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How to Apply

Important Things To Know

  • SFS has rolling admissions, so there is no application deadline. Be sure to check with your home school for their requirements and deadlines. SFS is currently accepting applications for all Summer 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018 programs.
  • Students are welcome to apply for programs up to one year in advance of the program start date -- early submissions strongly encouraged to ensure space in your first choice program!
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to participate in an SFS program.
  • You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing on your home campus.
  • We recommend that students complete one semester of college prior to the start of the program, but gap-year students are welcome to apply, provided they fulfill the prerequisites.
  • Recent college graduates and international students are welcome to apply.
  • Any Session I summer course (Bhutan excluded) can be paired with any Session II course to gain field experience in two countries and ecosystems. Please contact SFS Admissions with questions about pairing summer sessions in different countries.



Please review the following admission prerequisites and policies to confirm eligibility. If you have questions about whether a course you have taken fulfills SFS prerequisites, please contact an SFS Admissions Counselor.

  • One college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science course (or related coursework, as assessed by SFS) with a grade of C or better prior to the start of an SFS semester program
  • There are no course prerequisites for summer programs.
  • For SFS semester programs in Costa Rica, Panama, and Peru, your program experience will be enhanced if you have at least one semester of college-level Spanish (or three years of high school Spanish).
  • Students are encouraged, but not required, to have taken coursework in statistics, anthropology, international development, and economics.
  • Applicants for semester programs should have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 at minimum (2.6 for summer programs). Students with GPAs slightly below this mark are still encouraged to apply.


Before You Apply

  • Check with your home school for their requirements and deadlines. You should start the conversation with your home school study abroad office to discuss credit transfer, approved programs, financial aid, and any internal application/process.
  • You should also discuss your intentions to study abroad with family and friends, and talk about financing your study abroad experience. Read more about SFS tuition and fees here.
  • Please make sure you hold a valid passport that will not expire until at least six months after your planned return home. Apply for or renew your passport as soon as possible. It's best not to wait until after acceptance to SFS to apply or renew, because this can cause delays in processing visas and making flight arrangements for some programs.
  • Before you begin filling out your application, we suggest that you collect the following information. If you are under 18 years of age, you must have a parent or guardian sign your application.
    • Names of the individuals who will complete your SFS reference forms
    • Courses you intend to use to fulfill SFS prerequisite requirements (if applicable)
    • Credit card information (for application fee)
  • Planning to apply for SFS need-based financial aid? We strongly encourage students to submit their aid applications along with their program application to expedite the process. See application instructions and review policies below.



We're here to help. Please review the information on this page carefully, as most frequently asked questions are addressed here! If you still cannot find the answer you are looking for, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

When contacting SFS Admissions, please include your full name, the program you are interested in, and the session to which you plan to apply.


Application Steps

A complete application to SFS includes:

  1. Online Application Form and Essay Responses
  2. $50 Application Fee (Paid upon submission of online application)
  3. SFS Academic Reference
  4. SFS Character Reference
  5. Official Transcript
  6. Participation Approval Form and Transcript Request Form
  7. SFS Financial Aid Application if you'd like to be considered for SFS need-based financial aid.


Applicants will have a checklist in their online account to track the status of submitted application materials. Application items can be submitted in any order and do not need to be submitted all together. Keep in mind: applicants will not have a record in our database until they have submitted the Online Application Form and Essay Reponses, so the checklist will not show forms that have been received prior to application submission. Any materials that students send in before applying online will be kept on file and processed when the Online Application Form is submitted.


Step 1: Online Application Form and Essay Responses

We encourage you to apply online. SFS is currently accepting applications for all Spring 2017, Summer 2017, and Fall 2017 programs. Please use the 2016-2017 application to apply to all programs. If you are unable to use the online application form, please contact SFS Admissions.


