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ACES in Costa Rica: Soil Diversity & Land Use
San Jose, Costa Rica (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Winter Study Tour
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Budget Sheets Winter Study Tour
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
Hotel, Other
Illinois Sponsor:
Credit or Not for Credit:
For credit
Program Description:
ACES in Costa Rica
Winter Study Tour
NRES 285 - Soil Diversity & Land Use 
San Jose, Costa Rica

Program Overview

Costa Rica is a global leader in progressive environmental policy with a small carbon footprint, significant land area dedicated to reserves, and a strong culture of sustainability. What truly sets it apart, though, is its people's support for and involvement in this visionary approach to conserving nature. In the face of global climate change and other threats to the planet, we need innovative thinking and creative solutions: you have a lot to learn from Costa Rica.

Here is a powerpoint from a former class: Soil Diversity of the Topics - Update.pptx

Faculty Leader Bio

Kevin McSweeney
Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
S-210 Turner Hall
1102 S. Goodwin
Urbana Illinois 61801

Group Flight: As part of the Program Fee, the ACES Abroad will organize a group flight for this course.  All group flights will be departing from and arriving at O'Hare Airport. Very few exceptions are made for opting out of the group flight.

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Academic and Student Life

Purpose and Objectives
The course is designed to provide students with an intensive introduction to soil diversity and associated land use systems including their human dimensions across the humid, montane, and drier regions of Costa Rica.
Specific objectives include:
  • Developing skills to describe and interpret soil-landscapes and their associated native and cultivated flora and field indicators of water quality and supply.
  • Work in multicultural teams employing a peer-learning approach that engages local community knowledge and more formal professional expertise to better understand human dimensions of land management systems.
  • Integrate site-specific field investigations into a watershed scale appraisal to establish linkages among landuse patterns and their broader scale ecosystem impacts.
  • Work hard, engage with our local hosts and have fun! 
Students will be staying in basic hotels and dormitories.

Students who wish to participate in this program must show a strong commitment to academic achievement and be in good academic standing. Applicants should be at least in the second semester of their sophomore year by the time the program begins. Space is limited and participants are chosen on a first come, first serve basis. Late applications are accepted if space is still available. 

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Program Fees

For an Unofficial Budget of this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets” and click on the term during which you want to participate. Please read through the Unofficial Budget information, which also includes information on Financial Aid and Scholarships.
Program Fees Includes: airfare, accommodation, some meals, ground transportation, entrance fees, emergency medical insurance, and miscellaneous expenses.  For a detailed budget, please click the "Budget Sheet" link above.  

*Fees are subject to change due to exchange rate fluctuations and the number of participants.
Total cost is ESTIMATED and is BEFORE scholarships. 

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Finacial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program. The amount of financial aid that is applicable to study abroad will depend on your financial aid package. Since there are many variables that determine how your financial aid package applies to study abroad, it is best that you consult with the study abroad financial aid advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your individual financial aid package.  Their email and more information on Financial aid can be found at

Eligible students may receive additional scholarships toward the program cost.  The amount varies depending on the program destination.  Scholarship amounts are announced when program fees for each program are announced.  Non-ACES students should contact their college about scholarship opportunities.  All participants should also apply for the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Study Abroad Undergraduate Scholarship. For more information, go to
ACES Students are eligible for additional funding through their college. The ACES Scholarship Application may have an earlier deadline than your study abroad program.  Please check the ACES scholarship page for deadlines correlating to your program.  More information about ACES scholarships can be found at
For more information about general costs, please watch the First Steps Cost, Financial Aid, and Scholarship videos found here for tips and advice:

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Withdrawal, Change & Cancellation Policies

To change to a different program during the application process, please e-mail

To withdraw or cancel your participation in a study abroad program, please visit this link to view the Withdrawal and Refund Policy (

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Passport/Visa Information

You must have a valid passport to participate on this program with at least two blank VISA pages. If you do not already have a passport, or if it needs to be renewed, you must begin that process now, even before program acceptance. 
You may also be required to get a visa for your program.  Please consult the host country’s consulate website or a visa agency to determine whether or not a visa is required to travel to your destination country or countries.
More information about passports and visas can be found at

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Application Process

First Steps Info Session 

Watch the First Steps videos found on our website or attend a First Steps Info Session in person.  These resources will get you thinking about important themes to consider before selecting a program including: academics, housing, duration, location, and cost.  You will learn how to research a program, understand cost (with a segment on scholarships and financial aid too), and even how to apply!  
Application Process
Click the "Apply Now" button on this web page to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable application fee by clicking "Apply Now".
You may only apply to one program per term. Please consider your program options carefully before beginning a new program application.  Each time you click "Apply Now" you will be charged a non-refundable application fee.
Application Components
Program applications vary.  This ACES-sponsored, faculty-led course abroad application may include:
  • Photocopy of Passport or receipt verifying application or renewal of passport
  • Signature verification form (downloadable from your online application)
  • Essay questions
  • Online questionnaires and online signature documents
  • Letter of recommendation – done electronically (must me an academic advisor, professor, or TA) 
All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day.  The Study Abroad Office reviews program applications as a batch after the deadline has passed. The decision dates listed below indicate the earliest possible date that a student's application may be reviewed. Most decisions will be released two to three weeks after each deadline.

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Health, Safety, Pre-Departure
Health and Safety
The health and safety of students abroad is something that the University of Illinois takes very seriously, which is why the Study Abroad Office provides services that range from international insurance coverage to a 24-hour phone line to speak to an Advisor on Duty. These services can be found at

Once you have been accepted into the program you may need to get a health consultation at McKinley Health travel and immunization unit ( to discuss what immunization you need, get a travel kit, etc. See also

Pre-Departure Resources
The UIUC Study Abroad website ( and the ACES Study Abroad website ( both provide a variety of pre-departure information. Explore both sites for information such as what to pack, money abroad, transportation, communicating with family members while abroad, and even what to do the day of your departure.

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Contact Information

Faculty Advisor
Kevin McSweeney
Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
S-210 Turner Hall
1102 S. Goodwin
Urbana Illinois 61801

ACES Education Abroad 
123 Mumford Hall, MC-710
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 333-3380

Walk-in hours: 2-4pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9:30-11:30am Wednesdays.
Noticed an error on this page? 
Let us know here

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Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter Study Tour 2017-2018 09/20/2017 09/20/2017 TBA TBA