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Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) - Costa Rica


The Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) mission is to educate participants about Central America by teaching Spanish and by offering academic programs that utilize a theoretically critical perspective as well as hands-on experience to help students deepen insights into current social, political and economic realities and their effects on the environment and society, especially the poor and marginalized.

The semester study programs at ICADS aim to increase understanding of the region within a historical perspective, to develop a theoretical framework for the analysis of root causes, forms and dimensions of underdevelopment and injustice; to stimulate critical evaluation of current development strategies, analyzing their effects on women, children, the poor and the environment; and to search for alternative methods, policies and strategies.


Students are encouraged to apply if they:

  • Major in Biology or International Affairs, or minor in Spanish, Biology, Environmental Science or Sustainable Development
  • Have their advisor’s approval
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher
  • Have Sophomore standing or above


Environment & Sustainable Development Field Program

  • 3 Credits Spanish (can count for SPN 102 core, if the student has taken or tested out of SPN 101)
  • 3 Credits ECON/SOC 421 Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development
  • 3 Credits Ecology of Managed and Natural Ecosystems
  • 6 Credits Independent Research

Language & Society Program

  • 6 Credits Spanish 
  • 3 Credits ECON/SOC 421 Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development
  • 6 Credits Directed Internship


Student Financial Services will reassess each applicant's financial aid package for their off-campus semester and provide a breakdown of costs after acceptance from the GEO. Federal and private aid will not be affected. Please contact SFS for specific financial questions. Regular Gordon tuition and fees cover the following:

  • Tuition
  • Housing (with host families within a ten-minute bus ride to ICADS)
  • Laundry (with host families)
  • Breakfast and dinner with host families (students are expected to buy lunch every day)
  • Course materials
  • Program and supervisor fees
  • Transport to ICADS programs site visits

Items not covered:

  • Flights
  • Transportation between the host family house and the ICADS office (every house is walkable)
  • Daily lunches in San José
  • Personal expenses
  • Independent travel and local transportation


All Gordon students applying to this program must first submit an online seat application to the Global Education Office before applying directly to your program (for both Spring and Fall semesters). Seat applications must be submitted to the GEO by March 1.

After the Global Education Office has notified you of your approval, you may proceed with the program's application. See ICADS website for more information on application and deadlines. 


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