Bilingual Spanish Language Intensive for Social Workers


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Bilingual Spanish Language Intensive for Social Workers


Students on this program improve their Spanish language skills and learn about Costa Rican society.
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: Spanish
Term: Summer
Academic Disciplines: Social WorkSpanish
Program Type: Summer Non-Faculty Led

  • Take classes at the Universidad de Costa Rica, the largest public university in Costa Rica
  • Earn credit in Social Work and Spanish
  • Choose between the one month and two month program options

Costa Rica

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. The capital of San José is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. 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.

Universidad de Costa Rica

The Universidad de Costa Rica is the oldest and largest university in Costa Rica, with a population of 35,000 students. The University of Kansas-Universidad de Costa Rica exchange program, initiated in 1958, is the oldest inter-university exchange of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Initiatives such as the collaborative short-term study abroad programs designed by the KU School of Social Welfare and UCR strengthen the bond between the two universities

We anticipate next offering this program in Summer 2022.

The primary goals of the program are to help students improve their language skills, become familiar with Costa Rican culture, and prepare future social workers to work in agencies that serve immigrant populations and diverse communities. There will be several meetings prior to departure and upon return. While in Costa Rica, students will complete an intensive Spanish language course at the Universidad de Costa Rica and live with a host family to further practice their language skills and be immersed in Costa Rican culture. Students can choose between two program lengths: one or two months.

Six or nine hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. Students participating on the one-month program will enroll in three credit hours of Spanish language and three credit hours of Social Work. Students participating on the two-month program will enroll in six credit hours of Spanish language and three credit hours of Social Work. Depending on the student’s language level, the Spanish credits will post at KU as SPAN 170, SPAN 270, or SPAN 371. Social Work credits will be SW 560, SW 855, or SW 955.

This program includes several mandatory class sessions prior to departure as well as upon return. Two pre-departure sessions will focus on changing U.S. demographics, especially on the foreign born, and Costa Rican history and culture. While in Costa Rica, students will journal, through reflection and analysis, on the differences and similarities between Costa Rica and the U.S. and possible impact on future social work practice. Upon return, two more classes will include content on United States immigration law, immigrant eligibility for benefits, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, meaningful access to services for limited English proficient individuals, the Cultural and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards, and the basics of using an interpreter. Additionally, the group will share their findings through an information presentation.

Students will live with host families. The homestay is designed to help students improve their Spanish language proficiency and immerse them in Costa Rican life. Three meals are provided daily. Most students use public transportation to get to UCR. 

The KU Grupo de Kansas office is located on campus close to many UCR facilities. Two on-site coordinators work in the office with all KU programs.  

Students will take a city tour of San José to become familiar with the city and visit important sites of interests. Examples of previous excursions include the beach and La Fortunat waterfall, Arenal Volcano and the hot springs.  Once excursion per month is included in the program.

Students on the two-month program with sufficient language ability may be able to volunteer at a service agency in San José. If this is of interest, students can speak with the on-site coordinators upon arrival to discuss options. 

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.

Open to KU BSW, MSW & Doctoral students. Minimum 2.5 GPA required. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

Social Welfare Study Abroad Scholarships

The Dean of the School of Social Welfare has scholarships available for students admitted into the KU School of Social Welfare. All students who submit a complete Study Abroad program application by the deadline will be considered for the scholarships. Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of academic merit and financial need.

For More Information, Contact:

Associate Professor Rick Spano 
School of Social Welfare
785-864-8971
ricks@ku.edu