Number of recipients
In addition to being a prestigious academic exchange program, the Fulbright Program is designed to expand and strengthen relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other nations and to promote international understanding and cooperation. To support this mission, Fulbright Scholars may be asked to give public talks, mentor students, and otherwise engage with the host community, in addition to their primary activities.
Teach, teach and conduct a professional and/or artist project, or conduct research in any area of interest. For teaching/research projects, candidates should plan a 60/40 ratio between teaching and research.
Scholars should affiliate with one of the institutions listed below:
University of Costa Rica (UCR)
National Autonomous University (UNA)
Costa Rica Technological Institute
National University of Distance Education (UNED)
INCAE Business School
CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center)
Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN)
Applications for other universities are considered by the U.S. Embassy on a case-by-case basis.
If the grantee is in the field of English Teaching, the embassy requests that they also work with the Ministry of Public Education, in addition to the university host institution.
Grants may begin in August 2023 or later. Start date must be coordinated with the host institution in Costa Rica. The academic year at public universities begins in February/March and end in November/December with a break in July.
All Scholars to Costa Rica are required to attend a pre-departure orientation, which typically takes place in late June, prior to beginning their Fulbright grant.
Flex awards are offered for teaching, teaching/research, and research grants.
The Flex Award is designed for scholars who require multiple visits to the host country. This option allows grants to be conducted over two or three short segments. Applicants must select Flex in the application form, and clearly describe their plans for Flex in their project statement, including a project timeline. Flex grantees may be asked to give public talks, mentor students, and otherwise engage with the host-country academic community.
Applications are sought in all appropriate disciplines. Those in science, technology, arts, engineering and mathematics are of particular interest. TEFL applications are a priority for the embassy, especially those that emphasize ESP and professional development.
The following disciplines are also encouraged: the environment, renewable energy, sustainable development, economics and international trade, economic and tax reform, legislative reform, governability, political science, linguistics, and journalism.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the proposed host institution to discuss the proposed project and ensure that the institution is willing to be a host and provide the institutional support necessary to carry out the project.
Applicants must register qualified language evaluator, such as a language instructor or a translator, to conduct the external assessment in the application. Being a native speaker alone does not qualify an individual to conduct the assessment.
Applicants who are native speakers do not need to complete an external evaluation.
Appropriately qualified professionals outside of academia are not required to have a Ph.D. or other terminal degree.
Applicants in academia must hold a terminal degree.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to finalize arrangements with the host institution and to make their own housing arrangements. Start dates vary according to the selected university. Applicants should consult with their hosts to ensure that grant dates correspond to the institution's academic calendar. The U.S. Embassy's Public Diplomacy Section will provide information about host institutions upon request. Inquiries may be directed to Angie Robles.
For Flex grants: round trip travel will be included for each segment of the grant for the grantee only. Dependent travel will not be provided.
$1,000 books and educational materials allowance for teaching and teaching/research grants; should be donated to the host institution (or other entity) upon grantee's departure.
$300 - $500 research allowance for research-only grants.
Additional living and housing allowance is provided for grantees with one accompanying dependent or two or more accompanying dependent. These amounts range from $300/month to $600/month.
In addition, travel allowances are provided for up to two dependents.
Dependents must accompany the grantee for at least 80% of the period abroad and a minimum of one semester in order to qualify for additional dependent benefits. Dependent benefits are not provided to Flex grantees.
Estimated cost of living for scholar with no accompanying dependents, $775/month. Estimated monthly housing cost, $1175.
During their grant period, Fulbright U.S. Scholars in the Western Hemisphere (WHA) region may apply for a short-term regional travel grant for activities such as workshops, seminars, presentations, lectures, performances, exhibits, curricular advising and similar projects at institutions in eligible WHA countries. (Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Uruguay).
The Regional Travel Program covers travel to and from the destination; lodging may be offered by the host institution. Scholars may only apply for this grant once they are in country on their Fulbright grant. Scholars who apply for the Flex award are ineligible for the Regional Travel Program. Additional information can be found on the Regional Travel Program website.