Step 2: Application Fee

Pay non-refundable, application fee of $50 (credit card number required for online application). This fee cannot be waived. If paying by check, please make it payable to "The School for Field Studies" and send to:

Joan Cluster
The School Field Studies
100 Cummings Center, Suite 534-G
Beverly, MA 01915


Step 3 and 4: References

SFS requires two (2) references: an SFS Academic Reference and an SFS Character Reference. When you submit the Online Reference Request Form, your references will be automatically notified and asked to complete SFS reference forms electronically. Supplementary letters of recommendation are welcome, but at minimum, both individuals providing references must complete the official SFS reference forms.

Click Here to Access the Online Reference Request Form

NOTE: Use this form to request an Academic and Character Reference – only one submission is required.

Please contact the SFS Admissions Office if you have questions regarding your reference selection or any technical issues using the online form.

  • SFS Academic Reference should be completed by a teacher, professor or academic advisor who is well acquainted with your current academic performance.
  • SFS Character Reference should be completed by someone who knows you well, such as an academic source, a job supervisor, volunteer advisor, athletic coach, etc. It is not appropriate for this reference to be completed by a relative, peer, or family friend.


Step 5: Official Transcript

Request current, official transcripts from all schools attended. It is not necessary for college students to submit high school transcripts after a full academic year of college coursework has been completed.

Many colleges and universities now issue official transcripts electronically. If your university offers this option, you may request for your electronic official transcript to be sent to If this is not an option for you, please have your official transcript sent via mail to SFS.


Step 6: Participation Approval Form

Obtain approval from your institution's study abroad office. The Participation Approval Form is not part of the online process. All students must submit a completed Transcript Request Form (Page 3). This form provides the necessary information about where to send an official SFS transcript after completion of an SFS program.

Participation Approval Form

  • Students who will earn direct credit for their SFS program will receive one official SFS transcript at the address provided on the Transcript Request Form 2-4 weeks following the conclusion of the program. An unofficial copy will be sent to your permanent home address as provided on the SFS Application.
  • Students who will earn University of Minnesota credit for their SFS program will receive one official transcript at the address provided on the Transcript Request Form 2-4 weeks following the conclusion of the program.


Step 7: SFS Financial Aid Application

If you would like to apply for need-based financial aid from SFS, you must submit your aid application along with your SFS program application. Aid applications will be reviewed once you are accepted to an SFS program and the non-refundable Program Commitment Deposit has been paid ($500 for semester programs, $250 for summer programs).

SFS Financial Aid Application


Please send supporting documents (Transcripts, Participation Approval Form, References if not completed online) to:

The School for Field Studies
100 Cummings Center, Suite 534-G
Beverly, MA 01915

P: 800.989.4418
F: 978.922.3835

Completing your Application

Once an application is received, you will be contacted by email with information about any missing materials. If your application is incomplete, it is your responsibility to follow up on any missing materials. SFS is unable to begin the application review process until all necessary materials are received. To expedite the completion of your application, we suggest that you submit all of your application materials together.

Students who have completed their applications and met the prerequisite requirements will be contacted for a phone interview with an SFS Admissions Counselor. This will be a 30-minute question and answer session so that we can get to know you and you can learn more about the SFS program. We will send you some reading material in advance so that you can prepare for this conversation. Be ready with questions (and answers)!

Please note that final acceptance to all programs is contingent upon medical approval. You will be sent information on completing the Medical Approval Process after acceptance. If you would like to check the status of your application materials received by SFS, please click the My SFS link to log in to your account.


Upon Acceptance

Students will receive their admissions decision within 1 week of the phone interview, if not much sooner. Once you are accepted to a program, you will be required to submit a non-refundable Program Commitment Deposit ($500 for semester programs, $250 for summer programs) within 10 business days of acceptance. Students are not considered enrolled in the program and financial aid applications will not be reviewed until this deposit payment is received by SFS. If your home school will pay this deposit for you, we will send an invoice to your home school for the deposit amount. Your acceptance email will indicate who is responsible for making this payment to SFS. If you or your home school have any questions about the deposit, please contact us.


Continue on to the Accepted Students page once you've reached this stage!