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"Department of Spanish and Portuguese"

Latin American Studies Semester

Program Overview

The Latin American Studies Semester (LASS) has been offered every spring semester since 1973. This unique language immersion program is designed to provide an intensive experience in the study of the Spanish language in combination with an interdisciplinary study of life and contemporary issues in Latin America. The prerequisite for participation in LASS is two semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent (students with more advanced levels of course background are encouraged to participate in the program). LASS integrates several courses, totaling 17-semester hours credit, and must be taken as a package.  All courses are taught in Spanish from the first day of class on Temple’s main campus.  An integral part of the LASS program is a three-week trip to Heredia, Costa Rica in February and March, during which students are placed in local homes where the only language of communication is Spanish.  While in Costa Rica, students attend courses at the National University of Costa Rica.  All courses in Costa Rica are taught by native Spanish-speaking professors and by Temple University professors.  All participants in the program may expect to achieve marked improvement in Spanish fluency in only one semester.


LASS courses combine the learning of the Spanish language with the study of the diverse cultures of Latin America.  The program is an integration of several courses, totaling 17-semester hours credit, and must be taken as a package. Owing to both the credit-hour load and the semester’s objective: immersion in  Spanish and Latin American Studies, no other courses may be taken.
Students register for the following courses:

Spanish 2076.002 or 2076.003: Intensive Practice/Four Skills - 9 credits.
Sociology 2163: Area Studies: Latin American Development - 3 credits.
Spanish 3204: Latin America Through Film - 3 credits.
Latin American Studies 2220: LASS Seminar - 2 credits.
Morning sessions, held from 9:00 to 12:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, offer Spanish language instruction and conversation practice at intermediate and advanced levels guided by native or near native speakers.
Morning sessions, held from 9:30 to 10:50 and from 11:00 to 12:20 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, focus on Latin American culture, history, and economic development.

A LASS Seminar held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:10 highlights a series of topics in Latin American and Latino studies and includes films and presentations by guest speakers.

About Heredia, Costa Rica

Heredia is a city that is emblematic of the Costa Rican lifestyle and makes for a perfect study abroad destination. It is located only a short distance from San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, and offers many big-city amenities. The relaxed city lifestyle allows students to enjoy scenic plazas, abundant green spaces and parks, and friendly ticos (Costa Ricans). Winding through the twisting roads above Heredia, charming little towns are surrounded by coffee plantations and lush vegetation, with occasional views of the Central Valley below.
Almost everything Costa Rica has to offer can be found in and around Heredia, including the Central Volcanic Corridor, a sloth reserve, and other popular destinations. Costa Rica is known for the warmth of its welcome and the beauty of its countryside, an ideal combination for students.

The National University of Costa Rica

Founded in 1973, the National University of Costa Rica – Heredia (Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica or UNA) is the second-largest university in the country. The school's undergraduate and graduate programs are fully accredited, and over 15,000 students study at its main campus. In addition to undergraduate programs, it offers 16 Masters of Art degrees and is strong in ecology, sociology, and education related coursework.
While in Costa Rica, LASS students will have access to campus Wi-Fi, computer labs and the library.


Housing in Heredia allows students a truly enjoyable and immersive experience living in a Costa Rican (Tico) home with a local family (only one LASS student per each host family for maximum cultural and language engagement). All housing is located in middle to upper class neighborhoods and offers glimpses of everyday life with easy access to the university and to city amenities. Homestays include breakfast and dinner every day except for excursion days. Every family has been carefully selected by UNA staff in order to ensure a comfortable, enjoyable and immersive living situation.


The 17-semester hours credit program includes an additional fee of $850.  The fee is incorporated into the tuition for one of the LASS courses and is paid as part of the student spring registration.  The fee covers the following: housing, meals, courses and trips in Costa Rica.  Students are responsible for separately purchasing their airline tickets and make their own arrangements.


Travel dates for Spring 2014:

  • Departure - February 19
  • Return - March 11

Eligibility and Application Process

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • have successfully completed 1002 or the equivalent (a minimum of two semesters of university-level Spanish), although preference will be given to students that have completed 1003.
  • possess a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale from all colleges/universities attended, although preference will be given to GPAs above 3.0.
  • be enrolled as a full-time matriculated student at the time of application.
  • not be on academic and/or disciplinary probation or warning.

Students will be selected mainly on the basis of their intellectual resolve and emotional maturity.  Successful candidates are usually notified within three weeks of receiving a completed application.
A passport is required for traveling to Costa Rica.  If you do not already have a valid passport, you should apply for one immediately. All students will be asked to provide their passport information the first week of December.  No visa is necessary for US citizens.


Please download the application (.PDF) and bring it to Anderson 428. 


Questions about the Application Process

If you have any questions, please contact the Program Director, Dr. Hiram Aldarondo (haldaron@temple.edu) or the Program Coordinator, Dr. Patricia Moore-Martinez (pmoore04@temple.edu).






Here is the link to the LASSemester video, which explains much about the program. (NOTE: the program has moved to Costa Rica). Watch on Youtube

Watch a video about Costa Rica


Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Anderson Hall 4th Floor 1114 West Berks Street Philadelphia, PA 19122-6090
Phone: (215) 204-8285 Fax: (215) 204-3731