Costa Rica

Not offered in 2021

Listen to the sounds of the jungle!

This program is typically offered every other year.

Spend your summer in Costa Rica and wake up every day to the chorus of parrots, toucans, howler monkeys and poison dart frogs as we explore the spectacular wildlife of Costa Rica’s jungles, cloud forests and coast. The Costa Rica study abroad program offers an incredibly diverse experience, from zip-lining though the cloud forest canopy*, watching giant sea turtles lay eggs on their ancestral beaches, kayaking jungle rivers, riding river taxis, and salsa dancing with the locals.

Our focus will be on the wildlife and photography with tours, excursions and field trips into different ecosystems to learn about and photograph everything from army ants to orchids and sleepy market towns to hummingbirds.

The photography course is for novices and beginners, but by the end of the program you’ll be a well seasoned travel photographer. Includes excursions to Monteverde and Santa Elena, Tortuguero National Park, and cultural excursions into some of the small towns to get a taste of life in Costa Rica.

* additional cost for optional zip-lining activity

Costa Rica Program Itinerary

Costa Rica Group Picture

Costa Rica Program Excursions

Courses Offered (5 credit program)

  • Hybrid classes prior to departure at MCC Red Mountain between TBA
  • ART142: 18465 Digital Photography (3 cr); requires $35 lab fee
    • Instructor:
  • BIO149AI: 18488 Field Biology, Tropical Biology/Costa Rica (2 cr)
  • Costa Rica Gear List

Program Location

  • La Selva, situated at the confluence of two major rivers in the Caribbean lowlands of northern Costa Rica, comprises 3,900 acres of tropical wet forests and disturbed lands.
  • It averages over 13 feet of rainfall that is spread rather evenly throughout the year. The Station is bordered on the south by Braulio Carrillo National Park extending down to La Selva through a descending forest corridor from 2,906 meters at Volcán Barva to 35 meters above sea level at La Selva.
  • The reserve consists of both La Selva's protected environs and the Park which has four major tropical life zones and includes more than 5,000 species of vascular plants, of which more than 700 species are trees.
  • The fauna is similarly diverse with large predators including jaguars, pumas, and bushmasters. Thousands of arthropod species are being currently recorded at La Selva, and more than 400 species of resident and migratory birds have been sighted in the reserve, representing almost half of Costa Rica's bird species. See a map.

Costa Rica Details

  • San Jose: For both the day of arrival and departure, we'll stay one night at Alajuela Backpackers. You will share 4 or 6 bed co-ed dorm rooms with a private bathroom. There is a fun rooftop restaurant for dinner and local bakeries for breakfast. There is a free airport shuttle which is conveniently just minutes away.
  • La Selva Biological Field Station: Participants will stay 7 nights in small co-ed dorm rooms typically 3-6 students per room with shared shower and bath. Sheets and towels are provided. Food is exceptional and 3 meals are provided daily always with outstanding local fresh fruit, salad and vegetarian options. Coffee and tea is available at all times. You can choose to eat inside or outside and enjoy the wildlife such as howler monkeys, coatimundis and toucans that also call the field station home.
  • Tortuguero Village: Participants will stay at 3 nights Hotel Tortuguero Natural in the heart of Tortuguero Village, just a few minutes walk form the black sand beach visited each night by sea turtles, great local restaurants, the village soccer pitch, and the public boat ramp. You will share quad occupancy co-ed rooms with private bathrooms. Breakfast is included each day.
  • Laguna del Lagarto Eco-lodge and Field Station: Participants will spend 6 nights sharing double or triple rooms with private bathrooms. Rooms have a balcony with hammocks and fantastic forest views overlooking a lagoon. Three delicious meals are freshly prepared daily on-site using locally grown and sourced produce fresh fruit and eaten overlooking the forest to the sounds and sights of birds and the jungle.
  • Monteverde & Santa Elena: Participants will stay at 4 nights at Pension Santa Elena. A relaxed backpacker place and town social hub. You will share either double, triple or quad rooms, some with private bathroom, some with shared bathroom. Breakfast is provided each day and tea and coffee is provided throughout the day. You have the option of making your own meals with fresh food from close-by supermarkets in a well equipped kitchen or dining out in the towns variety of fantastic restaurants.

Did You Know??

  • More than 25 percent of Costa Rica is reserved as protected areas.
  • Costa Ricans call themselves ticos and are known by that name throughout Central America.
  • During an earthquake in 1991, the Costa Rican city of Puerto Limón rose 3 feet and never returned to its original elevation.
  • Costa Rica is one of the largest banana producers in the world.
  • Read detailed cultural information on Costa Rica provided by CultureGrams™.
    Costa Rica (2020). CultureGrams Online Edition. ProQuest.

Estimated Program Costs & Deadlines

Expense Type Estimated Cost Deadline

Program Fee
Includes lodging, academic facilities, cultural excursions, in-country ground transportation, and secondary medical insurance.

How to Pay


Program Fee Due: TBA

$250 Confirmation Deposit Due (towards total program fee): upon acceptance to program

Confirmation deposit is non-refundable after the program fee payment deadline.

Registration Fee

Tuition: 5 credits
In-state: $85 per credit hour
Out-of-state: $205 per credit hour

How to Pay

$ 15


Registration for Summer term begins in March.

