• Australia
Fall, Short Term, Spring, Summer
Subject Areas
Agriculture Animal Science Australian Studies Biology Botany Conservation and Preservation Cultural Studies Earth Sciences Ecology Environmental Studies Field Studies Geography Global Studies Humanities Indigenous Cultures Life Sciences Māori Studies Marine Biology Natural Sciences Oceanography Public Policy Social Sciences Statistics Sustainable Development Tourism Wildlife Sciences +16

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Associates Bachelors


Price Details
Program fees include tuition, housing, daily meals, field excursions, entrance fees, cultural activities, advising services, airport transfers, 24/7 mental health and well-being support, official transcript processing and more – check out our website. Need-based scholarships available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Classes Meals Transportation Wifi
What's Included (Extra)

No application fee!

What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Aug 03, 2023
Apr 14, 2019
34 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

SFS offers some of the best (and most adventurous!) hands-on study abroad programs. Students are immersed in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about ecological resilience. Explore the multitude of environments that exist in Northern Queensland and the complex relationships between them – rainforests to dry forests, savannahs to wetlands, and mangroves to coral reefs.

The SFS Australia campus lies at the end of a narrow, winding road in the middle of a lush rainforest. The 153-acre property is surrounded by protected World Heritage forests and you can see incredible wildlife from the front steps of your cabin or on the network of campus trails. The world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree and the iconic Great Barrier Reef, are nearby.

Click on Visit Site above to learn more about studying abroad in Australia with SFS!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Earn academic credit: 16 credits for semester programs and 4-8 credits for summer programs. Conduct a 4-credit research project during the semester program.
  • Develop core skills including GIS & GPS, species ID & population monitoring, forest survey methods, animal behavior observation, citizen science protocols, research presentation, research design, implementation & presentation, data collection & analysis.
  • Journey to the ancient forests at Daintree National Park, a biodiversity hotspot and, at over 110 million years old, possibly the oldest rainforest in the world.
  • Travel to the Great Barrier Reef to learn about the biological links between rainforest and reef ecosystems. (Semesters and Summer I only)
  • Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef while learning about its ecology and socio-environmental challenges.

Popular Programs

Walking through the forest

Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about ecological resilience in the face of climate change. Connect rainforest management and conservation issues with downstream impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Become a part of large-scale restoration ecology experiments as you explore rainforests, farms, the Outback, and the reef.
4 classes | 16 credits | One life-changing study abroad experience.

Lovebird in a tree

Learn how environmental and social factors have led to forest fragmentation in spectacular, once-vast rainforests. Compare endangered species management practices, meet with Indigenous communities to learn about their natural resource use and relationship with the environment, and examine ecosystem restoration approaches.
1 class | 4 credits | One life-changing study abroad experience.

sea turtle in the Great Barrier Reef

Spend your summer observing the strange and fascinating mammals and wildlife that live in Australia's ancient rainforests and dry savannas, all while considering the policies and actions needed to preserve these precious ecosystems.
1 class | 4 credits | One life-changing study abroad experience.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4
  • Support 4.8
  • Fun 4.35
  • Housing 4.55
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 9 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

Rainforest Research: A Wildly Good Time

SFS Australia is set right in the rainforest, up 30 minutes of windy highway. It may seem secluded, but this program is good at introducing you to Australia and it's many, many amazing features.
The Centre itself is remote but well-structured. You live in one-room, multi-person cabins a 5 minute walk from the main building, which has a kitchen, lounge, computer room, and classroom. The local wildlife is unlike anything I'd seen: wild brush turkeys with confidence to boot, long-nosed bandicoots, tiny kangaroos called pademelons, death emus called cassowaries. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner feature all the students and staff, family-style (the cook is also amazing, by the way). The three classes (Rainforest Ecology, Principles of Forest Management, Socioeconomic Values) are informative and stimulating. There will be some days full of just lecture, but other times, you'll head out in the vans for a field trip and learn so much from exposure. The Directed Research project is one of the best parts of the program, where you work in a small group to make a real journal article, poster, and oral presentation.
Would highly recommend for a wild and fun time!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
On the last night, we had an Aussie BBQ, and Kangaroo and Crocodile were served. They were pretty ok!
100 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing program with wonderful staff

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.
104 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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
98 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

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.

103 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program


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.

What would you improve about this program?
More free time to travel around the area or just get away from the field station. More field trips out of the field station.
94 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

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.

104 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

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!

105 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great program for those willing to live with others and no afraid of nature

I absolutely loved the SFS- Australia program and would recommend it to everyone; however, you have to make sure it will be a good fit for you. You like in the rainforest in a cabin with 3-7 other students, so you have to accept that you won't have much privacy. There are also snakes and spiders to deal with and intermittent internet at times since you are in the middle of the rainforest. Even if you don't think you can deal with that, it is an incredible experience. You get to learn about the rainforest in the classroom and then walk away from the centre and directly into the habitat you just learned about. You get to interact with the locals and gain a sense of life in the Wet Tropics. One of my favorite experiences was going on a weekend homestay with another student. We stayed with an Australian family and learned all about the Australian way of life. The group takes trips to the Daintree and the Outback. I have never seen so many different ecosystems and learned so much about the environment.

You get a few free weekends in Cairns where you can have fun off of program time. The 5 day long mid-semester break was also a great chance to explore parts of Australia with some friends in a caravan (a great deal and great way to travel) on our own.

For the first 2 months of the program you take 3 courses. With awesome professors! The last month you work on a directed research project of your choosing under the guidance of one of the professors. The directed research project component allowed me to study a topic that I was very interested in and has helped guide my graduate school pursuits and career aspirations.

There is a cook that makes all of your meals, and the food is great! And she takes requests and really wants to make sure everyone is happy.

For those of you who are athletic and want to continue your sport, that can be tough. I am a 3 season athlete, so I really wanted to stay in-shape while I was there. There is a run down elliptical and some weights there. The other option is to run (when you can find time- early morning is best, when it is cool). It is a rough, uphill path.

Even with some of the annoyances, I would go again because it is a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

101 people found this review helpful.

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