Project Description

In light of a changing COVID-19 landscape, including the rapid spread of more contagious Delta and Omicron variants, and in accordance with the recommendation of national medical experts, IFR policy requires that prior to traveling, all field school students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 AND receive a booster shot, if eligible. If you intend to participate in an IFR program this summer, we strongly encourage you to schedule your vaccination appointment as soon as possible.

All IFR field school applicants should familiarize themselves with IFR COVID-19 Practices before beginning the enrollment process. Program logistics are subject to change as health and risk management experts provide new recommendations and best practices. Each field school syllabus includes specific information about COVID-19 as related to travel regulations and recommendations, accommodations, local protocols, face mask policy and managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks.

You may want to refer to the following websites to stay informed of COVID-19 case numbers and regulations/policies for Costa Rica:

US Embassy in Costa Rica
CDC COVID-19 in Costa Rica


The Guanacaste Archaeological Project (GAP) focuses on the Palo Verde National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, a protected Ramsar Wetland, wildlife refuge, and one of the last remaining tropical dry rainforests in the Neotropics. Situated near the mouth of the Tempisque River on the Gulf of Nicoya, the park features deep archaeological sequences dating from at least 800 BC to as late as the time of Spanish contact, with some of the earliest evidence for human activity in this culturally diverse region. This field school will begin with one week of lecture and study focusing on pre-Columbian culture at the University of Costa Rica in the capital city of San Jose in the Central Highlands (incorporating field trips to the city’s world-class museums), followed by four weeks of field survey, mapping, excavation, and laboratory training at Palo Verde. Here students will have the unique opportunity to intensively explore pre-Columbian cultural continuity and change across various archaeological contexts, potentially including open-air sites, shell mounds, caves, and developed community areas clustered within the park. Participants will assist the project in identifying and reconstructing the organization and function of individual sites, assessing community development (material culture, mortuary practices, seasonal mobility, foodways, and estuary resource exploitation strategies), and examining the relationship between sites across time in an unparalleled ecological setting.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: July 3- August 6, 2022

  • Enrollment Status: Closed

  • Total Cost: $5,055

  • Course Type: Field Archaeology

  • Payment Deadline: April 15, 2022

  • Instructors: Dr. Carrie Dennett & Dr. Larry Steinbrenner

  • Orientation: May 15, 2022 at 1pm PT/ 3 pm ECT/ 4 pm ET
  • Academic Credit: 8 Semester Credit Units (equivalent to 12 Quarter Units)


The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Carrie Dennett
Dr. Carrie Dennett
Dr. Dennett is an Instructor of Anthropology and Sociology at Red Deer College (Alberta, Canada) and a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC).
Dr. Larry Steinbrenner
Dr. Larry Steinbrenner
Dr. Steinbrenner is the Head of Anthropology of the School of Arts and Sciences, Red Deer College


This is a new IFR field school.

Tuition Includes:

  • Cost of Instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credit Units
  • Room & Board
  • All Local Transportation
  • Health & Evacuation Insurance

Student Fees

This program requires an online application — there is a $25 fee to submit an application. Once admitted, a payment of the nonrefundable deposit fee is required to secure a place in the program(s). The Tuition balance (total program cost minus the deposit fee) must be paid prior to the Tuition deadline as listed above under “Course Details.” A $100 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the Tuition deadline.

Deposit: A nonrefundable $500 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. This deposit is part of the total Tuition and NOT in addition to it.

Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy: If you paid the deposit fee but did not cancel your participation by the Tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full Tuition regardless of attendance at any IFR program. Please carefully read our Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy for further information. In the event that IFR must cancel a field school, all accepted students will be notified as soon as possible and will receive a refund of all tuition paid including the deposit fee. IFR offers students the opportunity to transfer to another field school, permitting that there are spots available and the program director approves the student to participate in their field school. Upon approval of the program director, IFR staff will make the arrangements to transfer the student’s application and payments.

Credit Card Processing Fee: A 3.5% processing fee is automatically incurred for all credit/debit card/online payments.

Academic Credit Opt Out: Students who wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credit units may do so and receive the following discounts: $300 off a full program (4 or more weeks in length) or $200 off a short program (2-3 weeks in length).

Trip Cancellation Insurance: Please consider purchasing a travel interruption insurance policy that will cover your travel cost and the cost of the IFR program once you make a commitment to attend a field school.

The added risk of COVID-19  should be a “covered event” in your policy.
Please note that the cost of coverage varies, based on your age, the program duration and geographical location.
You may get help and advice from your insurance broker and we offer the links below to help you educate yourself on these insurance products.
Travel Insured International offers coverage for Trip Cancellation or Interruption for Any Reason (review coverage based on your state).
– Compare quotes from different companies offering Trip Cancelation insurance plans.


During the first week of the project in San Jose, students and non-Costa Rican staff will be housed in modest hotels (shared rooms) in San Jose, where hotel staff will regularly clean and disinfect high traffic areas and materials and dispose of potentially contaminated materials, in line with health and safety protocols in place at that time. To the greatest degree possible, students will be given an opportunity to meet other participants online and participate in the roommate selection process in the months leading up to the field program.

