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Education Abroad Office

Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS)

Area: Global Direct
Location: Galapagos Islands
Country: Ecuador
Term: Spring, Fall
Website: GAIAS Direct Program

UofSC's direct enroll program in Quito and the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador is designed to expose American students to Ecuadorian history, culture, and the strong academics available at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.

There's a reason why many of the world's most famous scientists have visited the Galápagos Islands-now it's your turn to discover one of the world's most beautiful and biologically diverse island locations. It's here that you will get hands-on experience studying topics such as Tourism, Biology, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Marine Ecology, and Sociology. This direct enrollment program is organized through the Galapagos 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 Cristóbal.  

Cost: host institution track fee + discounted USFQ tuition +  in-country costs

Requirements: 3.0 GPA, Requires certain vaccinations.

Students on a direct program will pay a track fee and a discounted tuition rate. Track fees are specific to each academic track. The current costs are 

  • Evoluntion, Ecology, and Conservation - $14,450.00
  • Marine Ecology - $17,100.00
  • Sustainability and Resilience - $12,400.00
  • One Health - $12,800.00

Track fees may change each semester. Please contact the Education Abroad Office for the most updated costs. Track fees include housing, most meals, on-site orientation with lunch, a Quito city tour, academic excursions in the mainland and Galápagos, and round trip airfare from Quito to Galápagos. The curent discounted tuition rate is $2,047.

Students select courses from one of four Academic Tracks in the biological and social sciences: (1) Evolution, Ecology and Conservation, (2) Marine Ecology, (3) Sustainability and Resilience  and (4) One Health. Each academic track consists of five intensive 3-credit courses taught in 3-week modules. The presequisites for each track are as follows:

  • Evolution, Ecology, Conservation - 1 Biology or Ecology course with a minimum grade of B-
  • Sustainability and Resilience - 1 Biology or Ecology course with a minimum grade of B-
  • Marine Ecology - 2 courses in Biology or Ecology with a minimum grade of B-. 
  • One Health - 2 courses in Biology or Ecology, and a lab course with a minimum grade of B-. 

Students in the Marine Ecology course are required to have their diving certification and proof of DAN insurance in order to participate in the diving excursions. Students without this certification will only be allowed to snorkel during excursions. 

All courses are taught in English. Please note courses are subject to change. Students will take all the courses from the track chosen at time of application. Students can not take courses from other tracks. Students in all tracks also take a required Spanish conversation class (1 credit). Volunteer placements (non-credit) in San Cristobal are also available to interested students. 

The first module takes place at USFQ’s main campus in Cumbayá valley, located just outside of Quito, followed by three modules that will take place in San Cristobal Island, Galápagos and then come back to the mainland where they will have an excursion to Tiputini research station in the Amazon Basin.

To see courses UofSC students have taken at this university, please reference the Registrar's Course Equivalency Table

Excursions are included in the cost of the program and will take place in Quito and the Galápagos. Additional opportunities for excursions are included in coursework and vary in the academic track. Some popular excursions are visits to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, the Ecuadorian highlands, and a cloud forest.

Per university policy, all UofSC students will be charged emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation insurance for their time abroad. Contact the Education Abroad Office for more details.

Students stay with carefully screened host families in Cumbayá (Quito) for the first module and with host families in San Cristobal Island for the remainder of the semester. During overnight excursions students stay in hostels or hotels.

The GAIAS program has two semesters. The first semester is from early January to mid May. The second semester is from mid August to mid December. UofSC students are able to attend the GAIAS program for the fall semester or spring semester.

 Orientation sessions are held prior to the start of each semester in mid January and mid August. Orientation is mandatory for all  students.

 Students studying on the GAIAS program are not required to apply for a Temporary Residence Visa since they will be in Ecuador for less than 180 days total. Students are required to show invitation letter from host university at point of enrty. 


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