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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:


sfs peru


  • 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


Spend a semester among the extraordinarily biodiverse ecosystems of the northern Peruvian Amazon. Study climate change, resource extraction, and other threats to the region firsthand, and get at the heart of Peru’s conservation and development issues. Explore otherworldly flooded forests on a multi-day riverboat expedition and travel to the Andean highlands to visit cloud forests and the historic Incan capital of Cusco – the starting point for visitors to Machu Picchu.

  • Take a multi-day excursion to the village of Sucusari to learn about the livelihoods of the Maijuna people and explore the rainforest from one of the world’s longest canopy walkways.
  • Take a five-day riverboat expedition in Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Regional Conservation Area, home to species such as pink river dolphins, sloths, 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 agriculture and conservation organizations.

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, nestled in the Amazon. The sounds of the forest permeate our campus, from student cabins to the pool and open-air student lounge. The rainforest is accessible via an on-campus trail system which traverses our 183-acre property. Small communities and local shops are within walking distance.


  • Climate change
  • Forest and soil ecology
  • Sustainable aquaculture
  • Natural resource management
  • Forest recovery
  • Development in the Amazon


  • Species identification and population monitoring
  • Biodiversity surveys and transects
  • Interviewing and mapping techniques
  • Conservation strategy assessment
  • Basic Spanish language
  • Research design and implementation
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Research 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 01/27/2020 05/06/2020
Fall Semester 2020 03/01/2020 ** Rolling Admission 08/31/2020 12/09/2020

** 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.