College of Law > Academics > Study Abroad > Costa Rica > Program


DePaul’s partner institution is Universidad Nacional in Heredia, located 13 miles outside the capital city of San Jose. The program is held on campus, where students have library privileges and Internet access.

Curriculum:The program offers two courses on the theory and practice of international human rights law and advocacy, with special emphasis on their application in Latin America and in US courts and NGOs dealing with Latin American migrants and refugees. All classes and lectures are conducted in English and meet in modern classrooms.

  • Human Rights Law in Latin America This course introduces the student to the foundations of international human rights law, including the ICCPR, the Genocide Convention, the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It then focuses on key elements of Latin American politics, economics, and social development over the last few decades to help students understand the context within which human massive human rights abuses have taken place, the enormous obstacles that still stand in the way of social justice and the rule of law, and the substantial progress experienced by some countries in the region. Three case studies—Guatemala, Colombia and Cuba—will receive special attention for the very different lessons that each of them offers on the challenges of human rights law and policy. (3 credits)
  • Workings of the Inter-American Human Rights System This course studies the mechanics of the Inter-American system of human rights—the world’s second most advanced regional human rights system—including the American Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission, and the Inter-American Court. The course has a highly practical focus on equipping lawyers for presenting cases before the Commission and the Court, including simulation exercises, the drafting of legal memoranda and motions, and the development of litigation strategies. (2 credits)

ABA-Approved Credits: The program is accredited by the American Bar Association and participants earn five (5) credit hours upon successful completion of all required coursework. Acceptance of credit or grade for any course taken in the program is subject to determination by each student’s home school.

Students: To facilitate interaction between U.S. and Latin American law students, a number of Universidad Nacional students who are fluent in English participate in classes and extracurricular activities.


Site Visits: The program includes site visits to institutions and nongovernmental organizations working on human rights and governance in the Americas. Visits include:

  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  • Inter-American Institute of Human Rights
  • The Center for Justice and International Law

Guest Lecturers: The program routinely hosts international human rights law experts as guest lecturers. Guest lecturers have included:

  • Roberto Cuellar, Executive Director, Inter-American Institute of Human Rights
  • Soraya Long, Director, Center for Justice and International Law
  • Sonia Picado, Former Judge, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  • Pablo Saavedra, Secretary, Inter-American Court of Human Rights


Applicants are encouraged to apply by April 15, but applications will be accepted on a space-available basis through May 1.