Exotic beaches, tropical rainforests, a well developed society and high quality of life: studying abroad in Costa Rica may sound almost too good to be true. According to data from QS Latin America University Rankings 2018, Costa Rica has six universities ranked among the region’s top 400. Understandably, this is relatively few when compared to countries such as Brazil and Mexico, but Costa Rica’s highest ranked institution, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), sits in at a very respectable 19th position and has been strengthening its global position in recent years.
Do read on for more information on what it’s like to study on low tuition in Costa Rica, including important information about higher education in Costa Rica, university applications, costs, visas and the best places for students.
Studying in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has no armed forces to spend cash on, as such it has more opportunity to invest in other state priorities, such as tertiary education. This, along with affordable living expenses,implies that studying abroad in Costa Rica is much more affordable when compared to popular destinations in Western Europe or North America.
At the same time, tuition fees vary widely across different universities in Costa Rica, while living expenses stay in the range of US$500 and US$700 per month, depending on how you live your life and manage expenses. For example, you should generally expect to pay between US$380 to US$470 per month for a standard apartment, although college residences and flat shares could go for cheaper rates.
Over the last few years, the World Bank has strengthened its resolve to improve higher education in Costa Rica, with the goal of improving access for international students as well as quality of facilities, teaching, research and the system as a whole. To this date, over US$250 million has been spent on this project, with funds continuing until the end of 2017.
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Applications and Student Visas
Generally, admissions vary across universities , but in most cases you will be required to provide details of your secondary-level education, identification and proof of proficiency in Spanish. Other required documents are a police record, immunization records and birth certificate.
Once you’ve been admitted into a Costa Rican university, you’ll need to find out which type of visa applies to you. In a few cases you’ll realize you don’t need a visa at all; in fact this is true for citizens of the US, Canada and the EU, as well as any with an existing visa for the US, Canada, Japan or across the EU.
Universities in Costa Rica
Universidad de Costa Rica
In addition to being Costa Rica’s highest-ranking institution, the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) is also the country’s oldest institution and its the largest per student enrollment. UCR’s biggest campus is located in the city of San Pedro, close to the capital San José. Overall, across all its campuses, the institution has a total student size of around 39,600 students.
Universidad Nacional Costa Rica
This institution is home to more than 12,000 students, and is another of the nation’s prestigious public university, and awards a wide spectrum of programs. The school’s primary campus is the Omar Dengo Campus located in the city of Heredia,about 11 kilometers from San José. Heredia is renowned for its Spanish colonial architecture, fantastic coffee and young, bohemian atmosphere.