Moving to the small country of Costa Rica comes with a number of decisions, among which is location. Although Costa Rica is only the size of West Virginia, it has 12 distinct microclimates and both the topography and the temperature vary greatly throughout the small country. While many new comers plant their roots by the beach, others move to the chilly mountains, and even more find Central Valley to be the perfect home. These three zones all are thriving parts of Costa Rican culture, but offer wildly different lifestyles. Central Valley is home to the bustling capital of San Jose, and while the beach might be a day trip away, the modern comforts of city life can’t be beat. San Jose offers modern homes and amenities, access to international products, and a melting pot of rich culture. Among the many benefits of living in the San Jose province is access to top-notch public universities. In Costa Rica, private universities vastly outnumber public universities in every province. In fact, there are currently only 5 public universities in the entire country. The original four universities were each assigned a certain academic discipline as a focus, and recently the Technical National University was added to the list. These schools offer quality education without tuition; you are only required to pay fees and materials, as well as all living and transportation costs.
In the past years, Costa Rica has been praised internationally for its dedication to education, from primary to university level. This attention has enticed people from all over the world to consider moving to Costa Rica for the duration of their studies. Not only do these students get 4 years of world travel and culture immersion, they also live inexpensively and graduate college without a massive student debt. San Jose has turned into a hub for international students because of its close location to the 3 top public universities in the country.
Costa Rica University
The University of Costa Rica has been ranked the #1 university in the entire country, including both public and private universities, since its formation. Its main location is in San Pedro, within the province of San Jose, yet offers satellite campuses throughout the country. This university is known nation-wide as the oldest, biggest, and most prestigious university in the country. Originally starting as four independent schools dedicated toward law, agronomy, fine arts, and pharmacy, they came together in 1940 to form UCR. They currently offer both undergraduate as well as graduate level classes of various academic fields to 42,000 enrolled students.
UCR describes itself as a secular and humanitarian institution. They focus on social sciences and research projects, and include student-led community service hours as a requisite for graduation. This social focus is not unique to UCR, in fact the entire country prides itself on decisions made in an ethical and fact-based manner. Currently, the national law requires congress to present new legislation to the UCR for guidance and opinions, ensuring that no laws will be passed until an academic and scientific revision has been completed. Among UCR’s many distinguished alumni are multiple Costa Rican presidents, ministers, directors of public institutions, and a Nobel Prize winner.
To enter UCR, you will need to take the equivalent of an SAT standardized test in Spanish without a translator present. While this may be intimidating, the majority of this test consists of math and science questions, so a basic grasp of the Spanish language will suffice.
Technológico de Costa Rica
The Technological Institute of Costa Rica, fondly called TEC nation-wide, was founded in 1961 by a public-school teacher who had spent years campaigning for the support of a higher learning institute dedicated toward science and technology. Backed by the acting president and eventually by the Inter-American Development Bank, TEC began offering engineering and science courses to students in Cartago. Currently, the university has multiple locations, including a large campus in San Jose. They dedicate themselves toward the research and extension of technological advances and host just under 10,000 total students, both graduate and undergraduate.
In recent years, TEC added Computer Engineering and Information Technological Administration to their catalog of undergraduate majors. They invested around $1 million in high-tech learning equipment, infrastructure, and staff dedicated solely to nanotechnology. The technological sector is a booming industry in Costa Rica, especially in the Central Valley, and TEC has promised to both expand and improve Costa Rica’s influence in the modern, technological world.
Universidad Estatal a Distancia
Most commonly known as Distant State University, UNED is located in Mercedes de Montes de Oca, in San Jose province. Founded in 1977, this university is now the second largest in the country in terms of enrollment. Its 28,000 students, both graduate and undergraduate, are divided into 4 academic majors: Science Education, Management Sciences, Social and Humanity Sciences, and Natural Sciences. Each major has a number of concentration options. This university emphasizes distance learning through online and field courses, yet they still maintain a large campus and multiple modes of communication between students and teachers.
While the academics and curricula of Distant State is considered state of the art, the university is most renowned for its publishing house and library services. The Distant State Publishing House produces the majority of textbooks needed for the university, peer-edited research projects, and cultural essay pieces. They promote cultural affairs, language studies, literature review, and local community development in their coursework.