Study Sustainability + the Environment in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Whether you’re enchanted by its forests full of orchids, or inspired by its leaders of the global sustainability movement, Monteverde is the community for you. Dig into today’s pressing environmental issues and watch your Spanish skills bloom with daily practice. See what it’s like to live in this warm, peace-loving community in the clouds. Come back ready, refueled, and re-tooled with new skills, knowledge, and energy to make the world a better place.

This demanding program is designed for energetic, outdoorsy students who are committed to fully immersing themselves in academics, local culture, and nature. Successful students are those committed to working hard, playing hard, and expanding their comfort zone. Students learn in the classroom and field, and travel to remote parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua that most visitors never see. They are rewarded with unique and life-changing experiences, new knowledge and skills, and inspiration to carry the sustainability movement forward.

Fall or Spring Semester

Academic Features

Students can earn 17 credits at CIIE Monteverde, a center fully equipped with classrooms, computers, and library facilities, as well as indoor and outdoor common areas, to accommodate experiential and traditional learning.

Subject Areas

  • Agriculture
  • Development Studies
  • Environment
  • Internship
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Renewable Energy
  • Spanish Language
  • Sustainability

Conservation and Sustainability Internship

  • Put your skills to work when you labor to deliver valuable products and services to the Monteverde community.
  • Join a local organization, business, or farm and get a firsthand look at their approach to sustainability, while you gain valuable work experience.
  • Projects have included growing crops without agrochemicals, optimizing wildlife passage locations, calculating carbon emissions, using sustainable building materials for construction projects, creating educational materials, and more.

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 & Cultural Excursions

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:

  • Traveling Costa Rica and a neighboring Central American country (such as Panama) for four weeks, visiting remote communities and protected areas.
  • Meeting local people and business owners to get a firsthand look at a range of environmental protection projects.
  • Discovering local foods, legends, and customs as you visit unique villages.
  • Being mentored by a resident expert and help solve a local sustainability challenge.


Live with a Spanish-speaking family in Monteverde, Cerro Plano, Santa Elena, or another nearby town, and immerse yourself in the local language and culture. Students have their own rooms and are provided with three meals a day and laundry service. Students can walk to and from CIEE Monteverde, or pay for transport by taxi.

Program Fee

The PLU comprehensive fee covers this academic experience (instruction and academic credit, housing, meals (included in homestay), study tours, study abroad insurance, visa fees*, and laundry). 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.


Major in environmental studies/science. Completion of three college-level courses in natural sciences, environmental studies, or agriculture. Some college-level Spanish 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: Sustainability + the Environment are required to complete CIEE’s application.

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.

Learn about Francesca Broer‘s composting experience in Fall 2018.

Program Highlights

  • Fall or Spring Semester
  • Improve your Spanish skills through immersion
  • Live with a host family in Monteverde or a nearby town
  • Learn about environmental issues and the global sustainabilty movement