The School for Field Studies (SFS)

Why choose 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!


The School for Field Studies Scholarships

The School for Field Studies Scholarships

SFS works closely with your home school to help you fund your SFS program. Many applicants receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.

$500 - $5,000


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Yes, I recommend this program

SFS in the Peruvian Amazon was the best travel experience of my life!

The School for Field Studies gave me the opportunity to spend 4 months living and learning in the Peruvian Amazon, an experience I would never have gotten to have otherwise, and left me feeling connected both to local community members and to the 15 students I shared my semester with. What sets SFS apart is their immersive environmental/earth sciences approach, so you aren't just sitting in a classroom in a city but are spending your days hiking through the Amazon, identifying trees and analyzing soil samples, and spending weeks at a time at wildlife refuges or on boats identifying river dolphins on the Amazon river. Not only was this a unique and completely immersive way to study abroad, but it gave me more confidence to travel on my own afterwards! Most importantly, SFS really cares about fostering a positive environment with the surrounding communities and the impact that their program has on locals and students alike. They make sure that students are taking language and culture classes and interacting with life outside the classroom as much as possible. Can't recommend this experience enough!

  • Immersion in local culture
  • Engaging, relevant environmental science coursework
  • Opportunity to live and study somewhere you might never be able to on your own
  • Some restrictiveness on how far from the center students can venture on weeknights
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Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best experinces of my life

My time in Peru was an absolutely transformative experience. I met so many amazing people, both fellow students, professors, and locals from nearby communities. Living in the amazon was truly special, being surrounded by the natural beauty and peacefulness every day was a huge boon. Though potential applicants should be aware that the remoteness plays a significant factor. The people you will interact with on a daily basis will be the ones you live with on-site. Electricity and internet connection can be pretty sporadic. The meals you eat on a daily basis all come from the on-site chef, they accommodate diets and allergies but you don't get to decide what to eat. Don't worry! Jorge was an amazing cook and I devoured every single one of his meals. You will get the opportunity to visit many different sites around Peru both in the amazon and up in the mountains. The cultural and environmental exposure was second to none, and I have been craving to go back ever since I left. Classes took up a good portion of the week, but the workload isn't anything crazy, I actually had my best semester of grades here. Study abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I chose this program because I may never get another opportunity to do something like this again, and I am absolutely thrilled with my decision.

  • You get to live in the Amazon rainforest!
  • Experience a totally new lifestyle compared to what you are used to
  • You will eat or see something new every week guaranteed
  • Rustic living conditions
  • Limited social scene outside of program site
  • Only 1 day off of classes per week
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Yes, I recommend this program

Exciting, Educational, and Humbling

Saw some of the most amazing landscapes and animals I will probably ever see, and learned a great deal about them. Tsavo West/Chyulu Hills National Parks in Kenya and Kilimanjaro (we just did a day hike) in Tanzania were my favorites.

Although the classes were exceptional and I learned quite a lot within the advertised topics, I think the part that will stick with me the longest is experiencing, observing, and reflecting on humanity and society at many different points. Overall, I learned a lot, learned that there is so much more out there, but also that there is so much to live and see wherever you are.

  • Educational topics and material
  • Tours, park visits, and camping trips
  • Understanding a little bit about what "daily life" means in a different place.
  • Program cost
  • Limited access outside of campus
  • Limited ability to practice and learn a new language
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No, I don't recommend this program

Loved it!

I loved this program! I did the summer one in 2019, it was so so fun. It was a great way to experience Panama on both the Pacific Coast and in the Bocas del Toro region. Because it is focusing on sustainable tourism we got to visit a cloud forest, coffee plantation, cacao plantation, and green resorts, go surfing and spend many days snorkeling in the archipelago.
The program wasn't that academically challenging in terms of rigorous course work, but the life skills and the adventures had make it well worth while!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience! Would recommend to any wildlife lover

Absolutely amazing experience, especially for anyone who has studied wildlife, ecology, and management from afar but never been able to experience it up close. Great field work, great support staff, and great community. The highlight was definitely doing safaris and going to Serengeti National Park, but all of it - social activities, weekend travel/excursions, local town - was beautiful and so rich in culture. Everyone at Moyo Hill Camp was welcoming, kind, and dedicated. I'd recommend to anyone!

  • Incredible travel opportunity
  • New language experience / practice
  • Great staff / lecturers
  • Isolated location
  • Could be overwhelming with limited international travel experience


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the School for Field Studies after being introduced to the program in a class on Environment and Society. They were highly recommended by my professor as well as by an SFS alumni. The Summer Session 1 in Australia and New Zealand had the most focus on plant life and also covered topics such as ecosystem restoration which are directly relevant to my career goals.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

SFS provided very detailed information on how to register for the program and fulfill necessary requirements once accepted (such as visa applications, travel health insurance, disability services, etc.) Organizing staff at SFS were readily available by phone or email to answer questions. I also received help from my university's Study Abroad office.

The one thing that SFS coordinated was having a specific travel agency to book a flight from Australia to New Zealand, as this ensured that everyone in the Summer Program was on the same flight. Otherwise, I organized all other travel, insurance, course credits, and other necessities on my own. However, this was easy to do, thanks to the help of my school's Study Abroad office and SFS's clear guidelines and assistance.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Bring a Mastercard or Visa debit card that allows you to make purchases abroad without a fee (Capital One 360 has no fees and does not require notification). Use this card at ATMs to withdraw Australian and New Zealand dollars. Try to avoid currency exchanges if possible since ATMs have much better rates than exchanges.

I found that I needed more cash in New Zealand than in Australia. Bring cash to the Yungaburra Market that you will visit one weekend in Australia. Also, bring cash to New Zealand for your free night in Aukland since it's easier to keep track of and limit your tab at bars. Most places in both AU and NZ accept credit card, however. Don't bring Amex or Discover, though! Neither are accepted in AU or NZ.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Since Summer I is only a month long, each week is very different, and things even change from day to day. A typical day at the center in Australia involves waking up around 6 to 7 AM (depending on the schedule) and having breakfast at the center's outdoor covered kitchen. After breakfast clean-up, there might be a lecture or a scheduled off-site activity. Usually, lunches are packed after breakfast for off-site activities. Days with off-site activities usually end around 4 PM since the sun sets by 6 PM. Dinner is usually around 5:30. After dinner is generally free time to study, work on journals, or just hang out.

In New Zealand, you'll stay in at least three different places. The schedule is pretty packed, so expect to be on a chartered bus frequently. The bus makes stops along the way for activities, breaks, and lunch. The longest stay in one place in NZ will be with the Prime family. There you'll have a more steady schedule with hikes and day trips.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was concerned about the difficulty of the environment in the rainforests and living in close quarters with many new people. Neither one of these turned out to be as intimidating as I thought.

The rainforest is definitely damp and has a lot of creepy critters (like terrestrial leeches and huntsman spiders), but they're easy to deal with. I always checked the bathroom stalls and showers before going in to make sure no spiders or leeches were sharing it with me. I also checked my clothes and skin for leeches daily. Being aware of my surroundings was really all I needed to settle in to the rainforest environment.

As for living in close quarters with others, this actually makes dealing with the rainforest much easier! Someone in your cabin may not be freaked out by spiders, so they can remove any that sneak in to your personal space. Plus you end up bonding over stories of leeches, spiders, or seeing some crazy animal/insect while walking around the center. After this experience, I feel much more comfortable around spiders, and I realized I really enjoy communal living.

What did you learn from this experience?

Before this program, I had never traveled abroad alone and had never been to a tropical environment. But going to this program showed me that it is really beneficial to face your fears and try something new. However, if you're going to get the most out of an experience, it pays to keep an open mind. Try to go into a new situation without specific expectations, and avoid making snap judgments.

Even if things are challenging sometimes, try not to look at challenges as pure discomfort, but as something to learn from.

Being without internet/cell service might seem difficult, until you realize how much more you're paying attention to your surroundings and engaging with people. Living and traveling with other people can also help you to learn how to work as a team, to listen to others, or how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. So definitely try something new, and you'll probably be surprised by how much you'll gain from it!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Sophie Ohaus

Sophie Ohaus is currently the Program Intern at The School for Field Studies (SFS) in Bhutan. Sophie graduated from Colorado College in 2014 with a degree in Sociology and Global Health. After graduating she spent the year working for a qualitative analytics firm and a local community foundation, but the urge for adventure kept calling, leading to her to one of the most remote countries in the world, Bhutan!

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

I studied abroad three times! The first time was between high school and freshman year of college with The School For Field Studies in Australia. The second time was the summer between sophomore and junior year of college in Ecuador, and the third time was junior spring in India.

The first time I studied abroad, I went because I wanted a break from conventional schooling before starting college. However, I found that I loved it so much I was constantly driven towards finding more opportunities to study abroad.

Also, as a sociology major I discovered my passion for understanding how people interact with the world around them, especially the interactions between humans, development, and the environment. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to explore these interactions among different cultures all over the world.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Communication is key! I believe that proper communication is one of the most important aspects towards insuring a successful company, especially in study abroad where everyone is working outside their home environment and it is easy to get lost in a hectic schedule.

Our staff makes sure to check in at least once a day by having breakfast all together, and we have longer staff meetings once a week. These daily check-ins and weekly meetings help all of us stay on the same page and also makes sure that everything runs smoothly.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

I believe that The School for Field Studies gives its student a rare opportunity to immerse themselves and give back to the local community through the unique Directed Research (DR) component. During the DR part of the semester, students have the chance to conduct a research project that specifically relates to the local community’s environmental needs.

Due to each SFS research station’s unique long-term research plan, these projects can build off themselves year to year, ensuring that the research informs local stakeholders and helps them to create positive changes in the community.

Here in Bhutan, the students don’t only get to present to the local community, but they also get the opportunity to present to a much larger audience in the country’s capital of Thimphu.

The Directed Research aspect is such a strong feature of SFS that with the guidance of our professors and the help from local stakeholders, the students often produce very high quality reports which has allowed them to present back home, get published, or develop senior theses.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the SFS team.

It's hard to pick one specific time that I've felt especially proud to be part of the SFS team, there are just too many! Seeing how much our students grow over their experience in Bhutan is always a very rewarding experience.

This usually culminates for me when I watch them present their Directed Research findings at the end of the semester. Dressed in traditional ghos and kiras, the students always impress me, not only with their research but also in the way that they present themselves.

The ease at which they can talk to the local people, dress in national dress, and discuss their research makes me proud to know that these students are a part of The School for Field Studies' community.

Professional Associations

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