Center for Rainforest Studies


This is not the Australia you know. Towering strangler fig trees and rare animals like the southern cassowary and Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo can be found in these ancient rainforests. Far North Queensland is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, preserving more than 500 million years of evolutionary history. Just off the coast is Earth’s largest living structure – the Great Barrier Reef.



Rainforest to Reef

Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about socio-ecological resilience in the face of climate change and other environmental threats. Connect rainforest management and conservation issues with downstream impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Become a part of large-scale restoration ecology experiments and study environmental policy and community conservation approaches while developing skills in field research and data collection.
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14 Weeks
16 Credits

Spring 2023

Jan 27 - May 1

In The Field

Fall 2023

Sep 1 - Dec 4


summer session I

Rainforests of Australia

In this summer study abroad program, you will learn how environmental and social factors have contributed to forest fragmentation in the spectacular, once-vast rainforests of Australia. Compare endangered species management practices, meet with Indigenous communities to learn about their natural resource use and relationship with the environment, and examine ecosystem restoration approaches.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits

Summer 2023

Jun 2 - Jul 2


summer session II

Marsupials of Australia

Study abroad in Australia with SFS and spend your summer observing the strange and fascinating mammals and wildlife that live in Australia’s ancient rainforests and dry savannahs, all while considering the policies and actions needed to preserve these precious ecosystems.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits

Summer 2023

Jul 7 - Aug 6

Filling Fast

What Students Are Saying:

“This landscape is alive, and you are a part of it. Not only for the moment that you’re imagining this, but for an entire semester. You have the opportunity and privilege to learn and experience all there is to learn about the Wet Tropics.”
– Bo, Gonzaga University

“SFS offered the unique opportunity to truly live in the rainforest! This is an incredibly intimate view of an ancient and endangered ecosystem which boasts incredible biodiversity. As a participant of this program, I was not a visitor to the rainforest, but actually living inside it.”
– Guthrie, Brandeis University

Will Glenny

“If living in the middle of a rainforest, surrounded by constant beauty and wonder is your idea of a typical study abroad program, then SFS Australia is right for you. You will learn more than you could ever have imagined about the people you live with, the community around you, the natural flora and fauna of Australia, and so much more.”
– Will, Gonzaga University


Where You'll Be Living

At the end of a narrow, winding path, surrounded by lush rainforest, lies this remote field station. Our 153-acre property is surrounded by protected World Heritage forests, and you can observe incredible wildlife from the front steps of your cabin. The nearby towns of Yungaburra, Atherton, and Cairns are just a short drive away.

  • Group living in eight-person cabins
  • Main building with classroom, lab, and study spaces
  • Student lounge with scenic porch views and WiFi
  • Covered outdoor dining area, on-site cook, and garden
  • On-campus network of trails for rainforest hikes
  • Outdoor spaces for volleyball, yoga, and hammocks
Click here to read stories from students, staff, and faculty on our blog


Program Costs

Study abroad is an investment in yourself – you’ll return home with new experiences, skills, knowledge, and friendships that will stay with you for the rest of your life. SFS program costs cover a variety of expenses, including:

  • Pre-program advising and on-site orientation
  • Tuition and research fees
  • Housing at the field station and on excursions
  • Daily meals and snacks
  • Airport transfers (for arrival/departure)
  • Field excursions and cultural activities
  • Student success and wellness team on site
  • 24/7 mental health and well-being support
  • Emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance
  • Official transcript processing

View Australia Program Costs

Financial Aid

We know cost can be one of the biggest barriers to studying abroad. At SFS, we’re committed to making our programs accessible to students which is why we award a generous amount in need-based financial aid each year. Our Admissions Team has worked with thousands of students and are here to answer your questions about the SFS aid process, aid available through your home school, and funding from external sources.
SFS Financial Aid: Need-based aid packages typically consist of a combination of scholarships, grants, and zero- and low-interest loans. SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.

Home School Aid: Be sure to ask your home school study abroad office or financial aid office what financial aid resources might be available to support your study abroad experience.

External Funding Opportunities: Organizations such as the Fund for Education Abroad or the Gilman International Scholarship Program award scholarships to students going abroad. These can be a great opportunity to reduce the cost of your program even more.
Learn More about Financial Aid




Research at the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies focuses on rainforest conservation, ecosystem restoration, the complex connection between the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, and topics of environmental sustainability. Students and faculty engage with local communities, Indigenous groups, NGOs, and local landholders. As the oldest rainforest on the planet, management strategies developed here may serve as a model for conserving and restoring other rainforests around the world.
Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Rainforest fragmentation and recovery
  • Habitat restoration
  • Climate change
  • Marsupial behavior
  • Aboriginal ecotourism
  • Development and settlement in the rainforest
  • Ecosystem dynamics

Environmental Issues

Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In Australia, we’re currently investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Land Use Change
Community Resource Management
Natural Resource & Water Management
Sustainable Livelihoods
Learn More About the Issues


Queensland, Australia

SFS is an active member of the Queensland community, where we have been based since the late 1980s.

We have built long-term, collaborative relationships in the communities around the Center, and developed our research plans based on the environmental issues they and the surrounding ecosystems face. Throughout the program, students assist in local restoration projects, host community dinners, attend festivals, and socialize with local conservation groups and at sporting competitions.

At the end of each semester program, we host a Community Research Night where select students will present their research findings to the community. SFS research data is shared with the community, local NGOs, and the Australian government.

Read stories about our community in Australia

Meet the Australia Team

Sigrid Heise-Pavlov, Ph.D.

Professor in Rainforest Ecology
Meet Siggy

Deborah Apgaua, Ph.D.

Lecturer of Tropical Biome Ecology
Meet Deborah

Sophie M. Love

Health and Wellness Manager
Meet Sophie

Emily Bischoff

Health and Wellness Manager
Meet Emily

Victoria Holman

Health and Wellness Manager
Meet Victoria