San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Private Schools Offer Quality Bilingual Education

Top-notch bilingual education can be found at private schools in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Many of the Costa Rican schools offer both the Education Ministry (MEP) bachillerato and a U.S. diploma, and a few more offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. Each year, these programs churn out students who gain admittance into top schools, including U.S. Ivy League universities.

Some schools teach French in addition to Spanish and English. A few others have added Mandarin. And the HumboldtSchool in the western San José district of Pavas has intensive German classes.

Most of the Costa Rican schools are in San José, with a good number in the western suburb of Escazú, though CountyDay School has a campus near the beaches of the northwestern Guanacaste province.

Falcon International’s new school is in Playa Herradura, on the central Pacific coast. And Nicaragua also offers quality features, including one the most extensive community service programs available.

Adolfo González, director of the LincolnInternationalAcademy in Managua, said some students do more than 700 hours of community service in their junior and senior years of high school. Programs include reading to cancer patients in children’s hospitals and cooking for orphaned kids. In the past year, the school also donated 1,300 shoes and 400 backpacks to charity.

“They like to work with children,” said González, on why these programs are so popular.

All these programs present intriguing options. Below is a list of several private high schools in the country.


American InternationalSchool

Cariari, Heredia, 2293-2567,

Facilities: Include health service, cafeteria service, computer lab with Wi-Fi, bus service and sports facilities.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Graduates receive U.S. high school diplomas. Advanced placement courses. Option to complete Costa Rica’s national bachillerato.

Special features: English as a second language, Spanish as a second language and a learning support program that serves the needs of students with English, Spanish and learning deficiencies. Primary language of instruction is English.

Tuition: Call for information.


Blue Valley

Escazú, 2215-2204,

Facilities: Two computer labs, virtual classroom, one biology lab, one chemistry lab and a physics classroom with lab equipment. Gym, sports fields, gardens, newly built administrative building and library facilities.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Offers IB and Costa Rican (MEP) diplomas. U.S. curriculum but with a focus on Costa Rican culture.

Special features: 126 Mac computers can be found around the school, wireless network. Frequent field trips, guest lecturers.

Tuition: Monthly only, $468 preschool, $609 elementary, $644 middle school, $703 high school.


County Day School Escazú

Escazú, 2289-0919,

Facilities: Four-hectare school in Escazú hills, includes libraries, three computer labs, campus-wide wireless Internet, gym and swimming pool. Bus service for most of San José metropolitan area.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Students focus on U.S. high school diploma and advanced placement classes. Also prepares students for Costa Rican bachillerato exams.

Special features: Boarding school program, annual fun run for students.

Tuition: Yearly, $7,010 pre-K (full day), $7,950 kindergarten (full day), $10,750 grades 1 to 12.


County Day School Guanacaste

Brasilito, Guanacaste, 2654-5042,

Facilities: Covered gym, pool, athletic field, 20-room residence for boarding school, library, science and computer labs, auditorium.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Structured primarily on U.S. curricula. The only U.S.-certified school in Guanacaste. Focus on students’ appreciation of their own culture or heritage and relationship to international community.

Special features: Boarding school for eighth to 12th grades. Offers experiential studies that involve outdoor, hands-on learning experiences in Guanacaste area.

Tuition: Yearly, $5,960 preschool (full day), $6,790 kindergarten (full day), $9,170 grades 1 to 12.


European School

San Pablo de Heredia, 2261-0717,

Facilities: 3.5 hectares, computer lab with Wi-Fi, dance and art studios, sports facilities.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Emphasis on the humanities and arts. Offers Mandarin language courses.

Special features: Considered one of the most environmentally friendly schools. Meals are organic, very healthy (no sugar, little salt, mainly vegetarian).

Tuition: Yearly, $4,470 preschool, $6,230 primary, $7,130 secondary.


Falcon InternationalSchool

Playa Herradura, Central Pacific, 2637-7400,

Facilities: Modern information technology lab, multimedia center, activity center for young students, air-conditioned classrooms.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Offers both U.S. and Costa Rican diplomas.

Special features: Emphasis on technology. School only five years old and features “specially designed” modern classrooms.

Tuition: Yearly, $3,740 preschool, $4,895 grades 1 to 5, $5,995 grades 6 to 8, $6,050 grades 9 to 12.


Humboldt School

Pavas, 2232-1455,

Facilities: Science labs, three computer labs, cultural center, sports facilities including indoor gym and pool, green spaces.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Intensive German classes. Focus on math and sciences. Students first receive a Costa Rican bachillerato, with an option to also receive a German diploma. All students receive English- and German-language certification. Students who perform strongly at sports can receive the German certificate for sports performance.

Special features: Since most classes are taught in German, students must have knowledge of the language. It is possible to start in kindergarten without knowledge of German and apply for the Humboldt program at the end of fourth grade. Study abroad programs in Germany (scholarships available).

Tuition: $442 per month.


Lincoln School

Santo Domingo de Heredia, 2247-6600,

Facilities: New, state-of-art soccer fields, handicappedaccessible, virtual conference rooms.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Three diplomas, U.S. high school program, IB, MEP.

Special features: The school moved into new, state-of the-art facilities two years ago. Forty bus routes, including service in Escazú.

