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Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.25 Language of Instruction: English
Housing: Field Station, Other Number of Credits Offered: 3
Eligible Population: 01 Freshman, 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior Type of Program: Faculty-led
Area of Study: Biology, Environmental Policy, Integrative Studies Study Abroad Host: Global Education Office
Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:

From Ridges to Reefs

Belize, Winter 2019

Belize photos
This program is designed to expose students to the diverse ecosystems found within Belize and the challenges concerning ecosystem conservation, especially in a developing nation. Ecosystems explored include the Meso-American reef, patch reef, seagrass bed, a marine blue hole, littoral forest, inland marsh, rainforest, riparian zone, grassland savanna, and pine woodlands. Students will have the chance to encounter many species of charismatic fauna, including but not limited to coral reef and freshwater fish; sea, marsh, and forest birds; alligator; iguana; jaguar; howler monkey; leaf-cutter ants; and blue morpho butterflies. Flora with medicinal properties will be identified as we hike.

This course will also introduce students to the people and cultures of current Belize, as well as explore the history and culture of the ancient Maya. Students have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a sacred sacrificial site of the Maya. The protected archeological site of Actun Tunichil Muknal is accessed via an underground cave system.

Students will learn about ongoing wildlife, land, and cultural artifact conservation efforts from faculty, and by visiting representatives from the Belize Audubon Society, the Belize Zoo, the Belize Coast Guard, and the National Institute of Culture and History. A community service project is performed on one morning session to help our Belizean partners.

Please join us! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about conservation in the world’s second largest barrier reef system. Course highlights include the Belizean Great Blue Hole, the Half Moon Caye Marine Protected area, the Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, and the archeological sites of Cahal Pech, Xunantunich and Actun Tunichil Muknal.


This program is open to all undergraduate students, including students who do not attend George Mason University. 

Undergraduate students must have a minimum GPA of 2.25.


Students will choose one 3-credit course during the application process.

Anticipated Course Options*

  • Biology - BIO 440: Field Biology
  • Environmental Science and Policy - EVPP 490: Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy
  • Integrative Studies - INTS 399: Study Abroad
*Subject to change. Course offerings will be finalized by the application deadline.

Program Dates*

January 5, 2019 - January 19, 2019


Sample Itinerary 

Day 1 Arrive in Belize City. Transfer to the Birdseye View Lodge.
Day 2 Early morning lagoon tour, transfer to Lighthouse Reed Basecamp.
Day 3 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 4 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 5 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 6 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 7 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 8 Transfer to Tropical Education Center, Night zoo tour.
Day 9 Transfer to Glover's Reef Basecamp.
Day 10 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 11 Marine activities and conservation service project.
Day 12 Transfer to Chaa Creek Macal River Camp.
Day 13 Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, Pack-a-Pound service project.
Day 14 Xunantunich Ruins, Cahal Pech Ruins, San Ignacio town & market exploration.
Day 15 Transfer to BZE airport, Departure for U.S. 

* Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Program Cost

Winter 2019: $4,337

Included: Tuition for 3 credits, accommodations (dormitory-style housing in field stations, some camping in tents, jungle lodges and inns), almost all meals, park fees and archaeological access permits, guided tours and field excursions as described in itinerary, in-country transportation, international emergency medical insurance.

Not included: Airfare*, passport and visa fees, snorkeling equipment (mask, fins, snorkel), some meals, personal spending, required textbooks and/or course materials. *Note: Participants must arrange their own airfare once instructed to do so by the Mason Global Education Office.

Program Payments

Students on MasonGEO programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in three payments (Deposit + First Payment + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.

Application Deposit: A non-refundable program deposit $200 must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.

First Payment: A non-refundable payment of $1000 must be received by October 21, 2018 in order to confirm your enrollment in the program. Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by November 11, 2018. This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1200 you've already paid (Deposit + First Payment). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or their VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact your program officer to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."

Payment Instructions

For more information on payments, financial aid, and information for non-Mason students:



GEO offers a number of need- and merit-based scholarships. All Mason students on this program are welcome to apply:


Applications Open:

August 2018

Application Deadline:

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Application Requirements:*

Program Deposit: $200 for all applicants.

Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.

Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now. The Global Education Office offers Passport Grants to help.

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk, the pre-departure orientation, and your financial responsibility.

Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline.

Additional Requirements for Non-Mason Applicants:

Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.

Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.

* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.

Application instructions:

Academic Director

  Lisa Schreffler
Name Lisa Schreffler

Global Education Office
Program Administrator

  Denise Elles-Mdahuar Photo
Name Denise Elles-Mdahaur
Phone 703-993-2155
  Make an appointment

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter Break 2019 10/21/2018 ** Rolling Admission 01/05/2019 01/19/2019

** 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.