University for Peace (UPEACE), Costa Rica

Studying peace in a tropical reservation park


Reflecting on problems of peace and conflict in the world demands a scientific retreat into a quiet but international surrounding. That is what the University for Peace (UPEACE) offers its students who come to follow a year-long M.A. (Master of Arts) degree at its campus in Costa Rica.


The University for Peace (UPEACE) was established by the United Nations to “provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.” It was founded in 1980 in Costa Rica under UN General Assembly Resolution 35/55.


For nearly four decades, UPEACE Costa Rica has continued its pursuit of academic excellence through the systematic and critical study, understanding, and analysis of the causes of multiple problems affecting human and global well-being. Through its rich Faculty body of Resident and Visiting Professors, UPEACE trains future leaders for peace to explore and formulate strategies and practices in various contexts to address such problems and contribute to the processes of peacebuilding and peace formation.


Every year, some 140 to 200 students from nearly 60 countries around the world follow a nine-month Master of Arts Programme at UPEACE Costa Rica in two semesters. These students are evenly spread out between the three disciplines that are offered at the University in the form of a series of three- to four-weeks courses: 

  • the Masters’ in International Law, where students can choose between two directions: Human rights or Settlement of disputes.
  • the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, that offers MA degrees in International peace studies; Media, peace and conflict studies; Gender and peace building; and Peace education.
  • and the M.A.’s in Environment and Development, with two programmes: Environment, development and peace; and Responsible management and sustainable development.


(For more information on the UPEACE curricula see the website section Study at UPEACE Costa Rica.)


During their study at the University for Peace, most students chose to stay near the UPEACE campus near Ciudad Colon, a small town at about 30 kilometers from the Costa Rican capital San José. Every morning, a UPEACE bus picks them up from the town and drives them up a tropical hill where the university is located.


UPEACE students in Ciudad Colon rent a place to live or, more often, they stay with a local host family. This has the added value of providing a surrounding where they can learn or improve the Spanish language, and of cem,enting bonds with the locals that can last a lifetime.


Whoever decides to study peace at the UPEACE University will literally be surrounded by peace and beauty in an area that celebrates Costa Rica’s biodiversity. UPEACE’s Rodrigo Carazo Campus (named after its founder, a former Costa Rican president) includes a 300 hectares forest reserve – including the last remnent of primary forest of the Central Valley of Costa Rica – that hosts mammals such as monkeys and deer, reptiles, over 300 species of birds, and more than 100 varieties of trees. The area, which can be enjoyed by both members of the UPEACE community and outside visitors, includes hiking and mountain biking trails, three lakes, a lookout point, playground areas, a soccer field, and a restaurant.