• Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior
• At the time of application, students must have completed one semester at a US college or university.
• For semester programs, previous college-level ecology or environmental studies course is required.  Additionally, semester applicants must have one college-level course in Spanish or excellent achievement in at least three years of high school Spanish.
There are no Spanish or ecology course prerequisites for the summer programs, but previous coursework is recommended.
• 2.8 cumulative GPA for semester programs; 2.6 cumulative GPA for summer programs
• First-semester Spanish is required for semester programs. There is no Spanish required for summer programs.
• Open to UW-Madison degree-seeking students only
• Good academic and disciplinary standing


Ecology, Environmental Studies, Sustainable Development

Classroom Language

English, Spanish


Field Research Station

Program Duration

Fall: Mid-September - Mid-December
Spring: Early February - Early May
Summer: Early June - Early July or Mid-July - Mid-August

Application Deadline(s)

TermApplication Deadline
Spring 2015-16  10/2/2015
Summer 2016 Session I: June-July 2/26/2016
Summer 2016 Session I & II: June-August 2/26/2016
Summer 2016 Session II: July-August 2/26/2016
Fall 2016-17  2/26/2016
Spring 2016-17  9/30/2016
Complete applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Early submissions encouraged.

Future durations will be posted at a later date.

Questions about this program?
Contact a Peer Advisor!

Costa Rica, Atenas
SFS Sustainable Development Studies

Overview | Academics | Cost | Logistics | Student Voices | Apply

Offered through the School for Field Studies (SFS), the Sustainable Development Studies program is an approved UW affiliate program. On the semester Sustainable Development Studies program you will take an interdisciplinary approach to research on tropical ecology, agro-ecology, socioeconomics, sustainability, park management, natural resource management, and ecological economics. In addition, you will learn about Costa Rican history, culture, and the Spanish language. Two summer sessions are also available: Session I - Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation, & Development and Session II - Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Toward Sustainability.
The Center for Sustainable Development Studies is a small farm on a hillside with spectacular views overlooking the Rio Grande river in the fertile Central Valley. The field station is part of the small neighborhood of La Presa/Los Angeles. 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.
You will be working closely with both IAP and SFS on this program. You can access the program's main information page through the SFS website to learn more about the academics, housing, excursions and activities, and program location.