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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Matagalpa, Nicaragua; San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Housing Options: Homestay GPA requirement: None Specified
Language of Instruction: English, Spanish Academic Program Components: Internship, Research, Study Abroad
Areas of Study: Economics, Spanish Scholarship Opportunities From Program: Yes
Program Type: Other Study Abroad Programs
Program Description:
ICADS - The Institute for Central American Development Studies - Social Justice and Development Internship

icads 30 year

Note: This program does not fulfill the study abroad requirement for the Spanish major or minor
ICADS offers a 14-week program each semester: Spring (February-May) and Fall (September-December). See specific dates listed for each term. Each program includes a classroom and a field internship component. During each semester, students have the option of doing an internship in either Costa Rica or Nicaragua. In accordance with the program's emphasis on language as the key to in-depth understanding of the culture, the language courses are taught entirely in Spanish. In all other courses, Spanish is used as the language of instruction to the fullest extent possible and students may elect to write their papers in either Spanish or English.


Costa Rica or Nicaragua


Block I: SEMESTER COURSES (5 weeks)

Study in San Jose and the Central Valley. Students live in San Jose with Costa Rican families and study Spanish for four hours daily in the morning. In the afternoon students learn about different topics pertinent to the Central American context such as globalization, health care systems, environmental issues, and history, among others. A constantly evolving reading anthology, expert guest speakers and local field trips are the tools used in getting at these topical issues. One week in Block I is spent in Nicaragua where students are able to see first hand the current economic and political conditions in Nicaragua, and are challenged to compare and contrast its reality with neighboring Costa Rica. Students prepare for their field internships during this first month by choosing the country in which they will work and by planning their particular internships in consultation with faculty advisors who are experts in the culture of the country chosen and in the students’ areas of interest.


After the first block in which staff closely evaluate students’ specific educational needs, interests, and Spanish proficiency, students are placed in an individualized internship to gain experience in urban or rural areas in a field of their interest. Only one student is placed at each internship site. ICADS offers over 65 structured internships and research opportunities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the areas of environment, education, health, development, and wildlife conservation, and women’s studies. Internship placements are determined based on a number of factors, including student interests, previous experience, formal education, and level of Spanish competency. Internships with stricter requirements include those in the medical field and all placements in Nicaragua.


Upon completion of the eight-week internship, students return to ICADS to complete written work and oral presentations, while processing their experiences as a group and together with their faculty advisors (including a reentry workshop).

Students have done internships including, but not limited to, the following:
Assisting in a regeneration project at the Iguana Reintroduction Farm with the Bribri indigenous tribe.
Working at Las Hormiguitas, a support center for children and adolescents who work in the streets of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
Working with women and children who are victims of violence at a non-profit organization in San Ramon, Costa Rica.
Setting up a workshop on birth control and sexually transmitted disease prevention for mothers in the community of Rio Azul, San Jose.
Turtle conservation work in the Cahuita National Park.
Assisting a healthcare workers union in Nicaragua.
Working with a campesino small farmer’s organization to promote sustainable agricultural practices.
Working in a soup kitchen for children and developing a worm composting project for waste management in the same organization.
Participating in medical brigades and workshops with an institute of psychologists.
Creating a publicity documentary for a Nicaraguan farmers’ cooperative agro-eco tourism project.