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  • Locations: Galapagos, Ecuador
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Restrictions: Virginia Tech applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Fall
  • This program is currently not accepting applications. It's likely that the application is in the process of being launched. Check back for updates.
Fact Sheet:
Language(s) in which classes are available: English Program Type: Bilateral Exchange, Direct Enroll at a Bilateral Partner
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3 Areas of Study: Biology, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Evolutionary Biology, Geology, Health & Human Sciences, Human Ecology, Marine Communities, Marine Ecosystems, Native and Introduced Plants of the Galapagos, Natural Resource Conservation, Sociology, Wildlife Science
Housing Options: Homestay
Program Description:

Galapagos map
USFQ logo
Bilateral Exchange Icon

More Information

National Geographic calls this Andean nation a “must-see place.” This small country is not only one of the world’s most biodiverse, but it is also politically stable and affordable.


San Cristobal, Galapagos
Fall, Spring

Galápagos Semester Program (GAIAS)

Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is a private university focusing on liberal arts. It was founded in 1988 with only 120 students as a private, high-quality higher education institution. Today it is the fastest growing university in Latin America of about 5,000 students, of which 12% are exchange students and 10 Academic Colleges

The first module takes place near Quito in the main USFQ campus at Cumbayá. The remaining four modules take place on San Cristobal Island, Galápagos.

For more information about the GAIAS program please visit their website here.

Galapagos, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of volcanic origin located along the equator in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 1000 km (600 miles) off the west coast of Ecuador. It has a population of around 30,000 people and constitutes one of Ecuador’s 25 provinces.

The Islands´ fame is attributed to its vast number and variety of endemic species, as well as to Charles Darwin´s visit to the Islands during the Voyage of the Beagle in 1835. It was this visit to the Galapagos Islands that inspired his theory of evolution by natural selection. The archipelago consists of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. They are located on top of the Galapagos hotspot.

Ninety-seven percent of the Galapagos Islands’ land surface is a National Park and has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In addition to the National Park, the Galapagos Marine Reserve, also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, covers 133,000 square kilometers and has been described as one of the most attractive diving destination in the world.

Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries on Earth. Take advantage of the unique history and biology of Ecuador: visit indigenous villages to learn about descendants of pre-Inca and Inca civilizations; tour the world famous Galapagos Islands to see animals and plants found nowhere else on earth; travel to the USFQ-operated Tiputini Biodiversity Station to experience Ecuador's rain forest.



Approximate Semester Dates

Semester 1 (Fall): August to December
Semester 2 (Spring): January to May


This program is open to undergraduate students in any major interested in Latin America. To be eligible, students must meet the following minimum requirements before departure: Sophomore standing, and an overall GPA of 2.8 or above.

  • For the evolution and Marine tracks, at least one general biology course at the college level
  • Marine track students will require diving certification and insurance is planning to SCUBA dive (academic dives are included in program price)



Galapagos Islands


Live a unique experience through courses and research projects in the Galapagos Islands. See website for more information. A semester at USFQ's Galapagos campus has specific fees: Galpagos Semester Program Fees 2019 - 2020 and Academic Calendar.pdf

Click below to view more information about the Galapagos programs:
Minor Sustainable Tourism Galapagos
Sustainable Tourism
GAIAS Fall 2019 VT

Students select courses from one of four Academic Tracks in the biological and social sciences: (1) Evolution, Ecology and Conservation, (2) Marine Ecology; (3) People, Politics and the Environment and (4) Sustainable Tourism. Each academic track consists of five intensive 3-credit courses taught in 3-week modules. The first module takes place near Quito in the main USFQ campus at Cumbayá. The remaining four modules take place on San Cristobal Island, Galápagos.
All courses are taught in English. Please note courses are subject to change. Students can take up to two courses from different tracks, assuming they meet any necessary prerequisites and spaces are available (see Academic Tracks). Students in all tracks also take a required Spanish conversation class (1 credit). Volunteer placements (non-credit) in San Cristobal are also available to interested students.


