Learn by Studying Abroad in Panama

At Kalu Yala, studying abroad gives student-interns and young professionals the opportunity to apply their passions in the real world. They work as part of our first civic institution, the research and development team. Team members utilize their studies in the search for best practices in sustainability and quality living while doing so in beautiful Central America. Unlike other education programs, we insist on learning through exploration.

We enable you to orchestrate your own adventure.
Apply Now

things you'll need to know

  • represented


    Our alumni represent over 160 universities throughout the world.

    See All
  • what to


    This list is just our take on what we’ve found to be useful. If it doesn’t say “Mandatory” - it’s not!

    View List
  • Appreciation


    Learn about Parent Appreciation Day and Professor Appreciation Weekends.

    Learn More
  • Tuition and


    Tuition can vary depending on the semester. Learn about financial aid opportunities here as well.

    See All
  • Student


    Read about the work and experiences of students at the institute.

    Read More
Institute Staff

our fearless leaders


we can answer that

  • What is the Meal Plan like?

    Those located in San Miguel and Panama City are provided lunch and dinner during the week, except dinner on Fridays. Due to the nature of their work, Kalu Yala-based programs receive 14 meals per week, with meal schedule varying around time spent in the field. Meals are not provided on weekends/off days.  Our chefs provide filling meals that are delicious and healthy, using what is locally available. Vegetarian options are always available; several of our staff members are vegetarian, so you will be in good company!

  • Can I get credit for this in school?

    About half the students who come do get their semester at Kalu Yala approved for credit. It largely depends on your school and your program. We have had participants receive anywhere from 0 to 16 credit hours, which have included internship credit, independent study credit, study abroad credit and actual course credit. This takes a little legwork from you. Start by talking with your adviser and/or study abroad office, and we’re happy to provide a program syllabus to present or answer any questions. And a tip from our alumni- if you can find a teacher who’s willing to speak on your behalf for the program when you talk to your adviser or study abroad office that can be a huge help!

  • What airport do I fly into?

    Tocumen Airport (PTY).

  • Do you have to be an undergraduate student?

    No, about 70% of participants are undergraduates and 30% are out of college, on a gap year, or in their graduate studies. We also regularly serve as a point of reflection for people considering a career change. What everyone has in common is the desire to contribute to creating the most inspiring place on earth.

  • When will the town of Kalu Yala be built?

    Kalu Yala already exists, with a community of about 50 staff living there full-time and each semester inviting students and guests from around the world which bring the community to about 150-200 residents.  Our base camp here is still rustic, but has the infrastructure and ability to host both the institute and our events.  Actual roads and homes will begin to be built in 2017.  Like any real town, it will never be complete, just evolving more and more as it’s doing right now.

  • Can I change the program dates?

    Semester dates are already set, but there is some flexibility to accommodate arriving a little late, having to take off a few days during the semester, or leaving a little early. However, we invite you to do work before and after the program through working with your Program Director online to do pre-arrival research and post-program project documentation. If your school requires more time- we can make it happen- no worries. There is plenty of work to be done!

  • Do I have to pick a first-choice program when applying?

    Yes. If you’re torn between two programs, a phone interview will help guide you to which one is right for you. But Kalu Yala encourages collaboration between programs, so you’ll still have the option of creating a personal project that encompasses aspects of both.

  • Where does our research go after we leave the program?

    All research reports are reviewed in order to see how they could potentially help the town of Kalu Yala better understand complex or nuanced subjects. Furthermore, all studies are cataloged to form a foundation of knowledge available to all.

  • Where does my tuition go?

    All tuition goes directly back into the institute and its amazing staff, our students’ facilities and research, and everything we can do make Kalu Yala a more amazing place and experience. We work hard to maximize every dollar and the extremely high satisfaction ratings from students and their parents shows that.

  • Does tuition cover the cost of my flight?

    No. You are responsible for purchasing your own flight to Tocumen Airport (PTY). Airport transportation is covered by Kalu Yala Entrepreneurial Internships 3 days prior to and 3 days after the semester.

  • Do you offer scholarships?

    At this time, we only offer scholarships to the communities in Latin America, who receive one of 20% of the full tuition. In addition Panamanians receive a 50% scholarship, and local in the San Miguel and San Martin communities can attend free of charge. We have had many students receive scholarship, grant and fellowship money, though. Their advice has been to knock on as many doors as possible: from your adviser to the scholarship office to other organizations you participate with. Over 20% of our students use tuition assistance through their universities.

  • How can I send mail to my student in Panama?

    We have a Mailboxes Etc. service that allows for people in the U.S. to send packages or letters to Panama. Each letter or package will be shipped to Miami where it goes through customs and then is forwarded to a P.O. Box here. Your student will be responsible for paying the shipping fee when it arrives in Panama. Caution, shipping can be very expensive depending on the weight of a given package. Mail costs $11/kg to pick up in Panama!

    Kalu Yala

    Attention: (Recipient’s Name)

    PTY 8616
    2250 NW 114th Ave Unit 1P
    Miami, FL. 33172-3652
  • Can I use this program as a vessel for my own project?

    Yes, we get lots of proposals from participants who want to use us as a project to increase their portfolio or write their thesis.

  • Can I get another job while being a student in Panama?

    It would be very difficult to manage both a job and the program so we request that participants come down solely to focus on the program. Also, labor laws are very strict in Panama so finding a job here while still in college would be challenging.

  • What and where is San Miguel?

    San Miguel is the last town before you enter Kalu Yala. It has about 500 residents who we have developed some incredible relationships with over the last five years. Our Community Development & Education Program is based there, and each semester participants have different projects they work on within the community, mostly based on what the community tells us it needs. It’s located in central Panama, about an hour’s drive from downtown Panama City and thirty minutes from the international airport.

  • What is there to do in San Miguel?

    There is a beautiful river that runs through the town, basketball courts and soccer fields, plus the occasional matanza (neighborhood BBQ). It’s always fun to hang out at the cantinas and fondas (restaurants) to eat with the locals and listen to ‘típico’ music. Also, you are close enough to Kalu Yala to hike there for the weekend or even just the day.

  • Will I be able to stay at all three venues?

    No, your venue is based on your program, which are almost all in Kalu Yala’s base camp with the exception of Community Development & Education. However, you will be able to use the amenities at other venues and everyone is always welcome to camp at Kalu Yala.

  • Can I talk to someone before completing my application?

    Of course! Please email hello@kaluyala.com to set up a time to speak with someone. We talk to applicants, parents, advisers and professors on a regular basis. If you apply and are selected for interview, though, you’ll be able to speak to one of our alumni interviewers who should be able to answer most questions you might have.