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University of Costa Rica

University of Costa Rica
Universidad de Costa Rica
Motto Lucem Aspicio (Latin, "In search for the light")
Established 1940
Type Public, undergraduate, graduate.
Rector Dr. Henning Jensen-Pennington
Students 41.642 (2011)[1]
Undergraduates 37.600
Location San Pedro Montes de Oca, San José, Costa Rica
Campus Both Urban and Rural
Campus size 77.5 ha, 775.000 m²

For the association football club, see Club de Futbol Universidad de Costa Rica.

The University of Costa Rica (Spanish: Universidad de Costa Rica, abbreviated UCR) is a public university in the Republic of Costa Rica, in Central America. Its main campus, Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio, is located in San Pedro Montes de Oca, in the province of San José. It is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious institution of higher learning in Costa Rica, originally established as the Universidad de Santo Tomás in 1843. It is also the most important research university in the country, and Central America. Approximately 39,000 students attend UCR throughout the year.

Within the Webometrics ranking, the UCR ranks at #580 worldwide, and at #21 in Latin America.[2]


  • History 1
  • Application 2
  • Campuses and local branches 3
  • Social relevance 4
  • International cooperation 5
  • Organization 6
  • Research institutes 7
  • Events 8
  • Transportation 9
  • People 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The first institution dedicated to higher education in Costa Rica was the University of Saint Thomas (Universidad de Santo Tomás), which was established in 1843. That institution maintained close ties with the Roman Catholic Church and was closed in 1888 by the progressive and anti-clerical government of President Bernardo Soto Alfaro as part of a campaign to modernize public education. The schools of law, agronomy, fine arts, and pharmacy continued to operate independently. In 1940, those four schools were re-united to establish the modern UCR, during the reformist administration of President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia.

The UCR remained the country's sole university until the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica) and the National University of Costa Rica (Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica) were opened by the government in 1972 and 1973, respectively. Years later, in 1979, another public university opened: the Distance State University (Universidad Estatal a Distancia), modeled after the British Open University. Today, Costa Rica has five public universities (the fifth being the newly created National Technical University), and approximately fifty three small private ones, but the UCR remains the largest and most well funded institution.


Costa Rican applicants to the UCR must take an admission test. This test is similar to the SAT in the USA. The score of this test is used along with the grades from the student's last years in high school to determine the student's admission score, which is later used to determine admission to a specific major and financial aid. 800 is the highest possible score on the admission test and 442 is the minimum score required for admission. Students who score 800 usually appear in the front pages of Costa Rican newspapers.

Undergraduate Admission is highly selective, having an acceptance rate of approximately 25%. In 2009, out of the 31.042 that completed the admission test, only 16.593 got above the necessary 442 points to be admitted into the university. However, being admitted to the university doesn't assure admission to a chosen departmental program, or major. In 2007, only 60% of those admitted to the university got accepted into their chosen major. The remaining 40% have to take classes that may not work for their major, hoping it will lift their grade point average to the level necessary to be admitted to the program of their liking.

International applicants must revalidate their high school certificate and grades from their country of origin at the Ministry of Public Education (Ministerio de Educación Pública) in order to apply and take the admission test. Graduate school applicants must revalidate their undergraduate certificate also.

Campuses and local branches

Carlos Monge Library, a library on the main campus in San Pedro.

The main campus is located on a 100 ha (250-acre) campus in San Pedro, San Jose (Rodrigo Facio campus). Other regional campuses are located throughout the country to reach rural Costa Ricans. The regional options are:

The main campus in San Pedro offers the most diverse course curricula of any other campus, in addition to hosting the Medical School, and graduate programs.

Social relevance

The University, while neutral on most aspects of Costa Rican life, defines itself as a secular and humanist institution. The university encourages social work and research activities and in order to graduate most students must work in the Trabajo Comunal Universitario (University Community Service), which is organized by the University. The University maintains a prestigious position in Costa Rican society and is the most often cited governmental institution in Costa Rican media. Opinions generated in scientific, ethical and economic matters strongly influence Costa Rican policies and public sentiment. Costa Rican law requieres the Costa Rican Congress to request from the UCR (amongst other institutions) for its opinion on whether a new law should be approved or not.

UCR counts Costa Rica's Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias, ex-Presidents, many ministers, and many heads of the country's public institutions as alumni.

The UCR is also part of the Consejo Nacional de Rectores (National Council of University Chairpersons), a watchdog body that overviews higher education quality, and recognition of university-level degrees from foreign countries.

For many years, UCR grew in close partnership with public action of the State, forming the professional staff necessary for the growth of new public institutions such as the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the Costa Rican Social Security Fund may Social (CCSS) and the State Bank. [3]

International cooperation

The University maintains international cooperation alliances with the University of Florida, State University of New York at Albany, University of Texas at Austin, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, Rutgers University and the University of Kansas, which is the oldest standing agreement between two universities in the Western Hemisphere.

Academic cooperation agreements have been signed with the governments of the following countries (in alphabetical order): Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (R.O.C.), Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela.


School of Engineering

The government structure of the university is composed by a Legislative Body (Asamblea General), Board of Directors (Consejo Universitario), Presidency (Rectoría), and the Offices (Vicerrectorías) of Extension (Acción Social) [38], Administrative Affairs (Administación), Academic Affairs (Docencia), Research (Investigación) and Student Affairs (Vida Estudiantil) .

