Education in Costa Rica
The country has one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America at 94.9 percent. The area did not always have this high of a level of education and, like many areas of Central America, many people fought to simply have the necessary means to survive. In 1949, things changed. The country's army was abolished and, as the citizens said, it was replaced with an army of teachers. That is why there are primary and secondary schools in virtually every community here now. Public education is guaranteed and free through high school.
Higher Education in Costa Rica
However, there are only a handful of schools that go beyond 12th grade. Most students do not make it this far. Students who complete 11 years of education receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma. This is an accredited level of education from the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.
In terms of higher education, there are some state and private universities available here. Public universities are considered a higher quality and a more desirable choice for students. These schools are ideal for students who are bright, willing to work hard, and eager to learn. Perhaps the best university in the country is the University of Costa Rica, which has been given awards for the quality of education it provides to students here.
Universities in Costa Rica
Higher education for international students is available in Heredia and San Jose, both large cities in the area. These schools offer trimester education as well as summer programs. University Latina is found in Heredia, with courses in both English and Spanish available. This type of school is ideal for those who are learning the Spanish language and culture in particular. A semester's worth of education at this school costs about $8,000 USD. Most educational programs offered through study abroad schools in this area are customized programs to fill the student's needs.
A secondary option is to study in San Jose, the capital of the city. Veritas University is an option here. This costs slightly more, at about $9000 USD per semester of education. The focus here is on the arts and humanities, though customized programs are often available to international students. Other programs include business, health care, liberal arts, and environmental studies.
Why Study in Costa Rica?
There are plenty of places throughout the world to study as an international student. Some offer better educational programs than those programs found in Costa Rica. However, these courses range widely in terms of what they have to offer. Here, students not only can come to learn but also participate in the community. Many of the business programs have taught locals how to open and establish businesses here.
The healthcare industry is very much in demand here as well as in neighboring Central American countries. Students who wish to enroll here in this type of educational program will find outstanding opportunities to work in the community. Another area of focus is on social and environmental sciences. These are also fields that are very much in demand for educated professionals in the country.
Travel Visas for Students
International students will need to obtain a student visa to obtain an education from an accredited school in Costa Rica. To do so, individuals will need to contact their local embassy to request help in securing a visa. Tourist visas last for up to 30 days, though some last as long as 90 days. If your program will be less than this, you may not need a student visa.
On the other hand, if you plan to attend one of the schools for a full semester (as summer courses may be available for shorter stays) you will need to obtain a visa to allow you to study in the country. Students enter the country as a tourist and then apply for their visa at the local embassy. They will need to leave the country for 72 hours before the expiration of their tourist visa. Then, upon re-entry into the country, the student will be given another visa, for an extended stay.