The Context

Costa Rica is world renowned for its incredible biodiversity, the culture of peace, long-standing democracy and high social investment. However, it also faces challenges. Costa Rica’s social structures are currently going through an accelerated transformation period manifested by a demographic transition evident by a quickly aging population and a growing heterogeneity in its population. This transformation is in part due to the process of migration. Additionally, there is a process of socio-economic rearrangement with an ever-growing unequal distribution of wealth and rapid urbanization; environmental degradation in areas with high presence of agroindustrial production; and an epidemiological transition represented by a growing burden of chronic diseases and the resurgence of neglected tropical diseases.

Limited practicum opportunities are available

The practicum opportunities in Costa Rica are designed to develop experiential and contextual skills of collaborative interdisciplinary work in real-life situations related to the field of global health. Practicum programs create bridges between theory and practice in community settings. They are participatory in nature and designed to meet students’ program competencies and personal/career interests.

Students will work with local partners and populations as
part of their four-week practicum experience in Costa Rica. Participants will be able to explore the inherent challenges towards health equity and sustainable development while participating in efforts to improve the overall well-being of the communities they work with.

Partners include: local government offices, non-governmental organizations, and education/research centers.

Students in all tracks of the MPH program can be placed. Most opportunities require Spanish language skills but some do not.

Key areas of focus include: poverty, gender, education, public policy, health equity,  vector-borne diseases, water and sanitation, nutrition, sustainable development, and sexual and reproductive health.

Here are some examples of the types of activities students can engage in:


Examples of activities are:

  • M&E of existing interventions
  • M&E to improve quality of programs
  • M&E in the development of new interventions
  • M&E of public policies


Examples of activities are:

  • designing statistical models
  • statistic analyses of existing data
  • development of new KAP surveys
  • disease surveillance and tracking
  • risk management
  • outbreak investigation


Examples of activities are:

  • policy briefs and reports
  • evaluation of health promotion materials
  • health marketing
  • development of educational materials
  • literature review and reports


Examples of activities are:

  • community nutrition surveys
  • nutrition for special populations or problems
  • nutritional surveys
  • food system sustainability
  • evaluation of nutrition policies
  • food safety

Location & Expenses

Most of the practicum sites are located in San Vito, located in the south of the country. Room and board are available at a local student hostel or at one of the local research centers. Students should budget about $500 per week for room and board. A practicum fee is also charged through our Costa Rican partners. Please inquire for more details.