Main Content

Semester in Costa Rica Program – Social Justice

The Semester in Costa Rica Internship Track engages students through a structured internship immersion that challenges participants to integrate theoretical concepts with real-world experiences, and includes both classroom and field internship components. Students have the opportunity to do meaningful academic and practical work under the supervision of highly trained and committed international professionals.  At the same time, the internship permits students to make a contribution by giving something back to the host society through projects on which they work.   Students have the option of doing an internship in either Costa Rica or Nicaragua.

The Social Justice and Development Internship Program is divided into three blocks:

Block I

(5 weeks): Spanish and Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development Semester Course

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.

Block II 

(8 weeks): Structured internships

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.

Block III

(1 week): Written work and oral presentations

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.
  • Turtle conservation work in the Cahuita National Park.
  • Assisting a healthcare workers union in Nicaragua.

For more information about the Semester in Costa Rica Program contact the Study Abroad Office at or (603) 641-7371.