Tuition: Monthly, $400 pre-K to kindergarten, $600 grades 1 to 5, $700 grades 6 to 12.


Marian BakerSchool

San Ramón de Tres Ríos, 2273-0024,

Facilities: Computer labs, library and science facilities, large gymnasium with performing arts facilities, playing field, outdoor sports facilities. Preschool, elementary school playgrounds.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Dual curriculum, standard U.S. college preparatory and all requirements for Costa Rican bachillerato.

Special features: Art, drama, music, sports and counseling program.

Tuition: Yearly, $6,225 preschool, $8,105 elementary and middle school, $9,370 high school.


Mount ViewSchool

Guachipelín de Escazú, 2215-1154,

Facilities: Focus on environment, spacious campus, sports facilities, computer lab.

Grades: Preschool to 11.

Curriculum basics: Costa Rican curriculum, MEP


Special features: Clubs include karate and dance. Tutoring program.

Tuition: Monthly, $225 to $300 preschool, $325 elementary, $370 high school.


Pan-American School

San Antonio de Belén, 2298-5700,

Facilities: 7.5-acre campus designed by renowned architect Bruno Stagno to take advantage of natural light and ventilation. Sports facilities include track and multipurpose gym.

Grades: Preschool to 11.

Curriculum basics: Dual curriculum, standard U.S. college preparatory and all requirements for Costa Rican bachillerato.

Special features: Opportunities to visit places outside of Costa Rica, such as Machu Picchu or Space Camp. Student exchanges available for the United States and Canada. Clubs include jazz, international cuisine, math Olympics, tae kwon do and ballet. Also offers instruction through EditusArtsAcademy.

Tuition: Monthly only, $467 to $635 pre-K to kindergarten, $668 to $692 grades 1 to 5, $756 to $802 grades 6 to 11.


Saint GregorySchool

Road to Tres Ríos, 2279-4444,

Facilities: Two cafeterias, study centers, separate buildings for preschool, primary and secondary school, IT center, library.

Grades: Preschool to 11.

Curriculum basics: Costa Rican-based curriculum that offers an integral education. Languages offered include English, Spanish, French and Mandarin.

Special features: Summer school options, tutoring and individual help programs available.

Tuition: Call for information.


Saint MarySchool

Guachipelín de Escazú, 2215-2133,

Facilities: In addition to athletic fields and art facilities, the school has a gym with special hydraulic equipment for younger kids.

Grades: Preschool to 11.

Curriculum basics: Costa Rican bachillerato (MEP).

Special features: Afterschool activities include tutoring services, choir, math Olympics and cooking. Catholic school.

Tuition: Call for information.


Sek InternationalSchool

Cipreses de Curridabat, 2272-5464,

Facilities: Four-acre campus with science labs, heated swimming pool, modern gym, ballet room, karate classroom, Wi-Fi, two computer labs, modern infrastructure.

Grades: Kindergarten to 11.

Curriculum basics: Costa Rican curriculum, MEP diploma. Focus on history, arts and technology. SEK schools are considered world leaders in technology.

Special features: Mandarin courses, exchange programs to 12 different countries, home-school cooperation.

Tuition: Monthly, $396 kindergarten, $450 grades 1 to 6, $500 grades 7 to 11.




American Nicaraguan School

Lomas de Monserrat, Managua, (505) 2278-4508,

Facilities: 26-acre campus, 80 Internet-ready classes, 10 administration buildings, library/media center and technology center equipped with wireless Internet and video conferencing, science laboratories, fine arts, drama and music departments, athletic facilities including multipurpose covered athletic area with capacity for 3,000.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: U.S.-accredited college prep program.

Special features: Certified testing center for PRAXIS, SSAT, SCAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, SAT I and II, TOEFL and ACT exams. Community service program HACIA democracy, sponsored by HarvardUniversity.

Tuition: Yearly, $1,920 K3, $3,000 K4, $4,440 K5, $5,220 grades 1 to 5, $5,760 grades 6 to 8, $6,000 grades 9 to 12.


Lincoln International Academy

Las Colinas Sur, Managua, (505) 2276-3000,

Facilities: Sports facilities, assembly hall, computer labs, Wi-Fi throughout campus.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: Students graduate with both U.S. high school diploma and Nicaraguan bachillerato. Nicaraguan-Hispanic culture important to curriculum. Catholic school. Eleven honors classes, seven advanced placement classes (looking to add more). Seniors required to do 100 hours of community service.

Special features: Has won Central America-wide community service award for past two years. Programs involve cooking breakfast for and entertaining abandoned Nicaraguan children, teaching English in rural schools and reading to cancer patients at a children’s hospital. New program emphasizes new technology, planning to update grades online, give laptops to every teacher.

Tuition: Monthly, $158 pre-K 2 and 3, $243 pre-K 4, $327 kindergarten, $422 grades 1 to 6, $438 grades 7 to 12.


Notre Dame School

Managua, (505) 2276-0353,

Facilities: Library, computer lab, sports facilities, swimming pool.

Grades: Preschool to 12.

Curriculum basics: IB degree and Nicaraguan bachillerato. Focus on Christian values.

Special features: English as a second language classes.

Tuition: Call for information.

Contact Matt Levin at

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