Student Life

Every international student at USFQ has the option of becoming involved in the EcuaBuddies program. This opportunity allows international students to become connected to USFQ degree-seeking students to gain an introduction to USFQ, meet local friends, and share in Ecuadorian customs and social events. USFQ also offers a number of student clubs in a variety of interest areas including theatre, tango, chess, ecology, and cycling, to name a few. 

Each semester USFQ offers international students the opportunity to participate in optional excursions to many parts of Ecuador for a nominal fee. These trips can be for the day, weekend, or even a week. Past trips have included Tiputini, Mindo, Peru, and the Galápagos Islands. Options vary each semester.


Student Services

The Office of International Programs (OPI) offers an orientation program at the beginning of each semester.  We highly recommend that all international students attend. USFQ offers a variety of sports classes, including fencing, soccer, volleyball, tennis, aerobics, basketball, tai chi, and track and field. There are campus life services, a Latin American salsa club run by the student government is popular among international students as well as the yoga club. 

Click here to view the OPI Orientation Schedule: Ongoing Orientation Schedule OPI 

The International Student Wellness Advisor is the point person for student needs when it comes to adapting abroad, homestay living, and establishing community in their new environment. The International Student Wellness Advisor is available to students who wish to discuss challenges they are facing as part of their study abroad experience, as well as orient and connect them to professional medical, mental health, and other resources as needed. They lead the following programs:
     - Ongoing Orientation
     - Global Dragons program

Click here to learn more about the Office of International Programs.


USFQ's Tiputini Biodiversity Station


International students have the opportunity to visit the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon while studying at USFQ. The costs of the Tiputini excursion is an additional $ 600.00 (subject to change depending on airfare).


Students stay with carefully screened host families in Cumbayá (Quito) for the first module and with host families in San Cristobal Island for the remainder of the semester. During overnight excursions students stay in hostels or hotels. 


University Tuition & Comprehensive Fees

For bilateral exchange participants, Virginia Tech tuition and comprehensive university fees will be billed according to the University Bursar policy. See here for credit hour rates for the appropriate term and residency status:

Study Abroad Administrative Fee

Participants in exchange programs will be charged a $300 administrative fee through the Bursar.

Room and Board

Housing is included in the comprehensive fee.

CISI Travel Medical Insurance (required)

Participants will be required to enroll in Virginia Tech's travel medical and security insurance coverage for the duration of the program. The cost is approximately $35 per month.

Galapagos Semester Program Fees
Galapagos Semester Program Fees are approximately $12,450 - $14,400 depending on the track the student takes. The comprehensive program fee includes tuition, on-site orientation and Quito city tour, academic excursions, housing and most meals, local insurance, and round-trip airfare between Quito-Galápagos.

Please view this document for more information: Galapagos Fees and Academic Calendar Fall 2019

Ecuador Cultural Exchange Visa

Students can enter with a tourist visa if they are staying for less than 180 days. If a student comes for more than 180 days then they will need to apply for a temporary resident visa. This takes some time so students are advised to act early. Please click here to view more information about the Visa process:
USFQ Visa Information
More VISA Information

**Additional expenses are likely to include travel costs i.e. round trip international airfare, passport, immunizations, books/supplies, telecommunications, and personal expenses.Please check the USFQ International Student Manual and the Cumbaya Fees 2018-2019 and Academic Calendar and Guidelines.pdf for more information about cost of living.


GEO website: Information on scholarships and financial aid.

Undergraduate students from the US can apply for the NSEP David L Boren Scholarship or the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Students who study abroad in Ecuador are eligible for these scholarships. Please read the requirements prior to applying.


Fall Semester:
GEO Application Deadline: April 19

Spring Semester:
GEO Application Deadline: September 15

VT GEO Application

Begin your application to the GEO by clicking "Apply now" at the top of the page. All documents should be completed by the deadline.

USFQ Application

Only nominated students from VT Global Education Office (GEO) can proceed to fill out the Universidad San Francisco de Quito application. Information will be provided upon acceptance to the program.

Contact Information

VT GEO Contact


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2019 05/01/2019
Rolling Admission 08/09/2019 12/07/2019
Spring 2020 10/01/2019
10/01/2019 TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be notified of acceptance into this program within a few weeks of submission. Please allow time for review.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications. It's likely that the application is in the process of being launched. Check back for updates.