WINTER 2021 PROGRAM UPDATE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SFS has suspended all Winter 2021 programs. Students interested in this program are welcome to apply now for Winter 2022 or consider a spring or summer program. Check out the Turks & Caicos Islands Center page to see other programs offered at this location.
Spend your winter break exploring the spectacular reefs and turquoise waters of South Caicos, snorkeling or diving with rays, turtles, brilliantly colored fish, and other marine life. In this introductory course, you’ll learn how to identify key marine species, study the connection and co-dependence of the island’s ecosystems, and explore the environmental issues impacting these habitats and the island community.
Lay underwater transects and assess the health of the island’s coral reefs, which are among the largest in the world and are home to diverse marine species including the valuable queen conch.
Students who plan to dive during the program must complete SCUBA Open Water (OW) certification prior to the start of the program. Advanced Open Water certification may be offered on program depending on interest. Read more about PADI SCUBA certifications here.
Program Costs & Financial Aid
Meet Your Admissions Counselor
SFS provides a comprehensive study abroad experience during a 6-day/week program schedule. SFS delivers the highest level of support and an unparalleled academic experience.
In addition to SFS program costs, students should plan for some additional expenses estimated
Round-trip airfare: $800
Medical costs (varies): $800
Personal spending: $400
SCUBA Gear (optional): $1,000
DAN Insurance (optional): $75
Total additional expenses: $2,200 – $3,275
All students are welcome to apply for our need-based financial aid. Students who exhibit financial need for their program will be offered SFS financial aid. SFS aid is offered through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.
Pell Grant Match
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Many SFS students receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.
Amy was raised in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She joined the SFS team after graduating in 2010 from Boston University with a degree in environmental analysis and policy. Her life-long passion for the environment and exploration was piqued by her own personal experience with SFS while participating in the Summer 2009 Session in Kenya, where she and her fellow classmates studied the national parks near Nairobi and Lake Nakuru and their relationship with the surrounding communities. Her study abroad experience enriched her passion and interest in the environment and society’s role in its conservation, and she is excited to help students benefit in the same way.
Itinerary varies from term to term and is subject to change. Specific dive and snorkel sites listed below are examples of possible dive and snorkel sites. Actual dive and snorkel sites will be decided on program based on weather conditions and site accessibility. Program activities take place 6 days a week with one day free.
Week 1: Welcome to South Caicos! Move into dorms, meet roommates, and attend program orientation. Classes begin with lectures on tropical marine ecosystems including mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, as well as TCI history and culture. Dive at the Grotto and/or snorkel at Shark Alley. In-water field exercise: Species IDs for mangrove and seagrass ecosystems.
Week 2: Lectures on climate change impacts, coastal development, coral reef species, marine resource management, and marine protected areas. Underwater field exercises: Species IDs for coral reef fishes and conch abundance survey. Dive at the Spanish Chain or snorkel at Admiral’s Aquarium. In-water mangrove, seagrass bed, and coral reef species ID test. Optional turtling activities.
Week 3: Lectures on marine protected areas, resource management, and coral bleaching. Dive at Troy’s Dream or snorkel at Huey, Dewey, and Louie (HDL). Trip to Long Cay to see iguanas. Final exam. Re-entry exercises and closing activities. Head home.
This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Major academic themes include:
Marine ecology and conservation
Climate change and impacts on the ocean
Marine protected areas
Marine resource management strategies
Sustainable tourism and fisheries practices
On the Foundations of Tropical Marine Ecosystems, you will take one 3-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. This course is taught in English.
Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Monitoring and Management
SFS 3530 Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Monitoring and Management (3 credit)
is an interdisciplinary, field-based course that highlights key aspects of environmental assessment and management of tropical marine ecosystems. In addition, students explore sustainable development strategies for the Turks and Caicos Islands that are successful on a local and global scale. Students gain knowledge of subtropical marine ecosystem function and connectivity, and begin to understand the most pressing challenges at the intersection of marine conservation and economic development. Students learn how to engage in management of local fisheries and coastal development and how to respond to the global phenomena of climate change and ocean acidification.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: terrestrial and marine biodiversity assessments and survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, animal behavior observation, species management planning, coral health assessments, protected areas assessments, tourism impact assessments, scientific writing and communication, snorkel skills.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include coral reefs, mangrove islands, seagrass beds, fishing communities, carbonate platform flats, coastal ecosystems, beaches, marine protected areas, and numerous shallow-water snorkeling sites.
The Center is a former hotel overlooking the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Spectacular sunsets, open-air facilities, warm sunshine, and a refreshing ocean breeze define this marine field station. Get to know the small, historic town of Cockburn Harbour, engage in community activities, and spot the flamingoes, wild horses, and donkeys that call this island home.
Dorm living in four to six students per room
Small, open campus with direct access to the ocean
Air-conditioned classroom and computer lab
Open-air dining space, and on-site cooking staff
Dock, dive shed, and small fleet of research boats
Volleyball, hammocks, and swimming pool by the ocean
Click on the icons below to learn more about our Center in the Turks & Caicos Islands.