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The Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education
Programs : Brochure
This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
Biological Sciences FSP
Barro Colorado Island, Panama; Little Cayman, Cayman Islands; Various Locations (San José), Costa Rica (Outgoing w/Side Trips Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Winter
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Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: Dartmouth applicants only
Budget Sheets Winter
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Dates / Deadlines:
Tabular data for Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2020 05/01/2019 ** Varies TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
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Fact Sheet:
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Language of Country: English, Spanish Target Language: English
Lodging Options: Dormitory, Hotel, Traveling Enrollment: 15
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Type of Program:
FSP Department / Program: Biological Sciences
Program Description:
Program Description:

Program Overview

Bio Field Site PhotoThe Tropical Biology Foreign Studies Program exposes Dartmouth students to Earth's most diverse biological communities on land (tropical forests) and in the ocean (coral reefs). Through intensive, full-immersion studies of these natural systems, students are challenged to know, understand and appreciate the diversity of form and function in organisms, and the interactions that generate the often-spectacular patterns they see in the field. In Costa Rica (the first two-thirds of the program), study habitats include tropical rain forest, tropical seasonally-dry deciduous forest, cloud forest, alpine forest and mangroves. In the Caribbean (the final third), most fieldwork is on coral reefs. Students apply and develop their knowledge of ecological and evolutionary theory in these stimulating environments, based at field stations (Costa Rica) and a marine laboratory (Caribbean).

All academic instruction is done by Dartmouth faculty (1-2 faculty always present), assisted by 2 graduate student TAs. Travel, other logistics and meals are planned to maximize time availability for study and research. There is a full daily program from early morning to late evening, including lectures, field orientations, laboratories on organisms and analytical methods, and student critiques of relevant literature. As the program develops, most time is spent on independent projects, i.e. research design, data collection, statistical analysis, seminar presentation and manuscript writing. After several revisions, research papers are published in an annual book that is distributed to field stations and several libraries, as well as to students. Faculty work closely with students on every project, share the same living and eating facilities, and travel with them from site to site. Students are encouraged to interact with people from the host countries at every opportunity.

(Photo Courtesy of the Biological Sciences FSP)


Faculty Director
2018 Winter:  Professor Matt Ayres (Director), Mark Laidre, and Celia Chen
2019 Winter:  Professor Matt Ayres

Biology 55: Ecological Research in the Tropics I
Biology 56: Ecological Research in the Tropics II
Biology 57: Ecological Research on Coral Reefs

Bio 16; one course from among Bio 20-28, 31; acceptance into program; Bio 15 and Bio 29 recommended. Of these, at least Biology 16 must be taken before applying for admission to the program, and a decision on an application may depend on completion of one more advanced course (beyond Biology 16). Additional coursework in ecology and evolution, especially courses with laboratories, will strengthen applications. Spanish language ability is not necessary for the academic content, but enhances students' experience in Costa Rica. Previous research experience is also a benefit. Selection is based on a written application and an interview with program faculty.

Student Life

Field sites may vary from year to year. Most work will be at established field research stations in the more remote areas of Central America (currently Costa Rica) or the Caribbean (at Little Cayman Island). Accommodations vary from small, modest hotels to dormitories and (for a few days) relatively primitive field camps. Living costs will be approximately the same as for room and board on campus.

Financial Information

Tuition and Fees
The fees charged by the College for a Dartmouth-sponsored off-campus term of study include regular tuition charges for a term at Dartmouth, service fees, as well as the specific costs established for each off-campus study locale. In many programs, the room and board costs tend to be higher than for a term in Hanover. You can view a budget sheet for this program by clicking here. The cost of transportation to and from the site is the responsibility of the student.

Financial Aid
In order that all qualified Dartmouth undergraduate students may have the opportunity to take part in off-campus programs, the College endeavors to adjust its normal financial aid awards for students already receiving aid. Tuition and expected family contribution for Dartmouth's off-campus programs are the same as for an on-campus term. Assistance is available to meet extra costs associated with off-campus programs, including airfare. Half of any extra cost is met with additional Dartmouth scholarship; loan assistance is offered for the other half. Loan assistance is also offered to replace the employment that would normally be included in an on-campus term. Although financial aid recipients are given aid to cover all of the required costs of the program, students are responsible for purchasing their own plane ticket and, on some programs, meals. Often this means that part of the expected family contribution is used towards these costs rather than for tuition.

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