SAN JOSE: International Center for Development Studies (ICDS)

San Jose, Costa Rica

Program Website Type:   |  Minimum GPA:
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  • Fall Semester - Early September - Late November
  • Spring Semester - Late January - Mid April
  • Summer 1 Semester - Early June - Mid July
  • Summer 2 Semester - Late July - Early August

Application Deadline

  • Fall Semester - March 30
  • Spring Semester - October 15
  • Summer 1 Semester - March 30
  • Summer 2 Semester - March 30


Study Abroad Coordinator: Lane Marder ( Located in Costa Rica, ICDS is an applied research center which is dedicated to promoting sustainable human development. ICDS, jointly with ULatina, offers fall and spring semester programs* which include classes from an array of disciplines and topic areas related to sustainable human development, such as human rights, society and development, the environment, sustainable development, social justice and, of course, Spanish language. ICDS´ summer programs include courses relating to Spanish language and development, as well as Spanish language and the health care system in Latin America, the latter offered jointly with Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Costa Rica´s largest private hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission International. Equally important to class time, ICDS provides varied experiential and service-learning opportunities as a complement to its academic programs. Students in ICDS´ semester programs will take a service-learning course and participate in community work every week, complemented with reflection spaces in the classroom. Also, during the semester programs, there is an exciting field trip to Nicaragua to give students an opportunity to compare and contrast sustainable human development efforts in the two countries of the Central American region, partake in community work, and experience the local culture of Nicaragua. In addition to being immersed into Central American culture through service-learning and field trips, all students live with host families, and local Costa Rican students will also be part of the programs, providing even more contact and immersion into Costa Rican culture.   ICDS Institutional Video ICDS Homestay Video ICDS Service-Learning Video


  • Semester Programs: Students participating in this program are required to take five courses. Students will be charged Northeastern undergraduate tuition for 16 credits. Should a student decide to transfer back a fifth course, he or she will then be charged an overload fee as defined on the Northeastern University Registrar’s website. Please note: See Cost section for additional Study Abroad fees.
  • Development Studies in Latin America: An Interdisciplinary Program (semester) ICDS's Fall and Spring semester programs give students a variety of course offerings to customize their study abroad experience in accordance with their interests, preferences, or academic requirements.Students will take a Spanish language course and ¨Community Engagement and Sustainable Human Development: A Service- Learning Course,¨ the latter consisting of community work complemented with reflection spaces in the classroom. This program allows students to choose three elective courses, allowing them to focus on human rights/social justice, environment/sustainability, or a combination of the two.
  • The Human Rights/Social Justice elective courses allow students to acquire in-depth knowledge on the evolution of justice and human rights in Latin America. The program takes a multi-level approach by looking at the historical, political, and legal evolution of human rights thought and practice in Latin America, and the existing institutional protection framework. Students are encouraged to engage in policy discussion aimed at seeking creative means to strengthen the human rights system and to ensure its ability to respond to the needs of Latin American societies. The methodology of the program is based on case studies and first-hand experiences of human rights scholars and practitioners. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission, the Inter-American Human Rights Court, and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights are all located in Costa Rica.
  • The Environment/Sustainability courses explore the challenges that Latin American countries face to secure the sustainability of their development. The concept of sustainability adopted for these courses is multidimensional, and the relationships of the non-environmental dimensions (i.e., economic, social, political and cultural) to the environment are analyzed. The spatial aspect of development is also studied, as well as the impact of tourism on conservation and local development. The use of case studies, policy discussion and field trips enable students to assess the efforts carried out by different stakeholders in the quest for sustainability and development in Latin America.
  • Spanish for Development Studies (Summer 1) The program’s design with its topical and linguistic contents will facilitate the acquisition of knowledge about the history, culture, political, social and economic situation of Latin America, at the same time as the development of vocabulary in the specific fields, and the improvement of the students’ ability to communicate correctly and effectively in Spanish. This program is intended for students with a high intermediate to advanced level of proficiency in the Spanish language. Students will receive 8 NU credits for this program. Students will receive credit for one Spanish language course and one content course in Spanish.
  • Spanish and Health in Latin America (Summer 2) ICDS, in partnership with Hospital Clínica Bíblica, offers this program to provide university students in the area of health with the necessary language proficiency to enable them to work and interact with Spanish speaking patients and their families, as well as with colleagues in a Spanish-speaking environment. The program consists of two components: linguistic and topical. The topical content of the program, taught in English, discusses the most relevant aspects of the health care system in Costa Rica through workshops, conferences, exercises, site visits to clinics, hospitals, and other related sites. The linguistic component of the program facilitates students´ development of vocabulary in the health and medical field, with the general objective of training students to speak fluently in Spanish, preparing them to interview patients, complete patients’ files, elaborate medical reports, read texts of medical relevance effectively.

