- Guayaquil, Ecuador; Quito, Ecuador
- Program Type:
- Study Abroad
- Degree Level:
- Fall Semester, Spring Semester
- Program Description:
Through this interdisciplinary program, students gain an understanding of the diverse ecological zones of Ecuador, major plant and animal adaptations to life in each zone, appropriate uses for natural resources, and current environmental issues along with management practices. Students are also introduced to a broad panorama of Ecuadorian life and culture; rich Indian and Spanish history, traditions, and current values; and political, economic, environmental, social, and cultural challenges facing contemporary society. During the Environmental Field Study Seminar, students learn how to integrate both social science and ecological field techniques through anthropological and field ecology projects. These skills will then be applied during the Independent Study Project (ISP). Throughout their coursework and life in Ecuador, students apply their Spanish to the theme of the program and a deeper understanding of Ecuador.
Explore tropical ecosystems and the complexities of human adaptations to different environments in Ecuador’s four distinct ecological regions. This country is home to more than 1,500 species of birds and 10 percent of the world’s known vascular plant species. Interactions with community members and local stakeholders who are grappling with conservation strategies within the context of heightened political, economic, and social pressures provide valuable context. The program base is historic Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Educational excursions take students to the high sierras of the Andes, the epiphyte-rich cloud forest, the rugged snow-line páramo, and the vast rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon. A guided, weeklong visit to the extraordinary Galápagos Islands provides access to plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth.
Please inquire for costs: Fees include tuition, full room and board, all field trips and related fares, health and accident insurance, and other direct program expenses. Participants pay for international airfare and domestic travel to the point of departure from the USA.
- Setting Description:
- Three week-long field excursions interspersed throughout the semester introduce students to the varied and unique ecosystems of Ecuador. Coupled with day trips to highland forest and grassland sites near Quito, students are exposed to Andean cloud forest, Amazonian rain forest, and Galápagos Island ecosystems, so that they can understand and identify life forms and their adaptations in a comparative context. Besides familiarizing themselves with ecological processes in each ecosystem, students conduct taxon-specific investigations. Finally, students observe the human impacts on each ecosystem and study different strategies for conservation.
Additional Program Information
- Scholarships Description:
- Please see our website for more information.
Based on 15 Reviews
- Perfect for Explorers, Ecologists, and Anyone Who Enjoys Nature01/11/22
This program was absolutely incredible. Not only did I get to go to a number of incredible places within Ecuador, but I was to learn more about the natural aspects of these areas and the field techniques used to study plants, birds, insects, and more.
This program was very rigorous, but the experience I received from it was priceless. Because of this program, I am a better Spanish speaker, I am confident in my own decision making, I can confidently write scientific reports, and I have made a number of connections with people in Ecuador and the other students that were studying abroad with me.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Exploring Ecuador Through Travel, Fieldwork, and Cultural Experiences01/03/20
This program was such a fantastic experience to explore Ecuador while improving my Spanish and learning more about environmentalism, conservation, fieldwork, and biology. The staff was very supportive and knew so much about a wide diversity of areas.
They really helped us learn a lot about the course materials and pursue our own interests. The excursions included so much more than I imagined and I really enjoyed the hands-on learning approach. All of the students in the program were extremely passionate people who took the experience seriously and worked hard.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Excursions and Academics combine for a wonderful study abroad opportunity01/03/20
This study abroad provided valuable learning in the field, as well as experience in research and academic writing. The adventurous excursions to observe plants, animals, adaptations and symbiotic relationships, environmental impact and conservation efforts,
field research methods, and much much more resulted in a rewarding and "once in a lifetime" experience, while being interspersed with regular class time and assignments to improve scientific writing, spanish language skills, and general ecological knowledge. This mix made for a semester full of flexibility, rigor, fun, and lots of new things. The homestay provided additional experience with the culture and the language. All together, this program created a study abroad that will benefit students well beyond the end of the semester. I thoroughly enjoyed my SIT Ecuador: comparative ecology and conservation semester and will never forget the lasting friendships and connections that were formed during the semester.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Exciting, Adventurous and Career-Defining Equatorial Experience12/29/19
Doing this program was one of the best decisions I ever made! It was academically challenging, and each part of the program was engineered to push students to their highest potential. I walked away with confidence in the language, research development,
and new interests. The professors and fellow students were incredibly inspiring, and it was hard to leave when the program ended. I will continue to search for academic environments like what I found in this program, and will remember my time on this program for the rest of my life! I would highly suggest this program go any hard worker environmental student searching for the tools needed to make positive change in the world.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Fantastic for an Environmental Biologist!08/29/19
This program provides everything you could want from a study abroad experience - engaging professors, language immersion, travel to incredible places, a supportive homestay family and network of administrators. I learned so much about not only ecology
and conservation, but about living in a new place, with a new language and culture. This program allowed me to grow and become more independent, as well as learn to live with less during my month of Independent Study in the Amazon Rainforest.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Above-and-beyond experience in Ecuador!01/30/19
