Architecture in Costa Rica

Image of a waterfall in Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Winter Break
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • Learn about current environmental urban design issues and solutions in San Jose. 
  • Explore hospitality architecture and Costa Rica’s approach to sustainability and eco-tourism.   

Costa Rica is leading Latin America in best sustainability practices as they work to create a carbon-neutral nation. Students will have a chance to explore and learn about efforts to develop a healthier and greener future for San Jose in learning about city plazas, buildings, and infrastructure. As designers, you will be invited to take part in visioning nodes of opportunity for the Rutas Naturbanas project that is connecting people to urban rivers in and around San José. You will also visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest, explore La Fortuna, and spend time in Park National Manuel Antonio. These excursions will allow for a better understanding of how Costa Rica’s culture and ecology merge to promote sustainable built environments through hospitality, eco-tourism, and urban spaces. 


Depart Kansas City & arrive in San Jose: December 28, 2021

Depart San Jose and arrive in the U.S.: January 17, 2022

Program dates are subject to change.



Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services.

San Jose, Costa Rica (2 days):  The program begins in San Jose, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city and the capital of Costa Rica. It lies in the Central Valley on a plain surrounded by large forested mountain ranges, some of which include active volcanoes, green savannahs, and working coffee plantations.

Monteverde (3 days): The Cloud Forest of Monteverde, one of the prime destinations for ecotourism in Costa Rica, is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity.  Different than a rain forest, it boasts 50% of the species of flora and fauna in all of Costa Rica. We will take a tour with an expert who will guide us through the forest and point out some of the amazing life that lives there.

La Fortuna (4 days): Participants will visit the waterfall at Río Celeste, known for its turquoise colored water and the waterfall at Rio Fortuna. A visit to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges allows participants to view Arenal volcano and birds in the rainforest through sixteen fixed and hanging bridges.

Manuel Antonio (3 days): Participants will travel to Manuel Antonio which is located on the Central Pacific Coast and is about 3 ½ hours south of San Jose. Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s smallest but most famous national park.  Participants will explore its rain forest rich with wildlife and white-sand beaches. Additionally, they will visit local resorts to learn about their sustainable practices and ecotourism in the area.

Dota (2 days): Participants will visit a Natural Reserve to see the Quetzals, the sacred bird of the Mayans and Aztecs. 

San Jose (7 days): Students will collaborate with Rutas Naturbas, who is leading efforts to reimagine urban waterways in San Jose, along with Universidad Veritas students to enhance river access points along Rio Torres. Through designing for improved public access and promoting the protection of the environment, students will develop strategies that explore supporting community needs connected to natural resources and land governance, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

Program Courses:

All Architecture students in the KU Master of Architecture (Tracks I, II, & III) must enroll in:

  • ARCH 690 Architecture Study Abroad (6 credit hours)
  • ARCH 692 Documentation (2 credit hours)

Interior Architecture Students will only enroll in:

  • IAD 690 Study Abroad for Interior Architecture (5 credits)
  • All other students must enroll in ARCH 690 Architecture Study Abroad (6 credit hours).

Program Courses:

ARCH 690 Architecture Study Abroad (6 credit hours) Required 

ARCH 692 Documentation (2 credit hours)  Required for M. Arch I Students, Optional for M. Arch II and III students.

Students will stay in double or triple-occupancy rooms at Costa Rican hotels with breakfast daily. 

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

The program is open to all KU Architecture and Interior Architecture Students with Study Abroad requirements. Prior to the study abroad program, the KU Masters of Architecture Students (3 year or 5 year program) should have completed ARCH 209 or ARCH 502 and Interior Architecture Students should have completed Arch 109.  

The following additional students are eligible on a space-available basis:

  • KU Architectural Studies Students who have completed third year
  • KU Architectural Engineering students who have completed ARCH 200
  • KU Design students who have completed third year and have drawing experience

Priority will be given to KU Architecture and Interior Architecture Students.

Thom Allen teaches the theory of urban design and architectural design studios in the School of Architecture and Design. With an extensive community engagement background, he has worked in many places including New York, Washington DC, Cambridge, and Kansas City.

For more information contact:

Thom Allen, Lecturer
Department of Architecture

Passport and Entry Requirements

All U.S. citizens must have a passport to enter Costa Rica; no tourist visa is required. It’s recommended that the passport is valid for six months beyond the arrival.

June 2021: Passport processing times for U.S. passports are currently 18 weeks for routine service and 12 weeks for expedited service. Students who don't have a valid passport should apply for one immediately. Please view the U.S. Department of State Passport page to read more information about applying for a U.S. passport.

Non U.S. citizens are responsible for understanding their entry requirements. Read more about visas and entry requirements on the website of the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington D.C. Most students will meet the visa waiver requirement of having a visa issued from the U.S., but also must meet the requirement of having a valid passport for six months beyond the arrival. Please carefully read the information on the website.