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Tropical Biology in Costa Rica

Costa Rica makes up 0.03% of the world's landmass yet holds 6% of the world's biodiversity. In this course led by Dr. Laurie Kauffman, you will learn the basics of theories and methods in tropical biology throughout the fall semester, then get to put this knowledge into practice over a 16-day study tour to Costa Rica. After arriving in the capital of San Jose and having a quick city tour, we will travel to La Selva Biological Station. There you will live in the forest and observe interactions between tropical plants and animals up close. At La Selva we will meet other researchers, complete research projects, see a chocolate plantation, go on an ethnobotany tour, and complete a service project. At the end of the course we will head to Cahuita, on the Caribbean ocean, for some relaxation before heading home. The class is open to both biology majors and non-majors. Biology majors will gain deeper understanding of issues in tropical biology, while non-majors can meet their general education science requirement with this hands-on experience.

You will come away from this course with an appreciation and understanding of the diversity of the natural world, as well as practical experience in planning and carrying out an independent research project. These experiences and skills are helpful for science majors and also for anyone interested in the study of behavior and evolution. This opportunity can be a truly unique and life- changing experience.

Quick Facts

  • Faculty Leader: Dr. Laurie Kauffman
  • Dates: December 27, 2019 through January 11, 2020
  • Location: San Jose, Heredia, and Cahuita, Costa Rica
  • Accommodations: Shared hotel rooms in San Jose and Heredia, on-site housing at La Selva Research Station in Heredia.
  • Meals: Most meals are included in the program fee. See the budget for an estimate of the cost of meals not included.
  • Credit: Students enroll in the on-campus portion of this course for the fall 2019 semester. That semester course, combined with the program in Costa Rica, offers four credit hours.
    • BIOL 4864 for Majors
    • BIOL 1014: for Non-majors
    • Includes service-learning credit

Program Fee

Program Fee: $1975

What's included: Fee includes accommodations, all ground transportation in Costa Rica, all scheduled excursions and activities, most meals (see budget for estimate of meals not included).

What's not included: Airfare to and from San Jose, Costa Rica; international cell phone plan; passport and visa (if required). Exit fee from Costa Rica (usually included in airfare. Tuition, which is collected as a standard fall semester course.

Download the detailed Cost Estimate for this program.

Application Dates

Application opens February 7, 2019 and closes May 15, 2019 or when full enrollment is reached.

Payment Deadlines

$75 nonrefundable application fee is charged at the time application is made.

$200 nonrefundable deposit is due at time of acceptance to confirm your place. (This fee will be refunded only if the program is cancelled by the university.)

Balance due with fall 2019 tuition. Nonrefundable after August 30, 2019.


  • State and federal aid--grants and student loans--may be available for eligible students.

NOTE: Tuition for this 4-credit course is charged as part of the fall 2019 block, and students should expect the same aid for tuition that they normally receive for that portion of the cost of this program. Students should visit with their financial aid advisor to determine if the $1975 program fee can be added to their "cost of attendance" calculation and therefore possibly increase their aid.

Contact the Study Abroad Office


Clara Jones Administration Building, 2nd Floor, Suite 240