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Programs : Brochure

This is the program brochure page.
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description

Please note: This program has been cancelled for Pre-Fall 2020.


Waterfall Group Photo

USL at Work Collage

USL Group on Bridge

Quick Facts

  • Serve the community in Costa Rica while learning about community issues that affect the world

  • Course offered in Fall 2020 Session A with travel to Costa Rica August 1-14, 2020

  • Satisfy General Studies Cultural (C) & Literacy (L) needed for graduation

  • Take USL 210 or 410 during the program, which satisfies elective credit OR USL credit needed for your major.  *Fulfills USL requirement for Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College students

  • Open to students from any major…build your resume with experience transferable to all careers

  • Service Projects can include teaching English to the community, assisting at local schools, volunteering at ASIS wildlife rescue, and helping with local community improvement projects 

  • Weekend excursion included to La Fortuna 

  • Space is limited, so apply early!

Application Requirements

To apply for this program, click the "Apply Now" button above. This will generate an online application with the requirements listed below. Please also refer to the "Academics" tab for specific eligibility information. Note: Non-ASU students should consult these instructions before applying.


Group with Mastatal Building


Arenal Collage

Location Details

Mastatal is a small rural community located in the rain forest, approximately 70 miles from San Jose.  In Mastatal, students will stay at the Finca Siempre Verde Center, a local nature conservation agency that not only facilitates programs in environmental sustainability and ecotourism, but also supports economic growth.  Students will have daily interactions with the community and the culture by completing service projects including teaching English classes to the community, helping at local schools and helping with other community improvements, such as projects at La Cangreia National Park.

Javillos is a small town in Costa Rica that houses the Proyecto ASIS Wildlife Rescue. Proyecto ASIS is an organization dedicated to wildlife protection, environmental conservation and fostering positive cultural exchanges through education.  Service projects with ASIS take place at both the Wildlife Rescue and local schools.  At the rescue, students will help to maintain trails, animal care, and assist in advocating and educating the public on environmental issues.  Projects at the local school may include improvements to a community garden and leading children at the school in activities.

The Arenal Volcano is an active andesitic stratovolcano 90 km northwest of San Jose.  A hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park will be included on the weekend excursion. La Fortuna, the nearby city is home to La Catarata, the La Fortuna Waterfall, and Cerro Chato, which will also be visited.  

Visa Information

It is each student’s responsibility to independently determine if a visa is necessary for travel to any foreign countries visited on this program. Limited information may be provided by the ASU Study Abroad Office, your faculty director, and/or partner organizations/institutions. Where visas are required, failure to obtain a visa may result in your inability to participate and, ultimately, your withdrawal from the program, subject to the terms of the Study Abroad Payment and Withdrawal Policies

Consult this page for additional information regarding visas. If you need assistance securing a U.S. Passport, visit the ASU U.S. Passport Acceptance Office in Tempe.

PLEASE NOTE: Visa requirements for non U.S. citizens may differ from those for U.S. citizens; students who are not U.S. citizens are advised to contact their International Coordinator and begin independently researching the visa requirements for their nationality as soon as possible.


Eligibility Requirements

Students with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA from any major may apply to participate in the program. Students with completed applications will be contacted to set up an interview prior to acceptance in the program.

For USL 210: No prerequisite, ENG 101 strongly suggested

For USL 410: Completed ENG 102 (or 105 or 108) with a C or better; 45 minimum credit hours


Students will register during the spring registration period for ONE of the following courses:

  • USL 210: Service Learning: Intro to Diverse Community Issues (3 credits) (fulfills General Studies: C & L)
  • USL 410: Service Learning: Diverse Community Issues (3 credits) (fulfills General Studies: C & L)

    • Students from any major may participate in the program and receive elective credit while satisfying General Studies requirements Cultural Studies (C) and Literacy (L) 

    • Students in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College may use course to satisfy USL requirements on their major map

*Please note that this course counts towards your Spring semester load. If registering for this course will put you in a course-overload situation, you will need to speak with your academic advisor for an override.  

Course Description:
In this program, you will take USL 210 or 410 studying civic engagement and community issues while completing correlated service projects in Costa Rica.  USL courses are unique to ASU in that they are stand-alone courses in which students learn about the importance of active citizenship, civic responsibility and the effects of social injustices in our communities while simultaneously completing relative community service.  Through assignments, students then relate their learning to the areas of the major and their future careers.  Students in this program will not only build their resume and sense of civic engagement, but will also leave with a global perspective of the effects of social issues on people and communities both internationally and nationally.  The in depth study of social injustices will include topics such as the effects of inequalities in education, environmental sustainability, immigration issues, and the effects of discrimination and poverty. This experience includes three areas of content:
1. Class content/lessons/assignments
2. Performing service with high needs populations
3. Experiencing the culture of the host country
For more details on the course description, see  The curriculum will be adjusted to include social issues in Costa Rica & Central America.
The service component of this trip makes it unique.Students will participate in various service projects that will be correlated to the class topics in critical reflection assignments.Service Projects can include teaching English to the community, assisting at the local school, volunteering at ASIS wildlife rescue, and help with local community improvement projects

Local excursions may include:
  • Rancho Mastatal Tour and waterfall hike
  • La Iguana Chocolate Factory Tour
  • Visit to La Catarata de la Fortuna, La Fortuna Waterfall
  • Nature hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park
Additional service activities include visits to local school and other service locations to better understand social topics related to the class.

Course Format

The class will run in Fall 2020 Session A, and will meet on Fridays from 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM. The class will be taught in-person, once per week for 8 weeks, will include regular assignments submitted through Canvas. Students will also complete service hours (flexible according to their schedule, approximately 5 hours per week for 8 weeks) with designated organizations that will connect to their service experience in Costa Rica.  Travel to Costa Rica will be August 1-14, 2020.  

