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 have 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 discover 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 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.


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 a previous Spanish study is not required.


  • Marine Ecology

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Spring 2020

Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
January Term $3,290 $900 $60 $4,250

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
Program taught in:
  • English (US)
IES Abroad

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Last updated November 16, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Jan 6, 2020
3 weeks
4,250 USD
By locations
By date
Start Date
Jan 6, 2020
End Date
Jan 26, 2020
Application deadline

Jan 6, 2020

Application deadline
End Date
Jan 26, 2020