UMD: A Globally Connected University
SIT Study Abroad Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation
Explore rain forests, coral reefs, highland canopies, and coastal mangroves as you study tropical conservation and ecology in one of the world’s most ecologically diverse countries.
- Study in one of the most biodiverse and complex ecosystems in the world.
- Engage in seven weeks of travel and field study in Panama and Costa Rica and visit world-renowned research institutions, including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and EARTH University.
- Hike the highland ecosystems and lowland rain forests while living in local communities.
- Conduct extensive fieldwork in mangrove forests, threatened seagrass beds, and pristine coral reefs.
- Live in Panama’s vibrant capital and largest city.
- Conduct four weeks of independent, original field research on a topic of your choice.
Please visit the SIT Study Abroad website for details on program courses (including syllabi), educational excursions, and housing.
During the final four weeks of the program, you can choose to use your new language and cultural skills and the academic knowledge you have acquired to complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) on a topic of interest to you. Typically, research projects are conducted in cloud forest highlands, coral reefs, lowland forests, mangroves, rural villages, indigenous communities, or other places appropriate to the topic.
- Rain forest dynamics
- Tropical forest diversity
- Regeneration of canopy emergents in primary forests
- Mammal conservation
- Sustainable fisheries
- Coral reef organisms
- Mangrove health
Key Topics of Study
- Tropical forest dynamics
- Neotropical mammal and amphibian ecology, coral reef organisms, and avian diversity
- Marine and coastal ecosystem connectivity
- Ecological field research methods and methodology
- Carbon, climate change, and resource use, including indigenous resource use
- Contemporary socio-environmental issues shaping the tropics
- Explore controversial conservation topics including hydroelectric dams, sustainable agriculture, indigenous resource use, protected areas, environmental services, and ecotourism.
Be sure to discuss how study abroad costs are handled at your school with your study abroad advisor.
SIT tuition and room and board fees include the following:
All educational costs, including educational excursions
- All accommodations and meals for the full program duration
- Transportation to and from the airport, and on all educational excursions
- Health and accident insurance
- SIT awards nearly $1.6 million in scholarships and grants annually.
- All scholarships and grants are need-based.
- Awards generally range from $500 to $5,000.
- The SIT Pell Grant Match provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding when it is applied to an SIT Study Abroad semester program.
- Contact the financial aid and/or study abroad office(s) at your college or university to learn if your school’s scholarships and grants and federal and state aid programs can be applied to an SIT Study Abroad program.
Contact SIT Study Abroad
To apply to this program, you must complete two main steps:
- Submit a UMD approval application - start by clicking “apply now” at the top of this page. This application allows UMD Education Abroad to approve your study abroad program selection so you may earn credit in a program outside of UMD.
This application will require you to meet with your EA advisor, who will communicate important details related to participating in this program. If you do not complete this application by the stated deadline, you may not receive credit for your study abroad program and will lose your student status for the time you are not studying at UMD.
- Apply directly to the program provider. After receiving UMD approval, you should submit the program application directly to the program sponsor by their deadline. Your program sponsor will determine your official acceptance to a program. You must adhere to the provider's timeline, eligibility standards, and application requirements.
After being accepted to your program, your EA advisor will guide you through the course pre-approval process where you will determine which credits you will fulfill abroad.
UMD partners with SIT to offer affiliate program options to UMD students across the globe. You will maintain your UMD student status while abroad and you will work directly with SIT program staff as a participant on their program. Your EA advisor will assist you with this process and can answer questions you may have about the application process.
Academics on an SIT program
All SIT courses are considered for transfer credit. However, UMD cannot yet approve transfer credit for SIT’s ISP or internship courses.
Costs & Billing for an SIT program
The affiliate program costs apply to this program. Once accepted into a program by SIT, you will pay a $400 deposit to SIT directly to confirm your participation. The remaining SIT fees, including housing, will be billed directly to your UMD student account. You will be able to apply any financial aid you receive from UMD towards these charges.
All UMD students studying abroad with SIT are automatically eligible for the $1,500 Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) scholarship. Please see below for additional information about scholarship opportunities.
Scholarships for this program are available through the UMD Education Abroad Fund and for up to a maximum of $6,000 in SIT Scholarships & Grants, including need-based awards, and automatic SIT scholarships and awards for UMD students.
- *Guaranteed* $1,500 SIT-UMD scholarship - no application needed. Scholarship will reflect as a discount on the program fee charged to your UMD account.
- SIT Pell Grant Match Award- For students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term of study abroad with SIT, SIT will match this funding amount dollar for dollar and apply this as a discount to your program fee. You must complete the scholarship/financial aid portion of the SIT program application to receive this award. For more information, review the SIT scholarships and financial aid web page.
- $3,000 SIT-UMD scholarships - must submit the UMD Education Abroad Fund form in your program application in MyEA.
- Applies to non-Europe semester-length programs only.
- Students must have a completed FAFSA on file.
- Awards based on financial need. Preference given to students traditionally underrepresented in study abroad, specifically first generation college students and minorities.
- Additional SIT scholarships - students with unmet financial need can be considered for additional SIT scholarships. You must complete the scholarship/financial aid portion of the SIT program application to receive this award. For more information, review the SIT scholarships and financial aid web page.