Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS)

Program Details

Location: Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Term: Fall semester (Sept-Dec), spring semester (Feb-May)

Type of Program: Field research or internship program; intensive language study 

Language of Instruction: Spanish/English

Fields of Study: Social justice issues, environmental studies, sustainable development, intensive Spanish language and culture

Prerequisites: Two semesters of college-level Spanish courses 

Watch ICADS' Study Abroad Video

About The Institute for Central American Development Studies

The Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) was created in 1986 to fill the information gap in foreign policy between North American citizens and their governments, promoting a deeper understanding of the Central American region. ICADS, a non-profit foundation located in San José, Costa Rica, is a center for study, research, and analysis of Central American social and environmental issues. They focus on women's issues, economic development, environmental studies, public health, education, human rights, journalism, community activism, and wildlife conservation.


Photo of fence and mountain taken by Emily Coble 10F
(The image above was taken at Finca la Flor de Para'so, an organic farm and ICADS Internship Site.) Photo by Emily Coble 10F, Fall 2012 Program Participant)


ICADS Program Center
The ICADS Program Center

Academics/ Program Options

This program offers Hampshire students with Spanish language ability the opportunity to study in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for one semester. Students live with a Spanish-speaking family while they incorporate an internship or a more structured field course into their academic studies. Students can choose from three semester program options:

  1. The Field Program: Environment and Sustainable Development Field Program is a structured natural science/social science interdisciplinary course that takes place throughout Costa Rica.
  2. The Internship Program: Social Justice and Development Internship Program consists of one month of intensive language at ICADS in Costa Rica; students can then choose from a wide selection of internships in Costa Rica or Nicaragua.
  3. Language and Society: Students get the opportunity to spend 13 weeks in Costa Rica and 1 week in Nicaragua doing intensive Spanish and a language-related practicum.

Housing and Meals

Homestay with a local family. Visit the ICADS webpage for more information about the families and the homestay process.

Photo of student and youth, taken by Emily Coble 10F

"Learning with Local Youth" Photo by Emily Coble 10F, Fall 2012 Program Participant

Non-Hampshire Students

If you are not a Hampshire student but interested in ICADS' programs, please apply directly through ICADS. Hampshire College is the school of record for some ICADS programs and can issue transcripts. Please contact ICADS for more information.

Non-Hampshire students may be eligible to receive financial aid from their home institution while participating in an ICADS program. Hampshire College cannot process financial aid for non-Hampshire students; any aid you receive would be at the discretion of the home institution. Please follow these steps to see if you are eligible to receive aid:

  1. Get academic approval from your home institution for the ICADS program.
  2. Meet with a financial aid representative from your home institution to discuss your academic plans. Obtain a Financial Aid Consortium Agreement, usually from the financial aid office, at your home institution.
  3. Complete the student section, if any, and forward the Financial Aid Consortium Agreement to Allison Kretschmar at, at Hampshire College.

Hampshire College will complete the host institution section of the Agreement and return it to the home institution as instructed. 

Program Costs

Hampshire Exchange Fees and Financial Aid provides detailed information on the fee policy, withdrawal policy, and how financial aid may apply.

  • Tuition Fees: Paid to Hampshire
  • Housing and Meals Fees: Tuition fees paid to Hampshire cover housing and meal expenses for the program
  • Other expenses: Students are responsible for passport and visa fees; some meals; international and local transportation including airfare; books and supplies; health insurance; and personal expenses. A travel stipend will be awarded to offset airfare costs.


The Hampshire Exchange program with ICADS is open to division II or first semester division III Hampshire College students.

Hampshire students should review detailed information on eligibility requirements and policies in the Hampshire College Handbook under Exchange, Field Study, and Short-term Field Courses. Other students should refer to ICADS.  

How to Apply

  1. Meet with GEO: Students are required to meet with GEO for this exchange program before submitting an application.
  2. Review Applying to a Hampshire Exchange Program: Includes deadlines, application instructions, requirements, and procedures.
  3. Apply now: Hampshire students apply online through the GEO Portal.


Contact the GEO program manager:

Allison Kretschmar

Area Specialists

Brian Schultz
Associate Professor of Ecology and Entomology
School of Natural Science