This program is a unique opportunity for students to undertake a practical Marine Biology program in Costa Rica this July! 

The 500,000 species that are located in Costa Rica represent 4% of the total species worldwide and its unique location, geology and coastlines are just some of the reasons why Costa Rica is in the top 20 most biodiverse countries in the world despite its relatively small size. 

The Conservation Marine Biology program allows students to spend 3 hands-on weeks studying in Costa Rica, coupled with 1 week of online study when they return. Whilst on the ground, students will undertake 5 units on marine conservation biology, physical and chemical oceanography, tropical marine ecosystems and fisheries and coastal management along with field trips including sea turtle monitoring; laboratory work; a bioluminescence tour; and community visits. 

Upon completion of the field program, students will then undertake 1 week of guided online learning to wrap-up this amazing experience. This week will be focused on comparative exercises between Australia and Costa Rica on issues such as climate change policies, protection of natural resources, legislation and Government funding for environmental protection.

**Details for the program are subject to change.**


Topics that will be covered during the program will include:

  • The new science of Marine Conservation Biology
  • What is tropical marine biodiversity?
  • Where is the world’s biodiversity found?
  • Biodiversity in the past – massive extinctions
  • Water movements
  • Currents
  • Tides
  • Tropical marine habitats in Costa Rica
  • Mangroves
  • Coral reefs
  • Hydrothermal vents
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Industrial fishing
  • Artisan fishing
  • Coastal communities
  • Integrated coastal zone management
  • Conservation genetics
  • …and much more! 

Universidad Veritas

Universidad Veritas is located about a ten minute drive from the city centre and was one of the four founding private universities in Costa Rica after the misconception of the state being in control of higher education was overlooked. The institution is now over 40 years old and in that time as a result of the work and effort of the faculty and students it has heavily contributed to the economic, social and cultural development of the country. Veritas currently holds the Ecological Blue Flag, and will be a Carbon Neutral campus by 2018. 

Instructor Information

The Conservation Marine Biology program is led by two professors:

Dr Hernandez (PhD in Cell and Molecular Bioscience & Master of Marine Science and Marine Biology) has undertaken research on population aspects of elasmobranch species including genetic diversity and connectivity of shark species in New Zealand, Australia and Chile; the genetic and morphological identification of shark fins in the international trade, as well as the reproductive biology. He is currently a lecturer for the Centre for International Programs for “Conservation Biology” and “Tropical Ecology” as well as coordinating the BIOMOL. He is currently undertaking projects on the genetic connectivity of pelagic and coastal fish species in Costa Rica and the identification of marine species traded. In addition, he is also involved in several collaborative projects including as an associated researcher at the Research Centre of Cellular and Molecular Biology (CIBCM) of the Universidad de Costa Rica and has provided several consulting services for PEW, and Costa Rican NGO’s.

Maike Heidemeyer (Masters in Biology) has been studying green and carey sea turtles in the Central Pacific area for over 10 years using radio technology (satelite and acoustic transmission), mitochondrial molecular markers, and biochemical methods to study migration patterns and viable conservation strategies for threatened marine species. She has participated in several national and international groups for the study and research of marine sea turtles and sharks, including trade aspects and training on the implementation of CITES for the international trade of shark species. She is currently working for the PRETOMA and CREMA Associations, and is a research associate at Universidad de Costa Rica’s Center for Cellular and Molecular Research (CIBCM). 

Field Trips/Site Visits

  • Nicoya Gulf
  • Curú Wildlife Reserve
  • Scuba or Snorkelling to Isla Tortuga
  • Bioluminescence tour
  • “El Jobo”
  • “La cornuda” beach 

Cultural activities

There will be some cultural activities organised for you whilst on the program, including tropical dance classes, community visits and of course staying with your host family!

You will be staying with a homestay for the duration of the field program, and breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided for you!

