Study Abroad in Costa Rica; Universities in Costa Rica with Cheap Tuition, Affordable Living Cost and Admission Requirements


This article is about Universities in Costa Rica, admission requirements for various study levels, tuition fees, student visa, why you should study abroad  in Costa Rica, higher education in Costa Rica, cost of living and how to apply.

But before I do that I think it will be awesome for you to be introduced to Costa Rica…

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. It vegetation is that of a rainforest. Though its capital, San Jose, is home to cultural institutions like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes, and biodiversity.

Roughly a quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle, teeming with wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds. 

Costa Rica literally meaning “Rich Coast”, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island.

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It has a population of around 4.5 million, of whom nearly a quarter live in the metropolitan area of the capital and largest city, San José.

Why Study Abroad in Costa Rica?

  • Exposure to one of the best health care services provided in the world.
  • Low and affordable cost of living
  • High education standards.
  • If you are from a country that uses English as its native language, it will be an opportunity to study in a foreign language, Spanish.

Higher Education in Costa Rica

The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 96.3%, one of the highest in Latin America. When the army was abolished in 1949, it was said that the “army would be replaced with an army of teachers”.

Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution; primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free.

Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.

There are both state and private universities. The University of Costa Rica has been awarded the title “Meritorious Institution of Costa Rican Education and Culture”.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees are low and affordable when compared to places like UK and USA. As an international student, you are expected budget a tuition fee of about $1,500 for a session.

Cost of Living

Cost of living, of course, depends on the location, lifestyle and spending habit of the individual involved. But in many ways Costa Rica is much more cheap and affordable than most advance study abroad destinations.

The minimum needed for a decent standard of living for a single person ranges from $1,500 to $2,000 a month. 

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary from college to college. But there are some requirements that rhyme and that is what I have listed below.

“Endeavour to visit any university you wish to apply for course specific requirements and tuition fees”

To be eligible to apply, international students must be in possession of these documents with regards to the study levels;

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 Minimum Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Studies

  • secondary-level education certificate
  • Identification and
  • Proof of proficiency in Spanish
  • Police record (not for all countries)
  • Health insurance
  • Birth certificate

Master’s Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Four-year bachelor‘s degree equivalent to Bachillerato universitario, Licenciatura;
  • requires a minimum of 4 years of study.
  • Minimum requirement overall (B-): 7.75
  • Minimum requirement in the major (B+): 8.5

Minimum Admission Requirements for Doctoral Studies

  • Master’s / graduate degree equivalent to Maestria, Especialidad profesional
  • Minimum requirement overall (B+): 8.5

Student Visa

When your admission is certain, and you have been offered a place to study in any Costa Rican university, you’ll have to find out which type of visa you will need as this is different form country to country. In some cases you’ll find you don’t need a visa at all; this is the case for citizens of the US, Canada and the EU, as well as those with an existing visa for the US, Canada, Japan or across the EU.

Documents to be required include;

  • Health insurance certificate
  • Admission letter from the University
  • Education certificates
  • Passport
  • Birth certificate

I recommend you find more information about getting a Costa Rican student visa with your desired institution or embassy.

List of Universities in Costa Rica for International Students

Public Universities in Costa Rica

  • Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (TEC, Costa Rica Institute of Technology)
  • Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR, University of Costa Rica)
  • Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED, Distance State University)
  • Universidad Nacional (UNA, National University)
  • National Technical University

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Private Universities  in Costa Rica

  • UAM (Universidad Americana)
  • Universidad CENFOTEC (Universidad Centro de Formación en Technologist de Information y Comunicación / U CENFOTEC)
  • UCIMED (Universidad de Ciencias Medicas)
  • Universidad Cristiana del Sur
  • Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica (UNEM)
  • Universidad Hispanoamerica
  • Universidad Latina
  • Universidad San Juan de la Cruz (SJDLC)
  • University for Peace

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