During the subsequent four weeks of the project, students and staff will stay in dormitories in Palo Verde National Park. Conditions will be basic but modern; air conditioning may not be available (fans are provided). Dormitory roommates will form teams to limit their non-distanced social contact with one another for the duration of the field program. While Palo Verde staff will maintain sanitary requirements in public areas at the research station, project members will be required to undertake daily sanitation of their personal living spaces. Expectations, cleaning agents, and other necessary materials will be provided at the park. Personal garbage will be disposed of according to protocol set forth by Palo Verde National Park. Laundry facilities are available on-site and students and staff are required to wash, hang, and retrieve their own personal items (including towels and bedding). A schedule for access will be created to ensure privacy as well as limit any unnecessary interaction in this space.

All participants in a field school, students, and staff, will wear masks while indoors (i.e., during lectures, during labs, in shared residential spaces, etc.). Regular hand washing will be a part of the project’s daily schedule.

All meals will be communal events. Meals during the first week in San Jose will comprise simple hotel restaurant and cafeteria fare. During the work week in the field, project personnel will be provided with cooked meals prepared by kitchen staff at Palo Verde National Park. At no point will students be involved in the handling or preparation of meals. Students will be required to arrange for their own meals on free weekends and should avoid street foods. It is unlikely that we will be able to handle very specific dietary needs; loosely vegetarian diets can probably be accommodated (though options may be limited), but vegan, gluten-free and/or religion-based diets will be difficult to accommodate. For these reasons, students are required to indicate any potential dietary restrictions and/or food allergies during their application interviews with PIs. During sit-down meals where people are unmasked, care will be taken to maintain six feet of distance between dormitory teams.

Travel Info


Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding the travel regulations related to COVID-19, IFR will assess the local conditions closer to the travel date (5-6 weeks prior to the program beginning) and will make Go/No Go decisions then. We urge you to participate in the mandatory orientation meeting when we will discuss the latest travel information and regulations. We also suggest you consider postponing the purchase of your airline ticket until after the program orientation.


As of July 22, 2021, there are no quarantine or COVID-19 testing protocols in place for international travelers arriving to Costa Rica.

As of August 1, 2021, all tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and inoculated with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson are free to enter the country without travel insurance. The last dose of the vaccine must have been applied at least 14 days before arrival in Costa Rica.

Vaccinated tourists must attach the vaccination certificate to the Health Pass (see directions on completing the Health Pass in the following section). As proof, vaccination certificates and vaccination cards that contain at least the following information will be accepted:

  1. Name of the person who received the vaccine
  2. Date of each dose
  3. Pharmaceutical house

For US travelers, this information will be contained on your “COVID-19 vaccination record card”.

Tourists not vaccinated, with incomplete vaccination or vaccinated with a serum other than those specified by the Costa Rican authorities, must purchase mandatory travel insurance that covers lodging in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19 disease. For more information, see the Costa Rican embassy websites noted above.

Project staff will meet students arriving to Costa Rica at the Juan Santa Maria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose on Sunday, July 3. It is expected that students will arrive and depart Costa Rica via plane. Staff can accommodate varying arrival times (i.e., it is not required that all students arrive at exactly the same time), but students should try to coordinate their flights with project staff to arrive in late afternoon/early evening. More specific meeting times may be arranged closer to the start of the field school (once international flight schedules disrupted by the pandemic have stabilized). Masking is required in-vehicle at all times, with limited occupants per trip, subject to Costa Rican guidelines at the time of the field school. In commute, vehicle windows will be open for maximum ventilation, weather conditions permitting, and vehicles will be fully sanitized between trips. 

If you missed your connection, your flight is delayed, or you have been held at the border for health reasons, please call, text or email the field school director immediately. A local emergency mobile phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.


US and Canadian citizens may enter Costa Rica for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa, provided that the following basic requirements are met:

  • Passports MUST be valid for the period of your stay. We recommend that you make sure your passport is valid for at least one additional month (for Canadians, note that the Government of Canada specifically recommends that your passport be valid for at least one month beyond the date of your expected return to Canada). 
  • You must possess a ticket to exit Costa Rica within the maximum authorized period of 90 days.

For additional up-to-date information on visa requirements for Canadian and US travelers, including potential legal impediments that can prevent entry into Costa Rica, please visit:

Citizens of other countries are asked to check the embassy website page at their home country for specific visa requirements.

Student Safety

The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and conducting field research involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of education provided. While risk is inherent in everything we do, we do not take risk lightly. The IFR engages in intensive review of each field school location prior to approval. Once a program is accepted, the IFR reviews each program annually to make sure it complies with all our standards and policies, including student safety.

Students attending IFR international programs are covered by a comprehensive Health Insurance policy that includes physical illness or injury, mental or chronic conditions. No deductible and 100% of costs are covered up to $250,000. In addition, we provide Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation policy, which allow us to remove students from field school location if local conditions change. Our field school directors are scholars that know field school locations and cultures well and are plugged in into local communities and state institution structures.

Students attending IFR domestic programs (within the US) must have their own health insurance and provide proof upon enrollment. IFR field school directors are familiar with local authorities and if in need of evacuation, local emergency services and/or law enforcement will be notified and activated.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field. If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students may contact IFR personnel directly.

Call (877-839-4374) or email ( if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.