Early Childhood Unified in Costa Rica

Image of program volunteers giving school supplies to children in Costa Rica.
This intensive seminar aims at providing KU students and non-KU students with a general perspective on educational institutions, specifically early childhood and early childhood special education, and services in Costa Rica.
Location: La Fortuna, Monteverde, and San Jose, Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • Study international education in Costa Rica
  • Earn one or three credit hours
  • Visit urban schools and small rainforest communities during program excursions

This intensive seminar aims at providing KU students and non-KU students with a general perspective on educational institutions, specifically early childhood and early childhood special education, and services in Costa Rica. This will be accomplished through lectures and site visits to communities, early childhood programs, and schools. The program focuses on settings and inclusiveness in private and public programs, teachers’ training and family participation. The students will examine services offered in Costa Rican institutions and how they are similar or differ across contexts and cultures. Additionally, the students will have the opportunity to enrich their knowledge of Costa Rica’s culture and biodiversity by participating in excursions.

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. 

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.

One or three hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. Students will choose from and enroll in only one of the following courses:

  • LAA 602 Topics in Latin American Studies (3 cr) (undergraduate)
  • SPED 672 Field Experiences with Exceptional Children and Youth (1-3 cr) (undergraduate)
  • SPED 772 Participation with Children and Youth with Disabilities (1-3 cr) (graduate)
  • SPED 995 Field Experience (1-3 cr) (post-graduate) 

Students will stay in double or triple occupancy hotel rooms with all meals included.

While in San José, students will attend lectures about the education system in Costa Rica and interact with professors from the University of Costa Rica (UCR). Students will visit multiple schools in San Jose, Monteverde and La Fortuna, including possible visits to the preschool on the UCR campus or government-run preschools in low-income neighborhoods. Cultural activities may include an excursion to a coffee plantation and hot springs, La Paz waterfall, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  

Students will also visit La Fortuna. While there, planned activities may also include a visit to Maleku Indigenous reserve and a tour of two local public schools. Students will also have time to explore the community.  

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 and non-KU undergraduate and graduate students. Minimum 2.5 GPA. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

Jose Martinez, Assistant Professor in the Unified Early Childhood Program within the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas will lead the program. Dr. Martinez earned his doctoral degree in Special Education from the University of Florida. His research focuses on the identification and evaluation of early intervention strategies designed to prevent and ameliorate social and behavioral challenges in children with developmental delays, the application of meta-analytic methods to systematic literature reviews to identify the most effective treatments for children with developmental delays, and the translation of effective practices for children with developmental delays into useful resources that teachers and families can use to improve the quality of lives of these children.

Joseph R. Pearson Hall
Room 506