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  • Locations: Monteverde, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: Merrimack applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2019 09/28/2018 10/26/2018 TBA TBA
Fact Sheet:
Areas of Study: Biology, Conservation Biology, Environmental Studies, Natural History, Spanish, Sustainability Housing Options: Homestay
Language of Instruction: English, Spanish Minimum GPA: 2.8
Class Standing: 3-Junior, 4-Senior
Program Description:
Semester Program


Costa Rica turtlesIf you’re captivated by the elusive Golden Toad (and who isn't?) or you want the opportunity to see 420 types of orchids, then the Monteverde, Costa Rica Sustainability + the Environment program is the place for you to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most astonishing biodiversity.

The small community of Monteverde sits on the Continental Divide in the Tilaran mountains. Here, Costa Rica’s treasured rain forest is home of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve – and a staggering number of species that includes pumas, monkeys, quetzal, and the endangered three-wattled bird. Dependent on tourism, coffee plantations, and dairy farms, the locals – many of whom have roots that go back several generations – face the very same questions that intrigue you about sustainable development.

Explore endangered habits including the Monteverde cloud forest, Isla de Chira mangroves, and the Indio Maiz Reserve on Nicaragua.
Get an inside look at economic development projects like green energy power plants, fisheries, and ecotourism
Intern at a coffee plantation and see sustainability strategies in action.

Additional Opportunities:
RESEARCH: Put your skills to work and provide data that might shape policy and practice. Projects have included growing lettuce without agrochemicals, optimizing wildlife passage locations, comparing tree growth plots, and more.
VOLUNTEER: Join a local organization, business, or farm and get a firsthand look at their approach to sustainability, while you gain valuable work experience. Opportunities include businesses (agriculture, energy, development), NGOs, and educational institutions.
INTERNSHIP: Join a local organization, business, or farm and get a firsthand look at their approach to sustainability, while you gain valuable work experience. Opportunities include businesses (agriculture, energy, development), NGOs, and educational institutions.

Read a blog from Kiara Voight, Monteverde Sp 2018 to learn about one student's internship. Read a blog by Hailey McKeever, Monteverde Sp 2018, on the project.

Courses and Credits

This demanding program is designed for students who are committed to learning about the environment and how we can preserve it. Students learn in the classroom and field, and travel to remote parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua that most visitors never see. Improving their Spanish language skills is another key program element – particularly early in the semester as students get up to speed.

Students take four environmental courses plus a course in Spanish language and earn 17 credit hours. Required courses include:
  • BIOL 3001 MTVE: Tropical Conservation Biology and Policy
  • BIOL 3002 MTVE : Costa Rican Natural History
  • ENVI 3001 MTVE: Sustainability: Environment, Economy and Society
  • INSH 3003 MTVE: Conservation and Sustainability Internship
For course listing and syllabi, go to the Monteverde, Costa Rica Sustainability + the Environment and scroll to Curriculum (under ACADEMICS at the bottom). For course listing and descriptions go to the  and scroll to Curriculum (under ACADEMICS) at the bottom.

If you would like to get a course approved, print off the form NEW GEO Course approval form.pdf. Take the completed form and syllabus to the appropriate department chair. Make sure that you return that course approval form and syllabus to the GEO.

TRANSFERRING OF CREDITS: All credits taken abroad come back as transfer credits. Grades will be reflected on the transcript, but not figured into the student's cumulative GPA. Students must earn a 'C' or above for credits to transfer to Merrimack. Please note carefully that most of the courses taken abroad are only 3-credits rather than 4 as at Merrimack.


Costa Rica MainHOMESTAYS: Live with a Spanish-speaking family in Monteverde, Cerro Plano, Santa Elena, or another nearby town, and immerse yourself in the local language and culture. Students have their own rooms, and are provided with three meals a day and laundry service. Students can walk to and from the CIEE Study Center or pay for transport by taxi.
MEALS: All meals are provided by your host family.


Merrimack students attending a CIEE semester program pay Merrimack's Global Semester costs which cover covers tuition, program costs included, housing, and international insurance for the semester. 2018-2019 Fees include:
  • Global Semester costs: $24,830
  • Additional program fee: $550
  • CIEE Fall 2018 scholarship for Merrimack students: $1500
  • Total Fall Fees: $23,880
  • Total Spring Fees: $25,380

CIEE has scholarships and grants for which Merrimack students should apply. See their Scholarships & Grants page.

BILLING: Payments for the semester abroad are made to the Bursar's Office per usual. Students should discuss payment plans with the Bursar's Office. For additional billing questions, please contact the Bursar's Office: Room 12, Austin Hall,,  978.837.5310.

FINANCIAL AID: Merrimack institutional aid is recalculated for the semester off-campus**. When students return to campus, Merrimack aid returns to the on-campus rate. We encourage you to consult the Financial Aid Office early on to see what this recalculation might mean for you. Office of Financial Aid 15B Austin Hall,, 978.837.5186.

**N.B. NCAA scholarships and Federal Aid are not affected by this recalculation.

  • CIEE Application Fee: $50
  • International Airfare:  $600
  • Books & Supplies: $250
  • Personal: $1,700


Students interested in studying in this GEO program must first apply for permission to study abroad through Merrimack's Office of Global Education (GEO). To qualify Merrimack students must be:
  • Second-semester sophomores and above
  • In good academic standing with a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA
  • In good disciplinary standing 
  • Major in environmental studies/science.
  • Have completed three college-level courses in natural sciences, environmental studies, or agriculture
  • Some Spanish study is recommended, but not required.
To apply students must submit the following by March 9, 2018:
  • Online application
  • Faculty reference (form included in online application)
  • Student affairs reference (form included in online application)
  • An Interview with GEO staff to be conducted soon after the application has been submitted, or during the week of March 12th.
After students have been approved by the GEO for semester's study abroad, they may proceed with CIEE's online application.

CIEE's Application deadline for Fall 2018: April 15, 2018.