GAIAS logo
Location: San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

baby sea lions


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Fall - 8/24/11-12/15/11
Spring - 1/5/2013 - 6/8/2013

Do not use these dates to purchase airfare; use dates provided by host.

  Language: English


Please contact the office for a current budget.


3.0 GPA, completion of at least one year of university-level studies, and good judicial standing

For students applying to the "Evolution, Ecology & Conservation in Galapagos" and “Marine Ecology” programs: Completion of at least one course each in general biology and ecology.

For students applying to the "Politics, the Environment and the Galapagos" program: An intermediate-level of Spanish is highly recommended for this program, but not required.

  Application Deadlines:

Spring: October 1st*
Fall : March 1st*

*GAIAS has a rolling admissions policy . This means that it is important to apply early , as programs may fill before their deadlines. A maximum number of 25 students (from all their partners abroad) will be admitted to each program.

  Application Materials:

EIU Application Materials
Course Approval Form
GAIAS application (Available in Office of Study Abroad)
(GAIAS application fee waived)
Also, please complete your Travel Consultation (as indicated in your EIU Application checklist).

Program Highlights

San Cristóbal Island, also referred to as Chatham Island, has a statue of Charles Darwin to commemorate where he disembarked on the Galápagos Islands. San Cristóbal is home for many birds, marine mammals, and plants. Some animals you will see while in San Cristóbal include the Chatham Mockingbird, numerous types of Frigate birds, various seabirds, boobies, lava lizards, giant tortoises, and sea lions.

The Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) offers full-semester programs in English to international and national students of the biological and social sciences. Each program track consists of five intensive 3-credit courses taught in three-week modules. Students will first study at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito's (USFQ) main campus in Quito and then spend the remainder of the semester at the GAIAS campus on San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos. While on the mainland, program participants will go to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon Basin and USFQ's highland campus in Riobamba, the Instituto Santiago de Quito. In the Galapagos, students will visit various sites and take a 4-day cruise throughout the archipelago. In addition to its core courses, GAIAS also offers optional basic Spanish and digital photography courses. GAIAS students are also able to participate in fieldwork, volunteer work, or independent research projects for credit.



frigatas at sunset from ship



GAIAS - USFQ campus at the Galápagos Islands from Universidad San Francisco on Vimeo.

Academic Programs

Program tracks include:

Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation

Evolutionary Biology
Native and Introduced Plants of the Galapagos
Population Ecology
Introduction to Marine Life of the Galapagos Islands
Human Ecology and Maritime Communities
Introduction to Digital Photography (optional 1-credit course)

People, Politics, and the Environment

Wildlife Conservation and Management
Human Ecology
Environmental Economics
Politics and the Environment
Introduction to Digital Photography (optional 1-credit course)

Marine Ecology

Human Ecology
Introduction to Oceanography
Biology of Fish
Introduction to Marine Ecosystems
Marine Conservation Biology

Academic Spring Calendar 2013

After Your Trip:
Take STA4000G at EIU to fulfill your senior-seminar requirement!


Independent study and/or community service project

Field trips & fieldwork as an integral part of every GAIAS course

Small class size & individualized attention

Optional 1-credit course, “Introduction to Digital Photography”

Optional Basic Spanish course

Galapagos boat tour & extended visits to other islands of the Archipelago

Trip to Riobamba and Volcano Chimborazo (highlands Ecuador)

Trip to Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon jungle (

Quito City Tour & Mitad del Mundo (equatorial divide)

Excursion to the indigenous market of Otavalo and lagoon at Cuicocha volcano

Excursion to the snow-capped volcano Cotopaxi

Galapagos homestay family

Resident Coordinators in Quito and Galapagos

For an additional cost to the regular program fee, students studying at GAIAS will have the opportunity to enroll in a diving course through a PADI certified instructor.


While in Quito students stay at a local hotel (at the beginning and end of the program).

While in San Cristóbal, Galapagos students live with a host family in order to improve their Spanish and integrate more fully into the local community. GAIAS has a network of trained families and is able to assist with family placements in San Cristóbal.

Students living with families and are provided with three meals per day. In San Cristóbal , breakfasts are typically at the student's place of residence (host family), and group meals are arranged for lunches and dinners in local restaurants around town.

Health Preparation

See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for immunizations to take effect. The CDC recommends the following vaccines for Ecuador (as appropriate for age):

    • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
    • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay >6 months in the region, or be exposed through medical treatment.
    • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
    • Typhoid
    • Yellow fever vaccination (REQUIRED for the Tiputini trip)
    • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.


Malaria is not a problem in Quito or the Galapagos, although it is found in Ecuador at altitudes below 1,500 meters. There will be short trips planned to the Amazon jungle and the Ecuadorian coast during the first three weeks of the program, and malaria medication is recommended for these regions. For this reason, you should discuss the proper malaria medication with your doctor and take the necessary precautions. Larium is the drug recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yellow Fever

A WHO vaccination record (with yellow fever vaccination record) is REQUIRED to get to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon jungle. Local authorities will not permit you to enter the region without it.


Foreign Entry Requirements

To enter a foreign country, you must have a valid passport. If you are a U.S. citizen and do not currently have a valid passport, or if your passport will expire during the time you will be overseas, please go to the U.S. State Department web site for information on how to apply for/renew your passport.


The GAIAS program will assist you in getting all necessary documentation.

You are strongly encouraged to read the U.S. State Department's Consular Information Sheet on your host countries. It will provide you with a great deal of information to help you prepare for your trip.

Please note that EIU does not own, operate, or sponsor this program.