Read about the curricula, exams and tests commonly encountered at international schools, including the UK and US systems, International Baccalaureate and International Primary Curriculum.
Are you looking for an international school in Costa Rica? You can find a list of selected schools at the bottom of this page. Use the search filters to select only girls' or boys' schools, prep schools, senior schools or sixth forms; or you can search for schools that offer a particular curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate, the UK or US-style curriculum or the International Primary Curriculum.
One of the first countries in the world to make education free and compulsory, Costa Rica today spends 6.2 per cent of its GDP on education – well above the OECD average of 4.1 per cent - and has a very high score on the Human Development Index.
The small Central American republic is home to a thriving international school sector that spans the curriculums of the US, Germany, France, the UK and the International Bacca-laureate Office, as well as religious foundations from Catholic to Methodist and Quaker.
Coeducational day schools predominate and many international schools take students from kindergarten through to high school. Schools are clustered around the capital San José with a scattering of campuses along the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.
There are 49 IB World Schools, which all offer the IB Diploma, with two – Instituto Dr. Jaim Weizman and Pan-American School – authorised to teach all three stages of the IB programme. Of these, 10 schools teach in English and 20 in Spanish, while 18 schools offer instruction in Spanish and English, and one in German and English.
The Lincoln School teaches in Spanish and English and offers the IB Diploma alongside a US high school diploma, and the Costa Rican Bachillerato; The European School teaches in English and offers the IB Diploma and the Bachillerato; and Franz Liszt Schule teaches in German and Spanish and offers the German Abitur.
United World College Costa Rica, which is a coeducational, boarding high school, forms part of a global educational movement to promote peace and understanding that was started by German educationalist Kurt Hahn. Accrediting bodies active in Costa Rica include Cognia, which incorporates the former Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Council of International Schools.
Seven years of primary school are followed by three years of junior secondary education, plus two years of academic high school or three years of technical education. The school year starts in February and ends in December, but some international schools follow a North American calendar.
In 2019, net participation was 94 per cent in pre-schools, 99 per cent at primary level, and 85 per cent at secondary level, while gross tertiary participation was 58 per cent – reaching 64 per cent for women. Gross participation in secondary schools was 141 per cent, indicating that many children attend school outside their age cohort.