Please note that the Regional Travel Program is currently paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All eligible Scholars will be notified of its reopening, which is dependent on the status of the global health situation.
Please refer to the figures above for an estimate of total monthly Fulbright award benefits. Benefits may include a monthly base stipend, living and housing allowances, and additional one-time allowances. Benefits may vary based on a scholar's current academic rank (or professional equivalent), the city of placement, the type of award (teaching, teaching/research, or research), and the number of and duration of stay of accompanying dependents. Research-only or Professional Project grantees receive a standard stipend that is not adjusted for academic rank. In most cases, dependent benefits will not be provided to Flex grantees, or to grantees pursuing grants less than four months (or a semester) in length.
Final grant amounts will be determined prior to the start of the academic year and are subject to the availability of funds. The United States Department of State reserves the right to alter, without notice, participating countries, number of awards and allowances.
A grant to Costa Rica offers a variety of benefits, including a convenient location, well-respected institutions of higher learning, a pleasant climate, great natural beauty and a strong Fulbright tradition.
The academic calendar varies greatly among universities, therefore, it is essential that applicants confirm which academic calendar their institution and program of interest follows. In some cases, requested grant lengths may be adjusted at the discretion of the Fulbright program.
Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the North, the Caribbean Sea to the Northeast, Panama to the Southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the Southwest, and Ecuador to the South of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 4.9 million, in a land area of 51,100 square kilometers (19,714 square miles); over 300,000 live in the capital and largest city, San José.
Costa Rica is known for its stable democracy, in a region that has had some instability, and for its highly educated workforce, many of whom speak English. The country spends roughly 6.9% of its budget (2016) on education, compared to a global average of 4.4%. Its economy, once heavily dependent on agriculture, has diversified to include sectors such as finance, corporate services for foreign companies, pharmaceuticals, and ecotourism. Many foreign companies (manufacturing and services) operate in Costa Rica's Free Trade Zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives.
In spite of impressive growth in the gross domestic product (GDP), low inflation, moderate interest rates and an acceptable unemployment level, Costa Rica is facing a liquidity crisis due to a growing debt and budget deficit. Other challenges facing the country in its attempts to improve the economy by increasing foreign investment include poor infrastructure and a need to improve public sector efficiency.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It remained a peripheral colony of the empire until independence as part of the short-lived First Mexican Empire, followed by membership in the United Provinces of Central America, from which it formally declared independence in 1847. Since then, Costa Rica has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive nations in Latin America. Following the brief Costa Rican Civil War, it permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.
The country has consistently performed favorably in the Human Development Index (HDI), placing 69th in the world as of 2017, among the highest of any Latin American nation. It has also been cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as having attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, with a better record on human development and inequality than the median of the region.
Costa Rica also has progressive environmental policies. It is the only country to meet all five UNDP criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. It was ranked 42nd in the world, and third in the Americas, in the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, and was twice ranked the best-performing country in the New Economics Foundation's (NEF) Happy Planet Index, which measures environmental sustainability, and was identified by the NEF as the greenest country in the world in 2009. Costa Rica plans to become a carbon-neutral country by 2021. By 2016, 98.1% of its electricity was generated from green sources particularly hydro, solar, geothermal and biomass.
Because Costa Rica is located between 8 and 12 degrees North of the Equator, the climate is tropical year-round. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and the geography of each particular region.
Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as Summer (verano), and the rainy season, known locally as winter (invierno). The "Summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and the "Winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.
The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera Central mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5,000 mm (196.9 in). Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27 °C (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Cordillera Central, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.
Cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the Western Hemisphere. As you prepare your Fulbright application, we encourage you to read the information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Click here for a full list of Fulbrighters to Costa Rica.
Visit our Scholar Directory to view and search all Fulbright alumni. You can also learn more about Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors.