Duke Pratt in Costa Rica


Program Alert

The Global Education Office is finalizing its program portfolio for Summer 2021. Please note not all programs may be able to run this summer. A final list of summer offerings will be available soon.

Advance your engineering education while experiencing a new culture

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Duke Pratt in Costa Rica was developed in response to a growing number of students interested in studying abroad without compromising progress in their engineering studies. Based in San José, this program focuses on fundamental concepts in engineering, while introducing you to social, cultural, and environmental issues in Costa Rica.

Situated on a plateau in the Central Valley, the city of San José is surrounded by verdant mountains and valleys. As the seat of national government for the country, as well as its center of economic activity and cultural capital, San José is known for its lively urban pace, museums, cultural venues, and markets.


Location: San José, Costa Rica

Term: Summer

Dates: June 29 to August 9, 2020

Application Deadline: February 1st

Academic Theme(s): Engineering, Math

Credit Type: Duke Credit

Eligibility: See course descriptions for prerequisites. Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Co-sponsored by the Pratt School of Engineering

Housing: Homestay

GEO Advisor: Abigail Grubbs

  • Plant identification activity

  • Costa Rica Language Academy

  • Spending free time at popular tourist area, Manuel Antonio

  • Costa Rica landscape

  • La Selva biological field station


You'll enroll in your choice of one engineering-related course, plus one required language and culture course, for a total of two credits. No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted.

Engineering Courses

Choose one of the following courses:

BME  271A
Signals and Systems

1.0 Credit

Prerequisites: Biomedical Engineering 253L or Electrical and Computer Engineering 110L; Mathematics 216; or consent of the instructor. 

Convolution, deconvolution, Fourier series, Fourier transform, sampling, and the Laplace transform. Continuous and discrete formulations with emphasis on computational and simulation aspects and selected biomedical examples.

MATH  353A
Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations

(QS), 1.0 Credit

Prerequisite: Mathematics 216. Not open to students who have had Mathematics 356. 

First and second order ordinary differential equations with applications, Laplace transforms, series solutions and qualitative behavior, Fourier series, partial differential equations, boundary value problems, Sturm-Liouville theory. Intended primarily for engineering and science students.

Language & Culture Course

All students will enroll in the following required course: 

Culture and Language in Costa Rica

(CZ), 1.0 Credit

Prerequisite: None

This course is intended for students that have a basic to intermediate background of the Spanish language. The chief goals are to expand vocabulary and conversational skills, strengthen grammar, and introduce key social, cultural, and environmental issues in Costa Rica. Students will be placed in a section appropriate for their language level.


There are three planned trips and excursions:

Explore the city of San José: We'll explore the city as part of cultural and lab activities, including visits to the Pre-Columbian history museum and market, a concert at the 'Venetian' theatre, and 'The Castle' (former seat of government).

The volcanoes of Costa Rica: We'll visit volcanos like Poas and Irazu to record seismic activity.

Biological Field Station: Students will visit a biological field station in the Costa Rican rain forest to develop automated identification systems – using MatLab code – for some of the 857 bird species found there.

Cultural Activities

Each day from 4-5 pm, you can choose to participate in a cultural activity such as cooking, dance, or conversation practice – all taught in Spanish. All students must participate in 8 hours of cultural activities during the program.


You will be lodged in carefully selected homestays for the duration for the program, with the exception of the weekend excursion to La Selva, where you'll be housed in the station's dormitories.  

Homestay families will provide two meals per day (breakfast and dinner). During the weekend excursion to La Selva, all meals will be served at the field station's cafeteria. 


These costs are estimated based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change.

Summer 2020

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $7,158 $7,158
Program Fee $500 $500
Transcript Fee N/A $120
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated): $9,808 $9,928

Explanation of Costs

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving institutional need-based grant aid are eligible for aid for this program; work-study funds are converted to grants. Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support and the Duke Bursar’s Office.

Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.


This program offers the following scholarship opportunities:


Attendance is required at all classes, excursions, and group events. Given the intense nature of this program, late arrival and/or early departure is not permitted.

  • Arrival: June 29, 2020
  • Departure: August 9, 2020


You will make your own travel arrangements to and from the program site. You are expected to arrive on the arrival date cited above. Once you have a flight itinerary, log in to MyGlobalEd to update your travel registry.

Housing Before/After

You will need to make your own housing arrangements if you will be arriving before the program start date or leaving later than the program end date.


All classes will be held at the Costa Rica Language Academy (CRLA). You'll take the language culture course the first part of the day and attend your chosen engineering-related course in the afternoon.  



No visa is required of U.S. citizens to participate in this program. However, you must have proof of a return ticket in order to enter Costa Rica. Non U.S. citizens should check visa requirements for their specific citizenship by contacting the Costa Rican embassy to find out if any visa requirements or restrictions are in effect.


All participants must have a valid passport. Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity beyond the program end date to avoid unintended disruptions. For instructions on obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit passports.state.gov.

International Student Identity Card

An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is optional. ISIC is the only internationally recognized form of student ID, endorsed by UNESCO. If purchased in the U.S., the card also carries with it a supplemental insurance policy, which can prove to be very helpful in the event of serious injury. You may purchase this card through www.myisic.com. Processing of the card takes between 4-15 days. 

Program Faculty & Staff

Program faculty director(s) can assist with questions related to program academics, admissions, on-site needs, etc. For all other inquiries, please contact the GEO representative listed.

Elizabeth Bucholz

Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering

Soraya Campbell

GEO Asst. Director & Regional Manager


Deadline: February 1st

This program has rolling admission. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until the program fills; after that, qualified students are added to a waitlist and notified of openings. Applications must be received by the deadline to be considered. Application opens November 1. Applicants are encouraged to apply early, as this is a very popular program.

Eligibility: See Academics section above for course prerequisites. 

PriorityPriority is given to applicants who apply early and meet the prerequisites. 

Minimum GPA: There is no minimum GPA.

Non-Duke studentsNon-Duke students are welcome to apply for this program. You must be a degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited college or university. Consult your university’s registrar and/or study away advisor for assistance with transfer credit. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in Duke’s study away programs.


Start your application early to ensure that it is complete by the deadline! Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the program directors for consideration.

Submit the following items using MyGlobalEd

  1. Online application.
  2. Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students should wait for fall semester grades to be posted before submitting their transcript.
  3. Personal statement, no longer than one page, explaining why you would like to participate and what you hope to gain from it. 
  4. Academic letter of recommendation (one).


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