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  • Locations: Cuzco, Peru
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: The School for Field Studies (SFS) 
  • Dates / Deadlines
Program Description:



  • Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Credits: 18 semester-hour credits
  • Prerequisites: One semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science; 18 years of age
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admissions. Early applications encouraged
  • Financial Aid: All accepted students can apply for need-based scholarships, grants, and loans


Explore the lush ecosystems and extraordinary biodiversity of the north Peruvian Amazon. Study threats to the region firsthand – from climate change to resource extraction – and get at the heart of Peru’s conservation and development issues. Embark on a multi-day excursion to the Andean highlands, where you’ll hike through cloud forests and visit the historic Incan capital of Cusco, the hub for visitors to Machu Picchu.

  • Take a multi-day excursion to the village of Sucusari to learn about the traditions of the Maijuna people and explore the jungle from the world’s longest canopy walkway.
  • Take an overnight riverboat expedition in Peru’s largest national reserve, Pacaya-Samiria, home to species such as pink river dolphins, bats, piranhas, primates, macaws, and giant river otters.
  • Visit a manatee rescue center, tropical fish exporter, and potato and butterfly farms to study a range of local conservation efforts.

SFS students live and study at the Center for Amazon Studies, which lies halfway between the remote city of Iquitos and the port city of Nauta, amid the vast rainforests of the Amazon. Campus is a small group of buildings connected by elevated walkways, and the sights and sounds of the forest are accessible via an on-campus trail system which traverses our 183-acre property. Small villages within walking distance provide access to local shops.


  • Forest and soil ecology
  • Mammal ecology and conservation
  • Land use impacts
  • Natural resource management
  • Forest recovery
  • Development in the Amazon


  • Species identification and population monitoring
  • Biodiversity surveys
  • Spanish language
  • Research design
  • Data collection
  • Scientific writing and presentation





Visit the SFS website
Call the Admissions Hotline at 800.989.4418
Read updates from the field on the SFS Blog
Follow SFS on Instagram and Facebook
Watch student videos on YouTube and Vimeo

This program seeks to understand both the conflicts and synergies of conservation and development in western Amazonia, with a focus on Peru. Students gain a sense of the richness of the Andes-Amazon region—biodiversity, social and cultural diversity, and ecosystem services—while exploring strategies for sustainable livelihoods in this highly productive and diverse region of South America.

The interdisciplinary themes of resilience, environmental justice, and conservation guide our inquiry. Through coursework, field exercises, and Directed Research, participants study people’s dependence on the environment, examine the threats to the environment and to social networks, and explore the tools and strategies for mitigating the threats while promoting well-being among rural communities.

Students have a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the extraordinary biodiversity of the Andes-Amazon region in the eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes. We look at the patterns and processes that contribute to the generation and maintenance of biodiversity of this region at multiple scales: landscape, ecosystem, communities, and species. Students discuss concepts of ecological resilience, multifunctionality, and redundancy in the context of the region, and explore the effects of climate change and land use on the regional and global biodiversity and human well-being.

  • Explore the lowland tropical rainforest biome with its distinct habitats of palm swamps, oxbow lakes, flooded forests, and upland forests
  • Conduct a socioeconomic impact assessment of a proposed development initiative in Pillcopata
  • Examine urban development and tourism in Cuzco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its meeting of two distinct cultures—Inca and Hispanic
  • Use planning tools to design conservation strategies for a local issue or an existing development project Visit the lowland rainforest on a multi-day excursion by river to understand differences in forest types and species composition
  • Learn and practice a series of different field techniques to collect data on biodiversity and habitat: looking at orchid diversity in the highlands, soil macrofauna across soil types, or measuring temperature and humidity along a vegetation cover gradient
  • Consider the impacts of elevation and slope aspect on species distributions during a weeklong excursion in the highlands
  • Develop field research skills including species identification, biodiversity assessment, survey design and interviewing techniques, environmental impact and protected-areas assessment, scientific writing and oral presentation, GIS or remote sensing, habitat assessment and mapping species distributions

The Villa Carmen Biological Station—operated by the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) and its sister organization, Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica—is the home of the new SFS Center for Andes-Amazon Studies. An eight-hour drive northeast of Cusco, at an elevation of 2,500-4,000 feet above sea level, it is situated adjacent to the Manu Biosphere Reserve which supports a wide variety of habitats, including intact but disturbed rainforest, secondary forests, streams, rivers, waterfalls, and a highly diverse flora and fauna. Students are housed in shared accommodations in the station’s dormitory. The field station’s infrastructure includes a classroom, lab, organic gardens, and many miles of trails.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2020 10/01/2019 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Fall Semester 2020 03/01/2020 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.