- Classes taught in English and Spanish
- Community service opportunities
- International excursion
- Minimum 2.75 G.P.A.
- Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors
- No previous knowledge of Spanish is required, but one semester is recommended
- Completed API application
- University contact information form
- One letter of recommendation
- One official transcript
- Entry requirement: valid passport with supporting documents
Add on a Volunteer Program!
- API students completing a study abroad program (particularly in Latin America) may be interested in extending their stay on an API volunteer abroad program. Click on the link below for more information on options and pricing.
- Volunteer Add-On Options
Dates & Fees
If you require syllabi that are not listed below, please contact your API Program Coordinator.
All students will complete the equivalent of fifteen (15) U.S. semester credits during the program. All fall and spring semester students will complete the following two required courses:
Spanish Language (3) – Conducted in Spanish – REQUIRED
Offered at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, the Spanish language course teaches students to effectively communicate orally and in writing. A Spanish placement test will be given at the beginning of the program to determine the student’s level of proficiency. Classes are offered at all levels of Spanish proficiency and are small in size. Taught in Spanish.
Community Engagement and Sustainable Human Development: A Service-Learning Course (3) – Conducted in English – REQUIRED [Syllabus]
This is a course based on service learning as a pedagogic methodology that prepares college graduates to be active, informed global citizens. This is a credit-bearing educational experience that provides students with the opportunity to participate in community work complemented with reflection spaces that open the possibility of making the proper connections with personal values and course contents: social justice, intercultural understanding, sustainability, global citizenship and civic responsibility. The community work takes places in the context of local human development processes, mainly in urban Costa Rica.
Fall Early Start Course
This course is only available to fall semester students who elect for the early start program option.
Sustainability Practices and Food Security in Rural Costa Rica (6) [Syllabus]
This course provides students with an opportunity for a first-hand, practical experience in the field of environment, ecology, and food security in Costa Rica. Topics to be covered include water management, forest ecosystems, permaculture, animal husbandry, as well as organic agriculture and food security policies and practices at Finca La Flor, an agro-ecological farm in Cartago, Costa Rica. Students will gain an understanding of sustainable principles and their application in a tropical, rural setting; gain hands-on experience of tropical agricultural landscapes and dynamics; explore forest ecosystems and participate in forest management and species data; design, develop and implement improvements in sustainable systems; gain insight into the possible implementation of related environmental and sustainable development policy; address the advances and limitations in the application of organic farming, alternative agricultural and animal husbandry methods; grow to appreciate the complexities and challenges in working with participatory processes; and help develop relations, projects and mutual support between the local community and the farm.
Students will select three of the following course options. Some courses may enroll local Costa Rican students, in addition to your fellow American peers. A minimum enrollment of six students is required to offer any elective course listed below.
Current Environmental Issues in Latin America (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
This course enables students to understand the most relevant issues and challenges of sustainability in Latin America. To this end, case studies and examples are used as a base for policy discussion. In addition, a practical approach to the environmental green, blue, gray and brown agendas and cross-cutting critical topics (energy, climate change and land use systems) constitute the mainstay of the course. The course has been structured under the following three main headings: (a) context, important values and principles; (b) threats and sources of threats; and (c) strategies to improve status.
Democracy in Central America: An Ongoing Question (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
This course explores Latin American politics, economics and society, both from a historical and contemporary perspective, with the idea of showing the links between an unstable past and an uncertain future, as well as their effects of this history on democracy. The course is focused on how the historical tendencies in Latin American nations have shaped the changing relations between the State, the economy and society in an attempt to understand different challenges to the political order and democracy in Latin America. The Latin American region has an important historical relation with the United States and one section of the course will examine the political, and economical relations between the United States and Latin American countries.
Development in Latin America from a Gender Perspective (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
The aim of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the links between gender and development, and to show how gender equality is both an end and a means within development work. The course focuses on the implications of gender and development theory for policy and practice, and the need to work on the creation of a more egalitarian society. Analysis is grounded in the Latin American context but looks into domestic approaches and policies as well as trends in the international arena, fundamental in today’s globalized environment.
Human Rights in Latin America: A Critical Approach (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
This course is aimed at providing students with a profound understanding of the essence of human rights, both by analyzing the moral and political groundings, as well as the legal mechanisms in place for their protection at domestic and international levels. The relationship between human rights and human development is the main focus that guides the progression of the concepts studied. The first part of the course introduces students to the basic concepts of human rights, their philosophical foundations and historical evolution, including the generational approach. The International Bill of Human Rights is reviewed, and the legal and political implications of cultural relativism are discussed. Institutionalized mechanisms for human rights protection are studied, starting with national institutions (the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman’s Office), moving on to the regional mechanisms (Inter-American Human Rights System), and concluding with the international system (that of the United Nations). The second part of the course focuses on some of the most vulnerable populations: women, children, indigenous peoples, and migrants. The specific human rights of these groups will be reviewed as well as current efforts to provide them with special protection.
Latin America: A Mirror of Reality through Film (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
This interdisciplinary course seeks to review and analyze the complexity and richness of Latin American culture and history using films as a vehicle to facilitate students´ understanding. The films selected will provide social, historical and ideological frameworks to study the changes that have taken place in contemporary Latin America. The course will be a seminar, encouraging student participation and discussion.
Rural and Urban Sustainable Development: Global and Local Perspectives (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
This course focuses on rural and urban development in Latin America. It highlights the most important characteristics of sustainable development and charts the evolution of urban and rural development policies and processes in the region. The course provides analytical tools for the students to understand some of the area’s success and failure stories in terms of sustainable development and their impacts on the environment and living conditions of local populations in rural and urban areas.
Spanish Writing and Central American Literature (3) – Conducted in Spanish [Syllabus]
This literature-based course with a writing-intensive focus is designed for students with a high proficiency in Spanish language wishing to move toward fluency by studying the nuances of the Spanish language—including complex grammatical structures—and at the same time to strengthen their listening, reading, and writing skills by tackling complex topics. The course also provides the necessary tools to analyze literary texts by contemporary Central American authors.
Sustainable Tourism and Local Development (3) – Conducted in English [Syllabus]
Sustainable tourism refers to nature-based tourism involving education and understanding of the natural environment and its relationship to local communities, managed so as to be ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable. The course is enriched by the experience of Costa Rica and other Latin American countries in tourism and ecotourism. The course will be given in a seminar form and is complemented by guest speakers, tutorials, and field trips that are designed to provide an overview of ecotourism.
Academic Field Trips
To illustrate and better understand the subject of study, students benefit from several field where they will observe such varied activities as nature tourism, applied biological research, wildlife management and other examples of sustainable human development at work.