- Minimum GPA: 2.5
- Foreign Language: 2 semesters of Spanish
- Approval from SMCM Spanish faculty
- Judicial Check
- Spring 2019: January 28th-May 3rd
- Deadline: October 15th
- Homestay housing
- Internship and research opportunities
About the Program
The Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) was created in 1986 to fill the information gap in foreign policy between United States citizens and their government. This program is committed to providing opportunities for language and cultural immersion through classes and community work, as well as access to background information, scholarly materials, lectures and contact with Central Americans.
Semesters at ICADS focus on economic development, education, environmental studies, human rights, public health, wildlife conservation, and women’s issues. There are two tracks available: the internship track or the field research track.
ICADS is based in San Jose, Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, San Jose is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and a major transportation hub. It is the most important working area of the country, which brings in more than a million people on a daily basis.
Originally designed to reflect the European influences of Spanish immigrants, the city center offers a wide variety of cultural events, farmers’ markets, nightlight, and activities. It is also easy to take advantage of weekends to travel to many of the nearby mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and other destinations, both popular and off the beaten track.
There are two 14-week semester program options at ICADS. The first is the Social Justice and Development Internship, and the second is the Environment and Sustainable Development Field Program. Please see an advisor to learn how these courses will transfer back to St. Mary’s.
This hands-on program offers a structured internship that helps to integrate theoretical concepts and real-world experience. Students will move from the classroom theory to actual practice in their internship placement, learning how communities are seeking to create lasting social change. This track is divided into three blocks:
- Block I: (5 weeks) Spanish course (4 credits determined by your placement test in Costa Rica) and Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development course.
- Block II: (8 weeks) Structured internship (9 upper-level credits).
- Block III: (1 week) Written work, oral presentations, final evaluations and reentry presentation/discussion (part of the internship credits).
As part of the Field Program, students gain research experience in both the natural sciences (forest ecology, agro-ecology, soil sciences) and social sciences (sociology, anthropology, history, economics) while learning to address environmental issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students are provided with the analytical tools and research expertise to make meaningful contributions to ongoing work in the area of “sustainable development,” with the recognition that workable solutions to environmental conflicts can only come from an understanding of the intersection between community needs, ecosystem dynamics, and political-economic systems. This track is divided into three blocks:
- Block I: (5 weeks) Spanish course (4 credits determined by your placement test in Costa Rica) and Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development course and Sustainable Development.
- Block II: (4 weeks) Field projects: Ecology of Managed and Natural Ecosystems (3 upper-level credits).
- Block III: (5 weeks) Independent projects: Written work, oral presentations, final evaluations and reentry presentation/discussion (6 upper-level credits).
Housing and Meals
Upon arrival, students are placed with Costa Rican families. The host families provide students with private rooms, breakfast, dinner, and laundry service. Family placements are supervised by a housing coordinator who makes every effort to match the needs of each student with the reality of the host family.
In the city, students primarily reside with lower middle to middle class families. While traveling or during internship residences, students may be housed with humble, rural families.
ICADS takes a very participatory approach and offers a variety of activities during the time that you are not in class. You will have the opportunity to visit quality local museums, hear from expert lecturers on a variety of topics, taste-test a buffet of tropical fruit in ICADS’s fabulous Fiesta de Frutas, learn Latin dancing, volunteer in marginalized communities, and more. Additionally, there are gyms in San Jose that students can join and many find that dance lessons are an excellent way to stay fit.
- ICADS Home Page
- ICADS Frequently Asked Questions
- Student Life at ICADS
- Information for LGBTQ Students
- Academic Accommodations at ICADS
- Lonely Planet Guide
How credits taken abroad will transfer back to SMCM.
The academic and judicial requirements for any student considering studying abroad.
How financial aid will apply towards your study abroad program and what scholarships are available.
Payment processes for semester-long, short-term, and non-SMCM study abroad programs.