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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the application deadline for admissions? 

    The School for Field Studies (SFS) reviews complete applications for admission to all programs on a rolling basis.

    Although we have no set deadlines for submitting applications for semester programs, we review on a first come, first serve basis, so you are advised to apply as soon as possible to ensure consideration for your first choice program. Applicants for semester programs should keep in mind that their home institutions might have a study abroad application deadline. Our suggested summer program application deadlines are respectively April 1 and May 1 for sessions 1 and 2, but we still accept applications after these dates. Waiting lists are maintained for courses that fill early.

  • What makes SFS a unique study abroad experience? 

    Every study abroad program offers students the opportunity to experience something beneficial and life changing.

    Students gain a broader perspective of the world through the opportunity to see new places, experience new cultures, and test their abilities outside of their comfort zone. The School for Field Studies offers students the opportunity to develop skills useful to their future academics and careers. SFS is committed to providing students with a practical educational experience. We expose students to critical, real-world environmental issues. Academic debate and theory blend with hands-on experience and field research. It is our sincere hope that every program provides the opportunity for each student to grow both academically and personally.

  • Can I attend a program after graduation or without being enrolled in school? 

    Yes! Students who have completed their undergraduate degree or who are otherwise not enrolled at a college or university are welcome to attend SFS programs.

    Our programs can serve as great resume builders and excellent hands on-experience to prepare students for future educational endeavors or for entering the professional world. We do not offer an option to audit our courses, so students who are not currently enrolled at a college or university would be registered at the University of Minnesota (our School of Record), take the courses for credit, and earn an official transcript from the U of M. SFS course prerequisite and GPA requirements for semester programs would still apply – see the How to Apply page of our website for more information.
  • How do I apply for an SFS program? 

    After carefully reviewing the steps outlined by the How to Apply section.

    You can click Apply Now (using this link or any of the Apply Now buttons on our website) to complete the online application.

    You may also apply by downloading the PDF of the application and submitting a hard copy.  Be sure you have investigated the application process specific to your home school (if there is one) before applying directly to SFS.

  • How competitive are your programs? 

    The admissions process is competitive, but applicants should remember that we are looking for motivated young people with a sincere interest in environmental issues.

    In order to judge this, we look at the entire application: grades (minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA for semester applicants; minimum 2.6 cumulative GPA for summer applicants), coursework, responses to short essay questions, and both the academic and character references.
  • What is the best thing about SFS? 

    The answer to this question is up to you! Some students enjoy living and working in beautiful, natural environments. Some students like meeting others with similar interests and goals from a variety of academic backgrounds.

    Some like the hands-on approach in researching environmental issues. Others enjoy learning from experienced faculty and staff members in both a classroom and field environment. Let us know what is important to you in a study abroad experience, and we’ll tell you if you can find it at SFS.

  • How does academic credit work for an SFS program? 

    All students can receive academic credit for their SFS program. SFS has direct affiliation with over 50 colleges and universities, and students from these schools typically direct credit for SFS courses. All other students are registered at and receive credit from the University of Minnesota, which accredits SFS programs.

    Students should check with their academic advisors and/or study abroad office to find out how this credit may transfer to their home institution. Click here for more information about academic credit and grades.

  • Does SFS offer financial aid? 

    SFS does offer financial aid to applicable students. When considering a study abroad program, it is important to consider that an investment is being made.

    Students are able to live and learn in places they’ve only dreamed about, grow academically and personally, develop leadership skills and confidence, and gain hands-on experience that will likely be helpful in their future careers. Nevertheless, finances are a common source of concern for students and parents. Students are encouraged to start by visiting their home institution’s financial aid office. Click here to read more about SFS financial aid, and to download an application for semester or summer programs.

  • Since SFS studies environmental issues, will I experience local culture? 

    Yes, our programs offer many opportunities for you to interact with local community members. Our field stations are located in communities that depend on natural resources and our research often focuses on the social and economic side of issues.

    Most of our faculty and staff are from the host country as well. We feel it is important for our students to understand local culture and learn from those most familiar with local issues. You might find yourself interviewing small farmers in Costa Rica, receiving guest lectures from Kenyan game wardens, working side by side with Australian volunteers, or teaching children about native marine life in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Through field trips, lectures, interviews, community service, and recreation, you will have many occasions to experience the culture of your host country.

  • How rigorous are the courses? 

    SFS looks for students with exceptional motivation. Combining field research with traditional academics makes for long days and tackling real life issues raises difficult questions.

    Many students say they learned more about environmental issues in one SFS program than they have in all their time on campus. Our programs are as challenging as they are rewarding. When you study where you live, the learning never stops.

  • Are the programs applicable to only environmental science majors? 

    SFS programs are particularly attractive to students with an interest in the environment. However, not every student will come from the same academic background.

    Our programs draw students from many different majors, from economics to zoology. Our interdisciplinary approach to environmental case studies teaches students to look beyond the boundaries of their chosen discipline.

  • How many students participate in each course? 

    SFS programs are designed to accommodate 20 to 32 students. Groups of this size are small enough to create a strong community and large enough to provide rich team experience.

    Our programs emphasize group living and teamwork. Semester Directed Research projects are conducted in small teams ranging from two to seven students. Students experience a strong feeling of camaraderie while developing valuable skills and maturing as individuals.

  • How many professors are there for each course? 

    Each SFS Center has a Center Director and two to three full-time faculty. Programs usually include an ecologist, a resource manager, and a resource economist.

    The student-to-professor ratio is no higher than 10 to 1. Students, staff, and most faculty live at our centers. We select faculty based on research, field experience, and teaching ability as well as interpersonal skills. For more information on SFS faculty please see the SFS Faculty and Staff page.

  • Does SFS offer graduate programs? 

    SFS does not offer graduate programs at this time. Students who have recently completed an undergraduate degree are welcome to apply to an SFS program.

    As SFS attracts people who are looking to gain field experience to better complete their education or to give direction for their next step. our summer courses are sometimes an appropriate option for such students. Students with undergraduate degrees should note that it is not possible to audit any of the courses with SFS and a transcript with grades will be issued following completion of an SFS program. Internship opportunities for graduates are available at all of our locations; preferential consideration for internships is given to SFS alumni.

  • Have any students from my home institution previously participated in SFS programs? 

    Students from hundreds of institutions have participated in SFS programs.

    A network of SFS graduates is ready and eager to share their experiences with interested students. Contact our Admissions Office to find out if there are SFS alumni from your school or view the SFS Campus Representative Directory to find current alumni recently returned from the field at your school.

  • How can I find out more about SFS? 

    Anyone in our Admissions Department would be happy to tell you more or pass along contact information for alumni willing to give you first hand answers to your questions.

    Making the decision to study abroad is not easy. There are many things to consider and you may feel that there are obstacles in your way. We can help you overcome these challenges and prepare for the challenges of the program. Don’t let unanswered questions keep you from having the experience of a lifetime! Call 800.989.4418 or check out our website to request a catalog with more information on what to expect during an SFS program.