• 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
Fall 2016-17  2/26/2016
Spring 2016-17  9/30/2016
Complete applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Early submissions encouraged.
Summer 2017 Session I: June-July 2/24/2017
Summer 2017 Session I & II: June-August 2/24/2017
Summer 2017 Session II: July-August 2/24/2017
Fall 2017-18  2/24/2017

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. Program options include the semester Sustainable Development Studies program, Summer Session I - Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation, & Development, and Summer Session II - Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Toward Sustainability.
Costa Rica is known worldwide for its conservation efforts that have attracted millions of tourists to the country’s parks and reserves. The country is home to beautiful cloud forests, dry forests, volcanoes, lowland rainforests, and plantations and supports more than five percent of the world’s biodiversity. However, the ongoing transition from an agriculture-based to a service economy, climate change, and accelerated infrastructural development threaten Costa Rica’s biodiversity and society. As rural areas give way to urban development, already scarce resources, including fresh water and energy sources, are stretched to their limit.
The Sustainable Development Studies program will provide you the opportunity to examine the effects of globalization on classic development issues such as agriculture, biodiversity protection, economic development, urban sprawl, population growth, waste management, and water resources.  You’ll practice field research techniques as you:
• Examine resource management schemes
• Identify the benefits of protected areas
• Determine which systems offer the best option for economic development, the maintenance of cultural norms, and the preservation of biodiversity
The field station is near the friendly town of Atenas and is integrated with a Rainforest Alliance Certified mango and orange farm overlooking the fertile Central Valley.
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.