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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Summer
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: USAC 
  • Restrictions: AppState applicants only
  • Dates / Deadlines
Fact Sheet:
Program Description:


Study in Costa Rica!


The Puntarenas program is ideal for students who are committed to learning the Spanish language and diverse cultures of Latin America. Through formal coursework and personal interaction with the host culture, you will greatly expand your language skills and knowledge of Costa Rican society. Puntarenas offers a small beach town environment where you’ll be able to practice your Spanish regularly and immerse yourself in local culture. Costa Rica as a whole is well known for its extraordinary natural beauty, preserved in its many national parks and reserves, which you will have the opportunity to discover firsthand. You may choose to stay for a summer session, one semester or a full year.


Puntarenas is a small beach town environment where you'll be able to practice your Spanish regularly and immerse yourself in the local culture. The geography of Puntarenas is unique since it is located at the end of a sandy peninsula almost five miles long, but only 120 to 700 yards wide. Consequently, one is always close to the ocean and there are many beaches from which to choose. Puntarenas offers the peace and rural beauty of a small town while at the same time affording easy access to other parts of Costa Rica. From Puntarenas, you can travel up and down the coast to world-class surfing beaches, nature reserves, and plantations. This central Pacific region offers something for every outdoor enthusiast. 

Academic Calendar
  • Fall Semester: Late August to Mid December
  • Spring Semester: Mid January to Early May
  • Summer Semester I: Early June to Mid July
  • Summer Semester II: Early July to Early August
For more information about the Academic Calendar please visit the USAC Puntarenas web page.



USAC students will be placed in home stays.  The families are located within easy commuting distance of the university and will provide you with daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ll have a private bedroom and laundry service. Your family will be interested in you and your activities and they will serve as a good source of local practical information and advice; you’ll get to live and learn the “Tico” culture from the perspective of a local family.


Program Costs

Paid to Appalachian State
  Semester Summer
1USAC Tuition See USAC See USAC
2OIED Program Development Fee $200 $200
Intl Health Development Fee $60 $60
1Tuition and fees are charged at the USAC rate.
2The OIED Program Development Fee will be placed on students’ accounts upon acceptance by the Education Abroad Office. The fee payment confirms your spot and is non-refundable.

Estimated Additional Costs
  Semester Academic Year Summer
1Housing $2100 $4200 Included in Program Fee
USAC Application Fee $100 $100 $100
USAC Confirmation Deposit $500 $500 $500
Airfare $600 - $1200  $600 - $1200 $600 - $1200
2Personal Expenses $800 - $1500 $1600 - $3000 $300 - $500
Additional Meals $40 - $60 $80 - $120 $20 - $50
Books and Materials $70 - $140 $140 - $280 $150 - $360
Local Transportation $218 $436 $40 - $70
Visa (for US Citizens) $330 $330 $0
Passport $150 $150 $150
3US Based Health Insurance Varies Varies NA
4Personal Travel and Spending $800 - $1200 $1600 - $2400 $200 - $400
1Home stay includes 3 meals per day.
2Personal expenses includes but is not limited to: toiletries, cell phone, emergency funds, laundry, clothing, utilities, basic travel and entertainment, etc 
3Students are encouraged to maintain a US based health insurance plan while abroad (to exempt out of AppState insurance students must follow the App exemption process - proving that they have insurance coverage for the entirety of the semester.
4Personal Travel and Spending amounts will vary by student and will be affected by how often a student goes out, travels, and the items they purchase.

Please note that non-billable costs are estimates only and will be affected by personal spending habits, currency fluctuations, etc. Prices listed in USD unless otherwise noted.


Students are encouraged to start planning for their study abroad program costs well in advance. Please use the Student Financial Planning Worksheet to help estimate your anticipated expenses and your anticipated financial resources.  When planning for estimated additional costs students are encouraged to research currency conversion rates.  

Financial Aid

The majority of financial aid and scholarships can apply to semester and year-long study abroad programs. For more information please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid web page.


USAC Scholarships
USAC offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for students.  Scholarship awards range from $500 to $1000.

OIED Scholarships
Each semester OIED offers a variety of different scholarship opportunities for students. Scholarship awards range from $250 to $2000. 

Benjamin A Gilman Scholarship
The Gilman Scholarship Program application is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide.

Fund for Education Abroad
Applicants from groups underrepresented in study abroad and those destined for non-traditional locations are given preference, in an effort to make the demographics of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad reflect the rich diversity of the U.S. population.

For information about additional scholarships please visit our External Scholarships web page.


The Puntarenas program offers three diverse academic areas: Spanish Language, Ecological Studies, and Latin American Studies, including an intensive Spanish language track. The summer Puntarenas program offers two sessions, one 5-week and one 3-week, that can be taken individually or back-to-back for an 8-week session. Courses are available in Intensive Spanish Language, Ecological Studies, and Latin American Studies.

For more information about the courses and structure of the program please visit the USAC Puntarenas website.

All students are expected to maintain at least the equivalent of a full time course load according to Appalachian State and the host university while abroad (whichever is greater). Students participating on the USAC Puntarenas program will be required to enroll in 12-18 credits per semester and 3-10 credits for the summer. For more information about study abroad enrollment policies, credit approval, and credit and grade conversions please visit the Academics section of our website.

How to Apply

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and some programs may fill up before the listed deadline. Each year applications for Fall, Spring, and Summer will open up on August 1st. Once open the deadline will be listed below and an Apply Now button will be available at the top and bottom of this page. Most applications will have a 2 part application process so students are encouraged to complete their OIED application well before the listed deadline.

Students applying to a USAC program should complete the USAC application while also completing the Appalachian application.

For more information about deadlines and how to apply please visit our Guide Me web page.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline OIED Approval Date Start Date End Date
Fall Semester 2021 02/15/2021 11/01/2021 TBA TBA
Academic Year 2021-2022 02/15/2021 11/01/2021 TBA TBA
Summer 2021 03/15/2021 04/15/2021 TBA TBA
Spring Semester 2022 09/15/2021 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.