ICADS completing written work and oral presentations, while processing their experiences as a group and together with their faculty advisors (including a reentry workshop).

Summer Internship and Cultural Training Program

  • Connector.

    Block I (3 weeks) - Spanish Preparation and Internship Selection

    Spend the first three weeks of the program in intensive Spanish classes (four hours per day, 5 days a week) geared to the individual abilities and needs of each participant. Get to know San José and live with a Costa Rican host family. Explore internship sites and themes and decide on a placement and that meets your needs and interests.

  • Connector.

    Block II (6 weeks) - Structured Internship

    Spend 6 weeks in a unique internship placement, and immerse yourself in Costa Rican language and culture.

  • Connector.

    Block III (1 week) - Written Work and Oral Presentation

    Upon completion of your internship, return to ICADS to create a portfolio describing your experience, and present your work to other interns.

Spanish Intensives

Learning Spanish at ICADS is more than just learning a language. Our classes offer a unique experience to go beyond just grammar, and move towards a deeper understanding of the Central American reality.

Diverse Student Groups

Our Spanish students come from all over the world, and represent all ages, education levels, and professions, all sharing sensitivity to the beauty and challenges of Central America and a desire to learn more about the region and its people through language training and experiential learning.

Communicative Focus

Our Spanish program is based on the ACTFL levels, and students develop reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Through superior-quality materials developed at ICADS and a variety of methods employed by experienced staff according to the needs of the students, our focus is 100% communicative.

Extracurricular Activites

Organized activities supplement the language learning experience and expose students to culture and to issues of importance in Costa Rica. Lectures from guest speakers, visits to local museums, and weekend excursions are all available. Additionally, put your Spanish to work outside of the classroom, and dive into Central American reality through volunteering opportunities at local community organizations.*

*Opportunities are contingent upon Spanish level and are determined after arrival.

Evaluation and Credit

Evaluation in the intensive Spanish programs is based on a combination of participation, homework, tests and quizzes, and oral presentations. ICADS is happy to provide a transcript for credit transfer to your university, however you must notify ICADS at the beginning of the course that you intend to transfer credit. Requests for credit after the course has ended cannot be accommodated.