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Host University

ICDS is a non-profit multidisciplinary academic organization and applied research center, based in Costa Rica, whose mission is to promote the sustainability of the development process of Latin America and the Caribbean. To that end, ICDS undertakes research, policy analysis, academic, and experiential education through service-learning opportunities as a complement to its programs. The Study Abroad program is offered jointly through ICDS and the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (ULatina). ULatina is the largest private university and a member of the Laureate International Universities group.

Eligibility Requirements

  • 2 completed terms at NU, one of which may be a summer term
  • GPA of at least 2.75
  • Transfer students and spring admits, please contact OISP for eligibility
  • Some programs require a minimum level of Spanish - see ICDS website for details

Application Procedure

    • OISP online application
    • ICDS Application Forms (ICDS application process is initiated on-line)

      Please submit the following directly to OISP:

    • 2 Letters of Recommendation
    • Official Transcript
    • Photocopy of Passport ID Page
    • Health forms required after acceptance
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Fall 2015 or Spring 2016: $22,660

Includes: Northeastern University (NU) tuition for 16 NU credits ($22,310), and International Security and Emergency Support ($350). Please note that this program requires students to take five courses. Should students choose to transfer back the fifth course, the student will be liable for an additional 4 credit overload fee ($5,577.50). Students are responsible for all other expenses, including housing and other non-academic costs for which they will be billed directly by the program provider or host institution. Students are also responsible for arranging and purchasing their own flights.

**For Fall 2015, ICDS will be offering five $500 scholarships that can be used toward housing.  Please contact them directly for scholarship application information.**

Summer 1 2015: $10,909

Includes: Northeastern University (NU) tuition for 8 NU credits ($10,634), and International Security and Emergency Support ($275). Students are responsible for all other expenses, including housing and other non-academic costs for which they will be billed directly by the program provider or host institution. Students are also responsible for arranging and purchasing their own flights.

Summer 2 2015: $10,909

Includes: Northeastern University (NU) tuition for 8 NU credits ($10,634), and International Security and Emergency Support ($275). Students are responsible for all other expenses, including housing and other non-academic costs for which they will be billed directly by the program provider or host institution. Students are also responsible for arranging and purchasing their own flights.



In order to give students the advantage of complete cultural and language immersion, the accommodation provided is homestays with carefully chosen Costa Rican families. The homestay cost includes a completely furnished private room, two meals per day, and laundry service once a week.


Costa Rica, meaning 'rich coast' in Spanish, is a small mountainous country with 762 miles of coastline stretching between the Pacific and Caribbean on the narrow Central American isthmus. It is only a day's drive from its northern border with Nicaragua to neighboring Panama in the south, and it is possible to cross ocean to ocean in only a few hours. A century of democratic stability and security testifies to the commitment of Costa Rica to peace, equity, human rights, and social solidarity. This environment presents a unique experience for students to acquire in-depth knowledge of Latin American reality while being exposed to different cultures and the ecological riches of Costa Rica. The capital city of San Jose is quite cosmopolitan, boasting several excellent museums, good restaurants, and a fine climate. It also serves as an outstanding base from which to visit the many attractions of the country.