Study Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Wake up to the sound of howler monkeys at CIEE’s unique biological station, on the doorstep of the 57,000-acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. After exploring the ecology of the cloud forest, you’ll expand your horizons – and your classroom – beyond treetops to beaches, waterfalls, coral reefs, and more, for over seven weeks of travel and close study of ecosystems throughout Costa Rica and along the coast of Panama. Day by day, you’ll build your Spanish language skills and see what it means to live in rural Costa Rica.


Fall or Spring Semester

Academic Features

This demanding program is geared for biology and related-field students who want to learn about tropical ecology and conservation through rigorous work in the classroom and field, including two extensive trips and an independent research project. Work is complemented with a homestay and Spanish language study of relevant biological vocabulary.

Subject Areas

Earn 17 credits in:

  • Biology
  • Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Field Research in Ecology
  • Natural History
  • Spanish Language

PLU Course Equivalency

As PLU students choose this program, a Course Equivalency Guide will be built and uploaded to this webpage.

Pacific Lutheran University awards all credits earned in this program. Semester-long study away programs fulfill PLU’s Cross Cultural Diversity requirement.

Course and study tour offerings are subject to change.

Study Tours

Every CIEE semester program has frequent cultural excursions and a multi-day study tour uniquely designed to complement the program’s academics and enhance students’ cultural immersion. In Monteverde, past study tours and excursions have included:

  • Exploring Corcovado National Park’s Pacific Lowland Rainforest and neighboring Caño Island, looking for dolphins and whales along the way
  • Studying nesting turtles in Tortuguero National Park
  • Discovering the astonishing diversity of coral reefs in Panama’s Bocas del Toro
  • Exploring a dry forest recognized for its study of regeneration in Santa Rosa National Park
  • Seeing how local coffee farms, cheese factories, and butterfly gardens add to Monteverde’s vibrant landscape
  • Comparing Atlantic and Pacific slope habitats
  • Hiking above the treeline to explore endemic species and amazing views in Costa Rica’s paramo
  • Discovering local foods and customs in the town of Monteverde


Biological Station

For two months of the program, students live together at a biological station near the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Students will share a room with three other CIEE students. Each room has a bathroom with a shower. All meals are provided at the station.


Students spend one month living with a host family in Monteverde or a nearby town such as Cerro Plano or Santa Elena. The homestay provides a wonderful opportunity to improve language skills and cultural understanding. Students are provided with a private room and three meals a day.

Field Lodging

While on excursions with the program, students camp or stay in cabins.

Program Fee

The PLU comprehensive fee covers this academic experience (instruction and academic credit, housing, meals, study tours, study abroad insurance, and visa fees*). To find the current comprehensive fee for one semester, divide the total full-year cost listed on the Admissions website by two. Please note that the comprehensive fee varies each year, and the cost of this program will be based on the year in which you study away. Financial aid applies.

*The Wang Center will reimburse you for your visa fees up to $300; such fees can include: visa processing fees, consulate fees, online application fees. Reimbursement does not include: domestic travel costs for in-person submission, postage costs.

Out-of-pocket Expenses

Some air travel, books/supplies, personal excursions, domestic travel*/postage for visa processing, and other miscellaneous expenses are not included in program cost.

*Be sure to research your visa requirements as you may have to go in-person to a consulate or visa processing center. Depending on the country, there may or may not be a local consulate, and you may have to fly to another US state.

Contact Us

Holly Peterson, Study Away Advisor and Semester Program Liaison

Contact CIEE here.


Two semesters of college-level biology. One semester of college-level ecology or environmental science is recommended. Some college-level Spanish is recommended.

Sophomore, junior, or senior standing. Students must have a minimum 2.7 G.P.A. and be in good standing.

Application Deadline

Fall, Spring and Full Year applications are due March 15

A $50 non-refundable fee is due with the application.

Applicants to CIEE Costa Rica: Tropical Ecology + Conservation are also required to complete CIEE’s application. Students will get more instructions on this after they get an admissions decision from PLU.

Each academic year the current application is made available during International Education Week in November.

Application Components

  • Short essays
  • Faculty Recommendation Form
  • $50 Non-refundable Application fee
  • Advising appointment
  • Online applications for both PLU and CIEE

CIEE's Website

Visit CIEE’s website for more information.

Program Highlights

  • Fall or Spring Semester
  • Complete an independent research project in tropical ecology or conservation
  • Spend two months at a biological station next to the Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Improve your Spanish language skills through immersion and a homestay