Feeding Hummingbird

Service Learning Collage

USL Group at Waterfall


Faculty Directors

Faculty Director: Dr. Jill Wendt
Office Building/Room: Farmer 106
Office Phone Number: 602-935-1078
E-mail Address:

Coordinator: Michelle Blagg-Catone
Office Building/Room: Farmer 106
Office Phone Number: 480-727-0852
E-mail Address

Additional contact:
Director of University Service-Learning: Deb Ruiz
Office Building/Room: Farmer 106
Office Phone Number: 480-727-6382
E-mail Address:

Jill Wendt

Michelle Blagg-Catone


Mastatal Housing

Javillos Housing

Program Housing

Students will be housed in:

  • A sustainable open-air lodge with compost toilets and rustic showers in Mastatal
  • Homestays with local families while in Javillos
  • A hotel during the weekend excursion

Lodging will likely much more basic than what you are accustomed to in the United States, particularly during the service portions of the program. Hot water may be limited or unavailable, and the communities are rural, which offers the opportunity to experience the unique Costa Rican natural environment. Classrooms will be on the premises of the host locations. Instructors will be close by and available for students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Students should expect to do a lot of walking within the small local towns. Most meals are included. 

“My favorite part of my study abroad program was getting to know my host family.” – Seth McManus, former study abroad participant.

Special Considerations

Below you will find information that may help you in planning for your study abroad experience. Early discussions and planning can help to support you in having a positive experience abroad. We invite you to meet with the International Coordinator for this program to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Physical Considerations

Study abroad participants may find themselves walking or taking public transit abroad more frequently than they are accustomed at their home campus. On the University Service-Learning in Costa Rica program, roads and paths are unpaved, rocky and/or steep in many of the communities visited.

Disability Accommodations Abroad

Individuals with disabilities can and do study abroad, but may find accessibility and accommodation in one of more of this program’s locations very different from the United States. For example, in Costa Rica, building and transportation accessibility is limited. Many buildings remain inaccessible and while public buses may have wheelchair accessibility, functionality of these resources may be in disrepair.

In general, the Study Abroad Office cannot guarantee access to public transportation, buildings, or public sites on this program. Any student who anticipates needing any kind of special accommodation due to a disability should contact the ASU Study Abroad Office early in the planning process to investigate the availability of accommodations (including accessible facilities) on this specific program. Contact the Disability Resource Center and your Disability Access Consultant to include them in the discussion; be sure to give your Disability Access Consultant permission to speak with the Study Abroad Office on your behalf. You can find additional information and resources on our Students with Disabilities page.

LGBTQIA Students Abroad

Students of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities will find that the social climate, laws, and norms of other cultures will often differ from the U.S. If you identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer student - or if you are still exploring your identity - you may face unique challenges when traveling abroad. For example, in Costa Rica, LGBTQIA students may encounter discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as public attitudes are generally conservative.

We encourage students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA community to visit the U.S. Department of State website for helpful information about laws and attitudes in this program’s locations, including pre-travel tips and advice on staying safe while abroad. You can find additional information and resources on our LGBTQIA Students page.

Gender Identity Abroad

When traveling abroad, you may find different gender roles and norms than you’re used to. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on your (or their) gender identity. For example, in Costa Rica, some women travelers may experience harassment in the form of cat calling and other forms of objectification by local men. Students are encouraged to travel in groups and in mixed company whenever possible

You can find additional information and resources on our Gender Identity Abroad page.

Racial and Ethnic Minorities Abroad

Students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may encounter unique challenges transitioning from life here in the United States to life as a student living abroad, including but not limited to access to personal care products and services.

You can prepare yourself for the situations you may experience by researching the ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations. We encourage students to start that research on our Racial and Ethnic Minority Students page.


Cost Information

The Program Fee for Pre-Fall 2020 is $2,995.

Program Fee includes: Housing in shared rooms, in-country transportation, most meals, service placements, site visits and cultural excursions, ASU faculty support, and international health insurance. Not included: Tuition for 3 credit course, airfare, passport & visa fees, some meals, non-program related optional excursions, and your own personal expenses. 

Faculty Directed program participants are also responsible for paying a non-refundable $50 Application Fee, in addition to the Program Fee listed above. All other costs associated with participation in the program are the responsibility of the individual student. Be sure to reference the program Cost Sheet for information on program fees and any additional estimated expenses.

The program may allow for time which can be spent in non-program activities. Participants may wish to travel, sight-see or participate in activities or events in which they have a personal interest. Please note that the participant is fully responsible for making arrangements and for all costs of transportation, lodging, food and additional expenses that may be associated with any non-Program activities.


Funding Your Study Abroad Program

Studying abroad is an investment in your future, which requires careful planning and management. However, the personal, academic, and professional rewards that you will gain from this experience will last a lifetime. You should carefully consider costs, budgets and financing when selecting and preparing for your experience abroad. If you have questions at any step of the process, we encourage you to reach out to your International Coordinator for guidance.

Steps to Financing Your Study Abroad Program

  1. View the program Cost Sheet to find a breakdown of program expenses.
  2. Attend a Financing Your Study Abroad Workshop.
  3. Consider your Financial Aid options.
  4. Search and Apply for Scholarships and Grants.
  5. Exhaust your options by exploring Additional Funding Resources including our Community-Based Funding Guide.
  6. View our  Financing Your Study Abroad Program Handbook for more information, including Payment Information.

Unique Funding Opportunities for This Program

  • ASU Tuition Waiver may be applied on this program to cover the tuition associated with this program.  The ASU Tuition Waiver cannot be used to subsidize the posted program fee.


Dates & Deadlines

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.