Study Abroad Program Overview
Take advantage of the unique opportunities of this quarter-long program in Monteverde, a rural community of Costa Ricans and North Americans who share a bicultural and bilingual lifestyle in a growing eco-tourism area. Located between seasonally dry Pacific slopes to the west and the tropical rain forest of the Atlantic slope to the east, the area's unique contrasting wet and dry forests present extraordinary opportunities to study plant-animal interactions, ecology, and natural history.
You will also visit marine habitats and lowland environments. Two of the larger reserves include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Bosque Eterno de los Niños, which together provide a habitat and protection to more than 3,000 species of plants and a variety of animal species including spider monkeys, quetzales, mountain lions, and tapirs. Strenuous hiking and rustic living conditions contribute to the rewarding nature of this program.
Because of Monteverde's rich biological attributes, the area is the target of strong conservation efforts. It attracts biologists from around the world, many of whom serve as guest lecturers and resources for UCEAP.
Students attend classes with UC students only.
Language of Instruction
Go to the Participants
section to see current or past calendars.
early October to mid-December
late March to early June
Your housing changes according to program activities. Accommodations include homestays, residence at the dormitory-style Monteverde Biological Station, stays at other rural field stations, and camping. You live with other UC students.
On this program the activities are so rich and varied that you'll hardly even wonder about whether they are extracurricular or not. The program begins with a two-week field trip through national parks in different ecological zones with camping and stays in field stations. You will live with a Costa Rican family in Monteverde, hike deeper into the cloud forest to experience another environment for several days and finish the program back in Monteverde again. It doesn't get much better than this!
UCEAP students are supported by UC's network of EAP offices at every UC campus and partnerships with UCEAP host universities throughout the world. The Resident Director and local staff help students adapt to life in the field and provide assistance with academics, housing, safety, and other issues.
See the UCEAP Program Guide
for program-specific details about host institutions, program structure, and courses; academic culture and conduct; units, exams, and grades; orientation; housing.
This interactive learning experience offers you a chance study and apply your knowledge of plant-animal interactions, ecology, evolution, behavior, natural history, taxonomy, conservation, and discipline-specific Spanish. Courses combine lectures, extensive field trips, and independent research that will teach you how to ask and answer a research question. You also have the opportunity to use video to document natural phenomena and behavior.
At the end of the program, you present your research in a symposium open to the entire community of Monteverde.
Five courses are required for the program:
- Tropical Diversity
listed under Biological Sciences, upper division, 4 UC quarter units
- Tropical Community Ecology
listed under Biological Sciences, upper division, 4 UC quarter units
- Tropical Biology Research Practicum
listed as Biological Sciences & Environmental Studies, upper division, 4 UC quarter units
- Spanish for Biologists
lower or upper division, depending on level, 2 UC quarter units
listed as Environmental Studies, upper division, 2 UC quarter units
Use the following resources to learn about UCEAP courses:
You are required to take a full-time course of study while abroad.
Students from quarter system campuses enroll in all five courses to reach the program requirement of 16 quarter units of UC credit.
Internships, Research, and Independent Study
Independent research is an integral part of the Monteverde program. Students will develop a research proposal on a particular aspect of tropical ecology designed around direct field experience. After conducting the fieldwork, they analyze their results and produce a written report. Students also share their findings in an oral presentation during the biology symposium at the end of the term.
Past topics have included the effects of forest fragmentation on species richness, bioluminescence of beetles, and detection of anti-fungal agents by leafcutter ants. Past UCEAP participants report that this independent work has been instrumental in developing their research skills and strengthening their dedication to the field of biology.
Internships for academic credit are not possible on this program.
The Monteverde Institute (MVI) is a nonprofit Costa Rican organization dedicated to education, applied research, sustainable development, and community service. UCEAP has partnered with MVI for 20 years to provide a range of services to students on this amazing program. MVI assists with all of the logistical challenges involved in the numerous field trips and unusual scheduling that the program requires. At the same time, it offers computer and lab facilities for UCEAP use during the periods that students spend in Monteverde and coordinates many other activities. Though UC manages the academic curriculum of the program, MVI’s Program Director collaborates with its instructors and staff throughout the program.
