There’s a reason why many of the world’s most famous scientists have visited the Galápagos Islands—now it’s your turn to discover one of the world’s most beautiful and biologically diverse island locations. It’s here that you will get hands-on experience studying topics such as Biology, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Marine Ecology, and Sociology. This direct enrollment 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. Before you head to the Galápagos, the program will begin with a month in Quito, where you participate in an orientation, a course at USFQ Cumbayá campus, and course-related excursions. The remaining months are spent on San Cristóbal in the Galápagos Islands. Additional course-related excursions allow you to spend time in other locations, based on your course enrollment. Choose from courses in three tracks:

  • Evolution, Ecology & Conservation
  • Marine Ecology
  • People, Politics & the Environment

The Galápagos Islands and Quito will be your classroom. Witness the famous land iguanas and giant tortoises as you study the evolution of these unique species. Visit indigenous and traditional Andean communities to better understand the relationship between humans and their environment. Dive into the Pacific to get close to the marine life you learn about. We want you to feel at home in Quito and the Galápagos Islands, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into student life. From housing to cultural events, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic study abroad experience possible. During your time in Quito and the Galápagos, you stay with a host family or señora, which helps you familiarize yourself with the Galápagos, its people, and its cultures.

Quick Facts

  • Center: IES Abroad Quito
  • City: Galápagos Islands
  • Country: Ecuador
  • Program Credits: 16 per semester (5 courses)
  • Language of Instruction: English
  • Language Prerequisites: None

Program Dates

After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.

Fall 2018

  • August 10 - December 8

Upcoming Application Deadlines:

  • Spring 2019 - October 15, 2018


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.

Program Tracks

The program offers the following tracks, which each consist of five course modules. You must take at least 3 courses in your selected track. After that, you can take up to 2 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 excursions 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 and 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 prerequiste of at least one Biology course, one Marine Biology course and one Ecology course to enroll in courses 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 excursions to several indigenous and traditional Andean communities. To enroll in courses in this track, you should have at least two semesters of college-level Spanish.

Spanish Language

You are required to take a 1-credit Spanish language course during your time in Quito. If you are a student at the beginning level and wish to continue your Spanish language study, an optional 1-credit intermediate Spanish course is offered later in the semester.


Courses offered at GAIAS Courses are taught through USFQ in a series of five consecutive modules. The first module is taught at the USFQ Cumbaya campus near Quito. Remaining modules are taught at the GAIAS campus on the island of San Cristóbal. All courses are taught in English. Courses vary by semester, but here is an example of past course offerings. Spanish Language Courses (1 credit)

  • Beginning Spanish
  • Intermediate Spanish
  • Advanced Spanish

Course-Related Excursions

Even though your adventure starts in Quito and the Galápagos Islands, course-related excursions and an extra-curricular field trip take you beyond the campus to discover the cultures and traditions of your host country. Destinations, activities, and learning experiences vary based on the track in which you are participating.

Advising & Support

In a direct enrollment program, you are enrolled as a full-time student at one of our international partner institutions. Even though your local host institution is where you’ll take your classes, we’re still here to fully support you.


Choosing and directly enrolling in courses abroad can be confusing and overwhelming—we offer you predeparture advising that’s specific to your needs. Our goal is to provide support and guidance throughout your application and enrollment process. But our advising services don’t stop there. While you’re in Quito, and the Galápagos Islands our staff is available to help you transition into your new home.

On-Site Staff

As an IES Abroad student directly enrolled at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) you have access to on-site IES Abroad staff who are specifically dedicated to your needs. Our on-site staff work with you and your local institution to answer any questions about academic requirements, housing, or well-being and safety.


Our support services for direct enrollment students are specifically designed to help you achieve your study abroad goals as effectively and smoothly as possible. We know studying abroad is an adventure, and, at times, you may need help or just someone to talk to—that’s why our staff is there for you.


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 Ecuador, it will feel like home.

Homestays - You will live in private homestays with a family or señora in Quito and in the Galápagos Islands. In Quito, all meals are provided except lunch on weekends. In the Galápagos Islands, breakfast and dinner are provided.

Student Life

Orientation When you arrive in Ecuador, you participate in an introductory orientation with IES Abroad at the Quito Center and at the USFQ Cumbayá campus with GAIAS staff members. Designed specifically for direct enrollment students, the orientation program introduces you to your program, your fellow students, Quito, and the Galápagos Islands. You will also find out more about topics such as academics, housing, transportation, and health and safety. Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.

Extracurricular Activities & Cultural Events

Optional Activities You have the option to participate in approximately two to three SCUBA dives in different marine environments throughout the semester, at an additional cost paid on-site. Though these activities are not required as part of the academic program, they are coordinated and led by GAIAS faculty. Please note that dives are not guaranteed and are subject to change based on student interest, instructor availability, and local safety conditions. IES Abroad students that wish to participate in dives must have Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver Certification in order to participate on any GAIAS-organized dives. Proof of PADI Open Water Diver Certification must be provided to IES Abroad prior to the start of the program.

Eligibility Requirements

  • 18 years of age
  • In good standing at your home school
  • 2.8 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale (GPAs under 2.8 will not be considered)
  • Sophomore, junior, or senior standing when program begins
  • At least one general biology and one ecology course at the college level for the Evolution and Marine tracks.
  • Marine track students must have taken a prior marine biology class and will require DAN insurance for academic dives (included in program price)


Fall 2018

  • Tuition: $15,620
  • Housing: $4,000
  • Insurance: $230
  • Total: $19,850

Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.

Program taught in:
  • English
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This course is Campus based
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1 semester
19,850 USD
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