IES Abroad’s mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. That is why we partnered with USFQ and GAIAS.
The Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS)
GAIAS is a remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) that was established to further efforts in conservation and sustainable development in the Galápagos Islands. As a world-class academic and research institution, GAIAS attracts both local and international students and scholars from around the world.
GAIAS offers unparalleled courses that explore Ecology, Biology, and Environmental Studies through an in-depth and hands-on approach. The university’s professors and course options enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.
You take 16 credit hours per semester, and all courses are worth 3 credits. Courses are taught through USFQ in a series of five consecutive modules. The first module is taught at a USFQ campus near Quito and the other four are taught at GAIAS on the island of San Cristobal. All courses are taught in English.
The program offers the following tracks, which each consist of five-course modules. You must take three courses in your selected track. After that, you can take up to two courses in other tracks as long as you meet all prerequisites.
- Evolution, Ecology & Conservation
Examine first-hand how Ecuador’s diverse ecosystems have been shaped by evolutionary processes and the role that distinct societies have played in the protection or transformation of these environments. Course-related trips bring you to bio-diverse jungles, picturesque coastal regions, and to one of the world’s tallest volcanoes. There is a prerequisite of at least one Biology course or one Ecology course to enroll in courses in this track.
- Marine Ecology
Examine the importance of marine conservation and the social aspects of marine management by combining coursework and fieldwork on the Pacific Coast and in the Galápagos Islands. You visit mangroves, wetlands, inter-tidal ecosystems, open oceans, and coral reefs as you study animal habitats and communities. There is a prerequisite of at least one Biology course or one Ecology course to enroll in courses in this track. It is also a requirement to be PADI certified to enroll in this track.
- People, Politics, & the Environment
Explore the economic, cultural, and social issues that affect the relationship between humans and their environment. Coursework includes course-related trips to several indigenous and traditional Andean communities. To enroll in courses in this track, you do not need to have taken a biology or ecology course; it is recommended to have two semesters of college-level Spanish but not required.
You are required to take a 1-credit Spanish language course during your time in Quito. If you wish to continue your Spanish language study, an optional 3-credit Spanish language course is offered later in the semester during your time in the Galápagos Islands.