Participation in UCEAP is a great value! The cost of studying abroad on UCEAP programs is typically less than that of non-UC study abroad programs. The dollar figures listed in the chart below represent an estimate of: 1) the UCEAP fees for the current year, and 2) the additional amount needed to cover your living expenses in this location. Estimates for personal travel, entertainment and Non-Resident (out of state) Fees are not included.
Keep in mind that on UCEAP you take your financial aid with you. The amount of your financial aid package will take into account the total estimated costs of this experience. One advantage of selecting UCEAP for study abroad is that we facilitate the process by working with your UC Financial Aid Office (FAO), informing them of your UCEAP participation and providing them with your UCEAP budget. Just like your UC Campus billing office, we receive your financial aid and scholarships from your FAO, apply it to cover the UCEAP program fees, and disburse any remaining aid on a set schedule.
Estimated EAP Costs *
* Estimates do not include Miscellaneous Campus Fees or, if applicable, Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition, Graduate or Professional Fees. If you are subject to out-of-state tuition at your UC campus, you will pay Non-Resident Fees on UCEAP.
1 UCEAP Fees: This represents an estimate of UCEAP fees for the current year. Actual amounts will vary due to potential changes to UC fees, exchange rate fluctuation, etc. This figure includes UC tuition and fees for undergraduate, in-state residents. For a detailed breakdown of what’s included in this estimate, visit the Participants Portal and select the appropriate program. Non-Resident Fees apply: If you are subject to out-of-state tuition at your UC campus, you will pay non-resident fees on UCEAP.
2 Additional Costs: Average living expenses include but are not limited to room and board, transportation, books, supplies, and other incidentals and do not include recreational travel or entertainment. The total cost will vary depending on your personal expenses, exchange rate fluctuation, and the program you attend. For a detailed breakdown of the estimate, visit the “Cost” tab of the appropriate program.
All fees are subject to change without notice.
These expenses are estimated for 2014-15. Actual amounts will vary due to potential changes to UC fees, exchange rate fluctuation, etc. For a more detailed breakdown of 2014-15 payment information, visit the Participants Portal
and select the appropriate program. Estimates do not include Non Resident Fees. If you are subject to out-of-state tuition at your UC campus, you will pay Non Resident Fees on UCEAP.
Here’s what is included in the estimate:
- UC fees
- Room and board for homestays, dorms, and field-trip accommodations
- Instructional trips to Peñas Blancas, Corcovado, or Cuajiniquil
- Entrance fees to Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve and field stations
- On-site orientation upon arrival at the Hotel Cacts in San José
- Group travel to Monteverde
- Round-trip transportation from California
- Predeparture expenses for documents and supplies
- Books and other expenses for special research equipment
- Use of the library and labs
- Farewell dinner and return travel to San José
- Automatic transfer of credits and grades to your UC transcript
While on UCEAP, you are covered by UC’s accident and medical insurance, including non-medical benefits, and 24/7 travel assistance anywhere in the world.
UCEAP scholarships are available. Please visit our scholarships overview page for general information and details regarding eligibility requirements and application deadlines.
Junior, Senior, Graduate
2.85 cumulative GPA at the time of application and maintained through the end of the last term prior to departure.
Other Eligibility Requirements:
Completion of one year of biology, including one quarter of upper-division organismal biology by the time of departure (sometimes possible through an environmental studies course; check with your Campus EAP Office). A course in statistics is strongly recommended.
Ability to adapt successfully to a tropical environment with a large amount of rainfall and dramatic temperature fluctuations, strenuous physical activity involving long hikes and backpacking (you will carry your belongings), and a new way of learning (outdoor instruction, sometimes at night).
All applicants must also have:
- Serious academic goals and a clear plan for integrating EAP studies into the student's UC degree program.
- Social, interpersonal, and cross-cultural sensitivity; maturity; willingness to adapt successfully to different living and academic environments; appropriate behavior in a variety of situations.
- A willingness to abide by program regulations.
- Completed all campus- and program-specific requirements.
Application Information and Deadlines
Application deadlines and information on the application process are available through your Campus EAP Office. Supplemental pre-departure materials will be required for many programs, including, but not limited to, host institution applications, visa and housing applications, medical clearances, etc.
For participation in the program, you must meet all deadlines and submit complete application materials.
These are minimum requirements. Your Campus EAP Office determines selection and final admission.
Visit your Campus EAP website for program-specific deadlines:
Changing Lives: Back to the Farm
Studying in Costa Rica and UK sparks a new life course for this couple. Watch Now