SFS Semester: Tropical Rainforest Studies in Australia
94% Rating
(5 Reviews)

SFS Semester: Tropical Rainforest Studies in Australia

The School for Field Studies (SFS) invites you to come study abroad on the Tropical Rainforest Studies program in Australia. This semester program, which takes place in Queensland, gives students a unique chance to travel to the tropical rainforest to both study and do hands-on fieldwork on rainforest management and restoration.

Coursework and research will revolve around the rainforest ecosystem dynamics and whether or not it is possible to restore a rainforest once it has been cleared. Topics will also include the effects of climate change and developing restoration and management strategies to benefit both human communities and the ecosystem. Students will try to form a model strategy to be used in the conservation of other rainforests. Students also explore the connection between the cultures of Aboriginal communities and their surrounding environments.

  • Visit World Heritage listed rainforests to learn about the ecology, geology, and historical biogeography of Queensland’s Wet Tropics
  • Explore the traditional lands of local Aboriginal groups, gaining an understanding of indigenous peoples’ use and management of natural resources
  • Study the threat that climate change poses to tropical rainforests and use modeling tools to predict its impact in the Wet Tropics
  • Use spatial tools, such as GPS and GIS, to assess land use change and habitat use by different species
  • Work alongside citizen volunteers to regenerate rainforest in critical riparian and high elevation sites
Oceania » Australia
Program Type
Subject Areas
Animal Science
Natural Sciences
Sustainable Development
Wildlife Sciences
Degree Level
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Letters of Recommendation
Phone / Skype Interview
Age Requirement
GPA Requirement
Health Requirement
Experience Requirement
Application Fee
Starting Price
Price Details
SFS program fees cover room and board, program-related ground transportation and park entrance fees, field equipment, supplies, orientation, and pre- and post-program advisory services. Total Program Cost does not include transportation to and from the program. Scholarships available!
Other Locations
Queensland, Yungaburra

Program Reviews

  • Academics
  • Support
  • Fun
  • Housing
  • Safety

Program Reviews (5)

Default avatar
22 years old
Sherman, Texas USA
Austin College

Rainforest Studies in Queensland, AU with School for Field Studies


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.

How can this program be improved?

- 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

Default avatar
20 years old
State College, PA
Pennsylvania State University

Dirty Biologists


The SFS program was one of the most influential experiences of my life. It provided me with valuable knowledge about the research process. I learned what it truly means to conduct your own research project, and the definition of a dirty Biologist. The classes were all experiential learning, therefore the students had abundant hands one learning opportunities. The field trips gave me an immersive experience of the country. I would highly recommend SFS to anyone interested in the program.

Default avatar
24 years old
Michigan State University



Overall my experience was awesome. I saw a ton of wildlife and beautiful landscapes, which was what I was most excited about. The main disappointment of the trip was the lack of free time to explore the country and travel on our own. Because we were so remote all of our excursions were pre-planned group activities with little room for booking our own tours on the weekend or going in to town after classes. With that said, the site that we stayed at was amazing and it was kind of nice to be so isolated from civilization because I became very close with my fellow students and my surroundings. We also got to travel around a bit for class and got a free weekend in Cairns to shop and see the Great Barrier reef (my absolute favorite part of the trip!) I saw tons of animals including platypus, echidna, pademelons, pythons, crazy birds and ocean life. I loved the Australian people and would love to go back.

How can this program be improved?

More free time to travel around the area or just get away from the field station. More field trips out of the field station.

Default avatar
24 years old
Spokane, WA
Gonzaga University

Time of my life!


If living in the middle of a rainforest, surrounded by constant beauty and wonder is your idea of a typical study abroad program then Australia with the School for Field Studies is right for you. Be prepared because when you take the turn off of the highway into the middle of the rainforest, you will be shocked. From then on, for as far as the eye can see, it will be rainforest. The closest town is Yungaburra, which is not much larger than 1,000 people, and is about a 25 minute drive. Cairns is the closest "city" which is about an hour and a half away. If you are looking for a program to be totally immersed in the area around you this is it. You will learn more than you could ever imagined about the people you live with, the people within the town, the natural flora and fauna of Australia, and so much more.

To begin, the program is academically rigorous. Everyday is filled with lectures and field excursions to give real life examples of what is being taught in lectures. While lectures and grading scales are not difficult it provides a low stress experience that allows you to focus on subject matter and learn it well, rather than just committing it to memory. On top of that, this program drives home the goals, and methods of research. 3 different field exercises, and an entire course devoted to research techniques, and scientific writing drills the point home that this program is about research. Have no fear though, even non-science majors participate in the program.

Life at the center is not all about school though. 6 days a week are devoted to class, but the value of a study abroad experience is taken into consideration. Efforts to get away from the center, and spend time among the Australian people are made on weekend trips to cities, and a mid-semester break entirely on your own. Even within the school week, multi-day trips were taken to other places to see more of Australia, at a depth that is unrivaled.

The community aspect of the program is one of the most important aspects it has to offer. Living conditions are rudimentary, kind of like summer camp. Open cabins (single sex) of up to 8 people are shared so you might have to get used to alarms. Internet is all through satellite, but contact to home, and around the area is possible through a student phone at the center. The program consists of twenty-some college students that are driven by a like-minded interest in science, which creates an enormous common ground. Be prepared to share a small setting, in close vicinities with amazing people. Interns, and a Student Affairs Manager are available to mostly help professors with transportation logistics and student social activities.

In the end, you will find that every day will be filled with awe, and your headlamp will be your most important piece of equipment.

Default avatar
24 years old
United States
Brown University

Time of my life in the rainforest!


I had the best time in Australia. Definitely one of the best things I've done with my life this far. Living in the rainforest, doing field ecology with twenty-something of the best college kids I can imagine was just great. I learned so much, academically and personally through this program. They keep you busy with projects and community work and everything, but some of the best times I had involved sitting in the rainforest, just soaking it all in with some of my friends.

Living situation is very rustic, you're very isolated. I loved that, as did almost everyone on my program, but that's definitely something that you should be sure you want before you go. It's not going to be your typical study abroad program. We had a TON of fun, but if you want to be going out a lot and meeting tons of Australian college students, this is NOT the program for you. Yungaburra is a tiny little town, which is nice because everyone gets to know you and you can get to know them, but you are isolated. The interns try to counter that by taking us on trips around the area on weekends.

Academics are generally good. I didn't find the initial three classes too strenuous, but they were definitely intersting and I learned a lot about the rainforest I was living in. Directed research is the main thrust of the program. As the Center Director told us, getting us through the DR portion of the program is their main goal. And DRs are crazy! You get to design your own research project and do it for a month. It culminates with a massive paper, a fifteen minute powerpoint presentation and a poster. By the time that's all done, you're going to need to sleep for a week! But it's incredibly rewarding to be able to do a whole project like that on your own.

Overall, I had an amazing time and miss it terribly. I loved all the people I went with, and we're doing a pretty good job keeping in touch! I would definitely recommend the program, but while emphasizing that it wouldn't be right for a whole lot of people. You have to really want to live in the rainforest for a semester!

About The Provider


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