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The School for Field Studies (SFS)


The School for Field Studies (SFS) offers field-based programs that revolve around environmental studies and research. The programs involve exploration of the human and ecological aspects of issues having to do with the local environments. Students assist SFS's global partners and host communities in their research, finding meaningful solutions to real environmental problems. Study abroad with SFS to have an experience of a lifetime and earn academic credit while making a difference in the world!


Beverly , MA 01915
United States


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I attended the Summer I session to AU and NZ this year and I could not be happier. The program is very travel intensive, with frequent day trips in both countries. There were always planned activities, things to do, places to see, and people to meet. One of the most valuable aspects of this experience, for me, was having a chance to meet indigenous people in both countries and hear their stories related to environmental stewardship, colonization, history, culture, and modern politics. Not only do you witness and learn about the impacts of colonization on the environment, but you gain a deeper understanding of how colonization affects the people who originally lived in these countries. In this way humans and the environment are considered as a single issue, rather than being separate. Plus you're experiencing people's culture and hearing their stories first hand. Another key topic of this program was ecological restoration. You have the chance to see restoration projects in the works and are able to help with the realization of these projects. Overall this program gave me a greater appreciation for the relationship humans have with the environment and how we have negative and positive impacts on the world around us.

The accommodations for the program are very nice. The cabins in AU are much better than the usual cabins at campgrounds (at least from my experience) and the food is amazing! You are able to be fully immersed in the environments in both AU and NZ. In NZ the Prime family is beyond amazing and they make you feel like part of the family. Plus staying in their Marae is a wonderful time to really get to know fellow students. Our group bonded a lot during our time in NZ! In the end, our group became incredibly close and we all have left AU as friends.

The academics of this program are not quite as scientific as I had hoped, but I'm still very pleased with it overall. You do have to think critically and be a bit self directed in terms of learning from the excursions and activities. There are some lectures as well to supplement field activities. If you go into everything as just a vacation, you might not get as much out of it, other than a fun trip. But if you keep an open mind and are willing to learn from everything and everyone, you'll come away with a lot of knowledge! It's also important to take lots of notes, even in the field. The academic work was somewhat disorganized, but the academic staff all responded well to feedback. The main issues were a lack of grading rubrics and not having a whole lot of time to prepare for the final exam. But it's still a great program!

I also enjoyed having some free time in both NZ and AU. My group got together to plan activities during our time away from the program and we all had a great time. We were able to experience some night life, go on day trips to beautiful locations, and even snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef! Definitely worth the money to take some day trips, like the GBR in AU and the islands off the coast of Aukland in NZ. Rangitoto Island is beautiful!

Finally, the staff at SFS are so wonderful! I had the unfortunate experience of getting very sick during the last week of my stay in AU. I ended up being sick for 2 weeks and having to stay at the centre for an extra week. The staff allowed me to stay at the centre and made sure I was very comfortable. They also helped me open cases with my insurance companies, took care of scheduling doctor appointments and transported me to said appointments, and helped me with rescheduling my flights. If anything happens during your stay, rest assured that you will be well taken care of! I was glad to have so much help and to have received so much generosity from the staff (both at the centre and at SFS headquarters). I can't thank SFS enough for the help they gave me during my illness!

I was on the fence about going to this program at the beginning, but I am so glad I went. It's worth every penny! There's no way you can get an experience like this on your own. Financial aid, scholarships, and fund raisers really help to lighten the bill. I was able to cut my total costs almost in half this way. And for what I paid, I couldn't have done everything that we got to do if I traveled on my own! I met so many amazing people and had an absolutely wonderful time. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
A little more academic organizing in terms of assignments and exams would be helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I absolutely loved SFS Tanzania. The staff and faculty are all amazing, and you are able to have so many unique experiences that you can't get anywhere else! Also, you really feel like you are able to make a difference in conservation, because the community really takes into account what your DR research shows at the end of the semester. I would absolutely reccommend this program to any and all who are interested in wildlife, conservation, or both!

Yes, I recommend this program
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This summer, I had the opportunity to join approx. 20 other students from different states around the USA on a study abroad program in East Africa. The School for Field Studies was an absolutely fantastic program that left me with many unforgettable memories and friendships. It helped foster my passion for wildlife research even more and I look forward to a future with SFS support from this adventure. I would highly recommend The School for Field Studies study abroad for any curious, young scientist who wants a taste of what it's like to conduct research on the other side of the world. I knew after leaving this program, with my heart still pumping on the plane ride home, that this is the field I am destined to be in.

