The next application deadline is Oct 1, 2024
See other program dates


The SFS Sustainable Development Studies Program in Costa Rica is a field study program that focuses on ecology, biology, and environmental science. During the program, you will examine the effects of globalization on classic sustainability issues such as agro-ecology, national park protection, economic development, urban sprawl, population growth, trash management, air quality, and more. Go off the beaten path and experience sustainability in action.


This is an academically rigorous program that follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help you actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Costa Rica.

You will register for several courses that focus on tropical ecology, sustainable development, ethics and economics, resource management, and language and culture. You can also complete a directed research course which gives you the unique opportunity to conduct independent field-based research.

Program Features

The program is located at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies, a small farm overlooking the Rio Grande River. You will live in a dormitory shared by fellow SFS students.

The friendly town of Atenas is a short walk from the field station, while Costa Rica's tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes are within a day's travel.


Review eligibility to ensure that you meet all Columbia requirements to study abroad.

Review the external program webpage to understand any additional program prerequisites.

Application Instructions

To apply, you must complete the two steps below. Deadlines vary, and some applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Therefore, you should complete the steps below simultaneously:

  • To apply for Columbia clearance (approval) to study abroad, click on "Start Your Application" on this webpage. Clearance applications are approved on a rolling basis until the application deadline listed on this webpage.
  • To apply for program admission, complete an external application directly on the program webpage. Note that this deadline may be in advance of the Columbia clearance deadline.