Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
  • Locations: Bocas del Toro, Panama
  • Program Terms: Fall, Program Cost, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: USD applicants only
  • PROGRAM COST: Program Cost
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2019 10/03/2018 ** Rolling Admission 01/28/2019 05/08/2019

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Language Requirement: 1 semester GPA: 2.75
Disciplines offered: Biology (BIOL), Business Administration (BUSN), College of Arts and Sciences, Economics (ECON), Environmental and Ocean Sciences (ENVR), Environmental and Ocean Sciences (EOSC), Marine Science (MARS), School of Business, Undergraduate Accomodations: On- site apartments
Prerequisite(s): One college-level ecology, biology or environmental studies course Service-Learning: Yes
Research: Yes Class Standing: Must have completed 45 units
Program Advisor: Derek Brendel - Tuition Remission Eligible Program: No
Program Type: Undergraduate
Program Description:

ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE: For updated information concerning the Zika virus, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website. Women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant should speak with their healthcare provider before confirming any travel to the affected areas. USD will continue to monitor the situation.

PANAMA: Bocas del Toro

School for Field Studies

Fall/Spring Semester Program

Panama is the great connector between two continents - a corridor that links the natural riches of Central America to South America.  Few places on Earth can claim the density of species and ecosystem richness that his isthmus can.  Among its reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, estuaries and rivers, this region boasts a variety of reef/game fish, turtles, and dolphins, as well as more novel species such as manatee, monkeys and caiman.
Your classroom in Panama is the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, a place where forest and shore come together and present almost limitless opportunities to study the ecology and conservation of both the marine and terrestrial realms.
It is the dynamic interface between forested islands and life-filled waters that will drive your learning of fragile habitats, natural resource use, and indigenous ways of life based on deep relationships with the environment.
School for Field Studies (SFS) creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research.  Their educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where we live and work.  The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship.
Click here to visit the SFS page for more information on this program
Students will receive 16 units for their semester in Panama.  All students will be registered in the following courses:
BI/EE (NS) 379: Tropical Coastal Ecology
EE (NS) 374: Principles of Resource Management
EE (SS) 302: Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values
EE 491: Directed Research
(LS) 205E: Language, Culture, and Society of Panama
Click link below to see how these courses transfer back to USD:
SFS Pre-Approved Course ListNOTE: Core curriculum designations on this list pertain to OLD core only. 
For a detailed description of program costs, please see the Program Cost in the box at the top of this webpage.  
Students will live at the brand new SFS field station in Bocas del Toro.  Located on 130 acres of property owned for generations by a local Ngobe family, the station sits on a promontory of land adjacent to open fields and within sight of the Chiriqui Lagoon and dense off-shore mangrove stands.  Within meters, thick inland tropical forest dominates the landscape, sheltering the site with verdant canopies where howler monkeys abound and toucans search incessantly for fruit.  Student housing consists of rooms within a raised platform building that provides views of forest and shore.  Freshwater showers are available.  Other buildings consist of classrooms, a library, a laboratory, and a common room used for dining and events.  A full-time cook is available for most meals; healthy traditional dishes will dominate the menu each day with fresh fish from local waters.
Click here for more information on the SFS field station in Panama
  • Snorkeling for field research and species identification on pristine coral reefs
  • Shallow water excursions to the delicate intertidal surf zones where giant starfish and spiny sea urchins abound
  • Deep exploration of giant stands of old-growth rain forests; viewing giant orchids, colorful macaws, monkeys, and numerous arrow frogs
  • Monitoring of beach erosion and palm stand loss due to rising sea levels
  • Lecture from Panamanian and international researchers and government environmental officials
  • Visits to massive banana plantations on the mainland to understand the impact of the commercial agricultural industry on the local economy and delicate coastal environment
  • Excursions to distant islands to visit indigenous housing settlements and observe the livelihoods of traditional farmers, fishers, and forest gatherers
  • Visits to eco-lodges and resort hotels to understand how development imparts pressures on fragile marine and terrestrial habitats and ecosystems

Former student article on SFS Panama HERE.