Study Abroad Course in The Bahamas

General Information

BIOL 499A & GEOG 299: Neotropical Studies in The Bahamas (3 credits)

Includes a 9-day embedded study abroad course and study tour to San Salvador, Bahamas, during Spring Break.

Next Program Date TBA
The description and costs below refer to a previous program and are provided for reference.

Scenic Tropical Scene with Ocean and Beach

This team-taught, interdisciplinary course will include weekly meetings throughout the spring semester during which students will be introduced to the ecological diversity, flora, and fauna of San Salvador, Bahamas.

The course culminates in a nine-day field trip to the Gerace Research Centre over spring break. Students will gain first-hand knowledge on the geology of the region and biodiversity of coral reefs, rainforests, freshwater streams, beaches, and other tropical habitats.

Course Details

Queen triggerfish
  • Explore the culture and geography of the Bahamas.
  • Learn the principle evolutionary mechanisms leading to this biodiversity. 
  • Study the effects of human impact on Bahamas habitats.
  • Prerequisite courses are BIOL110 or GEOSC 20, or instructor approval.
  • Will fulfill a 200- or 400- level science requirements. 
  • Also fulfills the study abroad requirement for Environmental Science and International Business majors.
  • Pending approval, this course could be used to satisfy a requirement for the college's minor in Transnational Perspectives.

Course Structure

Based upon an integrated approach to learning, the course will consist of:

  • PRE-TRIP: Reading and classroom assignments, discussions, and activities.
  • DURING TRIP: Maintain a daily journal, compile a species list, conduct fieldwork, attend evening programs, and present a personalized research report.
  • POST-TRIP: Submit journal, species list, and final report.


Since this course is offered in the spring semester, there will be no additional cost for tuition if you are a full-time Penn State student.

Estimated Costs
Expense Type Estimated Price Notes
Airfare $1250 Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the Erie International Airport.
Hotel and Meals $1145 Price subject to change
Miscellaneous Expenses $45 Group meal
Administrative Costs $150 N/A
PSU Travel Insurance $10 N/A
TOTAL $2,500 Total cost may change depending on the number of participants. It does not include souvenirs, passport fees, or other incidentals.

The following cancellation penalties apply:

  • $250 non-refundable deposit.
  • 50 percent of trip value if cancellation is received in writing between November 30, 2018 and February 8, 2019.
  • 75 percent of trip value if cancellation is received in writing after February 8, 2019.

Important Notes

Conch shell in the Bahamas
  • U.S. or equivalent foreign passports are necessary for travel out of the U.S. Passports must have six months left until expiration.
  • Passports must be obtained to schedule international flights, thus they must be applied for in the first few weeks of fall classes.
  • Students who want to protect themselves against these penalties can buy a personal travel insurance program.
  • Payments can be made by cash or personal check (no credit cards) made payable to Penn State University.

Participants MUST be proficient at swimming/snorkeling in the open ocean, as there will be group swims and snorkeling activities in the ocean and near coral reefs. Each excursion may last 1-2 hours in the water. Please speak with Drs. Cook and Naber if you have questions or concerns about the swimming and snorkeling portion of the program.


  • Behrend College majors may be eligible for the college's privately endowed, need-based scholarships. Contact the Financial Aid Office at 898-6162 to see if you are eligible.
  • Pennsylvania Commonwealth Education Abroad Scholarships are also available to students who demonstrate financial need and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • For details, please stop in at the Learning Resource Center, 203 Lilley Library.

Payment Information

Payment Schedule
Amount Due Date Notes
$500 deposit October 5, 2018 Includes $250 non-refundable deposit
$1000 payment October 19, 2018 N/A
$1000 payment November 16, 2018 N/A
  • Note cancellation penalties under "Costs."
  • All payments must be made to Andrea Lutz in the School of Science by cash or a personal check made payable to Penn State University. We cannot accept credit cards.
  • After November 5, students will only be admitted if space is available. A surcharge may be necessary after this date.

Registration Information

Coral and algea in a Bahamian reef

Send the following information to Dr. Todd Cook or Dr. Michael NaberAn application is required for acceptance in this course.

  • Name
  • Permanent Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email
  • Penn State Student ID#

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