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Off-Campus Study

ISEP Earth University in Costa Rica - Integrated Study in Spanish

Founded in 1990, EARTH University’s innovative educational approach prepares young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, including Africa and Asia, to contribute to the sustainable development of their countries and construct a prosperous and just society. EARTH offers rigorous undergraduate programs in agricultural sciences and natural resources management with a prestigious, international faculty, providing a world-class scientific and technological education that emphasizes values, ethical entrepreneurship and environmental and social commitment.

EARTH was established by Costa Rican law in 1986 as a private, non-profit, international university and was created thanks to the support of the Costa Rican Government, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Learn more about Earth University and the country of Costa Rica by reading the country handbook!

Program Type

Direct only


Mercedes, Limón Province, Costa Rica

Languages of Instruction


Program Dates

Fall 2018: September to December

Spring 2019: January to April

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75  

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.


 ISEP Direct chance of placement for US students is Excellent.


EARTH University Campus

EARTH University’s campus is located approximately halfway between the capital city of San José and the Caribbean port city of Limón, in the heart of the tropical Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica. The 8,342-acre campus includes classrooms, laboratories, sustainable academic farms, sporting and recreational facilities, chief operational offices, student and faculty residences, a commercial banana plantation, reforested areas and a large, protected rainforest reserve. Since the academic and residential buildings are located around six kilometers (almost four miles) from the main entrance, you will find almost everything you need on campus. 


Become fully integrated into the EARTH community and way of life alongside EARTH’s full-time undergraduate students from more than 40 countries across Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. You’ll take courses in environmental science, organic agriculture, sustainability, community development and Latin American studies, among others. 12 different course-load options are available.

Program Website 

Course Description

Students have the opportunity to take courses in environmental science, organic agriculture, sustainability, community development and Latin American studies, among other offerings.

Four different course-load options are available for ISEP students each trimester. Further information regarding academic tracks for study abroad students can be found on the EARTH University website. 

Fields of Study

  • Agriculture: 

    Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture,  Plant Protection and Integrated Pest Management

  • Natural Resources/Conservation: 

    Environmental Science,  Sustainability Studies

  • Area Studies 

    Latin American Studies

Student Life

Here is a link that you can learn about the campus life at Earth University.

Housing and Meals

Students are provided with housing and meals.



Share a dorm room; share your culture.  At EARTH, you will share a dorm room with another classmate of a different nationality in one of our thirteen gender-specific student residence buildings.

Within each room, you will have your own bed and an armoire to store your belongings.  In addition, you will have small vanity table with drawers and a desk where you can study.

Each residence includes shared bathrooms, living rooms and gathering areas for de-stressing with your roommates.

Cleaning is divided among all residents, so you will take turns with your classmates to maintain your residence hall.

For convenience, the dorms are located within close walking distance of the cafeteria, classrooms, library and laundry facilities.

In 2011, EARTH opened a “green” dorm, featuring energy-efficient lighting, solar water heaters, and a rainwater collection system for toilets and outdoor sinks.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee.  

The Direct fee includes the orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week, but Direct fees are set by the host university and may be different than that of Exchange, which tend to be less expensive to promote more exchange opportunities for all schools.  

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019:

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP.

(included in program fee)

Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate, nor fees to enroll in courses at partner institutions, and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.