The program absolutely lived up to the expectations of being immersed in Ecuador's amazing biodiversity and complex conservation challenges. I learned so much through the experiential, comparative approach of the program. Furthermore, the opportunity
to perform independent real-world field research was invaluable and allowed me to develop practical skills for my future. The Galapagos alone makes this program worth the value, and it is so much more beyond that! Visiting the paramo, cloud forest, Amazon, and other ecosystems gives a comprehensive view of research and conservation methods. The program staff is passionate about what they do and very helpful throughout the course of the program. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone passionate about ecology, conservation, and Spanish! I would do it all again in a heartbeat.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Once in a lifetime01/28/19
Throughout this program, I gained confidence in myself, as well as an appreciation for familial bonds and a different perception of life and family structure. I learned about important environmental issues while visiting some of the most beautiful and
biodiverse places in the world. I also made amazing friends who share my passions and values, both from Ecuador and the US. The homestay enriched my experience and provided the most opportunities for Spanish practice. Ecuador is a beautiful country with so much to offer (Galápagos!!) and this program provides an incredibly unique way to visit the different regions. The style of learning can be tiring, because it is rigorous, but it is easily justified by the hikes through the Amazon, the early morning bird watching, or snorkeling and seeing marine life in the Galápagos.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Great, immersive experience in science and Spanish!01/26/19
I absolutely loved the SIT Ecuador program and it was a great fit for me, someone who wantes a field-based program woth a combination of science and Spanish. The strength of this program was its small class size (18 students in my program!) and unique,
field-based format. All the students are from the US and our professors (and of course host families) are Ecuadorian. It’s structured such that we live and go to school in Quito and then every other week or so, we are off on week long excursions to different ecosystems all over the country. The last month is dedicated to conducting our independent research projects, where each student does their own research in a field station of their choice. As you can imagine, this allowed us to spend TONS of time outside in the field getting our hands dirty. If hands-on experiential learning (at any given time of the day and night) is your jam, then you’ll love it. The time we spent learning in the field was incredibly formative for me as a budding scientist. In terms of scientific background, the vast majority of students were Biology or Environmental Science majors with a couple Geology folks. Prior knowledge in earth science isn’t necessary, but I would definitely recommend intro bio and ecology classes, perhaps a botany class if you have the option at your university. However, one of my close friends on the program was an art major and had only taken one science class before. So it is doable, but that's not the norm. A key point to emphasize is that every facet of this program is structured, so it's hard to find free time for social and extra-curricular opportunities. Within the realm of abroad programs, this one is quite academically rigorous (which I feel is not stressed enough) and because of that, you will have little free time. You have to be willing to put in the work and live outside your comfort zone for a whole semester. But if you embrace it, you'll have a blast and will learn and grow so much.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- An unforgettable semester!03/02/18
This program is an incredible opportunity for students studying ecology or environmental science! I had had great experiences traveling throughout Ecuador, learning about local ecology, and making new friends. The classes, and especially the independent
research project, made me more qualified for ecology research positions. Taking classes in Spanish and living with a host family has made me much more confident in Spanish classes at my home university. I loved living with my host family, and I'll never forget all of the local traditions and foods they introduced me to. The program directors and host families are so proud of their country, and it's easy to see why! This was an incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone interested in ecology and conservation.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Amazing Field Study Program in Ecuador02/25/18
This is an amazing program for anyone looking to further their Spanish and learn a lot about biology, ecology, geology, and natural sciences. The program is very structured and intensive but this is what makes it so rewarding. The academics are interesting,
challenging, and supported by real experiences in the field. You will travel to a number of amazing locations including the Galapagos, Amazon, páramo, and cloud forest. While the program itself is heavily oriented towards science and conservation you will also learn about culture through school and through your host families. One of the aspects of this program that makes it so unique is the independent study project. This was also one of the things I was most nervous about, but you will feel prepared and confident with the help of professors and staff. Students use this opportunity to study a topic of interest, practice research techniques, build their resume, gain field experience, do their senior thesis, and have an independent and immersive experience. Do not expect to have a ton of free time. The days in the city are spent in class and nights spent with your host family. Excursions are spaced about a week apart. This allows you time to reflect on the last trip, prepare for the next, and have time to explore the city. This is by no means an easy study abroad program academically or culturally. However if you are open-minded and passionate about ecology and conservation this will be an amazing and worthwhile experience. There are many people both in and out of the program that are kind, helpful, and excited to share their culture with you. One things this program really stresses is how to be a conscious and respectful student abroad. Overall, this is amazing experience and you will learn so much personally and academically!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Best semester yet!08/05/17
This program was all that I was hoping for and more! In terms of academics, lectures consisted of field lectures and classroom lecture, both of which were in a mixture of Spanish and english. That said, don't expect total language immersion in the classroom.
