Semester Spotlight

Costa Rica & Panama

Verto Education Latin America Opportunity Grant

All students who apply and are admitted by Verto Education and selected for the Latin America program, and who apply for financial aid, will be eligible to be reviewed for the Verto Education Latin America Opportunity Grant. This is a need-based grant and eligibility can only be determined by filing a FAFSA. Students can also apply their FAFSA funds to further reduce the cost of the semester.

The Semester At-a-Glance


12 Weeks

College Credits

16 Credits

Program Cost

$8,000 to $15,000*
*sliding scale based on Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).


Mix of hotels, dorms & homestays


Student responsible for airfare to/from

Academic Partner

Verto Field Semester

Sample of Available Classes

  • Environmental Science
  • Rhetoric & Composition
  • Spanish Language
  • Global Health

Upcoming Program Dates

September 16th – December 15th, 2020 – Fall 2020 Semester

Map of The Dominican Republic

Latin America

Location Focus


Pura Vida!

Costa Rica may be small, but it is mighty! The capital city of San José is working to make Costa Rica a “green” country, and the focus on sustainability can be felt in every corner of the country. Known for their hospitality, the people of Costa Rica, commonly known as Ticos, open their homes and hearts to thousands of international students and even more expatriates who choose to make San José their home.

STEM: If you’re interested in joining one of our partner colleges in a STEM field of study (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), you will enroll in our Costa Rica STEM Semester. Learn more here!


ORIENTATION to Latin America

Spend the first week orienting yourself to Costa Rica and and your new cohort. Get up to speed on how to stay safe and healthy abroad, spend time building a sense of community with your peers, and begin diving into the complexities of culture and in Latin America.

Students in Costa Rica will take classes in the block model, which means that you’ll take one intensive class for  4 consecutive weeks. Your accommodation and extracurricular schedule will coincide directly with which intensive block you are studying at the time to create intentional learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

Environmental Science

While in the highly desirable beach town of Manuel Antonio, you will focus on Environmental Science and Conservation.  Explore the richness of the biodiversity of the Pacific coast by visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park, and visit with animal conservation NGOs to learn how local organizations are working to protect their natural habitats.

Extracurricular visits during this block include relaxing by the ocean, whitewater rafting, and salsa lessons with locals.

Spanish Language Immersion

Students will live with a local Costa Rican family in San José as part of a 4-week homestay so that while studying Spanish in the classroom, conversational language skills increase dramatically as part of the homestay!

During this block, students can look forward to a Cartago Walking Tour, hiking the Arenal Volcano, and relaxing in nearby hot springs.



To gain more experience in different parts of Latin America, students will spend a well deserved long weekend in Bocas del Toro, Panama to relax and recharge. Students will also have the opportunity to see slots and starfish in their natural habitat!


Global Health

During this block in San José, students will study the differences in the public health system within Latin America. Service opportunities with a variety of populations will help students gain a well-rounded understanding of how healthcare differs within Latin America, how indigenous Costa Ricans are able to participate in the healthcare system within the country and gain a better grasp of access to healthcare worldwide. During this block, students will visit the Bri Bri region, one of the largest indigenous communities in Costa Rica.

Wrap Up: Review & Reflect

Toward the end of your program, you’ll want to decide what your next steps are after Verto. What have you learned about yourself and the world around you? What have you gained? What do you want to explore further? What impact do you want to make on the world?

Spend the last few days of the program completing your final assignments, reflecting on your personal and academic growth over the last few months, saying goodbye to new friends, and winding down before heading back home.

Academic Focus



Rhetoric and Composition for the College Writer*

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing.

This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging core content explored through other Verto courses. Students use essential questions for other courses taken during the semester to contextualize the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course will be facilitated throughout the full semester. 

 *Note: Students with College Writing or equivalent credit do not need to enroll in Rhetoric & Composition and have the option to enroll in “World Literature: Continuation of Rhetoric & Composition for the College Writer.”

Spanish Language Immersion

This course blends classroom learning with real-world Spanish immersion.

Through highly participatory course-work and a homestay experience, students have opportunities to put their Spanish language skills to use every day. This course is equivalent to an introductory or intermediate Spanish language course and includes vocabulary development, grammar, sentence structure, spoken language proficiency, and culture. Students are encouraged to integrate as best as possible into their homestay family to practice speaking Spanish on a daily basis! 