The UCR is divided into six major academic areas: Agricultural Sciences, Arts and Letters, Basic Sciences, Engineering, Health and Social Sciences. These areas are divided into Colleges, Schools and Departments, Research Centers and Institutes. The Graduate Studies System offers masters and doctorate degrees in a variety of academic fields. Careers are as follows:

  • Agricultural Sciences
    • Agricultural Economics
    • Animal Science
    • Food Science
    • Plant Science
  • Arts and Letters
    • Linguistics, Literature and Philology
    • Modern Languages
    • Music
    • Painting, Engraving, Sculpture, Art History, Pottery and Graphic Design
    • Performing Arts (Drama)
    • Philosophy
  • Basic Sciences
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Geology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
  • Engineering [39]
    • Agricultural Engineering [40]
    • Architecture [41]
    • Chemical Engineering [42]
    • Civil Engineering [43]
    • Computer and Information Sciences [44]
    • Electrical Engineering [45]
    • Industrial Engineering [46]
    • Mechanical Engineering [47]
    • Terrain Surveying [48]
  • Health [49]
    • Dentistry
    • Health Technologies
    • Medicine & Surgery [50]
    • Microbiology [51]
    • Nursing [52]
    • Nutrition [53]
    • Pharmacy [54]
    • Public Sanitation [55]
  • Social Sciences [56]
    • Anthropology & Social Science [57]
    • Economic Sciences [58]
    • Educational Sciences [59]
    • Geography [60]
    • History [61]
    • Law [62]
    • Media Sciences [63]
    • Political Sciences [64]
    • Private Management (Business) [65]
    • Psychology [66]
    • Public Management (Government & Customs) [67]
    • Social Work [68]
    • Statistical Sciences [69]

Research institutes

The University manages 42 research institutes:[4]

  • Center of Studies on Latin American Identity and Culture (CIICLA)
  • Institute of Linguistic Research (INIL)
  • Institute of Philosophical Research (INIF)
  • Agronomical Research Center (CIA)
  • National Research Center on Food Science (CITA)
  • Center for Research on Agribusiness (CIEDA)
  • Research Center on Grains and Seeds (CIGRAS)
  • Research Center on Animal Nutrition (CINA)
  • Research Center on Plant Protection (CIPROC)
  • Institute of Agronomical Investigations (IIA)
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology Research Center (CIBCM)
  • Center for Research on Materials Science & Engineering (CICIMA)
  • Research Center on Microscopic Structures (CIEMIC)
  • Research Center on Nuclear and Molecular Sciences ( CICANUM)
  • Research Center on Sea Sciences (CIMAR)
  • Environmental Pollution Research Center (CICA)
  • Research Center on Geological Sciences (CICG)
  • Electro-Chemical Energy Research Center (CELEQ)
  • Research Center on Natural Products (CIPRONA)
  • Center on Space Research (CINESPA)
  • Research Center on Geophysics (CIGEFI)
  • Research Center on Mathematics and Metha-mathematics (CIMM)
  • Research Center on Pure and Applied Mathematics (CIMPA)
  • Center for Research on Sustainable Development (CIEDES)
  • Institute of Investigations in Engineering (INII)
  • Research Center on Information and Communication Technologies (CITIC)
  • Central American Population Studies Center (CCP)
  • Center for Research and Training on Public Management (CICAP)
  • Research Center on Communication (CICOM)
  • Center on Women Studies (CIEM)
  • Center for Central Americal Historical Studies (CIHAC)
  • Research Center on Political Studies "Dr. José María Castro Madriz" (CIEP)
  • Institute of Investigations in Economic Sciences (IICE)
  • Institute of Investigations in Psychology (IIP)
  • Institute of Juridical Investigations (IIJ)
  • Institute of Social Research (IIS)
  • Research Center on Tropical Diseases (CIET)
  • Research Center on Abnormal Hemoglobins and Related Ailments (CIHATA)
  • Research Center on Neurosciences (CIN)
  • Clodomiro Picado Institute (ICP)
  • Institute of Pharmaceutical Research (INIFAR)
  • Institute of Investigations in Health (INISA)

Other projects managed include one rain forest research station (Alberto Manuel Brenes Station), two agricultural research stations (Alfredo Volio and Fabio Baudrit stations [70]), one botanical garden focused on orchid conservation (Lankester Botanical Garden), a planetarium [71], two radio stations [72], one weekly newspaper [73] and one television station [74].


The school calendar runs from March to December, while the academic year in Costa Rican schools and high schools starts in February. The school year is divided into two semesters, plus one additional summer term that may be mandatory depending on the student's chosen career and that extends from early January to late February.

Semana U is an event held during the first semester and involves the participation of the different student organizations. There are many concerts, talks, expositions, and other activities.

The Expo UCR (sometimes called la Expo) is a bi-annual event that also showcases the University's work and developments in various areas; the seventh edition is scheduled to be held on April 2015.


An internal free shuttle moves students around its main campus and satellite areas (fincas) including the research campus, sports facilities, and a cluster of laboratories and research centers detached from the main campus by a river and several neighborhoods. Transportation to downtown San Jose and neighboring counties (cantones) is readily available either as part of subsidized transportation routes or through San Jose's inexpensive bus and railway lines.


The following are notable individuals associated with the University of Costa Rica:

  • Fernando Baudrit Solera, former dean of the University of Costa Rica College of Law and public jurist
  • Roger Churnside, professor emeritus of Economics and Public Policy, author of multiple published books


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External links

  • UCR Home Page
  • Red Sismológica Nacional (National Seismological Network)
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Contaminación Ambiental (Environmental Pollution Research Center)
  • Institute of Investigations in Engineering (Institute of Engineering Research)
  • Laboratorio de Productos Forestales (Forest Products Laboratory)
  • Latindex (UCR journals)
  • Semanario Universidad (Weekly newspaper)

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