Costa Rica, located in Central America exceeds one thousand kilometres of coastline and holds one hundred and twenty one volcanic formations, dividing the country into pacific and atlantic. Home to 4.1 million people, this country is one of the most valued environmental destinations with more than 100 protected forests and reserves to visit. It is mostly known for the extravagant rain and cloud forests, protected beaches, coral reefs and rivers. Unlike most of the world Costa Rica fails to have Summers and Winters, instead a dry season from December to April and a rainy season from May to November.

Costa Rica is known for its education and environmental protection efforts, having directed its army funding to education and health. The country is also a pioneer in conservation and sustainability, with more than 98% of its energy sourced from renewable resources in 2016.

San Jose

San Jose is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and the economic, political and social centre of the country which, in the Spanish colonial era was mainly known for its tobacco and coffee production. Unlike the tropical coastlines of Costa Rica, the capital is a lively and animated mountainous city offering many activities and interesting things to do  such as shopping malls, cafes and markets. Attractions of the dense city accommodating around 2 million people involve visits to the Costa Rican museums, statues, landmarks and churches where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the diverse country.


All our programs are designed to count for credit as electives. However, it is up to your university to decide whether they will approve some credit for your participation in one of our programs. Normally it is a course convenor, Head of Department or program convenor who approves your credit.

Your course convenors will not be able to approve credit for a course unless you have a copy of the syllabus so you should not visit your course convenor until you have received a copy of the course syllabus from AIM Overseas. You will receive the syllabus upon being assessed as eligible for the program.

For more information, see our Credit and Funding pages.


You might be able to obtain the $6000+ OS-HELP loan, as well as a scholarship from your university, when participating in an AIM Overseas program.

Our programs are designed so that eligible Australian students can access the OS-HELP scheme, which can provide funding of over $6,000 for international study experiences.

We give you detailed information about OS-HELP and how to apply for it in your Initial Consultation with us, which we further outline in an email following your Initial Consultation. 

You can also find more information about OS-HELP on our Credit and Funding pages.

Many Australian universities offer scholarships for their students to take part in overseas study programs. We will provide you information on scholarships that we are aware of at your university as part of your application/acceptance for a program. You can also check your university’s international office webpage to see what might be offered.  

Applications are now open for this program. Early application is recommended as places are limited.

The application process for this program are as follows:

1. Apply online via the “Apply Now” button or by clicking this link.

2. You’ll be prompted to send us a copy of your full academic results from your studies at university so far after submitting your application.

3. We’ll review your university results and application and, if you are eligible for the program, we will invite you to book an initial consultation by phone with one of our Student Experience Coordinators. You will also be sent the course syllabus with more program info.

4. You’ll pay our $55 application fee and book in your phone consultation at a suitable, available time with a Student Experience Coordinator.

5. The phone consultation lasts about 20-30 minutes and we’ll cover detailed information with you about credit, funding, the program, your application and what happens next.

6. After your consultation we’ll send you a follow-up email with instructions on what to do next, an invitation to join a program specific Facebook group to connect with other students applying for the program and a process document, which we have developed in conjunction with your Australian university, to guide you on how to apply for credit and funding.

7. Once you’ve completed the next steps in that follow-up email we’ll do a final review of your application. If all is in order, you’ll be accepted onto the program.

8. Upon acceptance, you will receive three emails containing your AIM Acceptance letter, steps for applying for credit and funding at your Australian University, as well as your downpayment invoice. Note: Your downpayment is due in two weeks from the date of your acceptance and secures your place on the program.

9. Once you’ve paid your downpayment, your application will be sent to the host university for them to process and review and they’ll send us your final official host university acceptance letter which we will send to you.

10. The full program fee (as shown on the website) minus the downpayment and application fee already paid, will be due at the absolute latest by 6th May 2019.

Programs are usually over-subscribed, so it is really important that you take care of things as quickly as possible. We’re here to help and will provide you with information and reminders about what you need to do at various stages.

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions. Alternatively, you are welcome to submit an enquiry or register your interest. Registering your interest means you’ll receive updates (via email and phone) prior to the application deadline.