• Ecuador
    • Galapagos
Fall, J-Term, Spring
Subject Areas
Conservation and Preservation Ecology Health Sciences Marine Biology Natural Sciences Political Science
Need-based funding, Merit-based funding, General grants/scholarships, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Host Family


Price Details
Contact IES Abroad or see website for details: www.IESabroad.org/galápagos
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Classes Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
Jul 07, 2022
Feb 14, 2018
32 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos have sea lions, iguanas, and tortoises galore waiting to welcome you.

Imagine stepping foot onto this mysterious dark land knowing it’s an estimated 3.5 million years old (yes, million). Witness the famous land iguanas and giant tortoises as you study the evolution of these unique species. Visit indigenous and traditional Andean communities to better understand the relationship between humans and their environment. Dive into the Pacific to get close to the marine life you will be learning about.

This environmental haven awaits you when you study abroad in the Galápagos Islands.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

LGBTQIA+ Support

Today, and every day, we celebrate who you are and who you will become. We take pride in simply getting to know you, and look forward to adventuring through this incredible world with you.

Studying abroad as part of the LGBTQIA+ community can present unique opportunities and challenges in exploring a new culture, so we have compiled resources on sexual orientation, gender identity, and allyship to help prepare you and support you along the way.

Neurodivergent Support

Going abroad, whether this is your first time or your umpteenth, can be a trip both literally and figuratively. Seeing something new or being someplace unfamiliar has its own challenges, especially when it comes to mental health and physical accessibility. With IES Abroad, you won't handle these concerns on your own.

We have not only compiled resources on mental health, physical health, and self-care to help prepare you and support you along the way, but we also have a dedicated Student Affairs staff that are available for you to contact from the United States and once in your host country.

Accessibility Support

Going abroad, whether this is your first time or your umpteenth, can be a trip both literally and figuratively. Seeing something new or being someplace unfamiliar has its own challenges, especially when it comes to mental health and physical accessibility. With IES Abroad, you won't handle these concerns on your own.

We have not only compiled resources on mental health, physical health, and self-care to help prepare you and support you along the way, but we also have a dedicated Student Affairs staff that are available for you to contact from the United States and once in your host country.



As part of IES Abroad's Global Good Commitment, IES Abroad employs sustainability measures in the following ways:
-Moving toward more sustainable Headquarters and Centers abroad
-Producing printed materials mindfully
-Hosting events and conferences in LEED-certified buildings
-Purchasing carbon offsets for staff air travel
-The formation of the IES Abroad Sustainability Team - a dedicated group of volunteers responsible for implementing sustainable practices across our organization. The team comprises of members across our Centers, departments, teams. It is truly a global effort, and we are better for it.

Program Highlights

  • See the world's most beautiful and biologically diverse island locations – a popular visiting spot for many famous scientists.
  • Balance studies with extracurricular activities and cultural events such as SCUBA dives.
  • Explore Ecuador and its surrounding areas through IES Abroad field trips. Past trips include: the Amazon Rainforest, Maquipucuna Cloud Forest, and Mitad del Mundo.
  • You’ll have an individual IES Abroad Program Advisor to guide you before your study abroad adventure. From visa requirements to travel details, they are your #1 resource for preparing to study abroad.
  • From health insurance included in your program fees, to a worldwide crisis management team, we work 24/7 to keep you safe, healthy, and happy abroad.

Popular Programs

students standing in a line, recreating the evolution chart in the Galápagos Islands

This direct enrollment program is organized through the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS), a remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) located on the island of San Cristobal. Before you head to the Galápagos, you'll spend a month in Quito, where you participate in an orientation, classes at USFQ, and field study excursions. The remaining months are spent on San Cristobal in the Galápagos Islands.

student floating next to a seal underwater while snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands

On this three-week IES Abroad program in January, you'll study Marine Ecology and Environmental Studies at the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) on San Cristóbal island, a remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito established specifically to further conservation and sustainable development efforts. Your learning will also extend beyond the classroom. Imagine exploring flora and fauna, visiting an extinct volcano, and snorkeling...all for class.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
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  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.35
  • Support 4.45
  • Fun 4.9
  • Housing 4.8
  • Safety 4.55
Showing 1 - 8 of 9 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Galapagos Islands: Scuba Diving, Sea Lions, and Island Time

