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Latin American Studies Program

Latin American Studies Program

Students study Latin American economics, culture, politics, and faith when they journey to Costa Rica for seventeen weeks of travel, study and service. The San Jose-based Latin American Studies Program includes home stays, language study, service projects, and travel to other Central American countries. Students choose from concentrations in International Business, Latin American Studies, and Advanced Language and Literature.

More information available at Latin American Studies Program.

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All Messiah approved semester-long, off-campus programs are approved and designed to meet the requirements for the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI). To learn more about the process, please explore the ELI Off-Campus Study Information Page.

  • Students will complete all of the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) requirements that are a part of this program.
  • Sophomores, Juniors, and seniors
  • 2.75 GPA or higher
  • Two semesters of university-level Spanish. (Messiah University language faculty believe that students should complete at least three semesters of Spanish in order to be culturally sensitive during home stays in Costa Rica).
  • Since studying off-campus for a semester is a privilege, please note the following implications of being place on probation at Messiah University:

    Chapel Probation: A student currently on chapel probation for the first time (or with an impending chapel probation for the upcoming semester) will be required to communicate or meet with the Director of the Intercultural Office to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.  If a student has been placed on chapel probation more than once during their time at Messiah, they will not be eligible to study off-campus for a semester.

    Academic Probation or Low GPA: A student on academic probation or whose GPA drops below 2.75 will be not be eligible to study off-campus.

    Disciplinary Probation: A student who has been placed on disciplinary probation at any time during the off-campus study application / acceptance process will be required to meet with the Director of the Intercultural Office to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.

Off-Campus study is a time of challenge and change. The following are some things you should understand about this program before you participate. Students at LASP should anticipate:

  • Living with three different families in three different contexts (urban and rural in Costa Rica, rural in Nicaragua), in small spaces with little privacy; spending time in communal spaces and having little private time over the course of the 14 weeks. In the urban host family, students may share a common bathroom with the family and share a bedroom with a host sibling of the same sex. In some of these homes, internet access may be non-existent or limited.
  • Eating whatever food their host families eat. Students with food allergies can be accommodated, but otherwise students will not be able to have much control over what they eat.
  • Spending time nearly every day in the city of San Jose, engaging Costa Ricans and a variety of immigrants; travelling in heavy traffic in taxis and public buses, and experiencing changes in diet, climate, social life, personal habits, and safety as related to life in a large city.
  • Spending up to two weeks during the semester in Nicaragua in areas with limited communication services (particularly internet), limited access to counseling and medical services beyond emergency health care. In this country, we may see soldiers and heavily armed police, as well as extreme levels of poverty.
  • Experiencing significant cultural differences including gender and racial tensions and the possibility of negative verbal attention. Specifically, this may include observing machismo in practice and female students being recipients of catcalls.
  • Experiencing potentially challenging personal, religious, and cultural learning, lectures, field trips and assignments.
  • Regularly experiencing uncertainty and changes in plans.
  • Food-borne illnesses, mosquitoes and ticks

Courses may meet major or general education requirements.

Courses will appear on Messiah transcripts with letter grades.

Students will meet their third language/cross-cultural requirement by participating in this program.  Students will not earn 3 credits, rather the requirement will be waived.

Pass/Fail Option

During their university careers, students may take a maximum of four courses on a pass/fail (P/F) basis with these conditions: 

  • Such a course must be from a discipline other than those required for the student's major or minor.
  • Courses fulfilling requirements for a major, minor, or general education may not be used.
  • Students may declare their intention to take a course under the Pass/Fail option when they register or through the first calendar week of classes at the beginning of the new term. Students may also select to return to the letter grade system during this same time period. The selection cannot be changed after the first calendar week of classes.
  • The cut-off point to obtain a P is C–.
  • The instructor will submit only conventional letter grades to the Registrar's Office. This office will then convert the grade to P or F. (An instructor does not know which students are taking a course on a pass/fail basis.

The first FIVE DAYS of your classes are critical:

Recognizing that courses change while abroad, a student is required to communicate to the Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes if their Off-Campus Course Approval Form in Terra Dotta has changed since the original submission/approval. Specifically, if a student desires to change a course to a pass/fail instead of a letter grade, this must be approved by Messiah Unviersity Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes at the host partner program.

Auditing

Students are required to take no fewer than 12 credits towards their overall degree requirements and no more than 18 credits. These 12-18 credits include courses taken as pass/fail and letter grades. However, in addition to those 12-18 degree credits, students who would like to audit an academic course for no credit are permitted to do so for up to one 4 credit hour course for the sake of learning, cultural immersion or personal interest at no additional charge. This audited course will not appear on the Messiah University student’s transcript.

What do you pay?

TOTAL COSTS = Messiah tuition + Messiah room + Messiah board + Student services fee

Explore possible scholarships for this program.  

These Costs Include:

  • tuition, housing, meals
  • educational excursions
  • pre-departure, and re-entry orientation 
  • international travel insurance
  • student services fee
    • Student Services fee includes access to various services available to all students, including internet access, the Learning & Writing Centers, Career Services, Disability Services, Library, Department of Safety, Intercultural Office Off-Campus Programs, and other campus offices that provide services to students both on and off campus.

Note: additional fees students may encounter include (but are not limited to) transportation, visas, passports, immunizations, and course fees.  

Credit Limit Policy for Semester-Long, Off-Campus Program

Typically when students study off-campus in Messiah-approved, semester-long programs, students earn between 13 and 18 credits. All students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits.

The tuition/fees charged for Messiah’s approved study abroad programs permits a student to complete 12-18 credits.  Messiah University will process up to 18 credits.  If a student completes more than 18 credits and would like the additional credits applied to their transcript, additional tuition will be charged for credits over 18 and would be assessed after the official transcript is received/processed by Messiah.

Updated 08 April 2019

 *Note: Off-campus study fee increases annually at the same rate as the yearly tuition increase

Messiah Pre-Approval Deadlines

  • Fall - December 1
  • Spring - April 1

Latin American Studies Program Deadlines

  • Fall - June 1 
  • Spring - November 1

Rolling admissions; students are strongly encouraged to apply early

Julie Kramer

"LOVE! The unconditional love that I was shown no matter where I went was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. My host families genuinely loved me the second I walked into the door. Because of the language barrier, our communication was a little limited however, every person I came into contact with showed me how much they loved me. This type of love is what we, as Christians, are called to show to everyone. I hope and pray that I may imitate this unconditional love to every person I come into contact with here or wherever I end up!"