School for Field Studies (SFS)
Fall Semester Program
Pre-Approved SFS Course Equivalencies
NOTE: Core Curriculum designations on this list pertain to the OLD Core only
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, land-locked country nestled in the rugged eastern Himalayas between India and China, two of Asia’s geopolitical giants. The landscape comprises mountains and valleys, with seven major river systems draining the high Himalayas from over 23,000 feet above sea level to 1,000 feet at the southern border. As one of the major biodiversity hot spots in the world, Bhutan is home to a beautiful array of birds, butterflies, and rhododendrons. The takin, snow leopard, golden langur, blue sheep, and tiger are among Bhutan’s diverse and charismatic fauna.
Explore the SFS Bhutan Field Station
USD, in association with the School for Field Studies (SFS), offers semester programs at SFS sites in several locations for qualified students majoring in the sciences. Depending on the selected site, students have the opportunity to analyze such challenging problems as preserving ecosystems, balancing economic development and conservation, or managing and maintaining wildlife, agricultural, and marine resources. Each site offers its own diverse characteristics and experiences. Although some locations may appear to be somewhat isolated, all programs endeavor to facilitate participation in local life and promote contacts and exchanges with the local population. Science, policy, and resource management course work is integrated with practical field experience and directed research to address the environmental issues pertinent to the chosen location.
The School for Field Studies (SFS) new semester program, Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition, gives students a broad exposure to the core areas of environment, culture, development, and governance in Bhutan. Students will apply conceptual, analytical, and technical skills to help address questions related to natural resource-based livelihoods, conservation of biodiversity, and vulnerabilities to disasters.
Visit SFS Bhutan website
The program curriculum and research agenda address issues related to modernization in Bhutan: the support of rural livelihoods and the conservation of biodiversity in the face of a changing society and landscape. SFS staff and students, in collaboration with our partner, the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), focus on enhancing the condition of forest, river, and mountain ecosystems while balancing the processes of modernization and cultural preservation.
The research outputs from students represent a vital contribution toward broader studies on ecological integrity of mountain ecosystems, climate change, and rural development. We will contribute equally to both policy and practice.
Semester students are registered in five academic courses:
SFS 3040 Political and Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environment
SFS 3060 Mountain Ecology
SFS 3050 Land Use, Natural Resources, and Conservation
SFS 4910 Directed Research
SFS 2010 Religion and Culture of Bhutan
For a detailed description of program costs please see the Program Cost in the box at the top of this webpage.
A valid passport is required for all international travel. You must have your valid passport in hand by May
prior to the program to ensure that SFS can secure a visa for you.
Your visa to enter and travel in Bhutan will be arranged through SFS. They will ask for your passport information to forward to the agent in Bhutan. Bhutan has very specific regulations for visitors to the country. Tourists are subject to a daily tariff ($150-250 per day). SFS students are invited to Bhutan as visitors of UWICE, their partner in Bhutan and the visas are processed with the assistance of UWICE. As such, there are some restrictions on student travel and visas:
- SFS cannot assist with any visa extensions before the program begins or after it ends. If you would like to spend extra time in Bhutan, you must contact a Bhutanese travel agent to make arrangements that allow you to be in the country legally. In summary: the visa will only cover you from the first day of the SFS program through the final day.
- Students must fly on the group flight into Paro at the beginning of the program (usually from Bangkok).
- At the end of the program, you may fly to an alternative destination (like Kathmandu or to India), but you must arrange your flight through SFS and it must leave the same morning as the group departure.
- You may not travel from Paro via land to Nepal or India at the end of the program; your departure must be by flight.
Upon arrival at the airport in Paro, there is a visa fee of US$40.00 (payable in Ngultrum), but SFS will cover this so you can clear immigration and customs without making any payments.
U.S. citizens will not need a visa for Thailand, if the group flight is routed through Bangkok. Non-US passport holders must determine if they need a visa for Thailand and apply for it if necessary.
The Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) is a government institution that serves as a center for research, policy dialogue, and training in the fields of conservation and environmental sciences. We live and study on the UWICE campus, set in the pastoral Chokhor Valley in the central district of Bumthang. The facility is the former palace of Bhutan’s first king, built in traditional Bhutanese architecture with colorful decorations both inside and out. The modern dormitories and cafeteria are just steps away from the Dzong, where classes are held. The UWICE campus offers views of the surrounding valley, the mountains swathed in clouds, and the occasional cattle or ponies grazing in the yard
Semester students will spend a week-long excursion at a rural development training campus set on the edge of Zhemgang town. The campus has a working farm and a set of modern buildings of Swiss-built stone construction. Classrooms overlook the farm and valley.
A typical week in the field of Environmental Field Studies Abroad