Higher education and capacity building for excellence

A certified quality Graduate School


After a rigorous evaluation process carried out by prestigious universities in Costa Rica, South America, and North America, the National System of Higher Education Accreditation (SINAES, by its acronym in Spanish) granted CATIE, on December 2, 2020, the reaccreditation for its International Doctorate in Sciences programs and its four academic master’s degrees. Thus, guaranteeing that they comply with international quality standards.


The re-accreditation process is continuous, and it involves a permanent commitment to improve teaching methodologies, infrastructure, equipment, admission processes, and communication, as well as the constant improvement of teaching and administrative staff.

The re-accreditation demonstrates the quality of the education we are receiving. It commits us to excellence and gives us enormous competitive advantages at the labor level”, with these words Mabel Arcos, a second-year student of the Master’s degree in Agroforestry and Sustainable Agriculture at the Graduate School, reflected the feelings of the entire CATIE student community in the reaccreditation ceremony.

Education in times of pandemic


On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 to an international pandemic. As a result of this statement, everyday life was modified, and how people related, taught, and learned was changed.


Even so, the demand for quality education offered by CATIE was maintained and, for the cohort that began in 2020, there were 250 applications. A total of 243 applicants were admitted, 85 for on-site master’s degrees and 158 for virtual ones.


Given the privileged situation of CATIE’s headquarters, where most of the students and professors reside on campus, on May 8 on-site classes were re-established, with all the biosafety measures instructed by the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.


For the Training Unit, the start of the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging, but it quickly focused on identifying demands and topics of interest, and on designing and implementing training and education activities in a virtual modality. The students, who were receiving on-site training, completed their respective courses and, subsequently, returned to their countries of origin. The virtual training offer started with great acceptance and obtained excellent evaluations from the students.

First virtual graduation


After 74 years of existence of the Graduate School, the 2020 academic cycle culminated with the first virtual graduation.


A total of 60 students, 27 women and 33 men received their respective master’s degrees, and two students (one female and one male), their doctoral degrees.


All of this planned work allowed for important achievements, which are detailed below:

Internship program (on-site).

With the National Program of Agrarian Innovation of the National Institute of Agrarian Research (PNIA/INIA, by its acronym in Spanish) of Peru, the implementation of the internship program was completed, which sought to strengthen individual and collective capacities in agroforestry, forests, coffee, cacao, climate change, agribusiness, hydrographic basins, protected areas, productive chains, biostatistics, geographic information systems, etc. Among the actions implemented, a total of 119 interns were received.

Peruvian technicians strengthen their capabilities (virtual).

About 31 technicians (27 men and four women) from the National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA, by its acronym in Spanish) of Peru received training to strengthen their skills in research management, technological development, agricultural innovation, technical assistance, and agricultural extension. During the closing event of the course, the participants highlighted the technical capacity that exists in CATIE, the pedagogical mediation that the teachers carried out in the virtual environments, the continuous support they received, and thanked the institution for contributing to the formation of human capital in Peru.

Certificates in climate finance (virtual).

Through the strategic alliance between EUROCLIMA, CATIE, and professionals from the region, two certification courses on climate finance were implemented. In the certificate courses, 68 professionals (37 men and 31 women) were trained in the formulation of proposals for climate finance, who prepared 23 concept notes, and group work on livestock, agriculture, food security, and agroforestry issues.

Updating of programs and use of technology.

As part of the constant improvement process, the Graduate School carried out an external analysis of the master’s degrees it offers. Among the recommendations, the need to review and update the common core of all master’s degrees is highlighted to ensure that all students understand the holistic nature (ecological-social-multiscale) of CATIE’s work since its foundation. On the other hand, it was recommended to evaluate the possibility of teaching courses and programs in a bimodal way (on-site-virtual), to increase the incidence in the region. As a complement to the academic improvements that are being made, funds were sought to renovate the equipment and property of the Graduate School. These improvements will be implemented in 2021, thanks to the generous support of the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID-ASHA) office.