Tropical Island Ecology will introduce students to the unique ecology, rich culture, and history of the US and British Virgin Islands. The course is based on St. John, a small island with great diversity of habitats due to the range of rainfall, topography and exposure. In 2017, St. John was directly hit by hurricane Irma, a catastrophic storm, and the impacts to the flora and fauna are still being assessed. Students in this course will participate in two long-term monitoring projects, one focused on vegetation and another on elkhorn coral population assessments. Students will also participate in service learning projects. In the past we have helped set up fencing to protect endangered plants and to remove invasive animals. Two pre-departure orientation classes will prepare students for the trip. High levels of physical activity and endurance are a must; students will swim and hike everyday. You must be a strong swimmer to participate in this intensive field course. Students will also hear from local experts on the challenges facing many of the Caribbean islands, from environmental and social perspectives. Students will be challenged to present solutions to pressing conservation issues facing these fragile ecosystems.
There will be a few class sessions prior to departure, where the program's coursework will be discussed, and students will receive important pre-departure information about health, safety & insurance. There may also be at least one class session held after returning to Atlanta for debriefing. Please note: Georgia State University reserves the right to alter travel and other arrangements if required by circumstances.
January and February: There will be two, two-hour mandatory orientation meetings time TBA
March 14: Flight to St. Thomas, taxi and ferry to St. John, first class meeting on islands
March 15: Hike and Snorkel on St. John – snorkeling safety; elkhorn ID, REEF survey practice
March 16: Service learning – Solanum conservation; research projects (elkhorn, REEF surveys)
March 17: Work in National Park on Service learning project
March 18: Virgin Gorda: Baths and Caves Tour, British Virgin Islands, free afternoon, Cruz Bay
March 19: Hike and Snorkel St. John, Research Projects, Native Plants and Crafts Presentation
March 20: Early bird watching/hike; final/makeup data collection day, class recap, pack (may depart this day)
March 21: Return to Atlanta (it is possible we will return Friday (3/20) depending on flight cost and availability).
Students could be in tents or we may rent villas. There is a possibility that you would need to share beds or, if you are not willing to share, you will need to bring your own air mattress in order for us to make this trip possible. The eco-resort where we have stayed in the past was destroyed in the hurricanes, and most hotels are so expensive we would need to put a few of you in each room in order to make them fit our budget. I will update students as I learn more from St. John.
The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students who meet all academic requirements of Georgia State University and are properly prepared for the program. Students must be proficient swimmers and very comfortable in the water and using a snorkel as there will be 3-4 hours of snorkeling on many days, and 6-8 hours of swimming on some days. Students must also be capable of hiking strenuous trails and must be willing to deal with heat, bugs and rustic living conditions. Please note that study abroad program size is limited and participation is contingent upon acceptance by the Program Director. Acceptance will be based on preparation, application essays and interviews.
- Transient students should visit the Transient Student tab on the How to Apply page of our website
- International students at Georgia State who hold F-1 visas must contact the Office of International Students and Scholar Services at (404) 413-2070 to discuss possible implications of study abroad for their immigration status.
Participants who successfully complete the program’s courses will receive 3
semester hours of course credit at Georgia State University. Undergraduate students should register for BIO 4930
and graduate students should register for BIO 6930
. Students from other institutions should follow their institution’s regulations concerning transfer credits.
Program cost may vary at any time according to currency fluctuations and changing travel arrangements. The program cost is tentatively set at $2950.00, PLUS regular Georgia State University tuition and fees. Non-resident/out-of-state students will pay in-state tuition plus a $250 fee in addition to the program cost. A $300 deposit is due at time of application. Please see payment schedule online. All payments are non-refundable upon receipt.
Program Cost Includes:
- Round-trip airfare
- Some meals
- All ground transportation, excursions, and entrance fees
- International insurance
Program Cost Does Not Include:
- Georgia State tuition and fees
- Passport or visa fees
- Additional meals
- Baggage charges (in excess of a carryon) and tips
- Personal expenses
- Travel & transportation not associated with the program
October 15, 2019: $300 deposit due
November 15, 2019: $700 payment due
November 30, 2019: $800 payment due
December 3, 2019: Program fee posted to PAWs
Early January 2019:Remaining balance due along with spring tuition & fees
All payments are non-refundable upon receipt
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Georgia State University students may use any financial aid they currently receive for the term they study abroad, including: Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and PLUS loans), Perkins Loan, HOPE Scholarship, and other scholarships. Please note: due to federal regulations, these funds are not available in time to use for your initial payments!
Georgia State University students may be eligible for the IEF Scholarship
and the International Access Scholarship
- Meet the eligibility requirements
- Are accepted into a program
- Pay a deposit by the deposit deadline
will be considered for these scholarships based upon the program application they submit. Visit the scholarship page on our website
or stop by the Study Abroad Programs Office for advisement to learn more about other scholarship opportunities
& financial aid for study abroad
Students participating in GSU-sponsored programs must complete a Health Clearance upon acceptance to their program. Please print this page to take with you to your appointment. Prior to departure, Study Abroad Programs will enroll students in international insurance for the duration of their study abroad, the cost of which is included in the program fee. The U.S. State Department's website provides important international travel information about health, safety & security
Students traveling on this program must be:
- Proficient swimmers and very comfortable in the water and using a snorkel as there will be 3-4 hours of snorkeling on many days, and 6-8 hours of swimming on some days.
- Capable of hiking strenuous trails and must be willing to deal with heat, bugs and rustic living conditions.
There are no required vaccinations for this program. Please consult the CDC's travel page
and discuss any recommended vaccinations with your physician.
Study Abroad Advising
Interested in studying abroad, but not quite sure where to get started? Meeting with a Peer Advisor
is your first step in studying abroad! All of our Peer Advisors have study abroad experience and can help you define your goals for studying abroad and point you to resources to make your study abroad experience a success. After you meet with a Peer Advisor to learn the basics about studying abroad, you are eligible to come in to meet with a Study Abroad Advisor
during walk-in advising hours. Study Abroad Advisors are here to guide you through the entire study abroad process, from choosing a program and applying to scholarships to making sure you're readjusting to life back on campus when you return. To view our current advising schedule, please visit our website
Study Abroad Programs Office
Georgia State University
Dahlberg Hall, 3rd Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30303