Bilingual Spanish Language & Research Intensive for Health Majors


Image of Costa Rica
Students on this program improve their Spanish language skills and learn about Costa Rican society. Research opportunities in exercise science and community health are available.
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: Spanish
Term: Summer
Program Type: Research Abroad

Please note: This program is not being offered in Summer 2021.

  • Take Spanish classes at the Universidad de Costa Rica, the largest university in Costa Rica
  • Receive small-group or individual tutoring focused on Spanish terminology for health care professions
  • Engage in health-related research with UCR faculty
  • Earn HSES and Spanish KU credit

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. 

The goals of this program are to help students improve their language skills and gain familiarity with Costa Rican culture, and to prepare future health care practitioners to work in programs and facilities that serve Spanish speakers. While in Costa Rica, students will take 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. In addition, a UCR professor will provide small group or individual tutoring in Spanish terminology for health care professions.

Students with some Spanish proficiency can engage in exercise immunology research with Exercise Science faculty at the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). Students with no Spanish proficiency can participate in human movement analysis research with other faculty at UCR. Read more about the Pattern Recognition & Intelligent Systems Lab (PRIS) and the Center for Research in Human Movement Sciences lab (CIMOHU) at UCR.

This program is designed for students who do not need to progress in the Spanish course sequence, but want to achieve strong proficiency in the Spanish language and conduct health related research.   Please note that the Spanish coursework and credits earned on this program do not fulfill any part of the Liberal Arts & Sciences language requirement, the Spanish minor, or the Spanish major. 

Nine hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. Students will enroll in six credit hours of Spanish language. Depending on the student’s language level, the KU Spanish credits will be SPAN 170/171SPAN 270/271, or SPAN 370/371.  In addition, all students will participate in health research for 3 credits of HSES 475 Undergraduate Research in Health, Sport, and Exercise Science. HSES 475 counts as a required elective for Exercise Science majors.

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 travel to UCR each day. 

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

During orientation, students will take a city tour of San José to become familiar with the city and visit important sites in the city and country's history and culture. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in one excursion each month.  Examples of previous excursions include the beach and La Fortuna waterfall, Arenal volcano, and hot springs.

Students with sufficient language ability may be able to volunteer in the San José community. 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 all KU students with preference given to students pursuing health-related fields of study. Minimum 2.5 GPA required. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.