Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start: Sophomore or above
Location: Americas, Ecuador
GPA: 2.5
Program Overview

The tropics, which occupy about seven percent of the Earth’s surface, contain the bulk of our biodiversity (maybe as high as 50%), and they also are the regions that are experiencing some of the highest rates of destruction. At the current rate of destruction, the tropical forests will be completely gone in less than 100 years. The destruction of tropical systems is having many adverse consequences: regional and global climate patterns are changing, potentially important medicinal compounds and other useful products are disappearing, and we are losing much of our biological heritage. There still exists an immense amount of knowledge to be gained from studying tropical ecosystems and a desperate need for more experts in the field of tropical biology. 

The Tropical Ecology Program consists of two 4-credit courses that offer students the chance to gain firsthand experience in studying key tropical ecosystems. These ecosystems include lowland rainforests, montane cloud forests, and the high-elevation shrublands of the Andes mountains (known as páramo). The first course, worth 4 graded credits, involves students in developing and conducting a research project in Ecuador. They will create presentations to share their findings with their peers. As part of this course, students will also learn how to maintain a daily 'field journal' to record observations and reflections. Additionally, a series of preparatory meetings will introduce students to the topics and organisms they will encounter in the field. The second course, which is ungraded (Pass/No Pass), provides hands-on experience in all the aforementioned ecosystems. This includes identifying organisms, practicing field research methods, and attending lectures conducted by an international team of biologists and naturalist guides.

Check out all of the species our 'Tropical Ecology in Ecuador' alumni have observed here

Watch Professor Peter Wetherwax discuss the origins of the Biology Department’s Tropical Ecology Program.


Scholarship Opportunity: Applicants to this program have the option to apply for a program-specific scholarship. Award recipients are chosen based on academic merit, financial need, and overall quality of their essays.  Individual awards range from $500-$1,000. To be considered, the Scholarship Essay must be completed by February 15. Please refer to the Scholarship Essay instructions in the program application or speak with your GEO advisor for more details.

Dates and Deadlines
Term Year Deadline Arrival Date Departure Date
Summer 2024 2/15/2024 6/16/2024 7/7/2024

Discount for Pell Recipients

To expand access to study abroad, GEO is offering a $400 discount for this program to UO students who currently have the Pell Grant as part of their federal financial aid (FAFSA).

Academic Details

In this program you will earn eight upper division BI credits. The program will include mandatory meetings beginning in the spring. All courses are part of the regular BI curriculum at the University of Oregon and fulfill several degree requirements. You can learn more and view syllabi by clicking "View all Courses" on the righthand side of the page. 

Course Equivalencies

UO students: please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Additional requirements

The academic standing of at least 25 credits by departure for UO students. Completion of UO BI 213 or 283H or equivalent by the end of spring term, or by approval of faculty leader. This program involves some significant hiking and outdoor activity, students should be in good physical condition to participate.

Application process

This program has a rolling admission application processGEO staff (and the program faculty leader, if applicable) will complete a review of the application materials of complete applications in the order that they are submitted (“first come, first serve”). Decisions about acceptance will be made shortly after you submit a complete application. There are some programs that fill fast, some even before the deadline. Students are encouraged to complete applications and commit to programs early.

Acceptance is based on a holistic review of your application.  This includes a review of your GPA, transcripts (including courses taken and in-progress), any additional requirements or prerequisites (see section "Additional Requirements"), and the short statement. Some programs require a letter of recommendation from a faculty that is not the program's faculty leader. If a letter of recommendation is required, you will find more information in your GEO application portal.

Faculty and Staff

This course is led by Tobias Policha PhD, a Senior Instructor in the Department of Biology, who started doing research in Ecuador over 15 years ago. You will work with additional local and international scientists and guides while in Ecuador.

Housing Description

While in Quito, you will stay in hotels. Other nights will be spent in shared dormitory-style rooms at remote research stations and lodges.  All meals are included in the program fee with the exception of four meals. You will enjoy meals as a group.  Vegetarian meals are available, but vegan meals are not always available.