Environmental Science

This course will utilize the vast ecosystem of Costa Rica as a landscape for learning.

Combination of coursework and field study in stunning Manuel Antonio will help students understand how humans influence natural science.  Students will also develop skills to work as part of a team to solve problems, develop hypotheses or otherwise inquire about the natural world in a collaborative manner. Students will have the opportunity to visit a sea turtle sanctuary and soak up the sun in one of the most sought after Pacific Coast destinations in Costa Rica.

Global Health

Global Public Health in Culture & Context

This course examines the cultural, political, economic, and geographic contexts of meeting public health needs. Through fieldwork supporting local public health initiatives in a developing country setting, students gain dynamic perspectives on how communities define and meet their public health needs. During this rotation, students will participate in health care service projects and visit an indigenous community to learn more about the variance of health care needs in Latin America.

College Readiness Curriculum Seminar

In collaboration with Verto faculty, Program Leaders will facilitate workshops to help students develop study habits to help them be a successful college student. They’ll learn how to manage their time, study efficiently and effectively, read academic text, prepare for exams, and build confidence in their academic capabilities. Activities in the College Readiness Curriculum are hands-on and directly related to creating strong academic habits that will serve students well beyond their Verto semesters.

Purpose-Finding Workshop

Throughout the semester, Program Leaders will facilitate small group workshops to help students discover their purpose and create an action plan for how to follow through on their goals. Each student is assigned an individual Program Leader mentor who helps students set goals for the program and meets with the student regularly to provide feedback and support around the challenges associated with being abroad. This workshop will help students understand culture shock, cross-cultural communication, mindfulness, and help put their semester abroad into the context of their life and the future.

Community Building

Verto Program Teams will create purposeful activities to build a strong community amongst Verto students. The connections you make during your Verto semester will last a lifetime! In addition to the College Readiness and Purpose-Finding workshops, Program Teams will cultivate a community of acceptance, connection, openness, and support amongst Verto students. There are built-in opportunities for students to learn and grow together as a group with an emphasis on peer relationships and teamwork.

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Important Information

Details about Verto Latin America Semester:


Students will rotate between homestay and student residence depending on which block they’re studying. 

Student residence:

  • Shared bedrooms
    • Single beds
    • 1 wardrobe per student
    • Linen pack
  • Study area
  • Shared common areas: kitchen/dining & living room
  • Shared bathrooms
  • Fully furnished bedrooms and common rooms 
  • Wireless Internet access throughout residence
  • Fully equipped kitchen
    • Utensils
    • Cutlery
    • Cookware

All homestays will have at least 2 Verto students per home; some will have individual rooms and others may share a double room. All homestays are equipped with wifi, single bed, wardrobe, and 1 desk per student.

Homestay families are carefully vetted for safety and to ensure that Verto students needs are met. All homestays are within walking distance to the study center, and we do our best to have groups of students in homestays stay in the same neighborhood/block with others. Homestay families will want to incorporate the students into the fabric of their family as much as the student is able or willing. 

Homestays are an excellent way for students to rapidly improve their conversational Spanish and integrate into Tico culture, and often it is the highlight of the student experience!


Three meals/day are included in the semester fee.

Homestay: If students choose not to eat a meal with their homestay family on any given night, they need to let their host family know and will not be refunded the cost of that meal.


Students are responsible for airfare to/from the semester at the beginning and the end.

All transportation between blocks, for excursions, etc. is included.

In San José, students pay on the bus for each ride. The cost per ride is between $0.40 – $0.75.



  • Doka Coffee Tour
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Hike Arenal Volcano and jump in Tabacon Hot Springs
  • Costa Rican cooking classes
  • Zipline and waterfall tour through the jungle


Since all expenses are included in this semester, any money students will need is for small purchases such as personal items, snacks, and souvenirs. We recommend between $100-200 per month.


  • In San José: Classes will take place at the San José Institute in the neighborhood of San Pedro, the city’s University district.
  • In Manuel Antonio: Classes will take place in the open air Study Center in town.


US passport holders to not need a visa to participate in the Latin America semester.

All passports should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of the program. If this is not the case, students should renew their passport as soon as possible.

Non-US passport holders should check with the local consulate and will need to obtain the proper visa to participate in the semester.*

*Verto Education is not responsible for any students’ inability to obtain the correct visa for any given semester, and cancellation fees will apply if a student is denied the proper visa. Verto Education cannot overturn any decision made by any Consular or Embassy official.

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