The School for Field Studies (SFS) is one of America’s oldest and largest study abroad programs that focuses solely on environmental issues. Based largely in developing countries like Mexico, Kenya, Costa Rica, and Turks and Caicos, students will have the opportunity to work together with local communities to develop and implement sustainable solutions to environmental problems. The school also has a fifth Field Station in the rainforests of Australia.
The School for Field Studies offers a variety of environmental studies programs, with hands on experience provided by their close proximity to nature. The Costa Rican Field Station offers programs on Sustainable Development Studies, focusing on tropical ecosystems; in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the syllabus is geared towards the sea, with programs like Marine Resource Management and Managing Marine Protected Areas. If you’re interested in the big beasts of Africa, you can head to Kenya, where you will learn about wildlife management. Alternatively, the Mexican Field Station concentrates on marine life and turtles in particular. To study rainforests and their management, head to the Field Station Down Under.
Unlike other classroom-based programs, the School for Field Studies takes a very hands-on approach to education. Students may, for example, have a morning lecture on mangroves and their importance to the coastal ecosystem before spending the afternoon in a boat, discovering the beauties and the intricacies of the mangrove forests for themselves. The location of the Field Stations provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn directly from nature.
SFS also strongly believes in working together with and benefiting the local community. Partnering with local organizations, the schools identify threats to the ecological health of the community and dedicate themselves to building a sustainable environment. Apart from educating the locals on the importance of a sustainable lifestyle, students will also have the opportunity to interact with them and obtain a more in-depth understanding of the country and her people.
Who Should Apply
SFS welcomes a diverse student body, with alumni from a wide range of disciplines, including economics, liberal arts, and the sciences. Ivy League students mingle with fresh high school graduates and sociology majors discuss environmental issues with pre-med students.
How to Apply
The School for Field studies offers both three month semester-long programs, and shorter, one month summer programs. Students may choose to attend either the spring or fall sessions, or opt for one of the two summer sessions. Admissions are managed on a rolling basis, and students can apply up to one year before the desired start date. Candidates should expect to receive a decision two to four weeks from the receipt of all the application materials.
Tuition and Financial Aid
A semester-long program costs between $16,000 and $17,000, depending on the Field Station, while summer programs range from $4,000 to $8,000. Financial aid is available, with about a third of students receiving some form of need-based aid.