Tuition Due: Upon registration for courses

If not a current MCC student, you must admit yourself to MCC prior to registering for courses.

For tuition payment options, visit:

For payment assistance, call 480.461.7400 or contact Cashier Services.

Course Fee $35 ART142
Airfare (estimated cost)
Costa Rica airport exit fee of $29 may be charged when leaving CR airport (may be included in airfare ticket depending on airline)

Your program director will provide you with instructions on purchasing airfare for your program. Only after you have received these instructions should you purchase airfare.

Meals (estimated cost)
Most meals are included while staying at field stations. Meals are NOT included while on cultural excursions away from the field stations.

$140 Not needed until you land in Costa Rica!
Local Ground Transport & Admissions (estimated cost) $TBA Not needed until you land in Costa Rica!
TOTAL Estimated Costs


May also potentially incur the Costa Rica exit fee of $29.
No textbooks required

Passport Info Here

Your passport must be valid at least 6 months beyond the date of your return to the USA.
Be sure to allow at least 6 weeks of processing time for first time applicants and renewals.
Visit the U.S. Department of State Students Abroad website for current fees and processing times.
Program Application Deadline


Late applications will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Complete online application.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Space is limited. Apply early to reserve your place!

Scholarships and Funding Your Program

Title Date(s) More Information

International Education


Program not offered in 2020

Get information on financial aid & grants, scholarships, and misc. resources for study abroad here.

PRIOR to applying for a scholarship, student must:

  • Be accepted into the program you are a applying for a scholarship to
  • Pay the program deposit of $250 online, at Cashier Services, or by calling 480.461.7400.

2020 Study Abroad Scholarship: N/A

Title Date(s) More Information

Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Students apply through the college they are receiving financial aid from.

Early Summer Application Deadline
1st Tues. of October (awards announced in February)

October 1, 2019
11:59 PM CST

Summer Application Deadline
1st Tues. of March (awards announced in April)
11:59 PM PST

Maximum Award: $5,000

  • Must be a Pell Grant recipient.  Students apply indicating the school they are receiving their Pell Grant funding from.
  • Applications are reviewed holistically, with consideration of the following selection criteria. View Gilman Presentation here!
  • Review Gilman Statement of Purpose Writing Tips.
  • Review Gilman Follow-on Service Project Writing Tips.
  • Watch videos of Gilman scholars abroad, alumni interviews, and tips from advisors and application reviewers on YouTube.
  • For essay writing tips, feel free to contact Jenna Parker, Gilman Alumni Ambassador (studied abroad in South Korea 2014), at
  • Note for Gilman application: For Program Administrator, select "Other" and indicate Mesa Community College
Gillman-McCain Scholarship

Deadline: March 3, 2020
11:59 PM PST

Maximum Award: $5,000

  • Must be a Title IV federal financial aid recipient.  Title IV funds include:
    • Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans
    • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
    • Direct PLUS Loans
    • Federal Pell Grants
    • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOGs)
    • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Must be a child dependent of an active duty military service member.
  • Use the same Gilman application system as other Gilman Scholarship applicants.  Applicants will simply confirm that they are child dependent of an active duty military member of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard).
  • If a student is receiving a Federal Pell Grant and is also a child dependent of an active duty military member, then the student is eligible for both Gillman scholarships and will automatically be considered for both but eligible to receive only one. If they are selected for the Gilman-McCain Scholarship, then they will no longer be considered for the Gilman Scholarship.

Information Sessions & Mandatory Orientation

Title Date(s) More Information

General Information Sessions

Room AS196
(Building 4)

TUESDAYS: 1:30-2:15 pm

WEDNESDAYS: 12-12:45 pm

Financial Aid Workshops at Southern & Dobson
2:15-3 pm following Tuesday Info Sessions
12:45-1:30 pm following Wednesday Info Sessions

Financial Aid FAQS

For study abroad, financial aid information, contact Adela Bob at 480.461.7436 or at

Fast Tracking the Dream to College Completion
In order to qualify for the Fast Tracking, the Dream IDA accounts for the 2020 study abroad programs, you must be enrolled by October 31, 2020. For information, contact A New Leaf at 480.833.9200 and ask to speak with an IDA representative. 
Space is limited so apply early!

General Information Sessions

Student Life Conference Room M214
(Mesquite Building)

MONDAYS 11-11:45 am

THURSDAYS 12:30-1:15 pm

Financial Aid Workshops at Red Mountain
11:45 am-12:30 pm following Monday Info Sessions
1:15 pm-2 pm following Thursday Info Sessions

Financial Aid FAQS

For study abroad financial aid information at Red Mountain, contact Tori Stanton at 480.654.7760 or at

Fast Tracking the Dream to College Completion
In order to qualify for the Fast Tracking the Dream IDA accounts for the 2021 study abroad programs, you must be enrolled by October 31, 2020. For information, contact A New Leaf at 480.833.9200 and ask to speak with an IDA representative.  Space is limited so apply early!

Mandatory Orientation

Sat., April 10, 2021

9 am - 2 pm

Room LB145 in the Elsner Library at the Southern & Dobson campus.

You must attend the mandatory study abroad orientation!
There may be additional required meetings for your specific program. Contact the Program Director for details.