• Experience the picturesque beauty of Costa Rica by visiting world-renowned mountains, beaches, and rainforests while enjoying a vast range of outdoor activities including zip-lining 

• Observe doctors and medical professionals during clinical rotations at Hospital Biblica (for intermediate to advanced Spanish speakers) or assist in health-related community work (beginning and lower-level Spanish speakers) 

• Gain relevant and professional skills studying health sciences in Costa Rica, ranked #1 in Latin America by the United Nations for its universal health care system. 

• Enhance language proficiency! Practice Spanish with your host family, ICDS staff, and a cohort of international classmates. 

Please note, this program is only available during the Spring Semester. 


Enjoy living in San José, the bustling capital city of Costa Rica where it is warm all year long and surrounded by lush green mountains. Gain relevant skills through hands-on professional experience in the health fields in the country with the top-ranked universal healthcare system in Latin America!  


Dive into the Pura Vida lifestyle and connect with locals by living in a homestay! Develop lifelong connections with your new family who will be matched with you based off your language abilities.  


Taste traditional mouth-watering local specialties prepared by your host family including gallo pinto, chifrijo, and patacones! Host families provide breakfast and dinner during the week, and three meals a day on the weekends. On your way to class, stop by a café and sip on beverages Costa Rica is famous for—batidos, agua dulce, and some of the world’s best coffee!   


Dive into Costa Rican culture through a guided tour of the city exploring markets, theatres, and San José’s downtown district. Enjoy cultural activities available to international students at ICDS including dance classes, visits to indigenous communities, and a tico cooking class! Locations for excursions vary term to term but previous groups have traveled to the Los Santos region to visit a coffee farm, or to the coastal rainforest of Carara to take in one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful national parks, all while learning about local sustainability methods throughout the visits. Students will also be able to participate in immersive learning opportunities for health sciences by visiting hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities throughout the program. 


Costa Rica offers endless outdoor adventures in one of the most biodiverse locations in the world! Zip line above the clouds in the world-renown rainforest of Monteverde, spend a weekend on the beach, or hike to the unbelievably blue waterfall: Rio Celeste. 


Engage with your new host community by getting involved with community work as part of a credit-bearing course or as an extracurricular activity. Engage with locals through assisting at an elderly care facility, women and children’s shelter, or through hospital shadowing.  

What We Love About ICDS 

This program provides a unique opportunity for students in the health field to embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle in one of the most naturally and culturally vibrant countries in the world! Connect to your new environment alongside the welcoming and supportive tico community, 

See ISEP Direct budget and estimated expenses

Program Website

Course Description

Offered during Fall and Spring semesters, this program offers students studying health care an opportunity to engage with the health care system ranked #1 in Latin America. Students will take 2 required courses and choose from an additional set of elective courses:

Required Courses:

• Health Care in Latin America  

• Spanish for Health Sciences (beginner - advanced)

Elective Courses:

• Economics of Health Care Systems 

• Tropical Diseases in Latin America 

• Health and International Cooperation

• When Perception is Reality: Subjectivity & Health in Latin America

As part of the academic program, students observe doctors and medical professionals during clinical rotations at Hospital Biblica (for intermediate to advanced Spanish speakers) or community work in social welfare services (beginning and lower-level Spanish speakers). Spanish classes before, during, and after these hands-on experiences provide students with an increasingly important on-the-job Spanish skill set during the program and beyond. 

Credits Earned 

Students who complete the program in good standing can expect to earn 12 US credits. Each course will be worth 3 credits.  

If you use financial aid, please speak with a qualified financial aid advisor to understand your academic obligations and the requirements for using financial aid. 

ISEP STUDENT SERVICES OFFICER Kira Hakanson 703-504-9991 | Thanks for your interest in ISEP Study Abroad! I’m your Student Services Officer and main point of contact here at ISEP. As you search for programs, I'll be available to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to contact me at any point in your search process for help, tips or advice.

International Center for Development Studies

With over twenty years of experience in international education,  the International Center for Development Studies (ICDS), based in San José, Costa Rica, provides quality study abroad opportunities in the form...


(in English)

*This program is OK for Sophomores

Fields of Study

  • Health Sciences: Recommended!

    Medicine Public Health

Academic Requirements

  • U.S. GPA: 2.75 or higher
  • LPR Required
  • LPR Writing Score: C1 - Advanced Plus-Superior
  • LPR Reading Score: C1 - Advanced Plus-Superior
  • LPR Listening Score: C1 - Advanced Plus-Superior
  • LPR Speaking Score: C1 - Advanced Plus-Superior
LPR = ISEP Language Proficiency Report

Special Application Instructions

Passport: All students must have a valid passport to participate in this program. If you do not have a valid passport, we suggest you start the application process as soon as possible. 

Visa/Residence Permit: Students do not have to apply for a visa prior to departure. For more information on the process, please review the ISEP Country Handbook.

Special Needs Support

  • Mental Health
  • Learning

Other Academic Conditions

Syllabi for all available courses:

Syllabus - Health Care in Latin America

Syllabus - Economics of Health Care Systems

Syllabus - Tropical Diseases in Latin America

Syllabus - Health and International Cooperation

Syllabus - When Perception is Reality: Subjectivity & Health in Latin America

Syllabus - Spanish for Health Sciences (Beginner Level)

Syllabus - Spanish for Health Sciences (Intermediate Level)

Syllabus - Spanish for Health Sciences (Advanced Level)

Some prior study of Spanish is recommended, but not required. 

Clinical rotations are only open to students with at least a B2 level in Spanish. Students will complete a written and oral exam to verify Spanish proficiency and placement in clinical rotations. 

Semester & Prices (based on your filters)

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International Center for Development Studies

San José, Costa Rica



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ISEP Application Fee US$100

ISEP Acceptance Fee US$425


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