student smiling at a seal near the ocean
Galápagos Islands January Term - Marine Ecosystems Add to favorites
  • Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

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Why the Galápagos Islands?

There’s no place in the world quite like the Galápagos Islands. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, these 3.5-million-year-old islands are home to some of the rarest species on the planet, and are where Charles Darwin first formulated his Theory of Natural Selection. Studying abroad here with us allows you to discover the incredible beauty and biodiversity of the Galápagos Islands that has captivated famous scientists and world travelers for decades.

What You'll Study?

This three-week January Term is perfect for students interested in Marine Ecology and Environmental Studies. You’ll study at the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) on the island of San Cristóbal. This remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito was established to further efforts in conservation and sustainable development on the Galápagos Islands.

The Galápagos Islands will also be your classroom. Throughout your time here, you’ll learn about the ecology of the marine habitats found on and off the coast of these islands. Through course readings, discussions, and course-related trips, you’ll also begin to discovery the effects human impact is having on these delicate ecosystems. You’ll leave here with a more complex understanding of the relationship between humans and the environment.

Daily Life

We want you to feel at home in the Galápagos Islands, so we do everything we can to help you quickly integrate into student life. From homestays with local residents to field trips visiting the islands surrounding San Cristóbal, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic experience possible. You will live with local residents for the majority of your time here, which helps you familiarize yourself with the Galápagos Islands, its people, and its culture.

$5 Million in Financial Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our financial aid programs.

Academics

Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible, which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. We offer a unique course that explores Marine Ecology and the Galápagos Islands ecosystems through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.

This January term program is organized through the Galápagos 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. While in the Galápagos Islands, you enroll in one course for a total of 3 credits.

In the classroom and on numerous course-related trips, you will learn in depth about the ecology of the marine habitats found on and off the coast of these islands, including coral reefs, rocky shores, and hydrothermal vents. You will also discover the effect that human impact is having on these delicate ecosystems. Your course is taught in English, and previous Spanish study is not required.

Partner Institution(s)

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.

Field Trips & Events

Even though your adventure starts in San Cristóbal, our course-related trip takes you beyond this island to discover the culture and traditions of your host country and beyond. Course-related trips are academic trips associated with courses. They are organized to complement your courses and contribute to a general knowledge of current environmental, political, and economic issues. The cost of these course-related trips is included in the program fee, and participation is required. Here are a few possible destinations.

La Loberia
1 Day
Spend the day in the beach observing sea lions in their natural habitat. 

El Junco Lagoon
1 Day
Located in the highlands of the island, this crater lake is home to many species of fauna and flora including the San Cristóbal mockingbird and the endangered Galápagos miconia.

Isla Lobos
1 Day
Just off the shore from San Cristóbal, this islet is home to many Galápagos birds, sea lions, and numerous marine iguanas.

Kicker Rock
1 Day
This cone of an extinct volcano, which is shaped in the form of a sleeping lion, is the perfect habitat for sharks, large rays, pelagic and reef fish, and sea turtles.

Santa Cruz Island
2 Days
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galápagos and contains the most populated urban center in all the islands, the Charles Darwin Research Station, and Tortuga Bay. Here you will be able to observe marine iguanas, birds, galápagos crabs and the gigantic galápagos tortoise

Bartolomé Island
1 Day
Bartolomé Island offers some of the most beautiful and distinctive landscapes in the archipelago. The island consists of an extinct volcano and is primarily known for snorkeling and the iconic Pinnacle Rock and its penguins.

Note: IES Abroad field trip destinations, course-related trips, activities, and lengths of stay may vary according to term and availability.

Daily Life

Part of making you feel at home in the Galápagos Islands is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the course-related trips that take you to places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services.

Orientation

The program begins with a one-day mandatory orientation in Quito that introduces you to the IES Abroad staff, your fellow students, and your program. Topics include:

  • Meeting IES Abroad students and IES Abroad staff
  • Discussions on intercultural understanding, safety, Ecuadorian family life and practical aspects of life
  • Assistance in navigating transportation, banking, and shopping

Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the program with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.

Housing

We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave the Galápagos Islands, it will feel like home.

Homestays - You have a private, furnished room in the home of a family or señora in the Galápagos Islands. Homestay hosts provide breakfast and dinner. 

Get to Know Your New City

Explore the Charles Darwin Research Station

A must-see for budding scientists, check out the breeding center, and learn about the islands’ fascinating ecology and history.

See Turtles at Turtle Bay

You just might observe hatchlings emerging from their eggs and heading to the ocean!

Snorkel with Sea Lions

Head to La Loberia beach, and spend a day in the sun with these unique marine mammals.

Hang with the Local Penguins

Take a trip to Las Tintoreras, and get up close and personal with the islands’ penguins.

Visit the Santa Cruz Fish Market

Watch fishermen unload their catches from the day, and grab a bite of fresh seafood.

Program Cost

Fees coming soon.

Use our budget worksheet to calculate your costs

$5 Million in Financial Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our financial aid programs.

Our Center

IES Abroad Quito
Situated near Quito’s financial district, the IES Abroad Center is housed in a new, modern building. Features include:

  • Two well-equipped classrooms
  • Student lounge
  • Staff offices
  • Small library
  • Computer lab
  • High-speed Internet and printer access

Our Staff

Eduardo Ortiz

Center Director

Through LASPAU (Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities), Eduardo Ortiz, a native of Quito, received a Fulbright Scholarship to obtain both his B.A. and his M.A. in Psychology at SUNY Geneseo in New York. After receiving his degrees, Eduardo returned to Quito, where he worked as Senior Official in the Ecuadorian Institute of Educational Loans and Scholarships (IECE) and as Ecuadorian Coordinator for an international educational exchange program (Canada World Youth). He also worked as Associate Professor in two leading Ecuadorian Universities (Catholic University of Ecuador and Army Polytechnic University). Eduardo also has experience as a project manager for USAID (United States Agency for International Development) in Ecuador where he managed projects in tax administration and education. Additionally, Eduardo has international consulting experience in training, organizational development, human resources management, and institutional strengthening in several International Development Agencies including IDB, the World Bank and Universalia Management Group from Canada.

IES Abroad Staff

IES Abroad Staff

Ximena Paredes
Student Affairs Coordinator in Quito

Juan Carlos Sanchez
Administrative Support

Maria Cristina López
Student Affairs Coordinator in Galápagos