Galápagos Semester Program GAIAS


Galapagos Semester Program is open! All students must be vaccinated.

Located on the island of San Cristobal, the USFQ Galápagos campus offers international students the opportunity to study in one of the most pristine natural laboratories in the world.

The Galápagos Semester Program offers four Academic Tracks in the biological and social sciences, all taught in English. Students may choose one of the following tracks: 

  1. Evolution, Ecology and Conservation 
  2. Marine Ecology 
  3. People, Politics and the Environment 
  4. Sustainable Tourism 

More information about the Galápagos Semester Program and course descriptions: Click here 

Students are able to apply for the following dates: 

  • Fall: August to December 
  • Spring: January to May 



Application deadlines 

  • Fall Semester: May 1
  • Spring Semester: September 25

Eligibility Requirements 

Students must have: 

  • Minimum sophomore standing 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • English proficiency (an international applicant for whom English is a second language MUST provide documentation of proficiency in English) 
  • At least one general biology or one ecology course at the college level 
  • Marine track students will be required to obtain open water certification and DAN diving insurance for USFQ-sponsored academic dives. Students without open water certification or diving insurance will only be permitted to snorkel during excursions. 
  • Students must have the yellow fever vaccine regardless of the track they choose. 

Please contact with any questions about the program or application process. 

Course Options

Each academic track consists of 5 intensive 3 US credit courses taught in 3-week modules. The first and second modules take place at USFQ’s main campus in Cumbayá valley, located just outside of Quito. The remaining three modules take place on San Cristobal Island, Galápagos.


Monday through Friday 9:00am to 12:00pm

Mainland Galápagos
Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Fall Break Module 4 Module 5
Evolution, Ecology and Conservation Track
Geographical Info System Tropical Ecology Field Ecology Fall Break Origin of Species & Island Biodiversity Native & Intro Plants
Marine Ecology Track
TMR1 Freshwater Ecology Marine Ecology Fall Break Marine Ecosystem Based Management TMR 2
People, Politics and the Environment Track
 Socio Ecosystem and Development Wildlife Conserv. Biology Strategic Planning of N.R.M Fall Break Climate Change Political Ecology
 Sustainable Tourism Track
 Socio Ecosystem and Development Wildlife Conserv. Biology Intro to Sustainable Tourism Fall Break Climate Change Destination Marketing

*Please note courses are subject to change.

Students in all tracks are required to take a Spanish conversation class at either the basic, intermediate, or advanced level at the beginning of the program (1 credit). Volunteer placements (non-credit) in San Cristobal are also available to interested students.


Students stay with carefully screened host families in both Cumbayá (Quito) and in San Cristobal Island (Galápagos). Otherwise, for overnight excursions, students will stay at hotels or at UFSQ’s Tiputini Biodiversity Station.


Depending on the program track, students visit the Ecuadorian highlands, the coast, or the cloud forest and all students visit USFQ’s Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon during the first modules. In the Galápagos Islands, students will experience hands-on classes where they will visit some of the most amazing places within the islands as part of their coursework.

Depending on the location, hikes can be:

  • Moderate (most of the hikes of the Galápagos Semester Program)
    A moderate hike is generally suitable for novice hikers who want a bit of a challenge. The terrain will involve a moderate incline and may have some steeper sections. Generally, 3 to 5 miles.
  • Moderately Strenuous: Moderately Strenuous hikes will generally be challenging for an unconditioned person. The terrain will involve a steady and often steep incline. Generally, 5 to 8 miles. These hikes will be expected in the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, where students will be hiking every day during their stay.
  • Strenuous: Strenuous hikes will challenge most hikers. The hike will generally be longer and steeper but may be deemed "Strenuous" because of the elevation gain. Generally, 5 to 8 miles on a 10 feet elevation above sea level. This can be expected only in the Tropical Ecology class and Wildlife Conservation Biology class.


Tuition fees depend on how students come to study at USFQ and their home institution’s relationship with USFQ. Tuition is additional for non-exchange students (check with your home institution if you are uncertain of your status). 

The comprehensive program track fee includes on-site orientation and Quito city tour, academic excursions, housing and most meals, Ecuadorian sim card with a plan and round-trip airfare between Quito-Galápagos.  

Please contact our Office of International Programs for current fee information: