Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde, Costa Rica (CIEE)

  • Location: Costa Rica - Monteverde
  • GPA Requirements: 2.75 GPA
  • Other Requirements: two semesters of college level biology
  • Program Structure: Structured - not direct enrollment
  • Application Deadline: February 20 for fall programs and September 20 for spring programs
  • Program Term(s): Fall, Spring
  • Official Website: Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde, Costa Rica (CIEE)

Program Dates:

Fall 2023: August 14th – December 2nd

Spring 2024: January 22nd – May 11th

Fall 2024: August 19th – December 7th


2.75 G.P.A, two semesters of college level biology. One semester of college level ecology or environmental since is recommended. Some college level Spanish is recommended but there is not specific language requirement for the program.

Where: Monteverde, Costa Rica

Monteverde is a small, international community, nestled along the edge of the cloud forest in the Tilarán Mountains.  Drawn to the area’s spectacular beauty and opportunities to see quetzals and monkeys, tourists now contribute the principal revenues to the zone, although coffee plantations and dairy farms still dot the landscape.  This area is famous as an epicenter for grassroots conservation and private reserves, and the community is emerging as the vanguard of innovation for Costa Rica’s carbon neutrality program..


This demanding program is designed for energetic, outdoorsy students who are committed to fully immersing in academics, nature, and local culture.  Tropical Ecology and Conservation is for students who are studying biology and related fields. Students 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 complimented with Spanish language study.

Courses are taught by biology professors from universities in Costa Rica and the United States who hold degrees in ecology and have extensive tropical experience.  Guest lectures include resident and visiting biologists.

There is a wet laboratory, an herbarium, plus organic gardens to support a wide array of STEM studies and research opportunities.  An extensive trail system through forest and fields, links classrooms to a botanical garden, animal stables and coffee and vegetable production areas.

All participants take 5 required courses:
3 CIEE biology and ecology courses
1 Spanish language course at the appropriate level
1 Independent Research course

Academic Structure

Students learn with other CIEE participants in small, dynamic groups, taking five classes that are required for this program. Learning happens through lectures, fieldwork, excursion, interviews, small group work, and discussions. Because of the focus on critical thinking, assignments and exams are writing intensive.  Classes are typically held Monday through Friday and are for CIEE participants only. Instruction is supported and augmented online by Canvas, our e-learning management tool.

Course Credit

CIEE Biology and Ecology courses: 2 – 4 U.S. semester/3 – 6 quarter credits; 30 – 60 contact hours per course
CIEE Spanish language courses: 3 – 4 U.S. semester/4.5 – 6 quarter credits; 45 – 60 contact hours


For a full list of course offerings, visit CIEE’s website here.

Housing & Student Life

Students stay in shared rooms with bunk-beds and en suite bathrooms.  There are indoor and outdoor areas for recreation and study with access to forest trails and gardens. Three meals are provided daily.

Application Process

Allegheny students must apply for approval to study off-campus from the Global Education office AND apply directly to their chosen program.For this program, students should work on the Allegheny approval application at the same time as the host program application. The Allegheny approval application deadline is February 20 for fall programs and September 20 for spring programs. Study away approval applications will be reviewed immediately following the appropriate semester deadline. The separate application deadline to apply directly to this program will vary and could be before or after Allegheny’s approval application due date. Check directly on their website (linked at the top of this page) for deadline information. For more information about the study away application process, please visit the application steps page.

Visa Information

Please connect with CIEE regarding visa or residency permit requirements.

Costs & Fees

Students pay Allegheny tuition and fees, double room and meal plan C, as well as a study abroad fee of $800. Allegheny financial aid, except work study/campus employment, is applied to program costs. Allegheny students do not have to pay the program deposit requested by CIEE. Additional costs include CIEE application fee, airfare & local transportation, personal expenses and books and supplies.