What would you improve about this program?
The Tanzania program was run very well with many encouraging and caring staff. Given the societal and cultural aspects of the area, the Moyo Hill Camp was comparative to a five-star hotel.
Yes, I recommend this program
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In the fall of my sophomore year at my home institution I decided to study abroad; a little over a year later, I was stepping off of a plane in the Cairns, QU airport. I had never been outside of the US and I never studied ecology in a rainforest; so I felt incredibly excited, but also very intimidated by the prospect of navigating entirely new circumstances.
Immediately upon landing I met other students from the program as well as several members of the SFS staff. The atmosphere was welcoming and I found myself immediately connecting and trusting the other students and our staff members. This set the stage for a successful semester both academically and socially.
When people think of going abroad, typically a worry is whether the program is actually oriented toward academics. For me this was very important because I am a science student (biology major), and I needed to be able to come back with something on my resume. In my experience, the individual SFS courses are designed with science students in mind; although not incredibly challenging, they require a certain level of understanding of research and experience with biology and environmental studies classes. The program moves quickly and research is a large element of the experience; therefore I don't recommend the program to someone who is not at least an environmental studies minor.
Safety is usually people's next concern when going abroad; I never felt unsafe on my study abroad with SFS. Safety was an important part of the program because of the location (in a remote area with some of the most poisonous snakes/spiders/marine animals in the world) and there were protocols put in place on the first day which prevented any eventful things happening during my experience. Even while on spring break, when we were on our own, we still had one of our professors within 40 minute of our location, and had safety contact information with multiple members of staff. If safety is why you're not considering this program- think again; in situations where action could be taken to prevent injury/etc.. the SFS staff are fully prepared. As for something like a terrorist attack; these happen everyday all over the world- and this shouldn't deter you from choosing to study abroad.
Having talked about safety concerns and academics, I would like to express how much fun this program actually is! The experiences I had on this program are really irreplaceable in my mind. There is never a dull moment in the SFS AU program, and you will never find yourself 'looking for something to do'. Whether it is daily activities going on around the Centre or field trips to old abandoned mining towns and caves in the outback or several weekends exploring Cairns, there is something for everyone (really). One week you might be traveling around the Atherton Tablelands interviewing local residents, and the next week you could be attending a fruit-tasting in The Daintree (one of the largest pieces of untouched lowland rainforest in the world).
One of my most memorable experiences was Spring Break when I was able to diving on the Great Barrier Reef (very affordably) with several friends from the program. I realized while I was diving that I was actually experiencing something that I had previously only studied. It was inspiring and it made me more excited about pursuing my career in biology. Experiences like these that combine what you are studying with what your are actually experiencing are things you will never forget and can be invaluable toward shaping the future you want.
SFS AU allowed me to experience so many new things that I had only previously dreamed about. Yes, it is an academically challenging program, and working hard is expected; however, there are many fun experiences to be had, so much room for personal growth and improvement. This program will give you as much as you want; if you take full advantage of it, you will come out of this experience more mature, more open and receptive to different points of view, and with more stories than anyone wants to hear.

What would you improve about this program?
- the program should be clearer on how it is oriented towards science majors/minors
-the program could be less scheduled to allow students more time studying (a big component of the program)
-class assignments could be spaced out a little more, rather than having them all due at once
Yes, I recommend this program
group photo

Before this program, I had only left the country once before, and that was to go to Montreal in Canada. I was a little nervous joining the program the to that, but my fears were groundless. This program was stunning in scenery, meticulous in safety preparations, and fascinating in class information.

The field trips were all worthwhile, and allow you to learn more about the culture and ecology of Peru (Andes, Amazon, and highlands) than most tourists could ever dream of. Additionally, it allows you to avoid the more touristy locations and find peace in some harder to reach locales. The program's itinerary is changeable though, as we found when half the program fell sick and could not make it to Manu Wildlife Center (arguably the highlight of the program). Even with this, though, the amount of information we learned and the amount that we traveled seemed unparalleled by any other programs I had researched.

I would hands down recommend SFS Peru for a study abroad program. I would recommend staying after to sightsee and let your hair down a bit, for rules are strictly enforced during the semester and spring break for safety purposes. And if possible, I would also come down early to get a deeper understanding of the language and the present culture too (for SFS lodging is in what may appear normal in the States but are palaces in terms of Peruvian standards of living).

I learned more during my semester with SFS than I had learned in the previous year in University, in addition to meeting and befriending many like-minded nature nuts and hiking pals. I hope that you have the same or better experiences!

Yes, I recommend this program


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