IES abroad made sure that everything was taken care of so all I had to do was show up and have the time of my life! Living in the Galapagos is a whole other world; the community is incredibly tight-knit and so kind. Latino culture is extremely warm and living with my host families was an absolutely amazing experience. We bonded over cultural differences and it was an opportunity for me to be immersed in their culture while also being able to teach my families about my own culture. This program is extremely hands-on and research based! If you love being outside this program absolutely takes advantage of being in the Galapagos and each course has a ton of field trips and outdoor excursions so that you really get to know the Galapagos Islands and all they have to offer! If you are scuba certified and in the Marine Ecology track each of your classes has a scuba component too! This program absolutely changed my life and it will change yours too!

87 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience and Unforgettable Memories

No matter what academic background you may come from, whether it be Marine Science or Political Science, studying in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands is a must! From the perspective of a biologist, I believe that the Galápagos Islands are the best place in the world to observe evidence of evolution by natural selection, a key part of numerous science disciplines and the basis of life in general. As a student in the Marine Ecology academic track, I participated in research conducted off the coast of mainland Ecuador, as well as in the waters of the Galápagos Marine Reserve and in the labs at the Galápagos Science Center on the island of San Cristóbal. After spending the first month of the program with my wonderful host mom in Cumbayá, San Cristóbal became my home for the next three months of my time abroad. The culture of the island is incredibly rich for its size; there were events sponsored by the national park service and by the local government almost every week. These provided excellent opportunities to experience true “island life” and become a part of the environment and culture in Ecuador. I immediately felt at home with my host families and experienced a perfect balance of having them there for me as a support system but having the independence to explore on my own as well. I spent countless hours traveling around the island and enjoying all it has to offer; a typical day began with a hearty breakfast prepared by my host mom, followed by a beautiful walk to the university, which is located right across the street from a popular beach. After spending the morning in class, my friends and I would venture to the downtown “malecón” area for a bite to eat and then spend the rest of the day working on assignments at the university, spending time at the beach, or snorkeling at a beautiful nearby cove filled with several species of fish, numerous sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas and countless other marine organisms. My friends and I befriended many locals, and between sharing meals with them in addition to those spent with my host family, my conversational Spanish improved immensely and I now feel very confident in using my language skill back home. It was incredibly hard for me to leave my new home as the semester came to a close, but I hope more than anything that I will be able to return in the future and help with scientific research and conservation measures.

What would you improve about this program?
The IES Abroad office in Quito fo this program is one of the newer once, so it could benefit from some additional resources and support from the main office. Regardless, the staff did an amazing job at supporting the students and mad us feel very comfortable.
96 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Go to the Galapagos!

This program is such an unique and amazing opportunity to live, volunteer and study in the Galapagos Islands! It was the perfect amount of time to live there, and you start to feel like a local instead of just a tourist. The Galapagos has something for everyone. I studied marine ecology, and most of my classes were hands on-- doing academic research dives, snorkeling or hiking around the beaches. The weather was beautiful and our school was across the street from a great sea-lion-filled beach. The food was good, and we had fresh seafood everyday. I definitely want to go back one day!

What would you improve about this program?
Allow students to have regular access to a kitchen, provide more activities that integrate with the community, have more organized volunteer opportunities.
95 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible semester

One of my favorite parts of studying abroad in Ecuador was the diversity of environments we were lucky enough to experience. We explored the Amazon rainforest, hiked in the Andes mountains, navigated the huge city of Quito, visited tiny villages, chilled on the coast, and of the course, spent three months getting to know the Galápagos Islands in a way that tourists simple aren’t able to. I highly recommend this program for anyone interested in environmental science or policy – it doesn’t even have to be your major – and especially for those who love being outside! The host families that IES placed us in were awesome – my Spanish improved greatly, and I still keep in touch with my Galápagos family. The IES advisors and on-site staff were really wonderful: they helped immensely with my endless questions throughout both the application process and also the actual semester abroad. Also, connecting with new people is the best part of study abroad: I liked and admired one of my professors so much that I ended up staying for an extra six weeks to do research with him. Now, I can’t wait to go back!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish there were fewer orientations at the beginning of the program. I also wish we knew how hot it would be on the Galápagos Islands (I knew it would be warm, but it was beyond what I expected). Finally, I wish there were more Spanish classes offered.
97 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

IES GAIAS Program Spring 2016

My semester abroad with the IES Galapagos Island program was easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Ecuador is a beautiful country with an amazing culture and great people, and the Galapagos Islands are truly a wonder of the natural world. The IES Abroad program allowed me to experience what Ecuador had to offer with a lot of freedom while also ensuring my safety and wellbeing. The two host families I lived with were very helpful and friendly, and my living arrangements were extremely nice and comfortable. The classes were engaging, fun and interesting, but also challenging enough that it still felt legitimate for a college level course. In addition all of the fun things to do such as hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing, IES also had different group activities that were fun and also kept me engaged with the community as well as the other students. Overall, I would recommend this program from anyone who is interested in biology, ecology, environmental science, or social science, who has a love for nature, and who would want to participate in a life changing experience.

101 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

You're Galapagoing to Love This Program!

In the spring of 2014, I had the incredible opportunity of studying abroad through IES Abroad in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. After much hesitation about whether or not to go abroad, I took the plunge and decided to embark on a four-month journey of cultural-, environmental-, and self-awareness. IES welcomed students with an orientation and tour of Quito, the capitol city of Ecuador. We were all placed with appropriate host families, who were carefully handpicked based on our language skills and personal preferences. My Quito family made the transition into another culture as easy as possible, and I missed them when I traveled throughout Ecuador with my new best friends for class or for weekend sightseeing. After a month exploring Quito, we were flown to the Galápagos Islands, as excited as Darwin must have been when he first saw this unique location. Three months were spent on an island paradise, scuba diving for class, bonding with our host families, learning how to salsa dance, taking surfing lessons, and seeing amazing animals. If you're looking for an experience where you'll think everyday is the best day of your life, definitely look into IES Abroad Galápagos Direct Enrollment.

What would you improve about this program?
Every island in the Galápagos Islands is different. Even though I got to visit some of the other islands during the spring break, I wish that the classes would have gone to study the other islands. I would have happily payed more to do this because there was no time to get away to other islands on our own.
88 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I go to school with Charles Darwin!

Ok, I don't actually go to school with Darwin, but I do attend class with Darwin's finches, sea lions, Pacific green turtles and marine iguanas. I can see the ocean from each of the island's three classrooms. I spend every weekend and afternoon snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, or photographing the incredibly tame wildlife. I eat delicious, three course, three dollar lunches every day. I've learned Spanish by hanging out at the local bar and eating meals with my host family. I love my academic classes, I love my professors, and I love my classmates. A hidden gem of the program: you actually spend the first month in Quito, Ecuador: living in a South American metropolis, spending a week in the Amazon, hiking the Andes, witnessing centuries-old culture and architecture. This program is a DREAM.

What would you improve about this program?
The USFQ staff is not always the most responsive. Get used to delayed e-mail replies. If you need something urgently, the best thing to do is find somebody in person and bother them politely until it gets done. Also, one of my classes was incorrectly registered, so triple check your arrangements even if you feel a little obnoxious about it. Better to find out you're in the wrong class BEFORE the plane tickets are bought! (The IES staff, on the other hand, was phenomenal.)
89 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Study in the Galápagos Islands!

I studied abroad with IES in the Galápagos Islands for a semester. It was amazing! We spent the first month in Quito, so we had the opportunity to see the sights and experience the culture of the mainland. The next 3 months were spent on the islands. I felt really safe there, had a great host family, and loved living in a very small town. My classes were great, and I learned a lot! We got to snorkel/dive with sharks and sea turtles, see some unusual plants, and learn about the wildlife - like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and sea lions! The Galápagos Islands truly are a magical place.

91 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

The classes are taught in English. But you live with host families, which is a great way to learn Spanish.