Costa Rica, a country known for its rich biodiversity and commitment to sustainability, also boasts a robust education system. One of the key pillars of this system is the network of private schools that offer high-quality education to both local and international students. These institutions play a crucial role in shaping the future of the country and are a popular choice for parents seeking the best education for their children. The keyword here is “Private Schools in Costa Rica,” a term that encompasses a wide range of institutions with diverse offerings.

Education Options in the Central Valley

Various educational options will be available if you plan to live in the Central Valley. You can find the right school for your child, from public to private colleges. Private schools in the Central Valley offer a range of programs, including Montessori and Catholic schools. These schools typically provide education up to the 11th and National Baccalaureate grades.



Education Options Outside the Central Valley

If you plan to live outside the Central Valley, your educational options will be more limited.  However, since every institution is different, you’ll need to ask your desired school whether there are any alternatives.

Why Choose Private Schools in Costa Rica?

When it comes to education, private schools in Costa Rica stand out for several reasons:

  • Quality of Education: Private schools in CR are known for their high academic standards. They offer a comprehensive curriculum that not only covers traditional subjects but also incorporates innovative teaching methods to foster critical thinking and creativity.
  • Bilingual Education: Most private schools in CR offer bilingual education, usually in English and Spanish. This not only equips students with essential language skills but also prepares them for a globalized world. International Schools Database provides a comprehensive list of such schools.
  • International Standards and Accreditation: Many private schools in CR are accredited by international bodies, ensuring that they meet global standards of education. This is particularly beneficial for expatriate families or those planning to send their children to study abroad. For more information on this, you can refer to this resource.

Choosing a private school in Costa Rica is a significant decision that can have a profound impact on a child’s future. Therefore, it’s essential to consider these factors and make an informed choice.



Overview of Top Private Schools

Costa Rica is home to a number of top-notch private schools, each with its unique features and offerings. Here are brief descriptions of some of these schools:

  • The British School of Costa Rica: Known for its rigorous academic program and a strong emphasis on character development.
  • Lighthouse International School: Offers a diverse curriculum with a focus on innovation and creativity.
  • Lincoln School: Renowned for its bilingual program and commitment to sustainability.

For a comprehensive list of top private schools in Costa Rica, you can refer to this resource.

Cost of Private Schools in Costa Rica

The cost of private education in Costa Rica varies significantly, depending on several factors:

  • General Cost Range: The cost of private schools in CR can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month.
  • Factors Affecting the Cost: These include the school’s reputation, the curriculum offered, and the location of the school.
  • Comparison of Costs Among Top Private Schools: Some schools offer scholarships or financial aid, which can significantly reduce the cost.



Types of Diplomas

Costa Rica offers three types of diplomas, depending on your child’s school.

Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma (MEP)

The Costa Rican Ministry of Education accredits the Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma. The National Baccalaureate/Diploma of Costa Rica allows students to take the MEP testing in the 6th, 9th, and 11th grades. Students can apply to the University of Costa Rica after earning this degree.



International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

The International Baccalaureate Diploma is accredited by the IBO in Geneva, Switzerland. To earn this diploma, students must complete and test in six IB subjects, write an extended 4000-word essay of independent research, complete 150 hours of (CAS) creative, action, and service activities, and participate in a critical thinking course called Theory of Knowledge. The program begins in the 11th grade and is completed in the 12th grade. This degree allows students to enter universities in the USA, Europe, or Latin America.

USA High School Diploma (SACS)

The United States Diploma allows entrance into universities in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world. However, more than this diploma is needed to get you into a university in Costa Rica. The United States Diploma is available at all American Schools in Costa Rica.



Accreditation of Education in Costa Rica

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredits American schools in Costa Rica. Other accreditations may include the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. American students without the IB choose two diplomas to broaden their university possibilities. The National Baccalaureate precedes the US Diploma program in 12th grade. Many students enroll in AP (Advanced Placement) classes in the 12th grade to earn college credit. AP courses are available in many subjects, from English to Calculus. If you’re interested in taking Advanced Placement classes, check with your prospective school to see what options they offer.

School Calendar year

The local calendar runs from mid-February to the end of November, followed by public, Catholic, and certain private European schools. Schools that follow the US curriculum use the US calendar, which runs from the middle of August to the end of June, with a month off for Christmas in December and January.



Families can choose from three diplomas in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and the USA High School Diploma. Each certificate offers different opportunities for university entrance in various countries. However, each institution differs, so you’ll need to check with your prospective school for your options.

Extracurricular Activities in Private Schools

Extracurricular activities play a crucial role in a child’s holistic development. Here’s why they are important:

  • Importance of Extracurricular Activities: They help in the development of various skills such as leadership, teamwork, and time management.
  • Variety of Activities Offered by Private Schools: These can range from sports and arts to clubs and community service programs.
  • Impact on Student Development: Participation in these activities can enhance students’ academic performance, boost their self-esteem, and improve their social skills.


costa rica school kids playing soccer


Get Started Today

If you’re considering providing your child with a high-quality, holistic education, private schools in CR could be the perfect choice. With their high academic standards, bilingual programs, and diverse extracurricular activities, these schools offer an enriching learning environment that can set your child up for success.


In conclusion, private schools in Costa Rica offer a multitude of benefits. From high-quality education and bilingual programs to a wide range of extracurricular activities, these schools provide a comprehensive learning experience that can significantly contribute to a child’s overall development. If you’re looking for an enriching and globally recognized education for your child, private schools in CR are definitely worth considering.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average class size in private schools in Costa Rica?

The average class size in private schools in CR can vary, but it’s typically smaller than in public schools to ensure personalized attention.

Are private schools in Costa Rica accredited?

Yes, many private schools in CR are accredited by international bodies, ensuring they meet global education standards.

Do private schools in Costa Rica offer scholarships?

Yes, some private schools in CR offer scholarships or financial aid to help families with the cost of tuition.

What languages are taught in private schools in Costa Rica?

Most private schools in CR offer bilingual education, typically in English and Spanish.

Do private schools in Costa Rica follow the Costa Rican curriculum?

While some private schools follow the Costa Rican curriculum, others may follow international curriculums like the International Baccalaureate.

Are there international private schools in Costa Rica?

Yes, there are several international private schools in Costa Rica that cater to expatriate families and offer international curriculums.

How much is private schooling in Costa Rica?

Private school tuition in Costa Rica can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month.

How many private schools are there in Costa Rica?

There are numerous private schools, each offering unique educational programs.

What is one advantage of attending a private school in Costa Rica?

One advantage is the high-quality education and bilingual programs offered by these schools.

Are the schools in Costa Rica good?

Yes, Costa Rican schools, particularly private ones, are known for their high academic standards.

How much does it cost to go to Lincoln School in Costa Rica?

The cost for Lincoln School varies, and it’s best to contact the school directly for accurate tuition information.

How much does it cost to go to American schools in Costa Rica?

The tuition for the American School varies, so it’s recommended to contact the school for precise information.

How much do most private schools cost?

The cost of private schools can vary greatly based on location, curriculum, and other factors.

Do you have to pay for school in Costa Rica?

Public education is free, but private schools require tuition.

How much is private school tuition in San Jose?

Private school tuition in San Jose, Costa Rica, can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month.



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