New MIST students prepare for year abroad in Costa Rica
February 07, 2011

The first cohort of the UNT/CATIE master's program is making plans for their year-long study in Costa Rica. Launched in the fall of 2010 on the UNT campus, the Master's of Science in International Sustainable Tourism (MIST) degree program provides students with a unique interdisciplinary perspective and unlimited career opportunities upon graduation.


A group of students met with UNT hospitality management faculty members, Drs. Dan Spears and Lisa Kennon to discuss study abroad expectations, living accommodations, and program requirements. 

After completing two long term semesters on the UNT campus, students will join the approximately 80 students who are enrolled in the CATIE program in Costa Rica in June. Students will travel to Costa Rica in May to complete an orientation session covering classes, labs, and their new surroundings before their formal program commences. 


UNT students interacted with Dr. Eliecer Vargas, CATIE Professor, during a Skype session where he discussed the adjustment process of living abroad. Although there is already a strong American influence in Costa Rica, Vargas cautioned students to prepare for a climate change and language barriers. "Perhaps the most difficult adjustment will be to not go to the beach when you need to study," says Vargas jokingly.

The host school in Costa Rica will give graduate students, like Eric Norman, "the ultimate program that brings together tourism development, environmental protection and ecology," he says. Beyond the rigorous academic training, Norman is "looking forward to waking up every day and living with the realities of a different culture, meeting new people, seeing the countryside, and experiencing new food."


The MIST program is the first joint degree program at UNT and incorporates environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. A field work experience with a linked research project and presentation is required for all students during the capstone course in Costa Rica.  For more information on the MIST program, please contact Dr. Lisa Kennon, SMHM Graduate Coordinator, at

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