• Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior
• One college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies course
• 2.8 cumulative GPA
• 2.6 cumulative GPA for summer programs
• Language Pre-requisite: None
• Open to UW-Madison degree-seeking students only
• For this program, students should expect to spend a lot of academic time in the water. To participate successfully, students must be able to swim and be comfortable snorkeling in open water.
• Good academic and disciplinary standing


Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Environmental Studies, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Zoology

Classroom Language



Field Research Station

Program Duration

Fall: Early September - Mid-December

Spring: Late January - Mid-May

Summer: Early June - Early July

Application Deadline(s)

TermApplication Deadline
Summer 2018  Session I: Tourism and Island Systems: Assessment of Sustainable Practices 2/23/2018
Fall 2018-19  2/23/2018
Spring 2018-19  9/21/2018

Future durations will be posted at a later date.

Questions about this program?
Contact a Peer Advisor!

Panama, Bocas del Toro
SFS Tropical Island Biodiversity & Conservation Studies

Overview | Academics | Cost | Logistics | Student Voices | Apply

Offered through the School for Field Studies (SFS), the Tropical Island Biodiversity & Conservation Studies program is an approved UW affiliate program.
The Bocas del Toro archipelago, located on the Caribbean coast, is a complex and biologically diverse area composed of islands, mangrove forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. The archipelago hosts more marine and terrestrial species than almost anywhere else on Earth. The biodiversity of these island systems, however, is threatened from a variety of human and natural pressures, including climate change, logging, and expanding farming and ranching, all of which put delicate coral reefs and rainforests at risk. Combining scientific research with local and indigenous knowledge is crucial for the conservation and management of this wild and magnificent area.
This program will provide you an exciting opportunity to conduct research and explore the rural Caribbean and the isthmus of Panama. The goals of this program are to:
• Assess the state of the archipelago’s fragile natural habitats
• Define the main environmental issues
• Understand the community goals in natural resource management
Through coursework and research, you will gain an understanding of the interdependence of livelihood strategies of island residents, population structure of key species, and habitat arrangements and conditions, and then apply sustainability principles to define potential management strategies.
The field station is located on a quiet waterfront on Isla Colon, the most populous island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The sounds of frogs, birds, and monkeys along with clear, Caribbean waters are the backyard of the Center. Due to the Center’s central location, the coral reefs, jungles, and beaches of Bocas are only short distances away.
You will be working closely with both IAP and SFS on this program. You can access the programs' main information page through the SFS website to learn more about the academics, housing, excursions and activities, and location.