The easiest way to study in Panama  is through an exchange program through one’s university back home. With the possible exception of casual, short-term programs, visiting students must travel with a special visa. Student visas are a kind of temporary visitor visa, with many of the same requirements as other visas (HIV test, criminal record report, medical certificate of good health, letter of sponsorship, etc.).
Applicants must also show proof of acceptance into the academic program and evidence of “economic solvency.” The process generally requires a lawyer, but presumably the academic institution will help with the process.
For several decades Florida State University has had a satellite program in Panama (tel. 314-0367, http://panama.fsu.edu/ ) that draws students from Latin America, the United States, and Canada. Instruction is in English. Students can enroll in bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs in environmental studies, international affairs, Latin American and Caribbean studies, computer science, information studies, and the social sciences, offered in collaboration with the Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) at Clayton. FSU Panama now occupies what was once the campus of Canal Zone College, a community college at the foot of the Bridge of the Americas near the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal . Note: Don’t confuse this program with the FSU campus in Panama City, Florida.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) coordinates a variety of short-term and long-term fellowships for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students that are offered either through STRI itself or by the Smithsonian Institution. Information on STRI fellowships is available through the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Office of Education (www.stri.org ). For information on Smithsonian Institution fellowships in Panama, contact the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Research Training and Services in Washington, D.C. (www.si.edu ).
The Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge, www.cdspanama.org ) in Clayton hosts a variety of academic programs in a number of disciplines.
Panama has several universities, the most prominent of which is the Universidad de Panamá (tel. 523-5000, www.up.ac.pa ), opened in 1935, which offers a wide array of degree programs. Through its main campus in Panama City  and extension programs around the country, it has about 74,000 students. Instruction is in Spanish. Foreigners interested in attending must apply through the university’s Secretario General three months before the start of term.
A Florida-based nonprofit called the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC, U.S. tel. 352/367-9128, www.itec-edu.org ) has a biological field station in Bocas del Toro . See the Courses  page in the Bocas del Toro section for more information.