There was a lot of flexibility in this regard and one could write papers in either Spanish or english in many cases. The course load was rather challenging, but I learned more ecology this semester in Ecuador that in the entirety of my undergraduate experience thus far (especially botany) Lectures were also very hands on and we learned a lot about field techniques. However, despite claiming to be a program about conservation, this program was definitely highly skewed towards ecology! Beware: I did not receive any Spanish credit from this program because my institution would only accept credit if I was placed in the upper two Spanish classes (which was unfortunate because from what I could tell the different leveled classes differed very little). Regardless, I loved most of all the opportunity to do an independent study project at the end of the term. While a common complaint about SIT programs in general is that the ISP is underwhelming, that was not the case for me in this program! It was a wonderful opportunity to conduct my own research, connect with people in the community, and learn how to be independent in Ecuador. My living situation was with a host family which was also a wonderful experience! It was very immersive in Spanish and the culture and really challenged me to focus on family along with academics—something thats harder to do if you are living at a university away from a family as many of us do in the US. Cultural immersion in this program was pretty good! Our professors and advisors did what they could to try to educate us about norms and make us less like tourists and more like part of the community. However, I would have loved more of a focus here! There was wonderful student support in this program as well and professors and advisors genuinely cared about each student! Within our group, we cared about each other as well, so I always had somewhere to turn if I needed help in anyway! Quito and the rest of Ecuador seemed rather safe to me. In our program there was one or two safety incidents (robbing), but they were resolved and no one got hurt. Its just important to keep safety in mind here and be smart.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Amazing semester full of nature, memories, and new friends07/31/17
If you love nature/ecology and being outdoors, but you're also interested in foreign cultures and Spanish, this is the perfect program for you. This program provides the best sort of combination between outdoors field experiences with strong science and
city living. When I began this program, I was most excited for all of the excursions to the different ecosystems Ecuador has to offer, which I promise will not disappoint--Ecuador is truly a beautiful and special place to be! I swam among river dolphins in the Amazon and with sea turtles and sea lions in the Galapagos. We hiked mountains in the paramo next to glaciers and in the cloud forests, tracking signs of Andean bears. What I didn't realize was how I would also fall in love with the culture and how I would come to feel at home with my host family in Quito, whom you live with between excursions. I quickly became integrated into my host brother's friend group, and I would join them to the movies, the discoteca, or pick-up soccer games. Typically, science majors go on this program, and typical science-y study abroad programs are mostly in the field, and often away from people. This program is so special, because you are focused on science and conservation in class, but you also get to experience the Quito way of life by living with a family, and you will become so much more intimately aware of the culture.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Amazing experience07/28/17This program was incredible. The amount of exposure to nature and different scientific methods in incredible. There is a lot of work involved, but you will learn a lot if you embrace it.Bottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Ecology in Ecuador02/19/17
This program was perfect for me--as someone who is very interested in ecological and conservation science, Ecuador was the ideal place to be. Ecuador has a variety of different ecosystems, including tropical rainforest, mountain highlands, cloud forests,
and the Galapagos, all of which I got to visit on this program. A few of my highlights were: swimming with penguins and sea lions in the Galapagos, birdwatching on a canopy-level platform in the Amazon rainforest, and seeing a jaguar from our boat along the Napo river. My favorite part about the program itself was definitely the experiential learning style that was emphasized. We had lectures from renowned scientists in Quito (our home base) which were balanced out and enhanced by our in-the-field lectures, where we could learn about all the plants and animals that we were actually seeing in their natural habitat. If you are someone who likes to spend a lot of time outside and learn about the nature you're seeing, this program would be a great fit for you!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Best semester I've had!02/14/17
I'm not a science student, but I had an amazing time on this program. I learned about and visited the páramo (highlands), the cloud forest, the Amazon, and the Galápagos, made 20 incredible friends, learned from wonderful professors, and grew to love
my homestay. We got to explore Quito, swim with sharks, rays, fish, eels, turtles, and sea lions in the Galápagos, see a jaguar and a harpy eagle in the Amazon, birdwatch at 5am in the cloud forest, and hike to 17,500 feet on a volcano! What's not to like?read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend